The planning process helps you learn about the different forces and factors that may affect your success. If you are already in business, it helps you to step back and look at what is working and what you can improve on. Instead of worrying about the future, a business plan helps to give you a sense of control over your business and your livelihood.
Business planning is an ongoing business activity. As your business changes many of the strategies in your plan will need to evolve to ensure you business is still heading in the right direction. Having your plan up to date can keep you focussed on where you are heading and ensure you are ready when you need it again.
Business plans may be internally or externally focused. Externally focused plans target goals that are important to external stakeholders, particularly financial stakeholders. They typically have detailed information about the organization or team attempting to reach the goals. With for-profit entities, external stakeholders include investors and customers. External stake-holders of non-profits include donors and the clients of the non-profits services. For government agencies, external stakeholders include tax-payers, higher-level government agencies, and international lending bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, various economic agencies of the United Nations, and development banks.
Size your business plan to fit your business. Remember that your business plan should be only as big as what you need to run your business.