Even though the summary will be read first, it is easiest to write it last – providing an overview of the complete business plan. The aim is to draw the reader in, so what you include will depend on your audience. If you are seeking funding you need to really sell your business idea in the summary.
Business plans are decision-making tools. The content and format of the business plan is determined by the goals and audience. For example, a business plan for a non-profit might discuss the fit between the business plan and the organization’s mission. Banks are quite concerned about defaults, so a business plan for a bank loan will build a convincing case for the organization’s ability to repay the loan. Venture capitalists are primarily concerned about initial investment, feasibility, and exit valuation. A business plan for a project requiring equity financing will need to explain why current resources, upcoming growth opportunities, and sustainable competitive advantage will lead to a high exit valuation.
Preparing a business plan will help you work out the goals you want to achieve, and the strategies to achieve them. This means you can focus your resources and energy on what you need to do, rather than spreading yourself too thin. The planning process also helps you to consider possible bumps in the road and put a plan in place to better manage them if they do come up.
Don’t make common mistakes. I’ve seen thousands of business plans, good and bad, and I can tell you that avoiding these common business planning errors will put you far ahead of the curve.
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