A business plan is not a document you create once and store in your bottom drawer. It is a living guide that you should develop as your business grows and changes. Successful businesses review and update their business plan when circumstances change.
Sample business plans and templates can help you develop a professional document that will serve as an in-depth marketing tool to convince others of your venture’s potential for success. However, creating your own plan can be a complex process, and you may need the assistance of a professional (like an accountant) depending on the type of business you have (or want to run), and what you are seeking in terms of investment.
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.