A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.
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.
That doesn’t mean you have to bust out Word and start the plan from scratch. A template is great--you probably aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before, so it provides a proven structure for your plan. Pretty much everything on it can be customized.
An excellent place to start your search for good examples of business plans is the Business Network office in your region. Our Business Information Officers are able to provide you with access to materials that can be tailored to your needs. Your local Business Network centre offers a wealth of information, including practical tools, guides, and specific examples on how to start the planning process.