If you don’t have a specific immediate need to show a formal business plan to a banker or investor, then you are probably better off doing just a lean business plan, for your internal use only. To make the best impression on banks and investors, your business plan outline should be presented in the standard business plan format.
A business plan is a documented set of business goals, objectives, target market information and financial forecasts that you are aiming to achieve over a certain period of time. It is important to prepare a business plan when starting or growing your business and review it regularly to keep it up to date.
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.
While every business owner should have an ongoing planning process to help them run their business, not every business owner needs a complete, formal business plan suitable for submitting to a potential investor, or bank, or venture capital contest. So don’t include outline points just because they are on a big list somewhere, or on this list, unless you’re developing a standard business plan that you’ll be showing to someone who expects to see a standard business plan.