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.
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.
At its core, a business plan helps you prove to yourself and others whether or not your business idea is worth pursuing. It’s the best way to take a step back, look at your idea holistically, and solve for issues years down the road before you start getting into the weeds.
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.
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