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.
Internally focused business plans target intermediate goals required to reach the external goals. They may cover the development of a new product, a new service, a new IT system, a restructuring of finance, the refurbishing of a factory or a restructuring of the organization. An internal business plan is often developed in conjunction with a balanced scorecard or a list of critical success factors. This allows success of the plan to be measured using non-financial measures. Business plans that identify and target internal goals, but provide only general guidance on how they will be met are called strategic plans.
Prospective business owners sometimes wonder if they really need to write a business plan, particularly if they’re not seeking a bank loan. However, if you want to clarify your thinking, set a tone and direction for your business, and a deeper understanding of your market, the answer is certainly ‘yes you do’.
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.
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