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.
It is definitely not the most exciting part of starting a business. In fact, if you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you’re probably going to find yourself pulling a few all-nighters to get one done before heading into your first pitch for funding. Because that’s the thing--your business plan is a pretty important.
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.
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.