Preparing a business plan will help you work out the goals you want to achieve, and the strategies to achieve them. This means you can focus your resources and energy on what you need to do, rather than spreading yourself too thin. The planning process also helps you to consider possible bumps in the road and put a plan in place to better manage them if they do come up.
To write an effective business plan you will need discipline, time and focus. Although the process can seem challenging, it is very rewarding and gives you a sense of control over your business. Investing time and focus in creating a business plan is one of the most valuable activities you can undertake. Creating a well-structured business plan will give you direction and help your business become a success. A business plan provides a roadmap for your business future and is essential to attracting funding.
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.
There are no rules about what your plan should cover or the level of detail. In general, plans need to include information regarding:
~ business profile
~ vision, mission and
~ market research
~ operational strategy
~ products and/or services
~ marketing plan
~ financial strategy.