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.
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.
If you are seeking finance for your business, you will need to show banks and investors why they should invest in your business. Lenders and investors will only risk their time and money if they are confident that your business will be successful and profitable.
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.