Writing a business plan is an activity that all businesses and companies, big or small should undertake. Most business plans are quite similar in format, and that is for a good reason – investors and banks want to see certain types of information to persuade them to hand over funds.
A business plan that is good will attract you investment or that much needed capital to get underway or to develop your business. If your business plan is poorly written or is unorganized, it will not.
When you are developing business plan materials it can be useful to use a business plan template. There are lots of these available online. A successful business plan will usually include a number of key headings that investors will be looking for such as an Executive Summary, Background, Your Product or Service, Industry Analysis, Market Analysis, Competitor Analysis, Marketing Plan, Sales Forecast, Operations, Management and Financials.
Some online business plans that you will find include more or less than this but these are the main sections to follow. When marketing business plans to investors, these will be essential to have.
One of the most important reasons for writing a business plan is to get investment from Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors or to find shareholders. Another good reason is to get a loan from a bank. Anyone who is going to give or even loan you money to get your business off the ground or help you to increase in size will want to see that you are going to be able to deliver value. In the case of the bank, they will want to know that you are capable of paying their money back. Investors will want to know that their investment will increase in value if they give you their money.
Developing business plan content is not just for gaining access to funds. It is also good practice to write a business plan and keep it up to date anyway so that you can set targets, track your progress and evaluate what you have achieved. This is good business practice and this process can also help you come up with business proposal ideas. These are often useful for many kinds of business. When you are writing a business plan you clarify your thoughts and plans for your business which makes them more likely to become a reality.
When you are writing a business plan, try to keep it simple and to the point. Anyone reading your business plan wants to understand it so don’t go overboard on technical details. If your business plan is too long it will be off putting to an investor. It will also be very tedious for you to keep updated.
One question that business owners often ask is if an online business plan should be different than that for a bricks and mortar business. The answer to this is no. Business plans for any kind of business have to have the same kinds of information because the purpose of the business plan is the same for both kinds of businesses: to prove business viability.
Harvard Business School has developed an excellent list of business plan ideas to help you with writing a business plan. These may be accessed at Harvard Business School Entrepreneurship. Here you can find videos, articles and books as well as other resources to help. Some websites offer services to help you write a business plan by providing examples and templates. BPlans is one such business and more information can be found at bplans.com.
A business plan can be as simple as one page. Many startups, which are now hugely successful companies such as Facebook, have begun with a one page business plan on a sheet of paper. If your business idea is solid, and if your vision for your business and its operations and execution is very clear, then you have a very good chance of writing a noteworthy business plan, and also of accomplishing great business success.