Businesses of all sizes and types need a functional roadmap to guide the direction taken; a clear business plan is critical to a business' goals and vision, and keeping the business on track.
Below are some guides for a clear business plan.
There are a wide range of proposal formats available online; some are more general and some are designed for specific audiences. Those intended for internal audiences, such as employees, owners, senior management and Board of Directors, focus on the implementation of a strategy that is believed to be relevant for the company's growth. This kind of template is also known as the strategic plan.
On the other hand, formats for external audiences, such as clients, suppliers, investors, bankers and even the government, are focused on attracting financing, suppliers or talents for the business. For these audiences, the proposal format may be a condensed version of the larger business plan, especially when your purpose is to attract investors. This kind of document is also referred to as a business funding proposal. Obtaining financing is crucial for a business' growth and may also pose an enormous advantage against its competitors.
A business plan must be comprehensive; it must clearly describe where the business venture is heading. Thus, it must consist of:
- executive summary
- history of the company
- a clear statement of the business concept
- marketing and competitive analysis
- implementation plan
- assessment of resources
- growth and exit strategies
Analyses to be used for the document should be based on realistic research for it to hold substance. Depending on your intention, the content of the document can go longer or shorter.
Business plans are usually 20-pages long. In some instances, it can reach up to 100 pages or longer, depending on the business' nature, purpose and target.
Template or Consultant
Templates allow entrepreneurs to simply cut and paste their business plans into a given format. These save business owners time; they can now focus on the content rather than the format. It also creates a standardized format for the whole organization. However, templates may also limit the creativity and information contained in the business plan. In cases like this, entrepreneurs may opt to hire a consultant or write the document themselves. The good thing about the latter is that you can include other relevant information which is not included in the format.
Ending It Right
Business plans are considered to be an easy way to 'sell' the business idea to its prospective audience; thus, it may be beneficial to address methods of preventing problems within the organization Business plans may include a conclusion in the form of supporting documents (i.e. credit reports, job descriptions, contracts, etc.) to help make the business plan clearer.
There is "no one size fits all" business plan template since there are an infinite number of businesses and business plans; however, a sample business plan is a great way to guide the development of your business plan. A business plan template, appropriate for your business model, is a great tool. Your intention and target audience should be your guide to tell you what is and what is not to be included in the document to make it clear.