Business Plan Definition
The business plan definition is the plan of action for business operations which has the goal of creating and growing sustainable profits. It is necessary for any business venture. A business plan has 3 main purposes: forming a strategic plan for future business initiatives, serving as a retrospective measure of the success of the business and it’s plans for expansion, and an explanation of the business for the purpose of raising capital. Business plans can vary greatly depending on creator, industry, operations, needs, phase in the business cycle, and more. Ultimately, the term business plan is used to describe a myriad of written documents which lay out the plans a business has for the future. Despite this, the goal is the same; creating profits for the shareholders of the venture.
Business Plan Explanation
Business plans are either internally or externally focused. Internally focused plans serve as a document to “rally the troops”; organize the stakeholders, especially employees, of a business and give an overall strategy to each of their regular tasks and actions. This has particular benefit for organization and motivation around the strategic goals that company leaders want to achieve. An internal business plan is the tool used to communicate these goals in a clear, effective, and calculated manner.
External business plans serve the purpose of raising capital. Banks constantly visit with small businesses desiring a loan to finance a new project. Meanwhile, venture capital firms accept roughly 1 out of 1000 companies that contact them for financing. An external business plan serves as a tool to show that the business concept is developed, evaluated, and planned. Investors and lenders want to eliminate as much risk as possible, and an external business plan provides them a way to measure and mitigate these risks. In short, an external business plan is a way for a developing company to stand out from other businesses while showing that goals and aspirations have been considered and documented.
These plans begin by following boilerplate sections and explanations. They then become unique documents. They are customized based on a variety of factors. For example, a web marketing firm has little use for the structure of an operations plan which is common to a manufacturing firm. In a similar fashion, a retail e-commerce store will even have a different business plan from a brick-and-mortar retail store. The factors of success, operations, marketing, risk, and measurement dictate this.
A Living Document
A business plan is often referred to as a “living document”. This is because a these plans are constantly changing. Whenever new developments in competition, marketing tools, the legal factors which relate to an industry, or others change a business plan must be updated so as to keep relevant. In this way a business plan is constantly evolving. A simple business plan is generally 20 pages, where a complicated one should not exceed 40 pages, on average.
Business Plan Format
For a business plan, combine parts to make a whole. These parts, though different for each plan, generally follow common purposes. The standard business plan format is as follows:
1) Executive Summary
2) Business Description
3) Products and/or Services
5) Operations Plan
6) Management and Organizational Structure
7) Benchmarks and Milestones
8) Legal Entity Structure
10)Financial Plan and Projections
For example, Alejandro has decided to start a micro-lending firm in his native country of Mexico. Combining philanthropy with his enlightened self-interest, Alejandro plans to make a profit while also fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in people who face a difficult future. Alejandro is excited to start his company and therefore, make his impact on the world.
Alejandro knows that he has to create a business plan for his new venture. Despite this, he is a young adult and is not sure where to begin. Determined, Alejandro starts by searching the internet for the term how to write a business plan. He finds some results which begin his thought process. Alejandro picks up a few books from his local bookstore and begins his journey.
Writing the Business Plan
To start the business plan format, Alejandro starts by writing his executive summary. This process is difficult. Alejandro then learns from his research that to write the executive summary after the rest of the business plan. Alejandro stops this section and begins the business explanation.
After writing a rough draft explanation of his business, he begins the competitive analysis. Here, he does as much research as possible into competitors on the market. Alejandro searches the web and personal contacts for this information.
Then, Alejandro assembles industry statistics and information for his industry analysis section of the business plan. He will need to summarize these into a section which serves his purposes.
Alejandro continues and eventually finishes the plan. With a rough draft in his hand, he seeks some advice for what he has made. Alejandro knows that he has a lot to learn, so he prepares himself for a lot of criticism. He finds his local S.C.O.R.E. chapter and prepares to begin the mentoring process.
In conclusion, Alejandro knows that he has a lot to learn. Still, he realizes that anyone who has achieved greatness started somewhere. Alejandro prepares his plan more, parks his ego at the door, and walks into his meeting with a smile.
Find a variety of business plan templates at S.C.O.R.E.
To learn more financial leadership skills, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs.