Business plans come in various shapes and sizes. The question you have to ask yourself is why you’re writing it. Only then can you write the plan that will get you what you want. Having read and worked on many business plans, I’ve learned that no plan can be used for all things.
There are typically three reasons to write a business plan.
- For yourself
- For a potential partner
- To receive funding
Your plan should be fluid.
When you are writing the plan for yourself, you don’t really need to stick to any special guidelines. You do, however, want to make sure to organize it in a manner that you can continually reference it. Business plans are fluid documents. They change as your business changes and goals shift.
Consistent updating and referencing will help to keep you on target. We can often become distracted with shiny new things that deviate us from our path. This can waste valuable time and resources. Your plan can help to serve as a guide and help you maintain focus.
Tailor your plan to your target audience.
When you are writing for a potential partner or funding, you are typically writing a document for one time use. If you are writing it to receive funding from a bank, then the size of your plan may be between 20 and 30 pages. This is especially true if you are trying to get an SBA loan. If you are writing it to get funding from a venture capitalist, then the size should be no longer than 10 pages including appendices.
Understand who will be reading it and what they may look for. If you are trying to get a local grant, the reader may be more focused on economic impact and job creation. If you are looking for venture capital, then your plan needs to tell the investor that you have a capable team with a scalable product that has potential to garner big market share.
Here’s a couple good articles on what venture capitalists look for:
Whomever you write your business plan for, make sure it is detailed and to the point. Business plans are large documents and take time to read. Keep the fluff to a minimum to make it easier on you and your reader. If you would like more detail on what a business plan should contain, the SBA website goes into great detail about what questions need to be answered in each section. Also, I really like Guy Kawasaki’s post on “The Art of the Executive Summary”.
Follow this blog to get notifications on new posts. I’ll touch on some key tips I’ve picked up on what to include in your business plan.
It’s time to “Stop Doing the Mundane, and Start Getting Weird”