Developing a business plan is an important part of owning and operating a business, but if you think of the process only as a means of attracting investment or guiding you through startup, you are ignoring the many other ways a business plan becomes essential to the success of your business.
Here are a few examples of business plan needs throughout the life of your business:
Launch. When thinking about the need for a business plan, a business launch is usually the first thing that comes to mind. This popular type of business plan differentiates itself from other types due to its focus on describing the company, explaining the products or services your business will provide, marketing analysis and plan and financial projections, including cash flow projections, profit, expenses and income.
Operations. Also an internal plan, this type of business plan is often viewed as the natural successor to a business launch plan and includes some of the same components, but updated. Your operations plan should map out company operations for the coming year and include specifics regarding individual employee roles and responsibilities.
Internal project analysis. Unlike the business launch plan, this business plan is narrow in its approach and developed to provide projections for internal business decision-making. Its purpose it to evaluate a proposed project or action. Your financial analysis should include any additional personnel costs, technology needs and operating expenses. Include the project’s capital needs and assumptions for repayment. You will also want to include a marketing plan specifically targeting the proposed project.
Strategic. The primary function of your strategic business plan is to focus on your company’s vision, mission, goals and action plan for achieving them, including timeline. This plan should also define critical success factor. A hallmark of this type of business plan is that it cuts across all department to provide the big picture for your business. Often, advisory boards are more involved in development of this type of business plan over any other.
Expansion. Also known as a growth plan, this customized business plan may be written for either internal or external purposes. Whether internal or external, financial projections will be the primary focus. A plan meant to attract outside investors, however, will also need to include background information on the company and its operations to-date to provide potential investors with the details necessary to make a decision. If your expansion does not involve outside capital and will only be used internally, there is no need to include obvious company details.
Feasibility plan. A feasibility plan includes elements of both project analysis plans and expansion plans. However, a feasibility plan’s primary purpose is just as its name implies: to establish the feasibility of a proposed business venture and make recommendations for moving forward (or not). This type of plan focuses on demand for the proposed product or services made possible by the new venture. A feasibility plan will also include capital needs and profit projections in formulating recommendations.