Whether you’re seeking investors, applying for loans or developing a new product line, a business plan is an essential tool. A well-drafted plan will provide valuable information that will help you remain on track.
Despite a common perception that business plans are outdated and primarily needed for VCs or bank loan officers, bootstrappers still use these plans to foster internal alignment. Here are the key reasons why you should too.
1. It’s a roadmap
A business plan is an entrepreneur’s way to make sure they have all their ducks in a row before launching a new company. It reassures investors, partners, and creditors that they are serious about their idea and that they have spent hours thinking of it, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.
It also helps entrepreneurs set their long-term objectives and gives them strategic direction so that fewer outcomes are left to chance. For example, if an entrepreneur is considering hiring new employees or investing in a new location, they can refer back to their plan and use the forecasts to determine whether the company has enough cash to cover those expenses.
Having a business plan is especially important for startup companies, but it’s also useful for established businesses that want to improve their bottom line and grow. Regardless of the size or nature of the business, entrepreneurs should revisit and update their plans on a regular basis. That way, they can identify red flags early and reduce the risk of failure by avoiding bad business ideas. By taking the time to write a business plan, entrepreneurs can also get valuable feedback from others.
2. It’s a tool for decision-making
When an entrepreneur isn’t guided by a business plan, many decisions are left up to chance. This can lead to unforeseen results that can derail the company’s growth. The process of creating a business plan forces entrepreneurs to consider the various outcomes and decide how best to proceed.
A business plan can help a company avoid making unwise decisions that may result in financial losses. For example, if an entrepreneur is considering a new product, they can use their business plan to determine whether it’s a marketable product and whether the demand is strong enough to support a profitable company.
A well-written business plan also helps companies attract top talent by clearly defining the company’s mission, goals, and objectives. It should include details about the products and services that a company intends to offer, its marketing strategies, and its financial projections (e.g., cost estimates, projected revenue, payback period, breakeven point). This information is particularly important for attracting investors and other stakeholders who want to see clear and detailed financial projections before they’ll invest in a company. A good business plan also includes a formal funding request. This can be useful when seeking venture capital, a loan from a bank, or an investment from a private investor.
3. It’s a guide for investors
Investors are always looking for the next big thing, and a business plan is an excellent way to prove that your grand idea has legs. It also helps a company define and reach important milestones. For example, a business plan can help you set budgets and revenue goals. It can even help you develop contingency plans for when things go wrong.
A well-written business plan will cover all the major components of your company, including human resources, marketing, finance, operations and intellectual property. It will also include a five-year forecast of profitability and a detailed description of the company’s current assets. Finally, it will outline the company’s management team and the experience and competence of its key leaders.
A business plan is a great tool for attracting investors, but it is not a magic bullet. A business plan needs to be reviewed and updated regularly, based on success, failure, industry trends, and other new information. This will make it a more effective tool for making decisions and providing strategic direction, so that fewer outcomes are left to chance. Moreover, it will help you avoid making decisions on the fly, which can lead to costly mistakes.
4. It’s a tool for management
A business plan lays out the specifics of an enterprise, including the goals and objectives it’s going to pursue. It provides a blueprint based on which the business will operate and it governs all functions, especially decision-making. It also helps managers get everyone on board with the vision and direction of a company. This is done by sharing the plan with employees, so they’re aware of the long-term goals and what the company stands for.
When a plan is shared, people can contribute ideas to make the business better and they can see what steps are needed to reach those goals. It also gives them a clear idea of what type of help the business needs from its partners, investors, and suppliers. It can even be used to attract funding because it proves to potential investors that the entrepreneur is serious about the business and will put in the work.
A good business plan also includes an executive summary, a company description, a marketing plan, and financial projections, among others. It should also include a contingency plan that defines the ways in which the business will respond to unforeseen risks and threats. It will also contain a thorough market research section, which is very useful in identifying potential customers, analyzing the competition, and proving that there is a demand for a new product or service.
5. It’s a tool for resource management
Entrepreneurs need to be able to assess the feasibility of their ideas. A business plan is a tool that can help them determine whether their business will work financially and if it can become sustainable over time. It also helps them identify risks and opportunities early on, so they can take steps to manage these potential outcomes. However, it is understandble that it might be hard to formulate a business plan alone, that is why Pro Business Plans is at your service.
Most entrepreneurs will require outside capital to fund their new business, and a well-written business plan is crucial for maximizing the likelihood of raising those funds. A business plan can help an entrepreneur set the stage for a conversation with investors by showing them the financial and operational strengths of their business. It can also help them answer key questions such as how much money they need to raise, what the best way is to spend that capital and how long it will take for the company to reach breakeven.
A business plan is a document that should be shared with all stakeholders, including employees, project partners, investors, suppliers and major clients. Making these people aware of the business plan will encourage them to align their actions with the company’s goals and objectives, which can lead to better performance and a stronger sense of ownership within the company.
6. It’s a tool for marketing
Creating a business plan will also help you identify and allocate your resources. This is important because it will help you to better understand the impact of changes such as opening new offices, hiring fresh employees, introducing new products, and other such decisions on the financial status of your company.
Moreover, you’ll be able to use your business plan to communicate and sell the vision of your business to potential investors, project partners, suppliers, key employees, and major clients. For example, you can use your business plan to illustrate the current and future market potential of your product or service, your projected profits and growth, and the current and estimated value of the firm.
Often, a business plan is required for securing funding from banks, lending institutions, venture capitalists, and other sources of financing. However, even if your business plan doesn’t require you to solicit external funding, it is essential for the purposes of fine-tuning the vision of your company and identifying areas of weakness or failure that you can address. Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “Failure to plan is planning to fail” still holds true today. A business plan will help you avoid such failures and succeed in achieving your long-term goals.
7. It’s a tool for exit planning
A business plan is the ultimate document that defines an entrepreneur’s vision, approach and objectives. It outlines how the company will achieve its goals and what its future potential is. Ultimately, the business plan helps determine the most advantageous way for the owner to exit the company. This can be through sale, transfer or liquidation.
Whether you’re seeking debt financing from a bank or financial institution or equity capital from investors, a well-written and compelling business plan is the key to your success. Investors and lenders look for information on a business’s risk, its earning potential and its cash flows that will pay off the investment over time. They’ll also want to know the financial projections and forecasts such as expected revenue and costs, a break-even point, payment schedules, etc.
Without a business plan, entrepreneurs who wish to make a favorable exit for themselves, their heirs or their employees may find that their options are limited and the process much more difficult. Creating an exit strategy is like climbing to the crest of a mountain – you can’t experience the exhilaration of the summit if you don’t train for the climb beforehand. Without a business plan, that’s often the case.