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5 reasons you need a business plan
If you are starting a small business, there is no shortage of advice on the steps you should take: registering your business name, getting a Tax ID, deciding on a business structure and applying for the needed permits and licenses. While these are all very important steps to take, a business plan will be central to how you start, grow and develop your business.
Here are 5 reasons why you need a business plan:
1. It will help you steer your business as you start and grow. Think of a business plan as a GPS to get your business going. A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan like a GPS for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through and detail all the key elements of how your business will run.
2. It’s not as hard as you think. A business plan is a written tool about your business that projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the path your business intends to take to make money and grow revenue. Think of it as a living project for your business, and not as a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans – one for sales and marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on.
3. It will help you to reach business milestones. A well-thought-out business plan helps you to step back and think objectively about the key elements of your business and informs your decision making as you move forward. It is essential whether you need to secure a business loan or not. Keep in mind that the plan does not have to be like an encyclopedia and does not have to have all the answers.
4. It can help you get funding. Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners. Having one in place will help investors feel confident that they will see a return on their investment. Your business plan is the tool you will use to persuade others that working with you (or investing in your business) is a smart decision.
5. There’s no wrong way to write a business plan. There is no right or wrong way to write a business plan. You can pick a plan format that works best for you. What’s important is that your business plan meets your needs. Most business plans fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup.
Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. Traditional plans tend to require more work upfront. Lean startup business plans are less common, but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as one hour to make and are typically just one page.
Because knowing where to start can be challenging, the SBA has tools to help make writing a business plan less intimidating and time consuming. The SBA offers a Business Plan Tool that helps simplify the process. The tool consists of eight easy-to-follow steps to help create a well-prepared plan.
To learn more about putting your business plan together, go to the SBA’s online Learning Center and take the self-paced course on How to Write a Business Plan . The course explains the importance of business planning, describes the components of a plan, and provides access to resources and sample plans. You can also take a look at the SBA’s Business Planning Guide for more information and to view business plan templates.
If you want a more hands-on approach, you can get assistance from an SBA resource partner to help complete your business plan. Working with a mentor or counselor from SCORE , a Small Business Development Center or a Women’s Business Center can help with all aspects of starting, growing or expanding your business.
About the author
U.s. small business administration.
Nine reasons why you need a business plan
Building a great business plan helps you plan, strategize and succeed. Presented by Chase for Business .
Making the decision to create a new business is an exciting yet stressful experience. Starting a business involves many tasks and obstacles, so it’s important to focus before you take action. A solid business plan can provide direction, help you attract investors and ensure you maintain momentum.
No matter what industry you plan on going into, a business plan is the first step for any successful enterprise. Building your business plan helps you figure out where you want your business to go and identify the necessary steps to get you there. This is a key document for your company to both guide your actions and track your progress.
What is the purpose of a business plan?
Think of a business plan like a roadmap. It enables you to solve problems and make key business decisions, such as marketing and competitive analysis, customer and market analysis and logistics and operations plans.
It can also help you organize your thoughts and goals, as well as give you a better idea of how your company will work. Good planning is often the difference between success and failure.
Here are nine reasons your company needs a business plan.
1. Prove your idea is viable
Through the process of writing a business plan, you can assess whether your company will be successful. Understanding market dynamics, as well as competitors, will help determine if your idea is viable.
This is also the time to develop financial projections for your business plan, like estimated startup costs, a profit and loss forecast, a break-even analysis and a cash flow statement . By taking time to investigate the viability of your idea, you can build goals and strategies to support your path to success.
A proper business plan proves to all interested parties—including potential investors, customers, employees, partners and most importantly yourself — that you are serious about your business.
2. Set important goals
As a business owner, the bulk of your time will mostly likely be spent managing day-to-day tasks. As a result, it might be hard to find time after you launch your business to set goals and milestones. Writing a business plan allows you to lay out significant goals for yourself ahead of time for three or even five years down the road. Create both short- and long-term business goals.
3. Reduce potential risks
Prevent your business from falling victim to unexpected dangers by researching before you break ground. A business plan opens your eyes to potential risks that your business could face. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions that may need research and analysis to answer. This is also good practice in how your business would actually manage issues when they arise. Incorporate a contingency plan that identifies risks and how you would respond to them effectively.
The most common reasons businesses fail include:
- Lack of capital
- Lack of market impact or need
- Unresearched pricing (too high or low)
- Explosive growth that drains all your capital
- Stiff competition
Lack of capital is the most prevalent reason why businesses fail. To best alleviate this problem, take time to determine how your business will generate revenue. Build a comprehensive model to help mitigate future risks and long-term pain points. This can be turned into a tool to manage growth and expansion.
4. Secure investments
Whether you’re planning to apply for an SBA loan , build a relationship with angel investors or seek venture capital funding, you need more than just an elevator pitch to get funding. All credible investors will want to review your business plan. Although investors will focus on the financial aspects of the plan, they will also want to see if you’ve spent time researching your industry, developed a viable product or service and created a strong marketing strategy.
While building your business plan, think about how much raised capital you need to get your idea off the ground. Determine exactly how much funding you’ll need and what you will use it for. This is essential for raising and employing capital.
5. Allot resources and plan purchases
You will have many investments to make at the launch of your business, such as product and services development, new technology, hiring, operations, sales and marketing. Resource planning is an important part of your business plan. It gives you an idea of how much you’ll need to spend on resources and it ensures your business will manage those resources effectively.
A business plan provides clarity about necessary assets and investment for each item. A good business plan can also determine when it is feasible to expand to a larger store or workspace.
In your plan, include research on new products and services, where you can buy reliable equipment and what technologies you may need. Allocate capital and plan how you’ll fund major purchases, such as with a Chase small business checking account or business credit card .
6. Build your team
From seasoned executives to skilled labor, a compelling business plan can help you attract top-tier talent, ideally inspiring management and employees long after hiring. Business plans include an overview of your executive team as well as the different roles you need filled immediately and further down the line.
Small businesses often employ specialized consultants, contractors and freelancers for individual tasks such as marketing, accounting and legal assistance. Sharing a business plan helps the larger team work collectively in the same direction.
This will also come into play when you begin working with any new partners. As a new business, a potential partner may ask to see your business plan. Building partnerships takes time and money, and with a solid business plan you have the opportunity to attract and work with the type of partners your new business needs.
7. Share your vision
When you start a business, it's easy to assume you'll be available to guide your team. A business plan helps your team and investors understand your vision for the company. Your plan will outline your goals and can help your team make decisions or take action on your behalf. Share your business plan with employees to align your full staff toward a collective goal or objective for the company. Consider employee and stakeholder ownership as a compelling and motivating force.
8. Develop a marketing strategy
A marketing strategy details how you will reach your customers and build brand awareness. The clearer your brand positioning is to investors, customers, partners and employees, the more successful your business will be.
Important questions to consider as you build your marketing strategy include:
- What industry segments are we pursuing?
- What is the value proposition of the products or services we plan to offer?
- Who are our customers?
- How will we retain our customers and keep them engaged with our products or services and marketing?
- What is our advertising budget?
- What price will we charge?
- What is the overall look and feel of our brand? What are our brand guidelines?
- Will we need to hire marketing experts to help us create our brand?
- Who are our competitors? What marketing strategies have worked (or not worked) for them?
With a thoughtful marketing strategy integrated into your business plan, your company goals are significantly more in reach.
9. Focus your energy
Your business plan determines which areas of your business to focus on while also avoiding possible distractions. It provides a roadmap for critical tradeoffs and resource allocation.
As a business owner, you will feel the urge to solve all of your internal and customers’ problems, but it is important to maintain focus. Keep your priorities at the top of your mind as you set off to build your company.
As a small business owner, writing a business plan should be one of your first priorities. Read our checklist for starting a business, and learn how to take your business from a plan to reality. When you’re ready to get started, talk with a Chase business banker to open a Chase business checking or savings account today.
For Informational/Educational Purposes Only: The views expressed in this article may differ from other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender, ©2023 JPMorgan Chase & Co
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20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2023
Written by Dave Lavinsky
What is the Purpose of a Business Plan?
The purpose of a business plan is to provide a clear roadmap for the company’s future. It outlines the vision, goals, and strategies of the business, guiding entrepreneurs and stakeholders in understanding its operations and objectives. A well-crafted business plan helps attract investors and funding by showcasing the potential for profitability and growth.
Top 20 Reasons Why you Need a Business Plan
1. to prove that you’re serious about your business.
A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business. Creating your plan forces you to think through and select the strategies that will propel your growth.
2. To Establish Business Milestones
The business plan should clearly lay out the long-term milestones that are most important to the success of your business. To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki, a milestone is something significant enough to come home and tell your spouse about (without boring him or her to death). Would you tell your spouse that you tweaked the company brochure? Probably not. But you’d certainly share the news that you launched your new website or reached $1M in annual revenues.
3. To Better Understand Your Competition
Creating the business plan forces you to analyze the competition. All companies have competition in the form of either direct or indirect competitors, and it is critical to understand your company’s competitive advantages. And if you don’t currently have competitive advantages, to figure out what you must do to gain them.
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4. To Better Understand Your Customer
Why do they buy when they buy? Why don’t they when they don’t? An in-depth customer analysis is essential to an effective business plan and to a successful business. Understanding your customers will not only allow you to create better products and services for them, but will allow you to more cost-effectively reach them via advertising and promotions.
5. To Enunciate Previously Unstated Assumptions
The process of actually writing the business plan helps to bring previously “hidden” assumptions to the foreground. By writing them down and assessing them, you can test them and analyze their validity. For example, you might have assumed that local retailers would carry your product; in your business plan, you could assess the results of the scenario in which this didn’t occur.
6. To Assess the Feasibility of Your Venture
How good is this opportunity? The business plan process involves researching your target market, as well as the competitive landscape, and serves as a feasibility study for the success of your venture. In some cases, the result of your planning will be to table the venture. And it might be to go forward with a different venture that may have a better chance of success.
7. To Document Your Revenue Model
How exactly will your business make money? This is a critical question to answer in writing, for yourself and your investors. Documenting the revenue model helps to address challenges and assumptions associated with the model. And upon reading your plan, others may suggest additional revenue streams to consider.
8. To Determine Your Financial Needs
Does your business need to raise capital? How much? One of the purposes of a business plan is to help you to determine exactly how much capital you need and what you will use it for. This process is essential for raising capital for business and for effectively employing the capital. It will also enable you to plan ahead, particularly if you need to raise additional funding in the future.
9. To Attract Investors
A formal business plan is the basis for financing proposals. The business plan answers investors’ questions such as: Is there a need for this product/service? What are the financial projections? What is the company’s exit strategy? While investors will generally want to meet you in person before writing you a check, in nearly all cases, they will also thoroughly review your business plan.
10. To Reduce the Risk of Pursuing the Wrong Opportunity
The process of creating the business plan helps to minimize opportunity costs. Writing the business plan helps you assess the attractiveness of this particular opportunity, versus other opportunities. So you make the best decisions.
11. To Force You to Research and Really Know Your Market
What are the most important trends in your industry? What are the greatest threats to your industry? Is the market growing or shrinking? What is the size of the target market for your product/service? Creating the business plan will help you to gain a wider, deeper, and more nuanced understanding of your marketplace. And it will allow you to use this knowledge to make decisions to improve your company’s success.
12. To Attract Employees and a Management Team
To attract and retain top quality talent, a business plan is necessary. The business plan inspires employees and management that the idea is sound and that the business is poised to achieve its strategic goals. Importantly, as you grow your company, your employees and not you will do most of the work. So getting them aligned and motivated will be key to your success.
13. To Plot Your Course and Focus Your Efforts
The business plan provides a roadmap from which to operate, and to look to for direction in times of doubt. Without a business plan, you may shift your short-term strategies constantly without a view to your long-term milestones. You wouldn’t go on a long driving trip without a map; think of your business plan as your map.
14. To attract partners
Partners also want to see a business plan, in order to determine whether it is worth partnering with your business. Establishing partnerships often requires time and capital, and companies will be more likely to partner with your venture if they can read a detailed explanation of your company.
15. To Position Your Brand
Creating the business plan helps to define your company’s role in the marketplace. This definition allows you to succinctly describe the business and position the brand to customers, investors, and partners. With the industry, customer and competitive insight you gain during the business planning process, you can best determine how to position your brand.
16. To Judge the Success of Your Business
A formal business plan allows you to compare actual operational results versus the business plan itself. In this way, it allows you to clearly see whether you have achieved your strategic, financing, and operational goals (and why you have or have not).
17. To Reposition Your Business to Deal with Changing Conditions
For example, during difficult economic conditions, if your current sales and operational models aren’t working, you can rewrite your business plan to define, try, and validate new ideas and strategies.
18. To Document Your Marketing Plan
How are you going to reach your customers? How will you retain them? What is your advertising budget? What price will you charge? A well-documented marketing plan is essential to the growth of a business. And the marketing strategies and tactics you use will evolve each year, so revisiting your marketing plan at least annually is critical.
19. To Understand and Forecast Your Company’s Staffing Needs
After completing your business plan, you will not be surprised when you are suddenly short-handed. Rather, your business plan provides a roadmap for your staffing needs, and thus helps to ensure smoother expansion. Importantly your plan can not only help you understand your staffing needs, but ensure your timing is right as it takes time to recruit and train great employees.
20. To Uncover New Opportunities
Through the process of brainstorming, white-boarding and creative interviewing, you will likely see your business in a different light. As a result, you will often come up with new ideas for marketing your product/service and running your business. It’s coming up with these ideas and executing on them which is often the difference between a business that fails or just survives and one that thrives.
Business Plan FAQs
What is a business plan.
A business plan is a document that details your business concept and strategy for growth.
A business plan helps guide your company's efforts and, if applicable, gives investors and lenders the information they need to decide whether or not to fund your company. A business plan template helps you to most easily complete your plan.
Why Do You Need a Business Plan?
A business plan provides details about your company, competition, customers and industry so that you make the best possible decisions to grow your company.
What is the Importance of a Business Plan?
The 3 most important purposes of a business plan are 1) to create an effective strategy for growth, 2) to determine your future financial needs, and 3) to attract investors (including angel investors and VC funding ) and lenders.
Why is a Business Plan Important to an Entrepreneur?
Business plans help entrepreneurs take their visions and turn them into tangible action plans for success.
Since 1999, Growthink’s business plan experts have assisted more than 4,000 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $2.5 billion in growth financing.
Need help with your business plan?
Speak with a professional business plan consultant from our team.
Use our simple business plan template .
Check out our business plan examples .
Or, if you’re creating your own PPM, you can save time and money with Growthink’s private placement memorandum template .
Learn more about us via our Growthink Business Plan Review page
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15 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2023
Posted january 21, 2022 by noah parsons.
As a small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur, a business plan can seem more like a hurdle you have to overcome than a useful tool. It’s a barrier that’s keeping you from moving forward with your business. Maybe the bank won’t review your loan application without a business plan or a potential investor has asked to see your business plan before they will meet with you.
But, writing a business plan doesn’t have to feel like a homework assignment. Instead, think of writing a business plan as an investment in your business. It’s a tool to figure out a strong and financially viable strategy for growth. And, it’s even been scientifically proven that planning will increase your chances of success and help you grow faster.
Still not convinced? Read on for our definitive list of reasons why you should write a plan for your business.
What is the key purpose of a business plan?
Imagine you’re setting out on a journey. You know what your final destination is, but you haven’t figured out how to get there. While it might be fun to just start driving and figure things out as you go, your trip will most likely take longer than you anticipated and cost you more. If you instead take a look at a map and chart the best way to get to your destination, you’ll arrive on time and on budget. Planning for your business isn’t that much different.
The primary purpose of a business plan is to help you figure out where you want to go with your business and how you’re going to get there. It helps you set your direction and determine a winning strategy. A solid business plan will set your business up for success and help you build an unbeatable company.
If you start off without a plan, you may go down some interesting detours, but you’re unlikely to grow quickly or stick to your budget.
Why do you need to write a business plan?
Establishing a strategic roadmap for your business is the primary benefit of writing a business plan. But what does that really look like for you and your business? Here are our top 15 reasons why you should write a business plan.
1. Reduce your risk
Writing a business plan takes some of the risk out of starting a business. It ensures that you’re thinking through every facet of your business to determine if it can truly be viable.
Does your solution fit the market? Are your startup or operational costs manageable? Will your proposed business model actually generate sales? What sort of milestones would you need to hit to achieve profitability? These are all questions associated with business risk that you can answer with your plan.
For those already running a business, writing a plan can help you better manage ongoing risk. Should you bring on a new employee? What does cash flow look like for your next month, quarter, or even year? Are you on track to meet your milestones or do you need to change your focus? Keep your plan up to date, review it regularly and you can easily answer these questions and mitigate risk.
2. Uncover your business’s potential
Writing a business plan helps you think about the customers you are serving and what their needs are. Exploring those customer needs will help you uncover new opportunities for your business to serve them and potentially expose new products and services that you could offer. When you use your business plan to manage your business, you’ll be able to see the parts of your strategy that are working and those that aren’t. For example, you may have invested in new marketing efforts to sell one of your products, but that strategy just isn’t working out. With a business plan in hand, you’ll be able to see what’s going to plan and where you need to make adjustments to your strategy, pivoting to new opportunities that will drive profitability.
3. Test a new business idea
When you have a new business idea, it really helps to spend a little time thinking through all the details. A business plan will help you think about your target market, your budget, how much money you’ll need to launch, and how your idea will actually work before you spend any real money. A business plan will also help you easily share your idea with other people to get input and feedback before you get started.
We recommend using a one-page business plan to test ideas quickly and easily.
4. Attract investors and get funding to start and grow your business
Sharing your business idea with investors requires a business plan. Now, you probably won’t share a long, detailed business plan to get investors interested, but you probably will share your executive summary — which is an overview of your business plan. Investors may never actually ask for your full business plan, but they will certainly ask you questions that you’ll only be able to answer if you’ve taken the time to write a plan.
At the very least, they’ll want to see your financial forecasts , so you should be prepared for this. If you end up pitching your business to investors, whether in-person or remotely , having a business plan written makes it much easier to translate the right information into a pitch deck. In short, you’ll have all of the right information ready and available to show why your business is worth investing in.
5. Plan for different scenarios
Even if you have a plan in place, things rarely actually go to plan. The world is always changing, customer tastes change, and new competitors arrive on the scene. Having a plan allows you to experiment with different scenarios to see how changes to your business will impact your forecasts, budgets, profitability, and cash flow.
6. Research shows that business plans definitely work
A Journal of Management Studies study found that businesses that take the time to plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t. Our own 2021 small business research study found that 58% of small business owners that have or are working on a plan feel confident in their business, even amidst a crisis. And a study in Small Business Economics found that entrepreneurs that write business plans for their ideas are 152% more likely to actually start their businesses. There’s plenty of additional research that links planning with success, so it’s a proven fact that you won’t be wasting your time when you write your plan.
7. Build a better budget and a financial forecast
A core component of any business plan is a financial forecast. When you take the time to plan, you’ll have to think through your expense budget, your sales goals, and the cash that it’s going to take to keep your doors open, purchase inventory, and more.
The beauty of incorporating forecasts into your business plan is that you don’t need to have the exact numbers to start. You can work with general assumptions and compare against competitive benchmarks to set a baseline for your business. As you operate and collect financial data you can then begin to update your forecasts to generate a more accurate view of how your business will operate.
8. Determine your financial needs
Without a business plan, it’s impossible to really know how much money it’s going to take to start and run your business. You don’t just need money for your initial purchases. You need to have enough cash in the bank to keep your business afloat while you get fully up and running. A plan will help you determine exactly how much money you’ll need and help you keep track of your cash flow and runway .
9. Attract employees
Especially if you’re a young startup company, attracting employees can be hard. Without a proven track record, why should someone take a risk to work for you? Having a business plan can help solve that problem. Your plan can help a prospective employee understand your business strategy and plans for growth so that they can feel confident joining your team. It’s also incredibly useful in determining when and if it’s feasible for you to bring on more employees .
10. Get your team all on the same page
A great strategy for your business can only be successful if your team understands it. By documenting your strategy with a business plan, you can easily get everyone on the same page, working towards the same goals. It’s even better if you regularly review your plan with members of your team. This ensures that everyone is consistently going back to the core strategy documentation, analyzing it, and exploring how it impacts individual and team goals .
11. Manage your business better
A business plan is all about setting goals for your company — both financial goals and milestones you hope to accomplish. When you use your plan to regularly check in on your business to see how you’re doing and what your progress is, you’re managing your business. Regular review , ideally monthly, will help you build a strong, resilient business.
12. Understand your market and build a marketing plan
No matter how good your idea is, you have to figure out who your ideal customers are and how you’re going to get the word out to them. That’s where a marketing plan comes in. It can be an indispensable tool for figuring out how you get your first customers as well as your thousandth customer.
13. It’s easier than you think
You may be procrastinating in writing a business plan because it sounds like a lot of work. The truth is that planning is much less complicated than you think. Start small with a one-page business plan that you complete in half an hour . From there, refine your plan until your idea is solid. At that point, you can invest a little more time in a more detailed business plan. Just start with the basics and expand from there.
14. You’ll sleep better at night
When you have a plan for your business, you have peace of mind. You know that you’ve invested the time to figure out a business model that actually works and you’ve considered different financial scenarios so you can handle the unexpected. And, you’ve got a management tool to run your business better than your competitors.
15. Effectively navigate a crisis
Having a business plan not only helps you create a roadmap for your business but also helps you navigate unforeseen events. Large-scale economic downturns, supply shortages, payment delays, cash flow problems, and any number of other issues are bound to pop up. But, you can be prepared to face each crisis head-on by leveraging your business plan.
A plan helps you assess your current situation, determine how the crisis will alter your plan, and begin to explore what it will take to recover. With a little planning, you can even prepare your business for future downturns with this same process. It’ll make crisis planning easier and ideally recession-proof your business by having the right plan and processes in place.
Don’t wait, start writing your business plan today
There are plenty of reasons to write a business plan, but the real reason is about finding success for you and your business. Taking the time to plan is an investment in yourself and your business that will pay dividends, whether you’re starting a new business or taking your existing business to the next level.
You can jump-start your business plan writing process with our article covering how to write a business plan in as little as 30-minutes .
If you’re looking for a tool to help you get more from your business plan, we recommend trying out LivePlan . Our business planning and management tool will guide you through the entire process, including all of your financial forecasts, without ever requiring that you open a spreadsheet.
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Do You Really Need a Business Plan?
The art of storytelling, from net margin to sales.
Why is a business plan important?
- Who will the reader be?
- What do you want their response to be?
Four Reasons to Write a Business Plan
1. To raise money for your business
2. To make sound decisions
3. To help you identify any potential weaknesses
4. To communicate your ideas with stakeholders
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How to Write a Business Plan for Your Small Business
14 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan
10 min. read
Updated October 27, 2023
There’s no question that starting and running a business is hard work. But it’s also incredibly rewarding. And, one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of success is to have a business plan.
A business plan is a foundational document that is essential for any company, no matter the size or age. From attracting potential investors to keeping your business on track—a business plan helps you achieve important milestones and grow in the right direction.
A business plan isn’t just a document you put together once when starting your business. It’s a living, breathing guide for existing businesses – one that business owners should revisit and update regularly.
Unfortunately, writing a business plan is often a daunting task for potential entrepreneurs. So, do you really need a business plan? Is it really worth the investment of time and resources? Can’t you just wing it and skip the whole planning process?
Good questions. Here’s every reason why you need a business plan.
- 1. Business planning is proven to help you grow 30 percent faster
Writing a business plan isn’t about producing a document that accurately predicts the future of your company. The process of writing your plan is what’s important. Writing your plan and reviewing it regularly gives you a better window into what you need to do to achieve your goals and succeed.
You don’t have to just take our word for it. Studies have proven that companies that plan and review their results regularly grow 30 percent faster. Beyond faster growth, research also shows that companies that plan actually perform better. They’re less likely to become one of those woeful failure statistics, or experience cash flow crises that threaten to close them down.
- 2. Planning is a necessary part of the fundraising process
One of the top reasons to have a business plan is to make it easier to raise money for your business. Without a business plan, it’s difficult to know how much money you need to raise, how you will spend the money once you raise it, and what your budget should be.
Investors want to know that you have a solid plan in place – that your business is headed in the right direction and that there is long-term potential in your venture.
A business plan shows that your business is serious and that there are clearly defined steps on how it aims to become successful. It also demonstrates that you have the necessary competence to make that vision a reality.
Investors, partners, and creditors will want to see detailed financial forecasts for your business that shows how you plan to grow and how you plan on spending their money.
- 3. Having a business plan minimizes your risk
When you’re just starting out, there’s so much you don’t know—about your customers, your competition, and even about operations.
What’s your biggest business challenge right now?
As a business owner, you signed up for some of that uncertainty when you started your business, but there’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk . Creating and reviewing your business plan regularly is a great way to uncover your weak spots—the flaws, gaps, and assumptions you’ve made—and develop contingency plans.
Your business plan will also help you define budgets and revenue goals. And, if you’re not meeting your goals, you can quickly adjust spending plans and create more realistic budgets to keep your business healthy.
- 4. Crafts a roadmap to achieve important milestones
A business plan is like a roadmap for your business. It helps you set, track and reach business milestones.
For your plan to function in this way, your business plan should first outline your company’s short- and long-term goals. You can then fill in the specific steps necessary to reach those goals. This ensures that you measure your progress (or lack thereof) and make necessary adjustments along the way to stay on track while avoiding costly detours.
In fact, one of the top reasons why new businesses fail is due to bad business planning. Combine this with inflexibility and you have a recipe for disaster.
And planning is not just for startups. Established businesses benefit greatly from revisiting their business plan. It keeps them on track, even when the global market rapidly shifts as we’ve seen in recent years.
- 5. A plan helps you figure out if your idea can become a business
To turn your idea into reality, you need to accurately assess the feasibility of your business idea.
You need to verify:
- If there is a market for your product or service
- Who your target audience is
- How you will gain an edge over the current competition
- If your business can run profitably
A business plan forces you to take a step back and look at your business objectively, which makes it far easier to make tough decisions down the road. Additionally, a business plan helps you to identify risks and opportunities early on, providing you with the necessary time to come up with strategies to address them properly.
Finally, a business plan helps you work through the nuts and bolts of how your business will work financially and if it can become sustainable over time.
6. You’ll make big spending decisions with confidence
As your business grows, you’ll have to figure out when to hire new employees, when to expand to a new location, or whether you can afford a major purchase.
These are always major spending decisions, and if you’re regularly reviewing the forecasts you mapped out in your business plan, you’re going to have better information to use to make your decisions.
7. You’re more likely to catch critical cash flow challenges early
The other side of those major spending decisions is understanding and monitoring your business’s cash flow. Your cash flow statement is one of the three key financial statements you’ll put together for your business plan. (The other two are your balance sheet and your income statement (P&L).
Reviewing your cash flow statement regularly as part of your regular business plan review will help you see potential cash flow challenges earlier so you can take action to avoid a cash crisis where you can’t pay your bills.
- 8. Position your brand against the competition
Competitors are one of the factors that you need to take into account when starting a business. Luckily, competitive research is an integral part of writing a business plan. It encourages you to ask questions like:
- What is your competition doing well? What are they doing poorly?
- What can you do to set yourself apart?
- What can you learn from them?
- How can you make your business stand out?
- What key business areas can you outcompete?
- How can you identify your target market?
Finding answers to these questions helps you solidify a strategic market position and identify ways to differentiate yourself. It also proves to potential investors that you’ve done your homework and understand how to compete.
- 9. Determines financial needs and revenue models
A vital part of starting a business is understanding what your expenses will be and how you will generate revenue to cover those expenses. Creating a business plan helps you do just that while also defining ongoing financial needs to keep in mind.
Without a business model, it’s difficult to know whether your business idea will generate revenue. By detailing how you plan to make money, you can effectively assess the viability and scalability of your business.
Understanding this early on can help you avoid unnecessary risks and start with the confidence that your business is set up to succeed.
- 10. Helps you think through your marketing strategy
A business plan is a great way to document your marketing plan. This will ensure that all of your marketing activities are aligned with your overall goals. After all, a business can’t grow without customers and you’ll need a strategy for acquiring those customers.
Your business plan should include information about your target market, your marketing strategy, and your marketing budget. Detail things like how you plan to attract and retain customers, acquire new leads, how the digital marketing funnel will work, etc.
Having a documented marketing plan will help you to automate business operations, stay on track and ensure that you’re making the most of your marketing dollars.
- 11. Clarifies your vision and ensures everyone is on the same page
In order to create a successful business, you need a clear vision and a plan for how you’re going to achieve it. This is all detailed with your mission statement, which defines the purpose of your business, and your personnel plan, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of current and future employees. Together, they establish the long-term vision you have in mind and who will need to be involved to get there.
Additionally, your business plan is a great tool for getting your team in sync. Through consistent plan reviews, you can easily get everyone in your company on the same page and direct your workforce toward tasks that truly move the needle.
- 12. Future-proof your business
A business plan helps you to evaluate your current situation and make realistic projections for the future.
This is an essential step in growing your business, and it’s one that’s often overlooked. When you have a business plan in place, it’s easier to identify opportunities and make informed decisions based on data.
Therefore, it requires you to outline goals, strategies, and tactics to help the organization stay focused on what’s important.
By regularly revisiting your business plan, especially when the global market changes, you’ll be better equipped to handle whatever challenges come your way, and pivot faster.
You’ll also be in a better position to seize opportunities as they arise.
- 13. Tracks your progress and measures success
An often overlooked purpose of a business plan is as a tool to define success metrics. A key part of writing your plan involves pulling together a viable financial plan. This includes financial statements such as your profit and loss, cash flow, balance sheet, and sales forecast.
By housing these financial metrics within your business plan, you suddenly have an easy way to relate your strategy to actual performance. You can track progress, measure results, and follow up on how the company is progressing. Without a plan, it’s almost impossible to gauge whether you’re on track or not.
Additionally, by evaluating your successes and failures, you learn what works and what doesn’t and you can make necessary changes to your plan. In short, having a business plan gives you a framework for measuring your success. It also helps with building up a “lessons learned” knowledge database to avoid costly mistakes in the future.
- 14. Your business plan is an asset if you ever want to sell
Down the road, you might decide that you want to sell your business or position yourself for acquisition. Having a solid business plan is going to help you make the case for a higher valuation. Your business is likely to be worth more to a buyer if it’s easy for them to understand your business model, your target market, and your overall potential to grow and scale.
Free business plan template
Join over 1-million businesses and make planning easy with our simple, modern, investor-approved business plan template.
- Writing your business plan
By taking the time to create a business plan, you ensure that your business is heading in the right direction and that you have a roadmap to get there. We hope that this post has shown you just how important and valuable a business plan can be. While it may still seem daunting, the benefits far outweigh the time investment and learning curve for writing one.
Luckily, you can write a plan in as little as 30 minutes. And there are plenty of excellent planning tools out there if you’re looking for more step-by-step guidance. Whatever it takes, write your plan and you’ll quickly see how useful it can be.
See why 1.2 million entrepreneurs have written their business plans with LivePlan
Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software , a co-founder of Borland International, and a recognized expert in business planning. He has an MBA from Stanford and degrees with honors from the University of Oregon and the University of Notre Dame. Today, Tim dedicates most of his time to blogging, teaching and evangelizing for business planning.
Table of Contents
- 6. You’ll make big spending decisions with confidence
- 7. You’re more likely to catch critical cash flow challenges early
3 Min. Read
What Is a Break-Even Analysis?
How Long Should a Business Plan Be?
How to Write an Effective Marketing Plan
8 Min. Read
How to Conduct an Industry Analysis
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The importance of a business plan
Business plans are like road maps: it’s possible to travel without one, but that will only increase the odds of getting lost along the way.
Owners with a business plan see growth 30% faster than those without one, and 71% of the fast-growing companies have business plans . Before we get into the thick of it, let’s define and go over what a business plan actually is.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a 15-20 page document that outlines how you will achieve your business objectives and includes information about your product, marketing strategies, and finances. You should create one when you’re starting a new business and keep updating it as your business grows.
Rather than putting yourself in a position where you may have to stop and ask for directions or even circle back and start over, small business owners often use business plans to help guide them. That’s because they help them see the bigger picture, plan ahead, make important decisions, and improve the overall likelihood of success.
Why is a business plan important?
A well-written business plan is an important tool because it gives entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as their employees, the ability to lay out their goals and track their progress as their business begins to grow. Business planning should be the first thing done when starting a new business. Business plans are also important for attracting investors so they can determine if your business is on the right path and worth putting money into.
Business plans typically include detailed information that can help improve your business’s chances of success, like:
- A market analysis : gathering information about factors and conditions that affect your industry
- Competitive analysis : evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
- Customer segmentation : divide your customers into different groups based on specific characteristics to improve your marketing
- Marketing: using your research to advertise your business
- Logistics and operations plans : planning and executing the most efficient production process
- Cash flow projection : being prepared for how much money is going into and out of your business
- An overall path to long-term growth
10 reasons why you need a business plan
I know what you’re thinking: “Do I really need a business plan? It sounds like a lot of work, plus I heard they’re outdated and I like figuring things out as I go...”.
The answer is: yes, you really do need a business plan! As entrepreneur Kevin J. Donaldson said, “Going into business without a business plan is like going on a mountain trek without a map or GPS support—you’ll eventually get lost and starve! Though it may sound tedious and time-consuming, business plans are critical to starting your business and setting yourself up for success.
To outline the importance of business plans and make the process sound less daunting, here are 10 reasons why you need one for your small business.
1. To help you with critical decisions
The primary importance of a business plan is that they help you make better decisions. Entrepreneurship is often an endless exercise in decision making and crisis management. Sitting down and considering all the ramifications of any given decision is a luxury that small businesses can’t always afford. That’s where a business plan comes in.
Building a business plan allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time.
Creating a robust business plan is a forcing function—you have to sit down and think about major components of your business before you get started, like your marketing strategy and what products you’ll sell. You answer many tough questions before they arise. And thinking deeply about your core strategies can also help you understand how those decisions will impact your broader strategy.
Send invoices, get paid, track expenses, pay your team, and balance your books with our free financial management software.
2. To iron out the kinks
Putting together a business plan requires entrepreneurs to ask themselves a lot of hard questions and take the time to come up with well-researched and insightful answers. Even if the document itself were to disappear as soon as it’s completed, the practice of writing it helps to articulate your vision in realistic terms and better determine if there are any gaps in your strategy.
3. To avoid the big mistakes
Only about half of small businesses are still around to celebrate their fifth birthday . While there are many reasons why small businesses fail, many of the most common are purposefully addressed in business plans.
According to data from CB Insights , some of the most common reasons businesses fail include:
- No market need : No one wants what you’re selling.
- Lack of capital : Cash flow issues or businesses simply run out of money.
- Inadequate team : This underscores the importance of hiring the right people to help you run your business.
- Stiff competition : It’s tough to generate a steady profit when you have a lot of competitors in your space.
- Pricing : Some entrepreneurs price their products or services too high or too low—both scenarios can be a recipe for disaster.
The exercise of creating a business plan can help you avoid these major mistakes. Whether it’s cash flow forecasts or a product-market fit analysis , every piece of a business plan can help spot some of those potentially critical mistakes before they arise. For example, don’t be afraid to scrap an idea you really loved if it turns out there’s no market need. Be honest with yourself!
Get a jumpstart on your business plan by creating your own cash flow projection .
4. To prove the viability of the business
Many businesses are created out of passion, and while passion can be a great motivator, it’s not a great proof point.
Planning out exactly how you’re going to turn that vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between concept and reality. Business plans can help you confirm that your grand idea makes sound business sense.
A critical component of your business plan is the market research section. Market research can offer deep insight into your customers, your competitors, and your chosen industry. Not only can it enlighten entrepreneurs who are starting up a new business, but it can also better inform existing businesses on activities like marketing, advertising, and releasing new products or services.
Want to prove there’s a market gap? Here’s how you can get started with market research.
5. To set better objectives and benchmarks
Without a business plan, objectives often become arbitrary, without much rhyme or reason behind them. Having a business plan can help make those benchmarks more intentional and consequential. They can also help keep you accountable to your long-term vision and strategy, and gain insights into how your strategy is (or isn’t) coming together over time.
6. To communicate objectives and benchmarks
Whether you’re managing a team of 100 or a team of two, you can’t always be there to make every decision yourself. Think of the business plan like a substitute teacher, ready to answer questions any time there’s an absence. Let your staff know that when in doubt, they can always consult the business plan to understand the next steps in the event that they can’t get an answer from you directly.
Sharing your business plan with team members also helps ensure that all members are aligned with what you’re doing, why, and share the same understanding of long-term objectives.
7. To provide a guide for service providers
Small businesses typically employ contractors , freelancers, and other professionals to help them with tasks like accounting , marketing, legal assistance, and as consultants. Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, while ensuring everyone is on the same page.
8. To secure financing
Did you know you’re 2.5x more likely to get funded if you have a business plan?If you’re planning on pitching to venture capitalists, borrowing from a bank, or are considering selling your company in the future, you’re likely going to need a business plan. After all, anyone that’s interested in putting money into your company is going to want to know it’s in good hands and that it’s viable in the long run. Business plans are the most effective ways of proving that and are typically a requirement for anyone seeking outside financing.
Learn what you need to get a small business loan.
9. To better understand the broader landscape
No business is an island, and while you might have a strong handle on everything happening under your own roof, it’s equally important to understand the market terrain as well. Writing a business plan can go a long way in helping you better understand your competition and the market you’re operating in more broadly, illuminate consumer trends and preferences, potential disruptions and other insights that aren’t always plainly visible.
10. To reduce risk
Entrepreneurship is a risky business, but that risk becomes significantly more manageable once tested against a well-crafted business plan. Drawing up revenue and expense projections, devising logistics and operational plans, and understanding the market and competitive landscape can all help reduce the risk factor from an inherently precarious way to make a living. Having a business plan allows you to leave less up to chance, make better decisions, and enjoy the clearest possible view of the future of your company.
Understanding the importance of a business plan
Now that you have a solid grasp on the “why” behind business plans, you can confidently move forward with creating your own.
Remember that a business plan will grow and evolve along with your business, so it’s an important part of your whole journey—not just the beginning.
Now that you’ve read up on the purpose of a business plan, check out our guide to help you get started.
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.
6 Reasons You Really Need to Write A Business Plan
Published: October 14, 2020
Starting a busine ss can be a daunting task, especially if you’re starting from square one.
It’s easy to feel stuck in the whirlwind of things you’ll need to do, like registering your company, building a team, advertising, the list goes on. Not to mention, a business idea with no foundation can make the process seem incredibly intimidating.
Thankfully, business plans are an antidote for the new business woes that many entrepreneurs feel. Some may shy away from the idea, as they are lengthy documents that require a significant amount of attention and care.
However, there’s a reason why those who take the time to write out a business plan are 16% more likely to be successful than those who don’t. In other words, business plans work.
What is a business plan, and why does it matter?
In brief, a business plan is a roadmap to success. It's a blueprint for entrepreneurs to follow that helps them outline, understand, and cohesively achieve their goals.
Writing a business plan involves defining critical aspects of your business, like brand messaging, conducting market research, and creating pricing strategies — all before starting the company.
A business plan can also increase your confidence. You’ll get a holistic view of your idea and understand whether it's worth pursuing.
So, why not take the time to create a blueprint that will make your job easier? Let’s take a look at six reasons why you should write a business plan before doing anything else.
Six Reasons You Really Need To Write a Business Plan
- Legitimize your business idea.
- Give your business a foundation for success.
- Obtain funding and investments.
- Hire the right people.
- Communicate your needs.
- It makes it easier to sell your business.
1. Legitimize your business idea.
Pursuing business ideas that stem from passions you’ve had for years can be exciting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sound venture.
One of the first things a business plan requires you to do is research your target market. You’ll gain a nuanced understanding of industry trends and what your competitors have done, or not, to succeed. You may find that the idea you have when you start is not likely to be successful.
That may feel disheartening, but you can always modify your original idea to better fit market needs. The more you understand about the industry, your future competitors, and your prospective customers, the greater the likelihood of success. If you identify issues early on, you can develop strategies to deal with them rather than troubleshooting as they happen.
It’s better to know sooner rather than later if your business will be successful before investing time and money.
2. Give your business a foundation for success.
Let's say you’re looking to start a clean beauty company. There are thousands of directions you can go in, so just saying, “I’m starting a clean beauty company!” isn’t enough.
You need to know what specific products you want to make, and why you’re deciding to create them. The Pricing and Product Line style="color: #33475b;"> section of a business plan requires you to identify these elements, making it easier to plan for other components of your business strategy.
You’ll also use your initial market research to outline financial projections, goals, objectives, and operational needs. Identifying these factors ahead of time creates a strong foundation, as you’ll be making critical business decisions early on.
You can refer back to the goals you’ve set within your business plan to track your progress over time and prioritize areas that need extra attention.
All in all, every section of your business plan requires you to go in-depth into your future business strategy before even acting on any of those plans. Having a plan at the ready gives your business a solid foundation for growth.
When you start your company, and your product reaches the market, you’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time focusing on your target audiences and generating revenue.
3. Obtain funding and investments.
Every new business needs capital to get off the ground. Although it would be nice, banks won’t finance loans just because you request one. They want to know what the money is for, where it’s going, and if you’ll eventually be able to pay it back.
If you want investors to be part of your financing plan, they’ll have questions about your business’ pricing strategies and revenue models. Investors can also back out if they feel like their money isn’t put to fair use. They’ll want something to refer back to track your progress over time and understand if you’re meeting the goals you told them you’d meet. They want to know if their investment was worthwhile.
The Financial Considerations section of a business plan will prompt you to estimate costs ahead of time and establish revenue objectives before applying for loans or speaking to investors.
You’ll secure and finalize your strategy in advance to avoid showing up unprepared for meetings with potential investors.
4. Hire the right people.
After you’ve completed your business plan and you have a clear view of your strategies, goals, and financial needs, there may be milestones you need to meet that require skills you don’t yet have. You may need to hire new people to fill in the gaps.
Having a strategic plan to share with prospective partners and employees can prove that they aren’t signing on to a sinking ship.
If your plans are summarized and feasible, they’ll understand why you want them on your team, and why they should agree to work with you.
5. Communicate your needs.
If you don’t understand how your business will run, it’ll be hard to communicate your business’s legitimacy to all involved parties.
Your plan will give you a well-rounded view of how your business will work, and make it easier for you to communicate this to others.
You may have already secured financing from banks and made deals with investors, but a business’ needs are always changing. While your business grows, you’ll likely need more financial support, more partners, or just expand your services and product offers. Using your business plan as a measure of how you’ve met your goals can make it easier to bring people onto your team at all stages of the process.
6. It makes it easier to sell your business.
A buyer won’t want to purchase a business that will run into the ground after signing the papers. They want a successful, established company.
A business plan that details milestones you can prove you’ve already met can be used to show prospective buyers how you’ve generated success within your market. You can use your accomplishments to negotiate higher price points aligned with your business’ value.
A Business Plan Is Essential
Ultimately, having a business plan can increase your confidence in your new venture. You’ll understand what your business needs to succeed, and outline the tactics you’ll use to achieve those goals.
Some people have a lifetime goal of turning their passions into successful business ventures, and a well-crafted business plan can make those dreams come true.
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6 reasons why you need a business plan before starting a business
Table of Contents
1) Know the market
2) plan your growth, 3) minimise risk, 4) help guide future decisions, 5) improve as you learn more, 6) secure financing, making informed business decisions.
Sometimes success comes with luck. Otherwise, it comes with hard work and planning. If you’d like to maximise your success as you launch a business, this article is for you.
Learn six reasons you need a business plan before starting a business in this article by Countingup. If you’re new to business, a typical business plan includes research on market trends, competition analyses, customer profiles, marketing goals, logistics and operations plans, cash flow information, and an overall strategy on how they will grow.
Find out how a plan helps your business to:
- Know the market
- Plan your growth
- Minimise risk
- Help guide future decisions
- Improve as you learn more
- Secure financing
This article will cover why you should plan and how you can use these elements to build your business more effectively. If you’re ready to write a business plan instead, check out our dedicated article How to write a business plan . There we cover what sort of information is expected and useful in business plans and how to research them.
At Countingup, we want to empower new entrepreneurs to take on new challenges and be financially independent. Read on to find out more.
If you’re to be successful in business, you need to know your market and the value customers are seeking within it. However, this can potentially be a lot of information to gather and manage. Therefore, you need a business plan to centralise and summarise all the important reasons why your business is valuable.
To do this, you need to consider two main perspectives: what your customers want and what your competitors are already offering. This second question is essential as it will allow you to identify how you can be different. If you already have something of a business idea or would like to turn a side-hustle into a full-time job, you should do research to understand if your idea will be a viable business and how. This market research in your business plan should look something like the following:
From your research, you can build a detailed picture of where your business should be positioned as you launch from the market gaps you’ve identified.
As you anticipate what your business might look like in five years, you may have some ideas for milestones to hit. For example: first customer, thousandth customer, break-even financially, first £1,000 in profit, and so on. However, do you know how you’re going to reach each of them?
From the market research you’ve just completed, your business plan allows you to take various steps to use this information. Therefore, you need a business plan to maximise your growth and create specific objectives and strategies to meet this growth.
For example, if you run a craft beer business, you might aim to sell 1,000 units within your first year. Your sales objective could be achieved with a strategy to ‘Attend trade fairs and beer festivals to meet potential retailers and interested customers’. Depending on the direction you choose in providing to retailers or selling directly to customers, you can reach this objective (first 1,000 units) in very different ways.
In contrast, if you run a consultancy business in financial services or marketing, you could aim to grow your client base to 12 full-time contracts across the year. Therefore, you might plan to ‘Use social media and industry contacts to advertise to clients’ or ‘Develop your service to retain clients for longer periods and larger projects’. These goals’ methods are critically different from one another – therefore strategies for your goals will need to be relevant and focused.
Once you’ve taken steps to meet these objectives, you can use your business plan to track your progress and identify where you still need to develop your business. With these formalised goals and methods, you can grow your business faster than entrepreneurs who don’t plan.
Another direction in which to focus market research within your business plan is towards identifying vulnerabilities. Each business has fragile areas where they are threatened. Therefore, you need a business plan to protect weak points and avoid excessive risk sources.
From the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) included in your business plan, you can highlight areas that may need more proactive management and back-up plans in case something goes wrong. For example, this can be recognising whether your business idea is patentable, if external factors are driving up costs for consumers or if customer interest is a fading trend. Each of these threats and weaknesses presents vastly different problems to your business. Therefore, each will also need suitable methods to address them.
As you’re looking to start, having this awareness can mean you can anticipate problems ahead of time. Depending on the severity of these issues, you can take steps to cushion any damage or preserve your profits entirely. Without this insight, you leave yourself open to threats you were able to anticipate and mitigate but didn’t manage to – a critical oversight for any business owner.
On balance, having this awareness of weaknesses and threats can be more important than your opportunities, as you’ll be aware of steps to avoid and what to look out for. Therefore, outline threats to your business’ future to protect it.
Unfortunately, even the best plans have blindspots and circumstances where they’re of limited use. Therefore, you need a business plan to navigate uncertain futures.
Your market research is a snapshot of the market at one point in time. Therefore, the information, objectives and strategies you create are only useful for a certain period after this. If something changes in the market or some element of your business no longer works, you can still fall back on other parts of your business plan without having to start from scratch.
For example, as you build your business, you can revisit future objectives and decide whether your currently available options can still meet them. If they do, and you’re able to stay on target for your goals, you can grow your business in the direction you initially planned. However, where your plan hasn’t worked out, you’ll need to decide to the best of your ability.
Navigating these future scenarios with updated information is especially important as you balance the short and long-term priorities of growing your business. For example, do you want to take more money to compensate yourself or reinvest a higher proportion of your profits in the hopes of growth later on?
Even if you’ve planned to reinvest every penny for the first 5 years, maybe something in your personal life has meant you need to support yourself.
Some critical information to look out for as your business plan evolves includes:
- Demand lower than predicted
- Cash flow issues due to poor forecasting
- Not enough differentiation from competitors
- Prices too high or too low for the industry to be sustainable
As the months and years pass by while you trade and grow your business, you can update your plan with more insight. Therefore, you need a business plan to improve your business.
As an example, in some instances, a manufacturing process is harder than anticipated or a planned funding source isn’t available. Here, you can adapt your growth strategies based on this new information and update your plan to be more pragmatic and accurate. Similarly, if you find that certain marketing strategies don’t work, you can rule out certain business strategies in the future to expand your business with more confidence.
There would be little point in planning a course of action for your business, facing difficulties and then not updating your plan with a new direction. This would risk your business being disorganised and ineffective in its growth.
Even if your initial plans and growth strategies go the way you planned, at a certain point, your plan will expire anyway. This is because you can only plan so much on a single market snapshot. Therefore, you can use the experience you gain with time from growing your business to fine-tune your plans. This will make sure your business is always performing at its best within an evolving marketplace.
Finally, investors and lenders want to see entrepreneurs with a good understanding of what they offer to customers and a clear vision of how to grow their business. Therefore, you need a business plan to help convince other people that your business has value and potential.
When seeking funding, having a business plan to share with potential investors and lenders is sometimes a requirement as they’ll want to evaluate your claims more critically. While they may not be familiar with every business plan they come across, they may know more about typical business growth patterns and will be able to spot poor research or naive expectations.
Therefore, having a detailed and realistic business outline can help your plan withstand their criticism and robustly show your growth potential. Similarly, if you’re considering an exit strategy to sell your business in the future, a business plan may be needed to secure a higher valuation.
If you’d like to know more about communicating your business’s value and plan to secure funding, read our dedicated article How to present a business plan to potential investors .
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Why You Should Write a Business Plan
Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses.
To Test the Feasibility of Your Business Idea
To give your new business the best chance of success, to secure funding, to make business planning manageable and effective, to attract investors, frequently asked questions (faqs).
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A business plan is the blueprint for your business. Starting a business without a business plan is like building a house without a blueprint. Yet, unlike a house, a business isn't static. We often make the mistake of thinking of a business plan as a single document that you put together once when you're starting out and never touch again. But as the business develops, so should its business plan. In fact, any particular business may have multiple business plans as its objectives change.
Writing a business plan is time-consuming, but it's essential if you want to have a successful business that's going to survive the startup phase.
- Writing a business plan reveals how tenable your idea is.
- Updating and amending a business plan as the business develops and its goals change is vital to your success.
- A good business plan helps you define your target market, competitive advantage, optimum pricing strategies, and better prepares the business for upcoming challenges.
- A business plan helps you secure funding and attract new investors.
Writing a business plan is the best way—other than going out and doing it—to test whether an idea for starting a business is feasible. In this sense, the business plan is your safety net. If working through a business plan reveals that your business idea is untenable, it will save you a great deal of time and money.
Often, an idea for starting a business is discarded at the marketing analysis or competitive analysis stage , freeing you to move on to a new (and better) idea.
Unfortunately, many prospective business owners are so convinced that their idea for a product or service is a can't-miss proposition, that they don't take the time to do the necessary research and work through a proper business plan. The more you know about your industry, your prospective customers, and the competition, the greater the likelihood that your business will succeed.
Writing a business plan will ensure that you pay attention to the broad operational and financial objectives of your new business and the small details, such as budgeting and market planning. The process will ultimately make for a smoother startup period and fewer unforeseen problems as your business gets up and running.
The exercise of budgeting and market planning will help you define your target market , your unique selling proposition, optimum pricing strategies, and outline how you intend to sell and deliver your products to customers. In addition, developing a budget for implementation will assist with determining your startup and operating capital requirements.
According to the Small Business Administration, one of the most-cited reasons why businesses fail is inadequate planning. By starting too soon and without a sufficient plan, your business is setting itself up for failure.
Most new businesses need startup and operating capital to get off the ground. Without a well-developed business plan, there is no chance of getting debt financing from established financial institutions such as banks or equity financing from angel investors.
Established businesses often need money, too, to buy new equipment or property, or because of market downturns. Having an up-to-date business plan gives you a much better chance of getting the money you need to keep operating or expand.
Even an angel investor will want to ensure their money is going to a business that knows what it's doing. The easiest way to prove this is via a well-developed business plan.
Investors and financiers are always looking at the risk of default, and word of mouth is no substitute for written facts and figures in a properly prepared business plan.
A business plan is essential if you're thinking of starting a business, but it's also an important tool for established businesses. Viable businesses are dynamic; they change and grow. Your company's original business plan needs to be revised as you set new goals .
Reviewing the business plan can also help you see what goals have been accomplished, what changes need to be made, or what new directions your company's growth should take.
Whether you want to shop your business to venture capitalists or attract angel investors , you need to have a solid business plan. A presentation may pique their interest, but they'll need a well-written document they can study before they'll be prepared to make any investment commitment.
Be prepared to have your business plan scrutinized. Both venture capitalists and angel investors will want to conduct extensive background checks and competitive analyses to be certain that what's written in your business plan is indeed the case.
What are the sections of a business plan?
A comprehensive business plan should include the following sections:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Competitor analysis
- Industry analysis
- Product and services description
- Financial data
What is the purpose of a business plan?
A business plan has four main purposes:
- Tests the feasibility and model of your business idea
- Attracts investors
- Sets a plan for growth
- Identifies capital needs
Small Business Administration. " Selecting a Business That Fits ."
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