A business plan is a document that describes in details how a business will achieve its goals.
It lays out a written plan from a financial, marketing and operational view point.
Business plans are an important part when creating a new business be it a startup or an existing business that wants to move in a new direction.
Business plans for startups are shared with the funding agencies, venture capitalists and potential investors in order to obtain funding.
An effective business plan often includes the description of the company or the business, its products or services as well as how the business intends to achieve its goals.
It also includes the budget, projected financing, an analysis of the market and the marketing strategy approach.
In the business plan, the business owners estimates the expenses and revenues for a certain period and describes the operational costs related to the business.
The main aim of a business plan is to help owners have a defined picture of the drawbacks and costs of setting up the business which will help them to modify accordingly before implementing the idea.
Factors that make an effective business plan
· It should fit the business needs
A business plan is not generic, some business plans exist to obtain investments, others are made to support loan applications while others exist to help run the company and not to be presented to outsiders.
Therefore, the business plan developed should be able to achieve its intended purpose.
· It should be realistic
Another measure of an effective or ineffective business plan is realism.
If the plan outlined cannot be implemented, then you do not get any points.
Example an excellently researched and beautifully formatted business plan of a product that cannot be built is not a good plan at all.
Also, a plan that ignores the flaws is not good.
· It should be specific
An effective business plan should include deadlines, budgets, metrics, forecasts and dates.
It should also be measurable; that is, after the implementation of the plan, there should be a way to determine if the plan was followed and if the actual results were obtained.
· It should clearly define the responsibilities for implementation
You should be able to identify the person who is responsible for each task or function as a task with no owner is likely to remain unimplemented.
· It should be possible to keep it alive through follow up
The ideal business plan should be flexible.
Planning does not only involve planning the future and following the plan no matter what, there should be room for adjustment after review and when the management deem it necessary.