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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The importance of business plan: 5 key reasons.
A key part of any business is its business plan. They can help define the goals of your business and help it reach success. A good business plan can also help you develop an adequate marketing strategy. There are a number of reasons all business owners need business plans, keep reading to learn more!
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
What Is a Business Plan?
5 reasons you need a well-written business plan, how do i make a business plan, key takeaways.
A business plan contains detailed information that can help determine its success. Some of this information can include the following:
- Market analysis
- Cash flow projection
- Competitive analysis
- Financial statements and financial projections
- An operating plan
A solid business plan is a good way to attract potential investors. It can also help you display to business partners that you have a successful business growing. In a competitive landscape, a formal business plan is your key to success.
Check out all of the biggest reasons you need a good business plan below.
1. To Secure Funding
Whether you’re seeking funding from a venture capitalist or a bank, you’ll need a business plan. Business plans are the foundation of a business. They tell the parties that you’re seeking funding from whether or not you’re worth investing in. If you need any sort of outside financing, you’ll need a good business plan to secure it.
2. Set and Communicate Goals
A business plan gives you a tangible way of reviewing your business goals. Business plans revolve around the present and the future. When you establish your goals and put them in writing, you’re more likely to reach them. A strong business plan includes these goals, and allows you to communicate them to investors and employees alike.
3. Prove Viability in the Market
While many businesses are born from passion, not many will last without an effective business plan. While a business concept may seem sound, things may change once the specifics are written down. Often, people who attempt to start a business without a plan will fail. This is because they don’t take into account all of the planning and funds needed to get a business off of the ground.
Market research is a large part of the business planning process. It lets you review your potential customers, as well as the competition, in your field. By understanding both you can set price points for products or services. Sometimes, it may not make sense to start a business based on the existing competition. Other times, market research can guide you to effective marketing strategies that others lack. To have a successful business, it has to be viable. A business plan will help you determine that.
4. They Help Owners Avoid Failure
Far too often, small businesses fail. Many times, this is due to the lack of a strong business plan. There are many reasons that small businesses fail, most of which can be avoided by developing a business plan. Some of them are listed below, which can be avoided by having a business plan:
- The market doesn’t need the business’s product or service
- The business didn’t take into account the amount of capital needed
- The market is oversaturated
- The prices set by the business are too high, pushing potential customers away
Any good business plan includes information to help business owners avoid these issues.
5. Business Plans Reduce Risk
Related to the last reason, business plans help reduce risk. A well-thought-out business plan helps reduce risky decisions. They help business owners make informed decisions based on the research they conduct. Any business owner can tell you that the most important part of their job is making critical decisions. A business plan that factors in all possible situations helps make those decisions.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to help you create a business plan. A simple search can lead you to helpful tools, like a business plan template . These are helpful, as they let you fill in the information as you go. Many of them provide basic instructions on how to create the business plan, as well.
If you plan on starting a business, you’ll need a business plan. They’re good for a vast number of things. Business plans help owners make informed decisions, as well as set goals and secure funding. Don’t put off putting together your business plan!
If you’re in the planning stages of your business, be sure to check out our resource hub . We have plenty of valuable resources and articles for you when you’re just getting started. Check it out today!
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What Is a Business Plan?
Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.
Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.
- A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
- Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
- For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
- There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.
Investopedia / Ryan Oakley
Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.
Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."
Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.
There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.
Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.
While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.
While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.
Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.
The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.
These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:
- Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
- Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
- Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
- Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
- Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.
The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.
2 Types of Business Plans
Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.
- Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
- Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.
Why Do Business Plans Fail?
A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.
How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.
What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?
The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.
Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.
A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.
Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."
U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."
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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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What is a Business Plan and Why is it Important?
What is a business plan.
Whether you’re starting a small business or exploring ways to expand an existing one, a business plan is an important tool to help guide your decisions. Think of it as a roadmap to success, providing greater clarity on all aspects of your business, from marketing and finance to operations and product/service details.
While some owners may be tempted to jump directly into startup mode, writing a business plan is a crucial first step for budding entrepreneurs to check the viability of a business before investing too much time or money. The purpose of a business plan is to help articulate a strategy for starting your business. It also provides insight on steps to be taken, resources required for achieving your business goals and a timeline of anticipated results.
In fact, businesses that plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t. 1
For existing small businesses, a business plan should be updated annually as a way to guide growth and navigate the expansion into new markets.
Studies show that nearly 71% of the fastest-growing businesses have business plans, indicating that even existing businesses can benefit from updating their plans. 2
Your plan should include explicit objectives for hiring new employees , market analysis, financial projections, and potential investors. The objectives should indicate how they’ll help your business prosper and grow.
Building an asset management business plan
Committing resources to capital improvements and new assets such as computers, software or cars/trucks is never an easy decision for budget-conscious small business owners. But a business plan can bring clarity to the process of whether to buy or lease and help determine the optimal amount allocated to those assets. A good business plan can also help you decide if it’s feasible to take on additional office, retail or work space.
Creating a marketing strategy
Marketing and market potential are important aspects of a plan for aspiring small businesses.
Getting your business in front of customers on a consistent basis is one of the keys to ensuring your business not only stays afloat but also thrives.
Marketing strategies can be simple, but before you decide on how you will get the word out, getting clear on your target audience and why your business solves their problem can make sticking to your marketing plan easier.
Knowing your unique market positioning can help you determine your messaging. Your marketing strategy should include who your target audience is, the platforms or methods you will connect with them on, and a measurement framework to determine if your efforts are working.
Take entrepreneur Scott Sultzer, who opened Sandwich Joint restaurant in downtown Los Angeles in 2009. “I included the potential marketing demographic of all those who lived in a certain area of the city,” he said of his marketing strategy. “My goal was to capture a certain percentage of all those people who lived and worked nearby.” 4
Created primarily as a marketing tool, Sulzer’s 10-page plan included such topics as target market breakdown, marketing strategy and market penetration. “My business plan was mostly about market projections,” he said. “How are we going to get those people that lead to an increase in our daily sales? And how are we going to reach them to let them know we’re here?” 4
Depending on your business, it’s important to have both brick-and-mortar marketing strategies as well as a plan for marketing your business online .
Seeking investment for your business
In addition to providing a roadmap for progress and a marketing plan , your business plan could also be important in securing funding .
Whether you’re seeking a credit line from a bank or an influx of capital from investors, a business plan that answers questions about profitability and revenue generation can make the difference between whether someone decides to invest – or how much they might choose to invest.
In fact, a study showed that businesses with a plan were more likely to receive formal financial support, such as funding, than businesses without one. 3
Hiring the right talent
A business plan may also be needed to retain other professional services as well, such as attorneys, landlords, consultants or accountants. Sulzer used his business plan to secure a lease.
“I had to have a viable document that they could trust,” said Sulzer, who leased from one of the largest landowners in downtown Los Angeles. 4
“With a corporate landlord, they wouldn’t deal with me unless I had a business plan. I had to submit all my information and a plan that presented what I wanted to do, with financial breakdowns and percentages, demographics, and how I was going to get customers.” 4
For a small business to succeed, attracting talented workers and partners is of vital importance. A part of a business plan for hiring employees is to help bring in the right talent, from the executive level to skilled staff, by showing them the direction and growth potential of the business. It can also help secure vendor accounts, especially with exclusive suppliers.
Setting business plan objectives for management
Finally, a business plan can be important in providing structure and management objectives to a small business. It can become a reference tool to keep management on track with sales targets and operational milestones. When used properly and consulted regularly, it can help you measure and manage what you’re working so hard to create.
Ready to take the next step? Learn how to write a business plan .
Don’t forget to consider insurance coverage in your business plan. When the unexpected happens, you want to make sure your small business is covered. Customized insurance solutions are crucial to protecting and keeping your operation going.
Find out how small business insurance from Nationwide can help you build and protect your business whether you are just starting up or already established.
1 https://www.effectuation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/The-Multiple-Effects-of-Business-Planning-onNew-Venture-Performance-1.pdf , Accessed October 2021. 2 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/0447-2778.00006 , Accessed October 2021. 3 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13504851.2014.967377 , Accessed October 2021. 4 Nationwide Interview with Scott Sultzer, 2016.
Disclaimer: The information included is designed for informational purposes only. It is not legal, tax, financial or any other sort of advice, nor is it a substitute for such advice. The information may not apply to your specific situation. We have tried to make sure the information is accurate, but it could be outdated or even inaccurate in parts. It is the reader’s responsibility to comply with any applicable local, state, or federal regulations. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, its affiliates and their employees make no warranties about the information nor guarantee of results, and they assume no liability in connection with the information provided. Nationwide, Nationwide is on your side, and the Nationwide N and Eagle are services marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2021 Nationwide.
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What is a business plan?
Reasons for writing a business plan, what research shows about business plans, when should you write a business plan, how often should you update your business plan, how long should your business plan be, what information is included in a business plan, different types of business plans, business plan vs. operational plan vs. strategic plan, business plan vs. business model, moving from idea to business plan.
What is a Business Plan? Definition and Resources
Tim Berry | Nov 23, 2023
If you’ve ever jotted down a business idea on a napkin with a few tasks you need to accomplish, you’ve written a business plan — or at least the very basic components of one.
The origin of formal business plans is murky. But they certainly go back centuries. And when you consider that 20% of new businesses fail in year 1 , and half fail within 5 years, the importance of thorough planning and research should be clear.
But just what is a business plan? And what’s required to move from a series of ideas to a formal plan? Here we’ll answer that question and explain why you need one to be a successful business owner.
A business plan lays out a strategic roadmap for any new or growing business.
Any entrepreneur with a great idea for a business needs to conduct market research , analyze their competitors , validate their idea by talking to potential customers, and define their unique value proposition .
The business plan captures that opportunity you see for your company: it describes your product or service and business model , and the target market you’ll serve.
It also includes details on how you’ll execute your plan: how you’ll price and market your solution and your financial projections .
If you’re asking yourself, ‘Do I really need to write a business plan?’ consider this fact:
Companies that commit to planning grow 30% faster than those that don’t.
Creating a business plan is crucial for businesses of any size or stage.
If you plan to raise funds for your business through a traditional bank loan or SBA loan , none of them will want to move forward without seeing your business plan. Venture capital firms may or may not ask for one, but you’ll still need to do thorough planning to create a pitch that makes them want to invest.
But it’s more than just a means of getting your business funded . The plan is also your roadmap to identify and address potential risks.
It’s not a one-time document. Your business plan is a living guide to ensure your business stays on course.
Related: 14 of the top reasons why you need a business plan
Numerous studies have established that planning improves business performance:
- 71% of fast-growing companies have business plans that include budgets, sales goals, and marketing and sales strategies.
- Companies that clearly define their value proposition are more successful than those that can’t.
- Companies or startups with a business plan are more likely to get funding than those without one.
- Starting the business planning process before investing in marketing reduces the likelihood of business failure.
The planning process significantly impacts business growth for existing companies and startups alike.
Read More: Research-backed reasons why writing a business plan matters
No two business plans are alike.
Yet there are similar questions for anyone considering writing a plan to answer. One basic but important question is when to start writing it.
A Harvard Business Review study found that the ideal time to write a business plan is between 6 and 12 months after deciding to start a business.
But the reality can be more nuanced – it depends on the stage a business is in, or the type of business plan being written.
Ideal times to write a business plan include:
- When you have an idea for a business
- When you’re starting a business
- When you’re preparing to buy (or sell)
- When you’re trying to get funding
- When business conditions change
- When you’re growing or scaling your business
Read More: The best times to write or update your business plan
As is often the case, how often a business plan should be updated depends on your circumstances.
A business plan isn’t a homework assignment to complete and forget about. At the same time, no one wants to get so bogged down in the details that they lose sight of day-to-day goals.
But it should cover new opportunities and threats that a business owner surfaces, and incorporate feedback they get from customers. So it can’t be a static document.
For an entrepreneur at the ideation stage, writing and checking back on their business plan will help them determine if they can turn that idea into a profitable business .
And for owners of up-and-running businesses, updating the plan (or rewriting it) will help them respond to market shifts they wouldn’t be prepared for otherwise.
It also lets them compare their forecasts and budgets to actual financial results. This invaluable process surfaces where a business might be out-performing expectations and where weak performance may require a prompt strategy change.
The planning process is what uncovers those insights.
Thinking about a business plan strictly in terms of page length can risk overlooking more important factors, like the level of detail or clarity in the plan.
Not all of the plan consists of writing – there are also financial tables, graphs, and product illustrations to include.
But there are a few general rules to consider about a plan’s length:
- Your business plan shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to skim.
- Business plans for internal use (not for a bank loan or outside investment) can be as short as 5 to 10 pages.
A good practice is to write your business plan to match the expectations of your audience.
If you’re walking into a bank looking for a loan, your plan should match the formal, professional style that a loan officer would expect . But if you’re writing it for stakeholders on your own team—shorter and less formal (even just a few pages) could be the better way to go.
The length of your plan may also depend on the stage your business is in.
For instance, a startup plan won’t have nearly as much financial information to include as a plan written for an established company will.
Read More: How long should your business plan be?
The contents of a plan business plan will vary depending on the industry the business is in.
After all, someone opening a new restaurant will have different customers, inventory needs, and marketing tactics to consider than someone bringing a new medical device to the market.
But there are some common elements that most business plans include:
- Executive summary: An overview of the business operation, strategy, and goals. The executive summary should be written last, despite being the first thing anyone will read.
- Products and services: A description of the solution that a business is bringing to the market, emphasizing how it solves the problem customers are facing.
- Market analysis: An examination of the demographic and psychographic attributes of likely customers, resulting in the profile of an ideal customer for the business.
- Competitive analysis: Documenting the competitors a business will face in the market, and their strengths and weaknesses relative to those competitors.
- Marketing and sales plan: Summarizing a business’s tactics to position their product or service favorably in the market, attract customers, and generate revenue.
- Operational plan: Detailing the requirements to run the business day-to-day, including staffing, equipment, inventory, and facility needs.
- Organization and management structure: A listing of the departments and position breakdown of the business, as well as descriptions of the backgrounds and qualifications of the leadership team.
- Key milestones: Laying out the key dates that a business is projected to reach certain milestones , such as revenue, break-even, or customer acquisition goals.
- Financial plan: Balance sheets, cash flow forecast , and sales and expense forecasts with forward-looking financial projections, listing assumptions and potential risks that could affect the accuracy of the plan.
- Appendix: All of the supporting information that doesn’t fit into specific sections of the business plan, such as data and charts.
Read More: Use this business plan outline to organize your plan
A business plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all document. There are numerous ways to create an effective business plan that fits entrepreneurs’ or established business owners’ needs.
Here are a few of the most common types of business plans for small businesses:
- One-page plan : Outlining all of the most important information about a business into an adaptable one-page plan.
- Growth plan : An ongoing business management plan that ensures business tactics and strategies are aligned as a business scales up.
- Internal plan : A shorter version of a full business plan to be shared with internal stakeholders – ideal for established companies considering strategic shifts.
- What questions are you trying to answer?
- Are you trying to lay out a plan for the actual running of your business?
- Is your focus on how you will meet short or long-term goals?
Since your objective will ultimately inform your plan, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish before you start writing.
While a business plan provides the foundation for a business, other types of plans support this guiding document.
An operational plan sets short-term goals for the business by laying out where it plans to focus energy and investments and when it plans to hit key milestones.
Then there is the strategic plan , which examines longer-range opportunities for the business, and how to meet those larger goals over time.
Read More: How to use a business plan for strategic development and operations
If a business plan describes the tactics an entrepreneur will use to succeed in the market, then the business model represents how they will make money.
The difference may seem subtle, but it’s important.
Think of a business plan as the roadmap for how to exploit market opportunities and reach a state of sustainable growth. By contrast, the business model lays out how a business will operate and what it will look like once it has reached that growth phase.
Learn More: The differences between a business model and business plan
Now that you understand what a business plan is, the next step is to start writing your business plan .
If you’re stuck, start with a one-page business plan and check out our collection of over 550 business plan examples for inspiration. They’re broken out over dozens of industries—you can even copy and paste sections into your plan and rewrite them with information specific to your business.
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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.
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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.
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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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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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Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates
Do you REALLY need a business plan?
The top three questions that I get asked most frequently as a professional business plan writer will probably not surprise you:
- What is the purpose of a business plan – why is it really required?
- How is it going to benefit my business if I write a business plan?
- Is a business plan really that important – how can I actually use it?
Keep reading to get my take on what the most essential advantages of preparing a business plan are—and why you may (not) need to prepare one.
The importance, purpose and benefit of a business plan is in that it enables you to validate a business idea, secure funding, set strategic goals – and then take organized action on those goals by making decisions, managing resources, risk and change, while effectively communicating with stakeholders.
Let’s take a closer look at how each of the important business planning benefits can catapult your business forward:
1. Validate Your Business Idea
The process of writing your business plan will force you to ask the difficult questions about the major components of your business, including:
- External: industry, target market of prospective customers, competitive landscape
- Internal: business model, unique selling proposition, operations, marketing, finance
Business planning connects the dots to draw a big picture of the entire business.
And imagine how much time and money you would save if working through a business plan revealed that your business idea is untenable. You would be surprised how often that happens – an idea that once sounded so very promising may easily fall apart after you actually write down all the facts, details and numbers.
While you may be tempted to jump directly into start-up mode, writing a business plan is an essential first step to check the feasibility of a business before investing too much time and money into it. Business plans help to confirm that the idea you are so passionate and convinced about is solid from business point of view.
Take the time to do the necessary research and work through a proper business plan. The more you know, the higher the likelihood that your business will succeed.
2. Set and Track Goals
Successful businesses are dynamic and continuously evolve. And so are good business plans that allow you to:
- Priorities: Regularly set goals, targets (e.g., sales revenues reached), milestones (e.g. number of employees hired), performance indicators and metrics for short, mid and long term
- Accountability: Track your progress toward goals and benchmarks
- Course-correction: make changes to your business as you learn more about your market and what works and what does not
- Mission: Refer to a clear set of values to help steer your business through any times of trouble
Essentially, business plan is a blueprint and an important strategic tool that keeps you focused, motivated and accountable to keep your business on track. When used properly and consulted regularly, it can help you measure and manage what you are working so hard to create – your long-term vision.
As humans, we work better when we have clear goals we can work towards. The everyday business hustle makes it challenging to keep an eye on the strategic priorities. The business planning process serves as a useful reminder.
3. Take Action
A business plan is also a plan of action . At its core, your plan identifies where you are now, where you want your business to go, and how you will get there.
Planning out exactly how you are going to turn your vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between an idea and reality. Success comes not only from having a vision but working towards that vision in a systematic and organized way.
A good business plan clearly outlines specific steps necessary to turn the business objectives into reality. Think of it as a roadmap to success. The strategy and tactics need to be in alignment to make sure that your day-to-day activities lead to the achievement of your business goals.
4. Manage Resources
A business plan also provides insight on how resources required for achieving your business goals will be structured and allocated according to their strategic priority. For example:
Large Spending Decisions
- Assets: When and in what amount will the business commit resources to buy/lease new assets, such as computers or vehicles.
- Human Resources: Objectives for hiring new employees, including not only their pay but how they will help the business grow and flourish.
- Business Space: Information on costs of renting/buying space for offices, retail, manufacturing or other operations, for example when expanding to a new location.
Cash Flow It is essential that a business carefully plans and manages cash flows to ensure that there are optimal levels of cash in the bank at all times and avoid situations where the business could run out of cash and could not afford to pay its bills.
Revenues v. Expenses In addition, your business plan will compare your revenue forecasts to the budgeted costs to make sure that your financials are healthy and the business is set up for success.
5. Make Decisions
Whether you are starting a small business or expanding an existing one, a business plan is an important tool to help guide your decisions:
Sound decisions Gathering information for the business plan boosts your knowledge across many important areas of the business:
- Industry, market, customers and competitors
- Financial projections (e.g., revenue, expenses, assets, cash flow)
- Operations, technology and logistics
- Human resources (management and staff)
- Creating value for your customer through products and services
Decision-making skills The business planning process involves thorough research and critical thinking about many intertwined and complex business issues. As a result, it solidifies the decision-making skills of the business owner and builds a solid foundation for strategic planning , prioritization and sound decision making in your business. The more you understand, the better your decisions will be.
Planning Thorough planning allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time , prepare for anticipate problems before they arise, and ensure that any tactical solutions are in line with the overall strategy and goals.
If you do not take time to plan, you risk becoming overwhelmed by countless options and conflicting directions because you are not unclear about the mission , vision and strategy for your business.
6. Manage Risk
Some level of uncertainty is inherent in every business, but there is a lot you can do to reduce and manage the risk, starting with a business plan to uncover your weak spots.
You will need to take a realistic and pragmatic look at the hard facts and identify:
- Major risks , challenges and obstacles that you can expect on the way – so you can prepare to deal with them.
- Weaknesses in your business idea, business model and strategy – so you can fix them.
- Critical mistakes before they arise – so you can avoid them.
Essentially, the business plan is your safety net . Naturally, business plan cannot entirely eliminate risk, but it can significantly reduce it and prepare you for any challenges you may encounter.
7. Communicate Internally
Attract talent For a business to succeed, attracting talented workers and partners is of vital importance.
A business plan can be used as a communication tool to attract the right talent at all levels, from skilled staff to executive management, to work for your business by explaining the direction and growth potential of the business in a presentable format.
Align performance Sharing your business plan with all team members helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the long-term vision and strategy.
You need their buy-in from the beginning, because aligning your team with your priorities will increase the efficiency of your business as everyone is working towards a common goal .
If everyone on your team understands that their piece of work matters and how it fits into the big picture, they are more invested in achieving the objectives of the business.
It also makes it easier to track and communicate on your progress.
Share and explain business objectives with your management team, employees and new hires. Make selected portions of your business plan part of your new employee training.
8. Communicate Externally
Alliances If you are interested in partnerships or joint ventures, you may share selected sections of your plan with the potential business partners in order to develop new alliances.
Suppliers A business plan can play a part in attracting reliable suppliers and getting approved for business credit from suppliers. Suppliers who feel confident that your business will succeed (e.g., sales projections) will be much more likely to extend credit.
In addition, suppliers may want to ensure their products are being represented in the right way .
Professional Services Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, including attorneys, accountants, and other professional consultants as needed, to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Advisors Share the plan with experts and professionals who are in a position to give you valuable advice.
Landlord Some landlords and property managers require businesses to submit a business plan to be considered for a lease to prove that your business will have sufficient cash flows to pay the rent.
Customers The business plan may also function as a prospectus for potential customers, especially when it comes to large corporate accounts and exclusive customer relationships.
9. Secure Funding
If you intend to seek outside financing for your business, you are likely going to need a business plan.
Whether you are seeking debt financing (e.g. loan or credit line) from a lender (e.g., bank or financial institution) or equity capital financing from investors (e.g., venture or angel capital), a business plan can make the difference between whether or not – and how much – someone decides to invest.
Investors and financiers are always looking at the risk of default and the earning potential based on facts and figures. Understandably, anyone who is interested in supporting your business will want to check that you know what you are doing, that their money is in good hands, and that the venture is viable in the long run.
Business plans tend to be the most effective ways of proving that. A presentation may pique their interest , but they will most probably request a well-written document they can study in detail before they will be prepared to make any financial commitment.
That is why a business plan can often be the single most important document you can present to potential investors/financiers that will provide the structure and confidence that they need to make decisions about funding and supporting your company.
Be prepared to have your business plan scrutinized . Investors and financiers will conduct extensive checks and analyses to be certain that what is written in your business plan faithful representation of the truth.
10. Grow and Change
It is a very common misconception that a business plan is a static document that a new business prepares once in the start-up phase and then happily forgets about.
But businesses are not static. And neither are business plans. The business plan for any business will change over time as the company evolves and expands .
In the growth phase, an updated business plan is particularly useful for:
Raising additional capital for expansion
- Seeking financing for new assets , such as equipment or property
- Securing financing to support steady cash flows (e.g., seasonality, market downturns, timing of sale/purchase invoices)
- Forecasting to allocate resources according to strategic priority and operational needs
- Valuation (e.g., mergers & acquisitions, tax issues, transactions related to divorce, inheritance, estate planning)
Keeping the business plan updated gives established businesses better chance of getting the money they need to grow or even keep operating.
Business plan is also an excellent tool for planning an exit as it would include the strategy and timelines for a transfer to new ownership or dissolution of the company.
Also, if you ever make the decision to sell your business or position yourself for a merger or an acquisition , a strong business plan in hand is going to help you to maximize the business valuation.
Valuation is the process of establishing the worth of a business by a valuation expert who will draw on professional experience as well as a business plan that will outline what you have, what it’s worth now and how much will it likely produce in the future.
Your business is likely to be worth more to a buyer if they clearly understand your business model, your market, your assets and your overall potential to grow and scale .
Business plan purpose: what is the purpose of a business plan.
The purpose of a business plan is to articulate a strategy for starting a new business or growing an existing one by identifying where the business is going and how it will get there to test the viability of a business idea and maximize the chances of securing funding and achieving business goals and success.
Business Plan Benefits: What are the benefits of a business plan?
A business plan benefits businesses by serving as a strategic tool outlining the steps and resources required to achieve goals and make business ideas succeed, as well as a communication tool allowing businesses to articulate their strategy to stakeholders that support the business.
Business Plan Importance: Why is business plan important?
The importance of a business plan lies in it being a roadmap that guides the decisions of a business on the road to success, providing clarity on all aspects of its operations. This blueprint outlines the goals of the business and what exactly is needed to achieve them through effective management.
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Why Is a Business Plan Important? (+ How to Create One)
June 21st, 2022 | Small Business Resources
A business plan is not something you create just for the sake of creating it—it’s a key factor in your company’s success. According to a SCORE survey , the next biggest source of support for small business owners just starting out—behind their friends and family—is having a solid business plan in place.
Aside box: What is a business plan?
A business plan is a written document that outlines what your business objectives are and how you will go about achieving them. Refresh your business plan regularly to reflect with your evolving business objectives.
Business plans can be both internal and external documents. If you’re looking to secure funding from an investor or get a loan from a bank, they will certainly want to evaluate your business plan first.
Why is this plan so important? Because entrepreneurship without a business plan is like traveling without a roadmap. You might reach your destination eventually without it, but the journey will be tough, if not impossible.
Know the location of your destination and what roads you’ll need to travel, and you’ll significantly increase your chances of success.
12 reasons why having a business plan is important
The process of creating your business plan encourages you to take a deep dive into every aspect of your company—helping you spot flaws and take steps to improve.
Beyond highlighting weaknesses, a strong business plan positively shapes a company’s reputation. It shows investors, partners, and even potential hires that your business is working toward clear objectives and is on a reliable growth path.
1. It helps confirm the viability of your business idea
The research that goes into creating your business plan will help you gauge whether your idea is a viable one. You’ll learn the size of your potential market, who your competitors are, who your target customers are, and what problem you’re solving for them.
With this information, you can evaluate your chances of creating a profitable and sustainable business.
2. It helps you make financial projections
According to CB Insights , almost 40% of startups ran out of cash or failed to raise new capital. Business plans require you to evaluate your current financials and projects in detail, so you can steer clear of draining your bank account.
3. It helps you protect your business from common risks
Very few companies and individuals are willing to work in any capacity with businesses that don’t protect their partners with professional liability policies. To form your business plan, you’ll need to learn about the business risks your company faces and put together an insurance plan that helps mitigate them.
4. It helps you form partnerships
Regardless of the type of partners you have—contractors, freelancers, vendors, manufacturers—you need to establish trust. Partners want to know the specifics of your proposed cooperation before they commit.
Successful partnerships depend on well-defined roles and responsibilities and clearly specified incentives and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Business plans clearly define what cooperation and success look like for partnerships, so external parties feel comfortable working with your company.
5. It helps you hire and retain top talent
You can’t hire good people if they don’t believe your business is viable. A business plan shows top talent that your company has potential and is a good place to work.
A clear business plan is also helpful when you’re seeking hiring advice from more experienced peers. Approaching them with a business plan in hand makes that process easier as well.
“Merely telling a friend or potential business mentor you’re aiming to start with ten employees, for example, is not an exceptionally detailed statement,” said Admir Salcinovic, co-founder and marketing manager of PriceListo . “Showing a business plan that outlines the exact duties, salaries, and expectations you have for employees gives far more information for people to provide advice about.”
6. It provides you with competitor analysis
Market analysis is one of the cornerstones of a business plan. This process involves identifying and researching your main competitors and their business models. This data can provide insights into how you should position your business on the market in order to be competitive and carve out a market share for yourself.
7. It helps you understand customer pain points
Along with highlighting competitors, your market research helps you pin down the problem you’re solving for customers and how you plan on helping them. This research often involves surveying customers to understand their pain points.
8. It helps you assemble the right executive team
According to CB Insights , 15% of new businesses failed because the team they had in place wasn’t right. A strong and experienced leadership team can help navigate the many bumps in the road that new business experience, like structural and personal problem solving, risk assessment, and dips in team morale.
Business plans must include a detailed analysis of your management—who they are, and what they bring to the table to evaluate your leadership internally and externally. Startups also commonly dedicate a section of their business plans to the type of culture they are looking to build.
9. It makes you more attractive to lenders/investors
Real talk—most investors and banks won’t even talk to you if you don’t have a business plan. Harvard Business Review research from 2017 showed that writing a business plan increases the chances of your team receiving funding, noting that having a business plan “builds legitimacy and confidence among investors that the entrepreneur is serious.” “When I went to banks to ask for loans, every one of them asked for my business plan,” said Marina Vaamonde, owner and founder of off-market house marketplace HouseCashin . “If I didn’t have mine ready at the time, I would have wasted time during a crucial growth phase of my business when I needed employees.”
Investors and banks will use your business plan to understand your revenue model, cash flow, and, most importantly, how you plan on using funding.
“No matter how great your idea, angel investors won’t invest without a formal business plan,” said Calloway Cook, president of Illuminate Labs . “It doesn’t need to be 50-pages long, but they want to see that you’ve done the work to validate your concept, both informally with customer interviews and formally with market research.”
Cook, whose team was able to raise a pre-seed round of slightly over $100,000, also recommends including directly sourced customer data in your business plan to attract investors.
“Get feedback from real users. This is what sways the minds of investors,” said Cook. “Anyone can create a hypothetical profitable scenario using market size and demographic information, but if investors can see real people interested in your product or service, they’ll be more likely to invest.”
10. It helps you create a marketing strategy
To form a business plan, you’ll need to research on customer demographics and preferences. This data can inform and strengthen your marketing and branding strategies—helping you target your ideal customer.
New companies often have a limited budget to work with and need to adopt strategies that can spark greater growth and cost less than traditional marketing channels. The market research you’re doing for your business plan makes it a perfect starting point for developing these strategies.
11. It helps you set your pricing
The market analysis you perform while writing your business plan will inform how you set your pricing. Your competitor pricing models, your cost of goods sold , and your break-even point are some of the valuable data points you’ll need to acquire to start shaping your pricing model and your sales strategy.
12. It helps you establish the right KPIs
You can’t report on the progress of your business without first establishing what metrics are important to track.
Business plans show what metrics are important to track, given your financial projections, sales goals, marketing plans, and budgets. When you know which metrics to track, everyone in your organization can report on the progress of your business.
KPIs are not just financial goals. They can include trackable data like customer count, the quality of customer service (first response time, customer service satisfaction), and staff-related data like attendance, quality of work, retention, and satisfaction levels.
How to write a business plan: What are the core components?
To provide a big-picture view of vital company insights that gives both your team and third parties an easy way to gauge your financial health and projected growth, a good business plan must include the following components:
The executive summary serves as a high-level synopsis of your business plan—like the Cliff Notes for a book. It gives a general overview of the topics that your business plan will cover.
An executive summary should always be fairly brief. But when presenting your plan to third parties, it’s also important to write a summary that’s compelling enough to intrigue them and make them want to read on.
Even though this summary appears first in a business plan, we recommend writing this section last. That way, you’ll be familiar enough with all of the business plan’s main sections to be able to write a concise and accurate summary to kick it off.
The business summary covers how the products and services your company offers serve the market. This section of your business plan should focus on your value proposition—defining what pain points you solve for your customers and how.
Explain what differentiates your brand from competitors by showing customer reviews and listing success stories and accomplishments. Readers of the business summary should come away from it convinced that your business is a viable one.
It’s also a good idea to wait until you’ve written the market analysis section before writing this section. Your business summary should consist of condensed takeaways sourced from market research.
This component of your business plan answers questions about the market in which your company is competing, such as:
- How big are your target market segments?
- Where does your business fit within these segments?
- Who are the main competitors?
- Who are your customers?
Performing market research is difficult work, especially for less experienced business owners. If you have the funds to do so, hiring a market research/competitive analysis agency to perform the analysis for you is definitely worth it.
The good news is that there are plenty of available resources for those who want to perform their own research, especially online, such as:
- U.S. census data tools : These tools and free industry research reports can help you determine your market size and gain insight into potential customer demographics data.
- Statista : One of the best research data websites, Statista covers hundreds of industries, constantly performing market research and providing hard business data. The website also uses graphs and charts to make their data more understandable for those who might be new to market research.
- Google Trends : Google Trends can help you understand what potential customers are most interested in, allowing you to see into the minds of consumers and audiences. The tool offers robust filter options to create detailed reports about what the trending stories and most searched terms are in a particular demographic.
If you’d rather find mentors and learn about your market through personal interactions, you can look to join local business organizations such as your local chamber of commerce , the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) , or Business Network International (BNI) .
Your market research helps you nail down your ideal customer segments. Uncover key customer demographics: where they live, how much money they make, how old they are, what their level of education is, what their buying habits look like, and more.
Market analysis will help you uncover who your direct competitors are, what their strengths and weakness are, and how your offer differs from theirs.
“Going in blind, without understanding who my competitors were, as well as their core strengths and weaknesses, would have decimated any chances of me establishing a worthwhile competitive strategy,” said Lisa Richards, CEO of the health website the Candida Diet . “Knowing who my competition was made it possible for me to develop a differentiation strategy that set me apart from them in terms of brand perception, allowing me to capture a large share of the market from the very beginning,” she added.
Marketing and sales plan
Along with identifying your target market, a business plan should outline how you plan on reaching this audience and selling your product or service to them.
This section of your business plan should detail your branding and marketing strategy. You should also cover any promotional strategies you plan to implement and a description of the current and future strategic partnerships you plan on installing. For example, if your business sells homemade soap, you could list the brick-and-mortar and online shops you plan on partnering with to increase the reach of your sales.
It should also include pricing strategy—the methodology and process behind how you plan on setting prices for your product or services. Set your prices too low, and you could struggle to turn a profit. Set the price too high, and customers could turn to your more affordable competition.
“After creating our initial business plan, we immediately saw how our business is not profitable enough given the current pricing ranges we have and the target market,” said Sherry Morgan, founder of animal content hub Petsolino . “After further investigation, we found out the holes in our initial plan. From there, we adjusted our pricing and selling strategies.”
The management-related part of your business plan should explain your company hierarchy and introduce your business’s leaders by providing information about their professional backgrounds, education, and achievements.
If you’ve received funding, be sure to highlight your investors, shareholders, and any professional advisors. If you have imminent hiring needs within management, detail them in this section.
The three statements that are integral to your financial plan section are your cash flow statement, income statement, and balance sheet. You should include a short explanation or analysis of all three in your business plan. Don’t hesitate to ask for expert help here, especially if you don’t currently have an in-house accountant.
This section of your business plan is particularly important if you’re looking to attract potential investors or you want to take out a business loan. If that’s the case, in addition to the three mandatory financial statements, you must also provide a detailed list of what you need the money for (marketing, equipment, labor expenses, insurance costs, rent, etc.).
As you grow, your financial plan will help you develop a model for tracking your income and expenses that will enable you to allocate your resources more effectively.
Revisit and revise your business plan regularly
Business plans are never set in stone. They must evolve and change as your business grows and reaches new milestones. Set a regular review schedule to revisit your business plan and tweak it when necessary.
“Creating and evaluating your business plan on a regular basis is a wonderful approach to identify weaknesses, gaps, and assumptions you’ve made to establish contingency plans,” said Matthew Paxton, founder and owner of gaming website Hypernia .
As you make adjustments, don’t hesitate to pick the brains of more experienced business people and mentors to gain different perspectives on areas of improvement for your business plan.
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Why is a business plan important? Five reasons why you need one
Table of Contents
1) Plan for viability and growth
2) setting milestones and objectives, 3) supporting critical decisions and avoiding mistakes, 4) securing investors and financing, 5) minimise risk, making informed business decisions.
Why is a business plan important? A business plan is like a roadmap: you can start driving without one, but you’ll be more likely to get lost on the way.
To save yourself driving in circles, prepare a business plan from day one. This will help you focus on the details of your venture and give you the chance to do important groundwork before you begin trading.
Typically, a business plan will include detailed insights such as market analysis, competitor research, audience profiles, marketing goals, logistics and operations plans, cash flow information, and an overall strategy on how they will grow.
This guide will demonstrate why a business plan is important, including:
- Planning for viability and growth
- Setting milestones and objectives
- Supporting decision making and avoiding mistakes
- Securing finance and investors
- Minimising risk
If you have a business idea brewing or want to turn your passion, hobby, or side project into a full-time job, first do your research to understand if your business will be viable. A business plan can help you confirm that your business idea is sustainable in the current market.
To do this, carry out market research. Considering answers to the following questions will start to give you a more detailed picture of where your business belongs in the sector:
- Who are your customers?
- What do you offer them?
- What problems are you solving for them?
- Why would they buy from you over your competitors?
- Who are your competitors? What are you doing differently? Are you cheaper?
- Who dominates the industry? How can you improve on what is already out there?
Answering these questions will highlight gaps in the market that your business can occupy and give your company a better chance at survival long-term.
You may have in mind some future milestones that you would like to hit. In your business plan, it’s important to plot some top-level goals, then plan what objectives will get you there.
As an example, for an artisan craft business, one goal might be to sell 1,000 handmade products in the first year. Setting an objective such as ‘ Use social media advertising to drive half of the sales ’ will help you focus on the activity you need to achieve the goal.
Or if you offer professional services, like marketing support or a financial advisor, you might want to grow your client base by 50%. In order to grow this number consistently, you must also keep your existing clients on board. Therefore, an objective might be to improve customer relations to retain clients for longer. Then you can begin to research strategies to support your overall business goals.
By checking in regularly on your business plan, you will be able to track your progress toward important growth milestones and change tactics as you learn more about your customers. By having your plan in writing, you are setting yourself up to grow at a faster rate than businesses that don’t create a business plan .
Your aims and objectives will keep you accountable when making decisions for your business. As you grow, you will encounter chances to invest back into the business. Consulting the long-term vision you set for yourself will help you separate the ‘needs’ from the ‘wants’.
Including financial information such as cash flow and forecast reports in your business plan will make it easier to make informed decisions when it comes to major spending, growth or expansion. You will be able to know with confidence whether an idea aligns with what you have set out to achieve.
Consulting a detailed plan will also help you avoid common pitfalls of start-ups. You will have already done your research and spotted any gaps in your knowledge or strategy before it becomes an issue. Some mistakes that unprepared businesses make include:
- Not enough demand for what you’re selling
- Cash flow issues due to poor forecasting .
- Too much competition in the marketplace, when you don’t have a marked difference to them.
- Setting your price mark too high or too low for the industry.
Business plans are typically a requirement if you are looking to secure finance. Whether it comes from a bank, an outside venture capital firm, or a friend who wants to go into business with you. They will want to see the forecasts that prove your business is viable in the long run.
Also, if you ever consider selling your business in the future, a business plan will be needed to pitch for a higher valuation.
Another exercise to include in your business plan is a SWOT analysis. This is a process of identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that face your business. By doing this activity you are reducing risk by highlighting areas that may need contingency plans, and a thorough SWOT analysis will allow you to plan in advance for potential difficulties.
With all the data you’ve pulled together on your market, operational plans, finances and sales projections, you will have reduced any potential risks that arise from being uninformed. In doing your research, you can spot potential issues before they arise in real life, and create contingency plans as a safety net.
As the saying goes “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”. Revisiting your business plan regularly will help you avoid as much risk as possible when you start trading. It will also keep your mind focused on the bigger picture instead of the daily trials and tribulations of running a business.
Now that you are equipped with answers to ‘why is a business plan important’, you can start preparing a business plan to set your new venture up for success.
When you’re starting a business, it’s important to keep on top of your financial admin from day one. Countingup offers a business current account and an app with built-in accounting software, that will save you time and money when it comes to your bookkeeping. Find out more here .
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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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Why Is Strategic Planning Important?
- 06 Oct 2020
Do you know what your organization’s strategy is? How much time do you dedicate to developing that strategy each month?
If your answers are on the low side, you’re not alone. According to research from Bridges Business Consultancy , 48 percent of leaders spend less than one day per month discussing strategy.
It’s no wonder, then, that 48 percent of all organizations fail to meet at least half of their strategic targets. Before an organization can reap the rewards of its business strategy, planning must take place to ensure its strategy remains agile and executable .
Here’s a look at what strategic planning is and how it can benefit your organization.
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What Is Strategic Planning?
Strategic planning is the ongoing organizational process of using available knowledge to document a business's intended direction. This process is used to prioritize efforts, effectively allocate resources, align shareholders and employees on the organization’s goals, and ensure those goals are backed by data and sound reasoning.
It’s important to highlight that strategic planning is an ongoing process—not a one-time meeting. In the online course Disruptive Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen notes that in a study of HBS graduates who started businesses, 93 percent of those with successful strategies evolved and pivoted away from their original strategic plans.
“Most people think of strategy as an event, but that’s not the way the world works,” Christensen says. “When we run into unanticipated opportunities and threats, we have to respond. Sometimes we respond successfully; sometimes we don’t. But most strategies develop through this process. More often than not, the strategy that leads to success emerges through a process that’s at work 24/7 in almost every industry.”
Strategic planning requires time, effort, and continual reassessment. Given the proper attention, it can set your business on the right track. Here are three benefits of strategic planning.
Related: 4 Ways to Develop Your Strategic Thinking Skills
Benefits of Strategic Planning
1. create one, forward-focused vision.
Strategy touches every employee and serves as an actionable way to reach your company’s goals.
One significant benefit of strategic planning is that it creates a single, forward-focused vision that can align your company and its shareholders. By making everyone aware of your company’s goals, how and why those goals were chosen, and what they can do to help reach them, you can create an increased sense of responsibility throughout your organization.
This can also have trickle-down effects. For instance, if a manager isn’t clear on your organization’s strategy or the reasoning used to craft it, they could make decisions on a team level that counteract its efforts. With one vision to unite around, everyone at your organization can act with a broader strategy in mind.
2. Draw Attention to Biases and Flaws in Reasoning
The decisions you make come with inherent bias. Taking part in the strategic planning process forces you to examine and explain why you’re making each decision and back it up with data, projections, or case studies, thus combatting your cognitive biases.
A few examples of cognitive biases are:
- The recency effect: The tendency to select the option presented most recently because it’s fresh in your mind
- Occam’s razor bias: The tendency to assume the most obvious decision to be the best decision
- Inertia bias: The tendency to select options that allow you to think, feel, and act in familiar ways
One cognitive bias that may be more difficult to catch in the act is confirmation bias . When seeking to validate a particular viewpoint, it's the tendency to only pay attention to information that supports that viewpoint.
If you’re crafting a strategic plan for your organization and know which strategy you prefer, enlist others with differing views and opinions to help look for information that either proves or disproves the idea.
Combating biases in strategic decision-making requires effort and dedication from your entire team, and it can make your organization’s strategy that much stronger.
Related: 3 Group Decision-Making Techniques for Success
3. Track Progress Based on Strategic Goals
Having a strategic plan in place can enable you to track progress toward goals. When each department and team understands your company’s larger strategy, their progress can directly impact its success, creating a top-down approach to tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) .
By planning your company’s strategy and defining its goals, KPIs can be determined at the organizational level. These goals can then be extended to business units, departments, teams, and individuals. This ensures that every level of your organization is aligned and can positively impact your business’s KPIs and performance.
It’s important to remember that even though your strategy might be far-reaching and structured, it must remain agile. As Christensen asserts in Disruptive Strategy , a business’s strategy needs to evolve with the challenges and opportunities it encounters. Be prepared to pivot your KPIs as goals shift and communicate the reasons for change to your organization.
Improve Your Strategic Planning Skills
Strategic planning can benefit your organization’s vision, execution, and progress toward goals. If strategic planning is a skill you’d like to improve, online courses can provide the knowledge and techniques needed to lead your team and organization.
Strategy courses can range from primers on key concepts (such as Economics for Managers ), to deep-dives on strategy frameworks (such as Disruptive Strategy ), to coursework designed to help you strategize for a specific organizational goal (such as Sustainable Business Strategy ).
Learning how to craft an effective, compelling strategic plan can enable you to not only invest in your career but provide lasting value to your organization.
Do you want to formulate winning strategies for your organization? Explore our portfolio of online strategy courses and download the free flowchart to determine which is the best fit for you and your goals.
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Why Is Planning Important? (20+ Reasons and Examples)
Have you ever heard the saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail?” Well, that couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to reaching our goals and aspirations.
Whether you’re aiming to climb the career ladder, saving up for that dream vacation, or simply getting through the day without feeling overwhelmed, having a solid plan in place can mean the difference between achieving your objectives and falling short.
Planning has always been part of everyday life, and it’s hard to imagine how to function without it. But what is it about planning that makes it so important? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly planning is and how it can help us reach our full potential.
We’ll also explore the many reasons why a little foresight can go a long way in both our personal and professional lives. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Event planning, project management, to help set and achieve goals, to increase and improve efficiency, to reduce risk and uncertainty, to help allocate resources effectively, to increase productivity, to optimize resources, to reduce wastage, to build confidence, to avoid confusion, to enhance coordination and teamwork, to boost motivation and commitment, to facilitate innovation, to improve time management, to reduce stress and anxiety, to improve decision-making, to enhance accountability, to improve communication among team members, to promote long-term thinking, to align efforts towards a common goal, to create a roadmap for success, to increase adaptability, to improve quality, to encourage proactivity, to promote continuous improvement, to help achieve a healthy work-life balance, strategic planning in action, examples of operational planning, examples of contingency planning, contingency planning in action, step 1: setting objectives and goals, step 2: assessing resources, step 3: creating a plan of action, step 4: implementing the plan, step 5: monitoring and adjusting the plan, a practical example: planning a product launch, lack of clarity in goals and objectives, inadequate analysis of the situation, overlooking constraints and risks, failure to update plans, lack of flexibility, missed opportunities, delays and setbacks, higher costs and budget overruns, increased stress and burnout, damage to reputation or relationships, lack of resources or information, ways to anticipate and mitigate challenges, spacex: redefining space exploration and internet coverage, the apollo moon landing: a monumental achievement, personal achievements, what are some common misconceptions about planning, what is the difference between planning and goal setting, how can i ensure that my plans are effective, how can i get started with planning if i am new to it, what is planning.
Planning is the process of figuring out what needs to be done, when it should be done by, and who is responsible for completing tasks within a certain timeline. It involves a set of actions designed to ensure that resources, time, and effort are used efficiently to achieve the desired outcome.
Planning can be formal or informal, and it can involve a single individual or a group of people working together toward a common goal.
A good plan helps break complex projects into smaller, more manageable pieces as well as anticipate potential risks before pushing forward with any strategy. It also provides flexibility if change is needed after taking external factors into account or dealing with unforeseen events that might affect its execution one way or another.
Planning has been considered an essential component of successful operations across many different fields, including business, personal life, and academics.
Here are some examples of situations where having a solid plan in place could make all the difference:
A well-thought-out business strategy involves:
- Analyzing market trends
- Identifying customers’ needs or pain points and developing a plan to reach them
- Mapping out potential opportunities while leveraging available assets
It includes all the things that necessary planning helps make happen correctly, even with tight deadlines looming ahead. A well-executed business plan can help to maximize profits, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction.
Planning is essential in organizing events such as weddings, conferences, and parties. It involves coordinating vendors, selecting a venue, and creating a schedule of activities.
Properly planning an event requires overseeing every single detail from budgeting management down to job descriptions, source availability, set-up requirements, speakers’ backgrounds, etc., something that’s only achievable when there is enough time available — leaving space for last-minute changes too.
A well-executed event plan can help ensure that the event runs smoothly and meets attendees’ expectations.
Planning is crucial in managing projects, whether they are large or small. It involves defining project goals, identifying tasks, and assigning responsibilities.
Taking care of large-scale projects requires having skills like team organization , goal setting , troubleshooting , and risk assessment , among others — again, something that precise planning will help coordinate accordingly.
A well-executed project plan can help ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.
The Importance of Planning
Planning can be exciting, especially when we realize how it can help we achieve our goals, save time and money, and so much more.
So, why is it so important? Here are some of the reasons:
Planning helps break down objectives into manageable steps, making it easier to achieve even the most ambitious goals.
Goals give our lives direction and purpose, but they can often feel overwhelming. Planning helps by:
- Clarifying your objectives: Clearly defining your goals makes it easier to create a roadmap to success.
- Breaking goals into manageable tasks: Breaking your goals down into smaller tasks can make them feel less intimidating and more achievable.
- Setting deadlines: Deadlines create a sense of urgency, motivating you to stay on track and accomplish your goals.
Pro tip: Use the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) to set effective goals!
Planning is crucial for improving efficiency in both personal and professional settings.
- Prioritizing tasks: By focusing on the most important tasks first, you can make the most significant impact with your time.
- Delegating effectively: Assigning tasks to the right people ensures that everyone is working on what they’re best at, boosting overall efficiency.
- Minimizing interruptions: A well-structured plan allows you to allocate time for focused work, minimizing interruptions and increasing productivity.
Nobody likes surprises — at least, not the bad kind! Planning helps you minimize risks by:
- Identifying potential problems: Evaluating your plan for potential pitfalls can help you spot issues before they become bigger problems.
- Developing contingency plans: Having a Plan B (or even a Plan C) ensures that you’re prepared for any unexpected challenges.
- Adapting to change: Regularly reviewing and updating your plan allows you to adapt to changing circumstances and stay on track.
Planning allows individuals and organizations anticipate future events, identify risks, and prepare for changes in their environment, such as changes in technology, competition, or regulations. This ensures that they are able to adapt and thrive in a constantly changing world.
This also reduces the anxiety associated with the unknown and enables us to confidently make informed decisions.
By identifying priorities and setting goals, planning enables us to allocate our resources — time, money, and effort — more efficiently. This results in higher productivity and helps prevent loss of valuable assets.
A good plan sets the stage for increased productivity. Here’s why:
- It creates focus: A clear plan helps you concentrate on the tasks that are most important, avoiding distractions and procrastination.
- It establishes a routine: Consistent routines can help you build momentum and create a sense of accomplishment.
- Measuring progress: Regularly tracking your progress against your plan can keep you motivated and help you identify areas for improvement.
Planning helps in the optimal utilization of resources like finances, time, and manpower. By allocating resources effectively, businesses can operate efficiently, reduce costs, and maximize profits.
Planning helps to reduce wastage by identifying areas where resources are being used inefficiently . This can lead to cost savings and improved sustainability.
Planning helps individuals and organizations build confidence in their ability to achieve their goals. When a well thought-out plan is in place, it is easier to stay motivated and focused.
Planning helps to avoid confusion and reduces misunderstandings by establishing clear guidelines and expectations. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, which can lead to better teamwork and collaboration.
A solid plan serves as a roadmap for individuals and teams to follow. It ensures that everyone is aligned, working toward common objectives, and aware of their roles and responsibilities. This fosters collaboration and increases the likelihood of success.
Setting goals and making plans encourages us to take ownership of our actions. This increases our motivation to work hard, remain committed, and push through challenges.
Planning encourages creativity and innovation by providing a structured framework to work within — a structure for brainstorming and experimentation. This can lead to new ideas, processes, and products that would not have been possible without planning, like breakthroughs and new discoveries.
Planning helps individuals and organizations manage their time more effectively. This leads to increased productivity, reduced stress, and more time for leisure or other pursuits.
One of the main benefits of planning is that it can help reduce stress levels. Staying calm and focused is easier when we have a plan because we know what needs to be done and when.
This is especially helpful when things are chaotic or unexpected events happen. Having a plan can give a sense of control over the situation and help calm our nerves.
When we have a well-structured plan, we can make better decisions. We can evaluate options, assess risks, and consider the long-term consequences of our choices. This leads to more effective decision-making and ultimately, better outcomes.
In other words, this reduces the risk of making hasty or uninformed decisions.
Planning helps to enhance accountability by setting clear expectations, roles, and responsibilities and tracking progress. This ensures that individuals and organizations are responsible for meeting their goals and objectives.
Planning improves communication by providing a common language and understanding among team members or stakeholders. This can help to reduce misunderstandings and promote more effective collaboration.
Planning encourages long-term thinking by focusing on goals and objectives that extend beyond the immediate future. This helps individuals and organizations to think strategically and make decisions that have long-lasting impacts.
Planning helps to align individual and team efforts towards a common goal. This can lead to increased collaboration, improved coordination, and better results.
Planning helps to create a roadmap for success by identifying the steps needed to achieve specific goals. This provides a sense of direction and purpose, which can be motivating and inspiring.
Planning helps individuals and organizations become more adaptable by preparing them to respond to unexpected changes. This ensures that they are able to take advantage of new opportunities and remain competitive.
Planning improves quality by setting clear standards and guidelines for work products or deliverables. This ensures that work is completed to a high standard and meets customer or stakeholder expectations.
Planning encourages individuals and organizations to be proactive by anticipating problems and taking steps to prevent them. This can help to avoid costly mistakes and minimize risks.
The process of planning involves evaluating strengths and weaknesses, identifying areas of improvement, and setting targets for personal and professional development. It encourages continuous improvement by regularly reviewing progress and making adjustments as needed.
This continuous self-reflection and growth mindset are essential for success.
Planning helps individuals and organizations achieve balance by prioritizing and balancing competing demands. This ensures that they are able to achieve their goals while maintaining a healthy work-life balance .
The Different Types of Planning
Strategic planning is a process that organizations use to establish their direction and set priorities, allocate resources, and manage change. This type of planning aims to help organizations clarify their mission and vision, identify where it wants to be in the future, and then develop a strategy to get there.
By going through the strategic planning process, organizations can:
- Establish a shared vision and a sense of purpose: By involving key stakeholders in the planning process, organizations can create a shared understanding of where they are headed and why.
- Identify and prioritize goals: Strategic planning helps organizations identify their most important goals and determine the best way to allocate resources to achieve them.
- Align resources: Once goals are established, strategic planning can help organizations allocate resources, including people, time, and money, to ensure they are used effectively and efficiently.
- Monitor progress: Strategic planning provides a framework for monitoring progress toward goals and making adjustments as needed.
In addition to these benefits, strategic planning can also help organizations:
- Anticipate and manage change: By thinking about the future and planning for it, organizations can be better prepared to adapt to environmental changes.
- Improve communication : By involving key stakeholders in the planning process, organizations can improve communication and collaboration across departments and teams.
- Increase accountability: Strategic planning can help organizations establish clear roles and responsibilities, increasing accountability and ensuring everyone is working toward the same goals.
Let’s say you work for a nonprofit organization providing after-school programs for underserved youth. Your organization has been operating for several years, but you’ve noticed that participation has declined, and you’re struggling to secure funding to keep the programs running.
You decide that it’s time to develop a strategic plan to help turn things around. Here are the steps you might take:
- Conduct a SWOT analysis: You start by analyzing your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You identify that your strengths are your dedicated staff and volunteers, and your weaknesses are your limited funding and outdated facilities. You see opportunities in partnering with local schools and businesses, threats in competing organizations, and changes in government funding.
- Define your mission and vision: You work with key stakeholders to define your organization’s mission and vision. You decide that your mission is to empower underserved youth to succeed in school and life, and your vision is to create a community where all youth have access to the resources and support they need to thrive.
- Identify your goals: Based on your SWOT analysis and mission/vision, you identify your goals, which include increasing participation in after-school programs, securing additional funding, and upgrading your facilities.
- Develop strategies: You develop strategies to achieve your goals, which include partnering with local schools and businesses to promote your programs, applying for grants and donations, and launching a capital campaign to raise funds for facility upgrades.
- Implement and monitor: You implement your strategies and monitor progress toward your goals. You use metrics such as program participation rates, fundraising totals, and facility upgrades to track progress and make adjustments as needed.
By going through this strategic planning process, your organization is better equipped to achieve its goals and create a lasting impact in the community.
Operational planning is one of the types of planning that focuses on the day-to-day activities and processes required to achieve specific objectives. It’s all about figuring out what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when it needs to be done.
Let’s take a closer look at the purpose and benefits of operational planning:
- Establishing goals: Operational planning helps businesses and organizations establish specific goals aligned with their overall strategy. This ensures that everyone is working towards the same objectives and that resources are appropriately allocated.
- Resource allocation: Speaking of resources, operational planning helps organizations allocate resources (such as people, time, and money) effectively. This can help prevent waste and ensure that resources are being used in the most efficient way possible.
- Improving efficiency: By identifying the most efficient ways to carry out specific tasks and processes, operational planning can help organizations streamline operations and reduce waste. This can lead to cost savings and increased productivity.
- Risk management : Operational planning also involves identifying potential risks and developing mitigation plans. By anticipating and preparing for potential problems, organizations can minimize the impact of unexpected events and ensure they are better equipped to handle them.
- Monitoring progress: Finally, operational planning involves monitoring progress towards established goals regularly. This helps organizations identify areas that need improvement and make necessary adjustments to their plans.
- Restaurant operations : A restaurant might use operational planning to ensure that they have enough staff to handle busy periods, have enough ingredients to make their menu items, and properly clean and maintain their kitchen equipment.
- Manufacturing operations : A manufacturer might use operational planning to ensure that they have enough raw materials on hand to produce their products, that their assembly line is running smoothly, and that their products are being shipped on time.
- Project management : Project managers might use operational planning to ensure that they clearly understand what tasks need to be completed, when they need to be completed, and who is responsible for completing them. This can help ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.
- Sales operations : A sales team might use operational planning to ensure that they have enough leads in their pipeline, are following up with prospects on time, and are meeting their sales targets.
Contingency planning involves creating a set of strategies, procedures, and protocols that can be put into action when unexpected events occur. These events may range from natural disasters and accidents to economic crises and political instability.
The goal of contingency planning is to minimize the impact of such events and to help organizations quickly recover and resume normal operations.
Here are some of its benefits:
- Minimizes the impact of unexpected events: By having a plan in place, organizations can be better prepared to deal with unexpected events, which can help reduce their impact.
- Reduces downtime: When unexpected events occur, organizations may need to halt their operations temporarily. By having a plan, they can minimize downtime and resume normal operations as quickly as possible.
- Boosts confidence: Knowing there’s a plan in place can help boost the morale of employees and stakeholders, who will be reassured that the organization is well-prepared to deal with unexpected events.
- Enhances reputation: When organizations can recover from unexpected events quickly, it can improve their reputation and build trust with stakeholders.
- Disaster Recovery Plan : A disaster recovery plan is a contingency plan that focuses on recovering data and systems after a natural disaster or other catastrophic events.
- Business Continuity Plan : It focuses on maintaining essential business operations during and after an unexpected event.
- Crisis Communication Plan : It focuses on how an organization will communicate with stakeholders during and after an unexpected event.
- Financial Contingency Plan : A financial contingency plan focuses on how an organization will manage its finances during and after an unexpected event, such as a recession or economic downturn.
Imagine you’re the owner of a small retail store. You’ve created a disaster recovery plan that outlines how you will recover your data and systems in the event of a natural disaster such as a flood or fire.
You’ve also created a business continuity plan outlining how to maintain essential operations, such as ordering inventory, even if your physical store is temporarily closed.
One day, a severe storm hits your town, and your store floods. Thanks to your disaster recovery plan, you’re able to recover your data and systems quickly, and thanks to your business continuity plan, you can continue ordering inventory and serving customers through your online store.
As a result, your store is able to resume normal operations much more quickly than it would have otherwise, minimizing the impact of the storm on your business.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering the Planning Process
You’re probably curious about the various steps that go into the planning process. Don’t worry — I can definitely help! This engaging and informative guide will walk you through each step, so you can confidently tackle any project, big or small.
A strong foundation is key to success; the same applies to planning. Before developing a solid plan, you must establish your objectives and goals first.
- Start by identifying your overarching objectives: What do you want to achieve?
- Break it down into smaller, manageable goals: What steps can you take to reach your objective?
- Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
- Prioritize your goals based on their importance and urgency .
Now that you have your objectives and goals laid out, it’s time to take stock of the resources at your disposal.
- Identify the necessary human resources: Who will be involved in the project?
- Evaluate your financial resources: What’s your budget?
- Consider any other essential resources: What tools, equipment, or materials do you need?
- Create a plan for acquiring or allocating the necessary resources.
With your objectives, goals, and resources in hand, it’s time to map out your plan of action.
This step is all about:
- Defining tasks: What specific tasks need to be completed to achieve your goals?
- Assigning responsibilities: Who will be responsible for each task?
- Developing a timeline: When should each task be completed?
- Establishing a communication plan: How will everyone stay informed and connected throughout the process?
This is where the rubber meets the road! With your carefully crafted plan in place, it’s time to execute.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Communicate the plan: Make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Set expectations: Clarify roles, responsibilities, and deadlines.
- Empower your team: Provide the necessary support and resources.
- Maintain momentum: Keep everyone motivated and focused on the objectives.
No plan is perfect, and the unexpected can always occur. That’s why monitoring your plan’s progress and adjusting as needed is crucial.
Key actions to take:
- Track progress: Are you meeting your goals and deadlines?
- Identify issues and take corrective action: What obstacles have emerged, and how can they be resolved?
- Adjust the plan to ensure its effectiveness and relevance: What changes are necessary to keep everything on track?
- Communicate changes: Make sure everyone is aware of any updates to the plan.
Step 6: Staying Flexible
Once you’ve reached the finish line, it’s essential to reflect on the planning process and evaluate the results. Be prepared to adapt your plan to unexpected changes or challenges.
- Assessing outcomes: Did you achieve your objectives and goals?
- Analyzing performance and areas for improvement: What went well ?
- Use the insights gained from the evaluation process to inform future planning efforts.
- Objective and SMART goals: Successfully launch a new product within 6 months; increase sales by 20% within 3 months of launch; gain 1,000 new customers within 6 months.
- Resources: Assess your budget, team’s skills, and available time to allocate resources effectively.
- Plan of a ction: Develop a marketing plan, create promotional materials, train the sales team, and establish a product launch timeline.
- Implementation: Execute the marketing plan, produce promotional materials, train the sales team, and meet deadlines for product launch.
- Monitoring and adjusting: Continuously monitor progress, make adjustments as needed, and address any issues that may arise.
- Evaluating results: Analyze sales data, customer feedback, and team performance to determine the success of the product launch and inform future planning.
Common Planning Mistakes
It’s easy to make mistakes that can derail your efforts even when you have planned accordingly.
Below are common planning mistakes and tips on how to avoid them:
One of the most common planning mistakes is a lack of clarity in goals and objectives. Without clear goals, it’s difficult to create a roadmap for achieving them. This can lead to a lack of focus, wasted effort, and missed opportunities.
To avoid this mistake, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable. Take the time to define what success looks like and create a plan that outlines the steps you need to take to achieve your goals.
Another common planning mistake is an inadequate analysis of the situation. Without a clear understanding of the current situation, it’s challenging to develop an effective plan. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and poor decision-making.
To avoid this mistake:
- Take the time to gather information and analyze the situation. This includes understanding what resources you have available.
- Identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that may impact your plan.
- Use this information to develop a realistic and achievable plan that takes the current situation into account.
Planning often involves potential constraints and risks, but it’s easy to overlook them. This can lead to a plan that is unrealistic or unlikely to succeed.
- Make sure you identify and account for constraints and risks.
- Consider factors such as time, budget, and resources.
- Identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them.
Plans are not set in stone, and it’s important to update them as circumstances change. Failing to do so could lead to a plan that’s no longer effective or making decisions based on outdated information.
- Regularly review your plan and update it as needed.
- Consider new information, changes in circumstances, and feedback from stakeholders.
- Use this information to adjust your plan and keep it relevant and effective.
Plans should be adaptable and flexible to account for changes in circumstances or unexpected events. A rigid plan can lead to missed opportunities or poor decision-making.
- Build flexibility into your plan.
- Consider different scenarios and develop contingency plans.
- Be open to feedback and adjust your plan as needed.
The Risks of Not Planning Ahead
Planning ahead helps to reduce uncertainty and ensure projects are executed smoothly— without any delays or unexpected setbacks. But what can happen if we neglect the importance of planning? Here are some of the risks:
Having an effective plan allows people to anticipate potential challenges and define strategies on how to address them in a timely fashion, thus helping ensure goals and objectives are met without compromising on quality standards.
When this crucial step is skipped , it can lead to missed opportunities for growth or progress which could have otherwise been achieved if plans were in place right from the beginning.
Without having a roadmap outlining the steps needed to complete tasks, chances are timeframes will be extended significantly as decisions or changes need to be made on the go — something that often translates into delays and unforeseen issues such as people being stretched thin due to overload or lack of resources altogether.
Without clear budgeting guidelines in advance, it’s easy for costs to spiral out of control due to unexpected expenses arising along the way. This type of setback often pushes budgets over their limits with no foreseeable end date.
Trying to stay on top of things without having a plan in place can lead to increased levels of stress and burnout as team members are unable to manage their workloads effectively while still trying their best not lose momentum altogether.
In some cases, these feelings can be so overwhelming that they lead employees into taking long breaks away from work, which can negatively affect reputation or relationships among stakeholders.
Related: How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed at Work
The lack of planning has its own set of repercussions — one such example being damaged relationships between team members due to poor communication and misaligned expectations that arise when there is no clear plan outlining project duration, timeline, responsibilities etc.
Similarly, if goals aren’t achieved within allocated timeframes or things don’t go according to plan, it may lead individuals involved feeling discouraged and frustrated—potentially damaging overall reputation as a result too.
Having an organized approach makes it much easier for teams to identify areas where additional resources might be needed especially when making last-minute adjustments based on changes in environment (such as new law regulations) or external factors like supply chain disruptions affects operations one way or another.
Not only does proper planning ensure everything is taken care of, but also mitigates scenarios where insufficient information leads decision makers astray — often resulting in costly mistakes down the line.
It’s true that, sometimes, things don’t always go according to plan regardless of how carefully you’ve thought the processes through beforehand, but there are certainly ways we can mitigate challenges even when presented with unforeseen difficulties.
Here are just a few methods worth considering:
- Having backup plans: Establishing contingency plans ahead ensures that companies have options available when needed, allowing them to navigate around potential threats while minimizing risks associated with making costly mistakes.
- Defining standards upfront: Carefully defining standards upfront — keywords, language, protocols — creates foundations by providing ground rules everyone needs to follow so expectations become clearer even on difficult situations.
- Leveraging available expertise: Asking for help from professionals who have experienced certain challenges is a great starting point allowing teams to prepare accordingly against any surprises.
- Researching current trends: Keeping up-to-date on the latest industry trends and news helps teams anticipate possible problems before actually investing time and energy into specific projects.
Real-World Examples of Planning in Action
The art of planning has been the backbone of many successful ventures throughout history. When executed correctly, a well-thought-out plan can bring about extraordinary results, inspiring innovation and making dreams come true.
Here are some real-world examples, demonstrating the power of organization and strategic thinking in various contexts.
Founded by Elon Musk in 2002, SpaceX’s ambitious goal was to revolutionize space travel and enable humans to live on other planets. Through strategic planning, SpaceX drastically reduced the costs of launching rockets by developing reusable launch vehicles.
One of the most significant milestones was the Falcon Heavy launch in 2018, which demonstrated the company’s ability to send payloads into orbit and beyond at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.
Their Starlink satellite constellation project is an ongoing example of the company’s commitment to planning, aiming to provide global internet coverage by deploying thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit.
The United States’ successful Moon landing in 1969 resulted from a meticulously planned and executed mission known as the Apollo program. The plan involved a series of test missions, from unmanned probes to manned orbital flights, all leading up to the historic Apollo 11 mission.
The project required the collaboration of thousands of engineers, scientists, and astronauts, working together to overcome numerous technological and logistical challenges.
The Apollo program’s success is a testament to the power of planning and human ingenuity.
Success stories are not limited to businesses and large-scale projects. Many individuals have achieved remarkable personal accomplishments by adhering to a well-structured plan.
The following are examples where individuals set clear goals, create a plan, and follow through with determination:
- Weight loss journeys
- Educational achievements
- Financial milestones
These personal triumphs illustrate the potential for positive change when implementing a carefully crafted plan.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are some common misconceptions about planning that may hinder its effectiveness or value. Here are some examples:
• Planning is only for big or complex projects : This is a misconception that planning is not necessary or useful for small or simple projects. However, planning can help any project by providing clarity, direction, and structure, regardless of its size or complexity.
Planning can also help avoid potential problems or risks during the project execution.
• Planning is a one-time activity : This is a misconception that planning is done only at the beginning of a project and then forgotten. However, planning is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and updating to reflect changes or feedback in the environment.
Planning can also be flexible and adaptable to accommodate new opportunities or challenges that may emerge during the project execution.
• Planning is the same as strategy : This is a misconception that planning and strategy are interchangeable terms. However, planning and strategy are different but related concepts that serve different purposes:
– Strategy is a long-term and comprehensive plan that defines the overall direction and goals of the organization. – Planning is a short-term and specific plan that outlines the activities and tasks to implement the strategy.
Planning and goal setting are two related but distinct concepts.
Goal setting involves the process of defining specific objectives or desired outcomes that you want to achieve. This could be anything from a personal goal like running a marathon to a professional goal like achieving a specific sales target.
The key characteristic of goal setting is that it focuses on specific outcomes you want to achieve.
Planning , on the other hand, involves determining the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve those objectives. In other words, planning is identifying the steps you need to take to achieve your goals.
While goal setting and planning are distinct concepts, they are closely related and essential to achieving success.
Goal setting helps ensure you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, while planning provides a roadmap for how to get there. Even the most well-defined goals can be difficult or impossible to achieve without effective planning.
Regularly review and adjust your plans as needed to ensure they are effective. Consider feedback from others, stay flexible, and be willing to make changes when necessary.
If you are new to planning, getting started can feel overwhelming. However, a good first step is to define your goals and objectives. Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can start identifying the resources and strategies necessary to achieve those goals.
To help you stay organized and on track, consider using a planner or app specifically designed for planning. With a little practice and dedication, planning can become an effective tool for achieving success in all areas of your life.
Planning is the cornerstone of success, whether it’s in business, personal achievements, or large-scale projects. As demonstrated by the diverse examples discussed in this article, effective planning can lead to groundbreaking innovations and life-changing transformations.
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, once said, “I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.” This sentiment captures the essence of planning, empowering individuals and organizations to unlock their full potential. It’s crucial to not only develop strong planning skills but also to adapt and refine plans as circumstances evolve.
The world is constantly changing, and ongoing planning ensures you stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on new opportunities. So, take a moment to reflect on your planning strategies and consider how you can improve them. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to tackle challenges and achieve your goals.
Remember, the power of planning lies in your hands, and with it, you can accomplish extraordinary feats. So, dream big, plan wisely, and let the magic of planning guide you toward success.
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Jessa Claire is a registered healthcare provider. Music lover. Daydreamer. Thalassophile. Foodie. A hardworking Capricorn. Most days, an incurable empath. An old soul. Down-to-earth. Vibrant.
When she's not writing, she can be seen relaxing with headphones on or engrossed in her favorite fan fiction book.