“Write a Business Plan”. If there is one phrase that can bring pause – or panic – to an entrepreneur it may be those four words.
This phrase is uttered tens of thousands of times a days by entrepreneurs, managers, investors, board members, and other stakeholders across the globe. Whether you are operating a startup out of your garage or are running a middle market company with hundreds of employees, there seems to always be someone who needs to review your business plan.
Since your business plan is in such high demand, you have committed yourself to spending a large chunk of time the next 30 days to completing your plan. You have purchased an outstanding business planning software package (Biz Plan Builder!), and you are now ready to go.
But wait. You attended a seminar a while back and remember the speaker mentioning that you need to customize your business plan (length, content, etc.) for its intended audience. He had been very clear about this point.
So what type of plan should you be preparing for your situation? Several months ago, I addressed this very topic in a blog post entitled “Why Should You Write a Business Plan?”. In this article, I discussed the three general types of business plans – Complete, Summary, and Operational. If you have a chance, please be sure to review this article in its entirety, but I wanted to take a moment to summarize it here:
• Complete Business Plan
o Used to raise a significant amount of capital or to provide an external party a 360 degree view of your business
o 15 to 40 pages or more (we suggest no more than 30 pages).
o Provides great amount of detail of business, financing and opportunity.
• Summary Business Plan
o Ideal when a financing request is simple or minimal, you are strapped for time, or to give a preview of a full-length business plan
o Highlights only key information about business, financing and opportunity
o Summary plan is usually about 10-15 pages in length
• Operational Business Plan
o Used most often for internal planning by an established company.
o Excellent tool for focusing and aligning efforts of owners, management team, board members, and investors toward a common set of goals and strategies.
o Plan can and should be any length
The above descriptions are simply general guidelines. There are of course no strict guidelines for writing a business plan. There is no global council that has set the requirement for how long a plan should be, what font it must use, how many photos and images are allowed, etc. If someone tells you your business plan “has to be” this or that, just ignore their advice.
Beyond the basics, a business plan is a highly personal document to you and your company. It must include the most important information your reader wants to know. However, what content you include, how long the plan is, and how you package it all together needs to directly reflect your business and your audience.
Having purchased Biz Plan Builder business planning software for Mac or Windows, you have the tools you need to create a customized business plan just right for your situation. Good Luck!