Every successful business needs to start with a business plan. That’s because a business plan is a blueprint – it gives your company a cohesive focus, provides direction to your everyday activities and acts as a roadmap for growth.

But a business plan is not a one-sized-fits-all document – details and emphasis that are necessary for one company may be irrelevant for another. Crafting a great business plan is an exercise in self-examination and you must tailor your efforts to meet your needs and goals.

A solid business plan can serve four key purposes:

To secure financing. If you’re looking for outside financing, the first thing potential investors will ask to see is a business plan. Investors want to see how you run your business (or plan to run your business), your expenses and revenues and whether or not your goals are attainable in the set timeframe.

To maintain focus. Growing a business doesn’t happen overnight. As you work towards your goals, a business plan keeps you focused and acts as a constant reminder of where you came from and where you’re going. As well, sharing your business plan with new employees ensures that your vision is understood and seen as a worthwhile investment of their time. 

To partner with others. Too often, business owners keep their business plan confidential and as a ‘for internal use only’ document. But, as a blueprint, it is the most important tool to share with potential partners because it allows them to determine the merits of a partnership.

To analyze your business. A business plan isn’t meant to be a stagnant document. It must be reviewed, reshaped and refocused on regularly scheduled intervals. This revision process is the best time to strategically analyze your business to ensure that you are staying on track. Analyzing your business gives you a better understanding of strengths and weaknesses and ensures that the various components of your business are compatible and moving you towards your goals.

One final note: every good roadmap includes alternate routes for reaching a destination. When crafting a business plan, don’t forget to establish the actions you need to take should you not reach a goal – actions that recommend an alternate route for getting there.

 

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