An introduction to business plan sample helps you prepare a written explanation of your business purpose, including showing why it's important in the market, what will make it successful, and who will drive its success. It also provides a forum to share your goals for the business and how you expect to achieve those goals.

Informal and Formal Business Plans

Short, informal business plans are used for managing information within a business, while longer, formal business plans are used when approaching investors to ask for capital investments or apply for business loans. Many businesses have successfully started without having a detail-filled, formal business plan on hand.

Lean Startup Methodology

Lean startup methodology provides an alternative to the traditional full-length business plan. Keeping the plan to a minimum lets entrepreneurs move quickly with less associated costs for connecting with potential clients and partners. The plan is then refined under lean methodology after stakeholders provide feedback. This keeps entrepreneurs using this approach from spending a lot of money developing something that's likely to fail.

Switching From Lean to a Formal Business Plan

While lean methodology can make sense for a startup, as a company starts to grow, a more formal approach may become necessary. Businesses need a formal business plan to apply for loans or appeal to investors when it's time to push a business into the growth phase. Loan agencies and investors are more likely to help out with funds for business growth after you've completed the product testing phase and made improvements to your company's offerings.

Advantages of a Formal Business Plan

A written business plan helps startups and established businesses in several ways, including:

  • It helps you attract investors and acquire loans.
  • It makes it easier to see pitfalls with your business concept and how you operate.
  • It gives you time to take care of anything that's amiss before you put in too much time or take on investors.
  • It provides a way to zero in on every part of the business so you can examine what works and what doesn't work.
  • It helps you look at your company with a critical eye, as if you were an outside investor.

Traditional Business Planning or the Lean Canvas Method?

If you're a person who intuitively focuses on details, you may jump right to preparing a business plan from the beginning to make it more likely that your company will succeed. If you're not a person who zeroes in on details intuitively, you might still find it necessary to put a business plan together when you get ready to apply for loans. Either way, the options entrepreneurs use for business plans have changed in recent years to include both the traditional method and the lean canvas method.

Business Plan Preplanning

From the earliest planning stage, you need to start preparing to write this document. Some information you need to include are:

  • Your competitive advantages, such as special skills you possess, industry knowledge you have that others don't, and any other strengths that set you ahead of your competition.
  • Weaknesses you or your workers face within your chosen industry.
  • What types of information you need to find to confirm your theories about the potential value of your business idea.

Summarize the Information

When writing a business plan, there are a number of things you need to add to the document. These details include:

  • The corporate structure of your business
  • Your business organization plan
  • The date of your fiscal year's end
  • Your chosen industry
  • Research you've done on the market to support your idea
  • What makes your offering different from similar products or services in the market
  • Your marketing plan and sales plan
  • Potential legal concerns
  • Financial forecasts

Keep it Simple

Keep your company and product description simple, clear, and precise in this planning document. This information goes in both the Company Overview and the Company Description when you write your business plan. Convey your excitement for the business you're building, but avoid adding information that might confuse bankers and potential investors. Include facts about features that set your product or service apart, such as size, capabilities, and design elements that are unique. Mainly, explain how your features translate into customer benefits to show why your business is likely to succeed.

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