A business plan is a formal written document comprising the goals of a business and strategies on how these goals can be achieved. Sometimes, a business plan might also give information on the person, team or organization that wants to reach these business goals.
A business plan should help to make decisions on a business that will be started but can also be used to lay down planned changes in an existing business. It is the written, organized form of what the entrepreneur has thought about during the planning stage of his business. There are no strict rules, only guidelines, on what a business plan should look like or what it should contain. The form and content of a business plan are usually influenced by the goals of the business and the people who will read it. Apart from the goals of the firm, the business plan might contain information about marketing, financing, human resources and if necessary also a legal plan. Therefore, the person who prepares a business plan needs to have diverse knowledge in many business disciplines such as finance, human resource management, intellectual property management, supply chain management, operations management and marketing.
A well-written, well-organized and comprehensive business plan is important in order to make your business appear credible, understandable and attractive even to people who are not familiar with your business. If you are currently writing a business plan, you might have found that it can be quite hard to do it by yourself. However, there are organizations that will help young entrepreneurs with start up businesses and they usually also offer help with preparing a business plan for your specific needs.
If you are unsure where to start, here is a list of what a typical business plan for a start up venture will comprise: an attractive cover page, a table of contents for easy navigation within the document, an executive summary, a detailed description of the business, a business environment analysis, information on the background of the industry, a competitor analysis as well as a market analysis, a marketing plan, an operations plan, a financial plan, a management summary and attachments.