Why You Should Write a Business Plan

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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.

Key Takeaways

  • 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.

To Test the Feasibility of Your Business Idea

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.

To Give Your New Business the Best Chance of Success

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.

To Secure Funding

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.

To Make Business Planning Manageable and Effective

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.

To Attract Investors

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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
  • Management
  • 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

Article Sources

  1. Small Business Administration. "Selecting a Business That Fits."