When you hear people talk about business plans, what normally comes to mind? I know for me the first thing that comes to mind is a slick, four-color document accompanied by a fancy slide show and a well-rehearsed speech. You know, that special something entrepreneurs pull together to woo investors and secure financial backing.
But that’s not the only kind of business plan out there, and—depending on where you are on your particular small business journey—you might need a very different kind of document.
As you read through these business plan descriptions, think about how each one can help you get organized before taking that next big step.
Start-Up Business Plans
Start-up business plans outline your intentions as a new business owner. In them, you’ll lay out some guidelines for your fledgling company’s future including the types of products or services you’ll offer, your position in the market, your business strategy, and your financial situation. The start-up business plan can be modified to fit these specific purposes:
- The Working Plan: The working plan is more informal and is usually an internal resource for you and your employees. It should be highly detailed, but it doesn’t need to be highly polished.
- The Presentation Plan: This is the kind of business plan I mentioned in the introduction. Unlike the working plan, it needs to be letter perfect and visually appealing for showing to potential partners and investors.
- The Feasibility Plan: A feasibility plan is typically short and sweet. It covers the basics, like your mission, a brief market analysis, and a basic breakdown of your expected financials (available funds, pricing, expenses, etc) and explains yours plans to move forward with the business.
Internal plans are meant for use only among you and your employees. The content structure is typically informal and flexible; it can be tailored to your specific internal goals.
- The Operations Plan: An operations plan often outlines employee responsibilities related to a particular goal or business mission. It might include a list of dates and deadlines for achieving milestones related to anything from an annual sales goal to implementing a new filing system.
- The Strategic Plan: A strategic business plan functions as a kind of business-wide roadmap. Using a strategic plan can help employees see how their jobs are instrumental in the company’s mission and help them find ways to collaborate with coworkers. As the name suggests, it should include specific strategies for meeting business objectives.
If you’re in need of an expansion plan (also sometimes called a growth plan), congratulations! These plans should include details for expanding your small business, whether you plan to open additional stores, add a new product line, or add employees to extend your market reach. As with any plan written for the purpose of achieving financial backing, expansion plans should be drafted with your potential investors in mind.
So what’s the next step for your small business? Will you write a plan before you dive in? Why or why not?