Nature, Purpose, and Format of a Business Plan

Entrepreneurs who plan to enter any business endeavor must have a business plan on hand to guide them throughout the process. Different business plans are prepared for different purposes. There are business plans written prior to setting up an enterprise, which are similar to a prefeasibility study and a feasibility study. Many new enterprises need to convince prospective business investors about the soundness and potential of their business. They need to convey the capabilities and competencies of their owners and managers. They must also be able to ‘sell’ the proponent and the business proposition to this audience. These are situations when a good business plan is needed.

There are business plans that are written during the first few years of the enterprise in order to guide the entrepreneur on which strategies would be most beneficial for the enterprise to take. And there are business plans that are focused on bringing the enterprise to a higher level of growth, a period where the enterprise has already reached its peak and would want to enter into another endeavor by recreating and re-establishing itself.

Clearly, a business plan serves many masters. First, it serves the entrepreneur who must set a navigational course. Second, it serves investors and cautious financiers. And third, it serves the managers and staff of the organization so that they will know the strategies and programs of the enterprise.

The business plan must have a specific audience in mind and what important questions do this audience want answered. In order to aid the entrepreneur in getting his or her business plan organized, the following format may be a good start:

For each of the above items in the business plan, it would be good to have an idea of what they should contain.