Why is a business plan important?
A business plan is a very important and strategic tool for entrepreneurs. A good business plan not only helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps necessary for them to make business ideas succeed, but it also helps them to achieve short-term and long-term objectives. Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." (Benjamin Franklin).
While a business plan is essential to entrepreneurship, not every entrepreneur sees the need for one. Many are reluctant to have their plan written down and there are numerous articles online claiming that the business plan is dead or irrelevant. Of course, not everyone agrees with that. A large number of business funding experts support the idea that having a good business plan is not enough. Even excellent business ideas can be useless if you cannot formulate, execute and implement a strategic plan to make your business idea work. If you are looking to raise funds from institutional investors and lenders, keep in mind that having a good business plan is extremely valuable. You should aim to have a well-documented plan that speaks for itself. It needs to be clear and easy to read and understand.
Before writing a business plan, it is important to consider two important factors:
- Who will the reader be?
- What do you want their response to be?
For example, if you are interested in raising capital, investors will likely be your target audience. If you are interested in partnerships or joint ventures, your potential business partners will be your audience. Whoever this audience may be, focus on the key message you want them to receive in order to get the response you want.
Four Reasons to Write a Business Plan
1. To raise money for your business
Potential investors or lenders want a written business plan before they give you money. A mere description of your business concept is not enough. Instead, ensure you have a thorough business and financial plan that demonstrates the likelihood of success and how much you will need for your business to be successful in the long-term.
2. To make sound decisions
As an entrepreneur, having a business plan help you define and focus on your business ideas and strategies. You not only concentrate on financial matters, but also on management issues, human resource planning, technology and creating value for your customer.
3. To help you identify any potential weaknesses
Having a business plan helps you identify potential pitfalls in your idea. You can also share the plan with others who can give you their opinions and advice. Identify experts and professionals who are in a position to give you invaluable advice and share your plan with them.
4. To communicate your ideas with stakeholders
A business plan is a communication tool that you can use to secure investment capital from financial institutions or lenders. You can also use it to convince people to work for your enterprise, to secure credit from suppliers and to attract potential customers.
Creating a business plan involves a lot of thought. You need to consider what you want to do and use that as a starting point. It does not need to be complicated. At its core, your plan should identify where you are now, where you want your business to go and how you will get there. Writing a good business plan does not guarantee success, but it can go a long way toward reducing the odds of failure. Besides, even if you are not looking for investment, your entrepreneurial plans will fall flat quickly without a plan to guide them.
The Duquesne University SBDC provides free business consulting for entrepreneurs in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Click here to request free consulting, or contact the SBDC for additional help and information.
Rich Longo is a Business Consultant with the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center where he assists new and existing businesses with developing and implementing business plans. He is also certified in Technology Commercialization. Rich has extensive experience with Federally Qualified Health Centers and has been a Senior Vice President of Network Management for Devon Health Services, Inc., one of the largest regional PPOs in the northeast. He has been an adjunct faculty member at Robert Morris University and the University of Pittsburgh.