What is a business plan?
Your business plan is your ultimate roadmap. It’s a document that brings together all the different things you’ve been working on in this course and on your trek and puts them in one place. It includes your vision and positioning statements, your marketing strategies, and your financial forecasts (i.e., all the details of your business and how you’re going to achieve your plans and goals).
Your business plan gives you a way to stay on track, but it also allows you to communicate your business ideas with potential investors, customers, partners, and employees. So, your business plan becomes a communication tool – for both internal and external audiences. Just as your business idea has been growing and changing over time, so will your business plan. It’s not something you put together once and then forget about; it’ll need to be revised and reworked as you continue your trek.
What does a business plan look like?
Although there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach in terms of look or length, most business plans usually include these sections/details:
- An Executive Summary
- Business profile or company overview
- Market research and target market information
- Marketing strategy details
- Operations information
- Financial plans
The different challenges you’ve worked on and tasks you’ve completed in this course all fit into your business plan sections, so you’ll need to ensure you’ve finished all the Lesson challenges so far to be able to complete your plan. Remember, you’ll most likely need to adapt or rewrite some of the information you have from your challenges to fit the format of a business plan – you can’t just cut and paste everything!
By now, you should’ve had a chance to look at the Grow-Well business plan example in My Backpack; this is an example of a detailed business plan. You can also put together what’s called a “lean” business plan (see below). This is a more condensed version of a business plan, but it still covers the same kind of information as the detailed plan. It’ll give readers a good idea, at a glance, of what you do, who it’s for, and what sets you apart from the competition.
To give you a sense of what a completed “lean” business plan looks like, take a look at this “lean” Grow-Well business plan example. You can also take a look at the template below; it includes instructions on what challenge information goes where and shows you how to format or lay out your “lean” plan. Compare it to the longer Grow-Well version in My Backpack. Can you see how they share similar elements?
Lean Business Plan
A longer, more detailed business plan can be very useful but tends to be used more for high stakes investment pitches. Take a look at this long form business plan template (with instructions on what goes where) to get a sense of how you might build a longer version using the same types of information as for the “lean” version.
Ultimately, your business plan is your business’s roadmap, so it’s worth investing the time to build a strong written plan. It’ll help guide and inspire you as you continue your business trek.