According to Entrpreneur.com, there are four types of business plans:
The miniplan is just that an abbreviated version of a potentially larger plan. Miniplans typically cover the basics, such as financial needs and statements, projections and balance sheets, and a marketing plan. A miniplan is a great way to test a business concept; however, it is not sufficient for managing any business of significance or beyond the initial startup.
The Working Plan
This type of plan should be strong on the day-to-day operations and management of your business. This type of plan is heavy on how your business should run, and less on presentation formalities. This plan would be used internally and would not need anything fancy; it is plain and to the point.
The Presentation Plan
At the other end of the spectrum lies the presentation plan. While this plan is just as heavy with information, it should be set up and presented to appeal to an outsider, such as a banker, that you would like to impress. This plan will be stylish, appear in a professional and logical manner, contain colored graphics, photos and illustrations, and be printed on high-quality paper. While this holds true for every business plan, this plan needs to be consistent and accurate. When it comes to investors and financial institutions, you may only get one shot, so make sure there are no red flags.
The Electronic Plan
This is an electronic version of your working or presentation plan for the purpose of e-mailing or showing during a meeting. This type of plan is often set up in a slideshow-type presentation and can be useful for group meetings or whenever a quick version is necessary. The advantage with this version is that you can do some neat projections (the "what if" factor) and show the outcome immediately.
Remember, when it comes to e-mailing, make sure that it's exactly like you want it before pressing the send button, because you can't take it back.
Layout and Information
While a business plan varies from company to company, it should contain detailed information about your business concept, analysis of the market, and all of your financial information.
Your business plan should have ample information to accomplish the intended purpose for your business. Ask yourself these questions: What am I trying to accomplish? Will I be presenting my plan to potential investors and/or will it serve as a management and operations tool? The answers to these questions will determine the complexity of your business plan.
An example of the sections you might include in your plan are:
- Business Description
- Vision Statement
- Products and Services
- Market Analysis
- Competitive Analysis
- Marketing Plan
- Financial Factors
You may find that updating your plan at the beginning of every financial period, annually, quarterly or even monthly may be necessary. Following are just a few examples of why it would be necessary to update your plan:
- Your business may need additional financing for an accelerated growth period.
- There may have been a significant shift in regulations or market trends.
- Product and technology changes.
- Changes in management.
- The employment of additional people or the addition of another department.
If your old plan just isn't relevant any more, then you need to update it.
Finally, don't be afraid of hiring a consultant or checking with governmental agencies or organizations dedicated to helping entrepreneurs. There are federal and state commerce departments that are helpful, as well as software and books that are useful in helping to create and implement your business plan.
Return to Table of Contents