Business plans are not all the same any more than all businesses are.
Plans differ widely in their length, their appearance, the detail of their contents, and the varying emphases they place on different aspects of the business. You want your plan to present you and your business in the best, most accurate light.
Types of business plans include: feasibility plans, annual plans, internal plans, operations plans, growth plans and more. These different types are drafted to match different business situations. With different circumstances, many different pieces of information are included in the business plan. A more elaborate plan is not guaranteed to be superior to an abbreviated one, depending on what you want to use it for.
- The start-up plan: is the most standard plan that explains the steps for a developing new business. It includes topics such as the organisation, product or service offering, market place, business forecasts, strategy, management team, implementation milestones, and financial analysis. First year monthly projections are shown.
- The miniplan: may consist of one to 10 pages and should include at least cursory attention to such key matters as business concept, financing needs, marketing plan and financial statements, especially cash flow, income projection and balance sheet. It can serve as a valuable prelude to a full-length plan later on.
- The working plan: is a tool to be used to operate one’s business. It has to be long on detail but may be short on presentation. A plan intended strictly for internal use may also omit some elements that would be important in one aimed at someone outside the firm. There is no need to be as careful about typos in the text, being consistent with date formats and so on.
- The annual or operational plan: are not made to tell investors how an entrepreneur intends on turning a profit in the span of five years, it is simply where they expect to be in 365 days. It can also be used to attract investors at the very beginning. They are perfect for companies that expect to make big changes in the not-so-distant future.
- The strategic plan: is usually part of an internal business plan. They are the strategy the team must carry out to achieve the intended goals, including business’s strengths, weaknesses and how it is going to utilize the opportunities. These types of plans typically skip the more detailed financial data and milestones.
- The growth plan: focuses on specific areas of the business. Depending on whether these business plans are linked to new investments or loan applications, they could be classified as internal plans or not. Although, detailed financial projections might not be given, forecast of the sales as well as the expenses for the new business venture is at least included in detail.
- The electronic plan: more and more business information is sent electronically. An electronic version of a business plan can be handy for presentations to a group using a computer-driven overhead projector, or for satisfying the demands of an investor who wants to be able to delve deeply into the underpinnings of complex spreadsheets.
There is no right or wrong answer to the type of business plan you choose, only that the business absolutely needs one for long-term success. Each type of reader has certain typical interests. If you know these interests up front, you can take them into account when preparing a plan for that particular audience. Make sure that your plan can be modified depending on the audience reading it. However, keep these alterations limited from one plan to another. This means when sharing financial projections, keep that data the same across the board.