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Business Planning: The Formal Business Plan Document

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Business Planning: The Formal Business Plan Document

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: February 12, 2010 Updated: May 21, 2012

I hope at this point I’ve made it clear that you don’t necessarily need to have a standard, traditional, formal business plan. Until you really need to show a plan to some outsider who needs, wants, or expects the full formal plan, you can just use your plan-as-you-go plan to reap the benefits and avoid the hassle of the document.


However, there are business reasons that force you to produce the traditional plan document. We call these business plan events. The more common business plan events are related to seeking loans or investments. Ironically, the bank loan manager, angel investor, or venture capitalist may not read your plan, but most of them want to know you have one, which means they want it to appear in their inbox or on their desk.


Approaching a business plan event without being ready to produce a traditional business plan is something like approaching a publisher without having an outline and sample chapter. You’ll look dumb if you don’t have it. So have it.


The good news is that you already have the core of your plan ready, so you’re a long way down the path from start to done. You have only to dress it up to make it a formal business plan. You know what you want to do, and why, so from here you spin it out from your core into the proper words. You already have the numbers, right? And you know your strategy, too, as well as your dates, and deadlines, responsibility assignments, and metrics.

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 44 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including The Plan As You Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press, 2008.


I'm glad you posted the videos. Thanks!
This is good Tim, thanks. Every time I sit down to do a business plan, I get discouraged by not know exactly what people are looking to see and what information is most important to bankers vs investors. My business is video production and I'm looking to grow it... to do that I need a better business plan and funding. Thanks for sharing.
Great thoughts on business plan documents. I agree with "documentpro" that the business documenting software can often be too expensive and not necessary for a small business just getting their plan together.
When starting a business, the earlier you develop a strategy for managing your documents the better. Often times for small businesses, expensive enterprise document management software is unnecessary and out of the budget. DocuXplorer is a good small business document management option that can fit the budget of most small businesses.
This is a very good post! I admire the way you shared this topic! Keep it up a good job! credit report and score
This is important and something that can be included or created as a separate document is a "systems and processes" document. It's important to create these blueprints so new hires know what to do without as much direction and also, if you want to sell the business, the business will be more attractive if it has a set of systems and processes in place that help the business run effectively.
Excellent article, congratulations success and keep working!
Professionalism is known, an article written beautifully, with lots of intelligence. However any business is good coming, once the money comes.
Thanks a lot for being our lecturer on this topic. I actually enjoyed your article very much and most of all favored the way you handled the areas I regarded as controversial. You happen to be always extremely kind to readers really like me and let me in my existence. Thank you.
I created a business plan for my new fictious website featuring Porsche Wheels. THis was a class project with strict guidelines and we were required to follow the normal vanilla business plan. My question is, when are we really allowed to deviate from typical plans. I don't plan on launching the site because this was strictly a school project but it would be nice to know how I can modify my business plan and be taken seriously. I found a really cool page featuring Porsche Rims at Modbargains.com. There page is informative and visually appealing. Although they focus on all European makes, do you think they're business plan was formal?


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