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20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

Written by Dave Lavinsky

20 Reasons Why you need a business plan

What is the Purpose of a Business Plan?

The purpose of a business plan is to provide a clear roadmap for the company’s future. It outlines the vision, goals, and strategies of the business, guiding entrepreneurs and stakeholders in understanding its operations and objectives. A well-crafted business plan template helps attract investors and funding by showcasing the potential for profitability and growth.

Top 20 Reasons Why you Need a Business Plan

1. to prove that you’re serious about your business.

A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business. Creating your plan forces you to think through and select the strategies that will propel your growth.

2. To Establish Business Milestones

The business plan should clearly lay out the long-term milestones that are most important to the success of your business. To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki, a milestone is something significant enough to come home and tell your spouse about (without boring him or her to death). Would you tell your spouse that you tweaked the company brochure? Probably not. But you’d certainly share the news that you launched your new website or reached $1M in annual revenues.

3. To Better Understand Your Competition

Creating the business plan forces you to analyze the competition. All companies have competition in the form of either direct or indirect competitors, and it is critical to understand your company’s competitive advantages. And if you don’t currently have competitive advantages, to figure out what you must do to gain them.

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4. To Better Understand Your Customer

Why do they buy when they buy? Why don’t they when they don’t? An in-depth customer analysis is essential to an effective business plan and to a successful business. Understanding your customers will not only allow you to create better products and services for them, but will allow you to more cost-effectively reach them via advertising and promotions.

5. To Enunciate Previously Unstated Assumptions

The process of actually writing the business plan helps to bring previously “hidden” assumptions to the foreground. By writing them down and assessing them, you can test them and analyze their validity. For example, you might have assumed that local retailers would carry your product; in your business plan, you could assess the results of the scenario in which this didn’t occur.

6. To Assess the Feasibility of Your Venture

How good is this opportunity? The business plan process involves researching your target market, as well as the competitive landscape, and serves as a feasibility study for the success of your venture. In some cases, the result of your planning will be to table the venture. And it might be to go forward with a different venture that may have a better chance of success.

7. To Document Your Revenue Model

How exactly will your business make money? This is a critical question to answer in writing, for yourself and your investors. Documenting the revenue model helps to address challenges and assumptions associated with the model. And upon reading your plan, others may suggest additional revenue streams to consider.

8. To Determine Your Financial Needs

Does your business need to raise capital? How much? One of the purposes of a business plan is to help you to determine exactly how much capital you need and what you will use it for. This process is essential for raising capital for business and for effectively employing the capital. It will also enable you to plan ahead, particularly if you need to raise additional funding in the future.

9. To Attract Investors

A formal business plan is the basis for financing proposals. The business plan answers investors’ questions such as: Is there a need for this product/service? What are the financial projections? What is the company’s exit strategy? While investors will generally want to meet you in person before writing you a check, in nearly all cases, they will also thoroughly review your business plan.

10. To Reduce the Risk of Pursuing the Wrong Opportunity

The process of creating the business plan helps to minimize opportunity costs. Writing the business plan helps you assess the attractiveness of this particular opportunity, versus other opportunities. So you make the best decisions.

11. To Force You to Research and Really Know Your Market

What are the most important trends in your industry? What are the greatest threats to your industry? Is the market growing or shrinking? What is the size of the target market for your product/service? Creating the business plan will help you to gain a wider, deeper, and more nuanced understanding of your marketplace. And it will allow you to use this knowledge to make decisions to improve your company’s success.

12. To Attract Employees and a Management Team

To attract and retain top quality talent, a business plan is necessary. The business plan inspires employees and management that the idea is sound and that the business is poised to achieve its strategic goals. Importantly, as you grow your company, your employees and not you will do most of the work. So getting them aligned and motivated will be key to your success.

13. To Plot Your Course and Focus Your Efforts

The business plan provides a roadmap from which to operate, and to look to for direction in times of doubt. Without a business plan, you may shift your short-term strategies constantly without a view to your long-term milestones. You wouldn’t go on a long driving trip without a map; think of your business plan as your map.

14. To attract partners

Partners also want to see a business plan, in order to determine whether it is worth partnering with your business. Establishing partnerships often requires time and capital, and companies will be more likely to partner with your venture if they can read a detailed explanation of your company.

15. To Position Your Brand

Creating the business plan helps to define your company’s role in the marketplace. This definition allows you to succinctly describe the business and position the brand to customers, investors, and partners. With the industry, customer and competitive insight you gain during the business planning process, you can best determine how to position your brand.

16. To Judge the Success of Your Business

A formal business plan allows you to compare actual operational results versus the business plan itself. In this way, it allows you to clearly see whether you have achieved your strategic, financing, and operational goals (and why you have or have not).

17. To Reposition Your Business to Deal with Changing Conditions

For example, during difficult economic conditions, if your current sales and operational models aren’t working, you can rewrite your business plan to define, try, and validate new ideas and strategies.

18. To Document Your Marketing Plan

How are you going to reach your customers? How will you retain them? What is your advertising budget? What price will you charge? A well-documented marketing plan is essential to the growth of a business. And the marketing strategies and tactics you use will evolve each year, so revisiting your marketing plan at least annually is critical.

19. To Understand and Forecast Your Company’s Staffing Needs

After completing your business plan, you will not be surprised when you are suddenly short-handed. Rather, your business plan provides a roadmap for your staffing needs, and thus helps to ensure smoother expansion. Importantly your plan can not only help you understand your staffing needs, but ensure your timing is right as it takes time to recruit and train great employees.

20. To Uncover New Opportunities

Through the process of brainstorming, white-boarding and creative interviewing, you will likely see your business in a different light. As a result, you will often come up with new ideas for marketing your product/service and running your business. It’s coming up with these ideas and executing on them which is often the difference between a business that fails or just survives and one that thrives.

Business Plan FAQs

What is a business plan.

A business plan is a document that details your business concept and strategy for growth.

A business plan helps guide your company's efforts and, if applicable, gives investors and lenders the information they need to decide whether or not to fund your company. A business plan template helps you to most easily complete your plan.

Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

A business plan provides details about your company, competition, customers and industry so that you make the best possible decisions to grow your company.

What is the Importance of a Business Plan?

The 3 most important purposes of a business plan are 1) to create an effective strategy for growth, 2) to determine your future financial needs, and 3) to attract investors (including angel investors and VC funding ) and lenders.

Why is a Business Plan Important to an Entrepreneur?

Business plans help entrepreneurs take their visions and turn them into tangible action plans for success.

Need help with your business plan? 

  • Speak with a professional business plan consultant from our team.
  • Use our simple business plan template .
  • Check out our business plan examples .
  • Or, if you’re creating your own PPM, you can save time and money with Growthink’s private placement memorandum template .
  • Learn more about us via our Growthink Business Plan Review page

The World’s #1 Business Plan Template

Would you like to know the quickest and easiest way to create a winning business plan?

And how to use it to raise funding, improve your strategy, or both?

Well, we’ve developed the ultimate business plan template to help you do this. Simply click below to learn more.

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15 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2023

Posted january 21, 2022 by noah parsons.

why do we need business plan

As a small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur, a business plan can seem more like a hurdle you have to overcome than a useful tool. It’s a barrier that’s keeping you from moving forward with your business. Maybe the bank won’t review your loan application without a business plan or a potential investor has asked to see your business plan before they will meet with you. 

But, writing a business plan doesn’t have to feel like a homework assignment. Instead, think of writing a business plan as an investment in your business. It’s a tool to figure out a strong and financially viable strategy for growth. And, it’s even been scientifically proven that planning will increase your chances of success and help you grow faster. 

Still not convinced? Read on for our definitive list of reasons why you should write a plan for your business.

What is the key purpose of a business plan? 

Imagine you’re setting out on a journey. You know what your final destination is, but you haven’t figured out how to get there. While it might be fun to just start driving and figure things out as you go, your trip will most likely take longer than you anticipated and cost you more. If you instead take a look at a map and chart the best way to get to your destination, you’ll arrive on time and on budget. Planning for your business isn’t that much different. 

The primary purpose of a business plan is to help you figure out where you want to go with your business and how you’re going to get there. It helps you set your direction and determine a winning strategy. A solid business plan will set your business up for success and help you build an unbeatable company.

If you start off without a plan, you may go down some interesting detours, but you’re unlikely to grow quickly or stick to your budget.

Why do you need to write a business plan?

Establishing a strategic roadmap for your business is the primary benefit of writing a business plan. But what does that really look like for you and your business? Here are our top 15 reasons why you should write a business plan.

1. Reduce your risk

Writing a business plan takes some of the risk out of starting a business. It ensures that you’re thinking through every facet of your business to determine if it can truly be viable. 

Does your solution fit the market? Are your startup or operational costs manageable? Will your proposed business model actually generate sales? What sort of milestones would you need to hit to achieve profitability? These are all questions associated with business risk that you can answer with your plan.

For those already running a business, writing a plan can help you better manage ongoing risk. Should you bring on a new employee? What does cash flow look like for your next month, quarter, or even year? Are you on track to meet your milestones or do you need to change your focus? Keep your plan up to date, review it regularly and you can easily answer these questions and mitigate risk.

2. Uncover your business’s potential

Writing a business plan helps you think about the customers you are serving and what their needs are. Exploring those customer needs will help you uncover new opportunities for your business to serve them and potentially expose new products and services that you could offer. When you use your business plan to manage your business, you’ll be able to see the parts of your strategy that are working and those that aren’t. For example, you may have invested in new marketing efforts to sell one of your products, but that strategy just isn’t working out. With a business plan in hand, you’ll be able to see what’s going to plan and where you need to make adjustments to your strategy, pivoting to new opportunities that will drive profitability.

3. Test a new business idea

When you have a new business idea, it really helps to spend a little time thinking through all the details. A business plan will help you think about your target market, your budget, how much money you’ll need to launch, and how your idea will actually work before you spend any real money. A business plan will also help you easily share your idea with other people to get input and feedback before you get started. 

We recommend using a one-page business plan to test ideas quickly and easily. 

4. Attract investors and get funding to start and grow your business

Sharing your business idea with investors requires a business plan. Now, you probably won’t share a long, detailed business plan to get investors interested, but you probably will share your executive summary — which is an overview of your business plan. Investors may never actually ask for your full business plan, but they will certainly ask you questions that you’ll only be able to answer if you’ve taken the time to write a plan. 

At the very least, they’ll want to see your financial forecasts , so you should be prepared for this. If you end up pitching your business to investors, whether in-person or remotely , having a business plan written makes it much easier to translate the right information into a pitch deck. In short, you’ll have all of the right information ready and available to show why your business is worth investing in.

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5. Plan for different scenarios

Even if you have a plan in place, things rarely actually go to plan. The world is always changing, customer tastes change, and new competitors arrive on the scene. Having a plan allows you to experiment with different scenarios to see how changes to your business will impact your forecasts, budgets, profitability, and cash flow. 

6. Research shows that business plans definitely work

A Journal of Management Studies study found that businesses that take the time to plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t. Our own 2021 small business research study found that 58% of small business owners that have or are working on a plan feel confident in their business, even amidst a crisis. And a study in Small Business Economics found that entrepreneurs that write business plans for their ideas are 152% more likely to actually start their businesses. There’s plenty of additional research that links planning with success, so it’s a proven fact that you won’t be wasting your time when you write your plan.

7. Build a better budget and a financial forecast

A core component of any business plan is a financial forecast. When you take the time to plan, you’ll have to think through your expense budget, your sales goals, and the cash that it’s going to take to keep your doors open, purchase inventory, and more. 

The beauty of incorporating forecasts into your business plan is that you don’t need to have the exact numbers to start. You can work with general assumptions and compare against competitive benchmarks to set a baseline for your business. As you operate and collect financial data you can then begin to update your forecasts to generate a more accurate view of how your business will operate.

8. Determine your financial needs

Without a business plan, it’s impossible to really know how much money it’s going to take to start and run your business. You don’t just need money for your initial purchases. You need to have enough cash in the bank to keep your business afloat while you get fully up and running. A plan will help you determine exactly how much money you’ll need and help you keep track of your cash flow and runway .

9. Attract employees

Especially if you’re a young startup company, attracting employees can be hard. Without a proven track record, why should someone take a risk to work for you? Having a business plan can help solve that problem. Your plan can help a prospective employee understand your business strategy and plans for growth so that they can feel confident joining your team. It’s also incredibly useful in determining when and if it’s feasible for you to bring on more employees . 

10. Get your team all on the same page

A great strategy for your business can only be successful if your team understands it. By documenting your strategy with a business plan, you can easily get everyone on the same page, working towards the same goals. It’s even better if you regularly review your plan with members of your team. This ensures that everyone is consistently going back to the core strategy documentation, analyzing it, and exploring how it impacts individual and team goals .

11. Manage your business better 

A business plan is all about setting goals for your company — both financial goals and milestones you hope to accomplish. When you use your plan to regularly check in on your business to see how you’re doing and what your progress is, you’re managing your business. Regular review , ideally monthly, will help you build a strong, resilient business.

12. Understand your market and build a marketing plan

No matter how good your idea is, you have to figure out who your ideal customers are and how you’re going to get the word out to them. That’s where a marketing plan comes in. It can be an indispensable tool for figuring out how you get your first customers as well as your thousandth customer. 

13. It’s easier than you think

You may be procrastinating in writing a business plan because it sounds like a lot of work. The truth is that planning is much less complicated than you think. Start small with a one-page business plan that you complete in half an hour . From there, refine your plan until your idea is solid. At that point, you can invest a little more time in a more detailed business plan. Just start with the basics and expand from there.

14. You’ll sleep better at night

When you have a plan for your business, you have peace of mind. You know that you’ve invested the time to figure out a business model that actually works and you’ve considered different financial scenarios so you can handle the unexpected. And, you’ve got a management tool to run your business better than your competitors. 

15. Effectively navigate a crisis

Having a business plan not only helps you create a roadmap for your business but also helps you navigate unforeseen events. Large-scale economic downturns, supply shortages, payment delays, cash flow problems, and any number of other issues are bound to pop up. But, you can be prepared to face each crisis head-on by leveraging your business plan.

A plan helps you assess your current situation, determine how the crisis will alter your plan, and begin to explore what it will take to recover. With a little planning, you can even prepare your business for future downturns with this same process. It’ll make crisis planning easier and ideally recession-proof your business by having the right plan and processes in place.

Don’t wait, start writing your business plan today

There are plenty of reasons to write a business plan, but the real reason is about finding success for you and your business. Taking the time to plan is an investment in yourself and your business that will pay dividends, whether you’re starting a new business or taking your existing business to the next level. 

You can jump-start your business plan writing process with our article covering how to write a business plan in as little as 30-minutes .

If you’re looking for a tool to help you get more from your business plan, we recommend trying out LivePlan . Our business planning and management tool will guide you through the entire process, including all of your financial forecasts, without ever requiring that you open a spreadsheet.

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Noah Parsons

Noah Parsons

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why do we need business plan

The importance of a business plan

Business plans are like road maps: it’s possible to travel without one, but that will only increase the odds of getting lost along the way.

Owners with a business plan see growth 30% faster than those without one, and 71% of the fast-growing companies have business plans . Before we get into the thick of it, let’s define and go over what a business plan actually is.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a 15-20 page document that outlines how you will achieve your business objectives and includes information about your product, marketing strategies, and finances. You should create one when you’re starting a new business and keep updating it as your business grows.

Rather than putting yourself in a position where you may have to stop and ask for directions or even circle back and start over, small business owners often use business plans to help guide them. That’s because they help them see the bigger picture, plan ahead, make important decisions, and improve the overall likelihood of success. ‍

Why is a business plan important?

A well-written business plan is an important tool because it gives entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as their employees, the ability to lay out their goals and track their progress as their business begins to grow. Business planning should be the first thing done when starting a new business. Business plans are also important for attracting investors so they can determine if your business is on the right path and worth putting money into.

Business plans typically include detailed information that can help improve your business’s chances of success, like:

  • A market analysis : gathering information about factors and conditions that affect your industry
  • Competitive analysis : evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors
  • Customer segmentation : divide your customers into different groups based on specific characteristics to improve your marketing
  • Marketing: using your research to advertise your business
  • Logistics and operations plans : planning and executing the most efficient production process
  • Cash flow projection : being prepared for how much money is going into and out of your business
  • An overall path to long-term growth

10 reasons why you need a business plan

I know what you’re thinking: “Do I really need a business plan? It sounds like a lot of work, plus I heard they’re outdated and I like figuring things out as I go...”.

The answer is: yes, you really do need a business plan! As entrepreneur Kevin J. Donaldson said, “Going into business without a business plan is like going on a mountain trek without a map or GPS support—you’ll eventually get lost and starve! Though it may sound tedious and time-consuming, business plans are critical to starting your business and setting yourself up for success.

To outline the importance of business plans and make the process sound less daunting, here are 10 reasons why you need one for your small business.

1. To help you with critical decisions

The primary importance of a business plan is that they help you make better decisions. Entrepreneurship is often an endless exercise in decision making and crisis management. Sitting down and considering all the ramifications of any given decision is a luxury that small businesses can’t always afford. That’s where a business plan comes in.

Building a business plan allows you to determine the answer to some of the most critical business decisions ahead of time.

Creating a robust business plan is a forcing function—you have to sit down and think about major components of your business before you get started, like your marketing strategy and what products you’ll sell. You answer many tough questions before they arise. And thinking deeply about your core strategies can also help you understand how those decisions will impact your broader strategy.

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2. To iron out the kinks

Putting together a business plan requires entrepreneurs to ask themselves a lot of hard questions and take the time to come up with well-researched and insightful answers. Even if the document itself were to disappear as soon as it’s completed, the practice of writing it helps to articulate your vision in realistic terms and better determine if there are any gaps in your strategy.

3. To avoid the big mistakes

Only about half of small businesses are still around to celebrate their fifth birthday . While there are many reasons why small businesses fail, many of the most common are purposefully addressed in business plans.

According to data from CB Insights , some of the most common reasons businesses fail include:

  • No market need : No one wants what you’re selling.
  • Lack of capital : Cash flow issues or businesses simply run out of money.
  • Inadequate team : This underscores the importance of hiring the right people to help you run your business.
  • Stiff competition : It’s tough to generate a steady profit when you have a lot of competitors in your space.
  • Pricing : Some entrepreneurs price their products or services too high or too low—both scenarios can be a recipe for disaster.

The exercise of creating a business plan can help you avoid these major mistakes. Whether it’s cash flow forecasts or a product-market fit analysis , every piece of a business plan can help spot some of those potentially critical mistakes before they arise. For example, don’t be afraid to scrap an idea you really loved if it turns out there’s no market need. Be honest with yourself!

Get a jumpstart on your business plan by creating your own cash flow projection .

4. To prove the viability of the business

Many businesses are created out of passion, and while passion can be a great motivator, it’s not a great proof point.

Planning out exactly how you’re going to turn that vision into a successful business is perhaps the most important step between concept and reality. Business plans can help you confirm that your grand idea makes sound business sense.

A graphic showing you a “Business Plan Outline.” There are four sections on the left side: Executive Summary at the top, Company Description below it, followed by Market Analysis, and lastly Organization and Management. There was four sections on the right side. At the top: “Service or Product Line.” Below that, “Marketing and Sales.” Below that, “Funding Request.” And lastly: “Financial Projections.” At the very bottom below the left and right columns is a section that says “Appendix.

A critical component of your business plan is the market research section. Market research can offer deep insight into your customers, your competitors, and your chosen industry. Not only can it enlighten entrepreneurs who are starting up a new business, but it can also better inform existing businesses on activities like marketing, advertising, and releasing new products or services.

Want to prove there’s a market gap? Here’s how you can get started with market research.

5. To set better objectives and benchmarks

Without a business plan, objectives often become arbitrary, without much rhyme or reason behind them. Having a business plan can help make those benchmarks more intentional and consequential. They can also help keep you accountable to your long-term vision and strategy, and gain insights into how your strategy is (or isn’t) coming together over time.

6. To communicate objectives and benchmarks

Whether you’re managing a team of 100 or a team of two, you can’t always be there to make every decision yourself. Think of the business plan like a substitute teacher, ready to answer questions any time there’s an absence. Let your staff know that when in doubt, they can always consult the business plan to understand the next steps in the event that they can’t get an answer from you directly.

Sharing your business plan with team members also helps ensure that all members are aligned with what you’re doing, why, and share the same understanding of long-term objectives.

7. To provide a guide for service providers

Small businesses typically employ contractors , freelancers, and other professionals to help them with tasks like accounting , marketing, legal assistance, and as consultants. Having a business plan in place allows you to easily share relevant sections with those you rely on to support the organization, while ensuring everyone is on the same page.

8. To secure financing

Did you know you’re 2.5x more likely to get funded if you have a business plan?If you’re planning on pitching to venture capitalists, borrowing from a bank, or are considering selling your company in the future, you’re likely going to need a business plan. After all, anyone that’s interested in putting money into your company is going to want to know it’s in good hands and that it’s viable in the long run. Business plans are the most effective ways of proving that and are typically a requirement for anyone seeking outside financing.

Learn what you need to get a small business loan.

9. To better understand the broader landscape

No business is an island, and while you might have a strong handle on everything happening under your own roof, it’s equally important to understand the market terrain as well. Writing a business plan can go a long way in helping you better understand your competition and the market you’re operating in more broadly, illuminate consumer trends and preferences, potential disruptions and other insights that aren’t always plainly visible.

10. To reduce risk

Entrepreneurship is a risky business, but that risk becomes significantly more manageable once tested against a well-crafted business plan. Drawing up revenue and expense projections, devising logistics and operational plans, and understanding the market and competitive landscape can all help reduce the risk factor from an inherently precarious way to make a living. Having a business plan allows you to leave less up to chance, make better decisions, and enjoy the clearest possible view of the future of your company.

Understanding the importance of a business plan

Now that you have a solid grasp on the “why” behind business plans, you can confidently move forward with creating your own.

Remember that a business plan will grow and evolve along with your business, so it’s an important part of your whole journey—not just the beginning.

Related Posts

Now that you’ve read up on the purpose of a business plan, check out our guide to help you get started.

why do we need business plan

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

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What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

why do we need business plan

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

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What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

AJ Beltis

Published: June 07, 2023

In an era where more than 20% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success.

Business plan graphic with business owner, lightbulb, and pens to symbolize coming up with ideas and writing a business plan.

Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan?

businessplan_0

In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.

The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.

What is a business plan used for?

The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.

Business Plan Template [ Download Now ]

businessplan_2

Working on your business plan? Try using our Business Plan Template . Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.

Purposes of a Business Plan

Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:

1. Securing financing from investors.

Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.

All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.

Therefore, these investors need to know if — and when — they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.

2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals.

A business plan should leave no stone unturned.

Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them.

To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies — from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.

These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.

why do we need business plan

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Free Business Plan [Template]

Fill out the form to access your free business plan., 3. legitimizing a business idea..

Everyone's got a great idea for a company — until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible.

A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.

As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics — and that's exactly what the business plan is for.

It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.

4. Getting an A in your business class.

Speaking from personal experience, there's a chance you're here to get business plan ideas for your Business 101 class project.

If that's the case, might we suggest checking out this post on How to Write a Business Plan — providing a section-by-section guide on creating your plan?

What does a business plan need to include?

  • Business Plan Subtitle
  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • The Business Opportunity
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Target Market
  • Marketing Plan
  • Financial Summary
  • Funding Requirements

1. Business Plan Subtitle

Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.

2. Executive Summary

Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.

3. Company Description

This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.

4. The Business Opportunity

The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high-level information about your target market.

businessplan_9

5. Competitive Analysis

Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.

6. Target Market

Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.

7. Marketing Plan

Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice.

Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.

8. Financial Summary

Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all useful adds here.

So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The "team" section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.

10. Funding Requirements

Remember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.

Types of Business Plans

  • Startup Business Plan
  • Feasibility Business Plan
  • Internal Business Plan
  • Strategic Business Plan
  • Business Acquisition Plan
  • Business Repositioning Plan
  • Expansion or Growth Business Plan

There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs. Below are a few of the most common types of business plans.

For even more examples, check out these sample business plans to help you write your own .

1. Startup Business Plan

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As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is for new business ideas. This plan lays the foundation for the eventual success of a business.

The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans often reference existing industry data. They also explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.

Because startup business plans expand on an original idea, the contents will vary by the top priority goals.

For example, say a startup is looking for funding. If capital is a priority, this business plan might focus more on financial projections than marketing or company culture.

2. Feasibility Business Plan

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This type of business plan focuses on a single essential aspect of the business — the product or service. It may be part of a startup business plan or a standalone plan for an existing organization. This comprehensive plan may include:

  • A detailed product description
  • Market analysis
  • Technology needs
  • Production needs
  • Financial sources
  • Production operations

According to CBInsights research, 35% of startups fail because of a lack of market need. Another 10% fail because of mistimed products.

Some businesses will complete a feasibility study to explore ideas and narrow product plans to the best choice. They conduct these studies before completing the feasibility business plan. Then the feasibility plan centers on that one product or service.

3. Internal Business Plan

businessplan_5

Internal business plans help leaders communicate company goals, strategy, and performance. This helps the business align and work toward objectives more effectively.

Besides the typical elements in a startup business plan, an internal business plan may also include:

  • Department-specific budgets
  • Target demographic analysis
  • Market size and share of voice analysis
  • Action plans
  • Sustainability plans

Most external-facing business plans focus on raising capital and support for a business. But an internal business plan helps keep the business mission consistent in the face of change.

4. Strategic Business Plan

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Strategic business plans focus on long-term objectives for your business. They usually cover the first three to five years of operations. This is different from the typical startup business plan which focuses on the first one to three years. The audience for this plan is also primarily internal stakeholders.

These types of business plans may include:

  • Relevant data and analysis
  • Assessments of company resources
  • Vision and mission statements

It's important to remember that, while many businesses create a strategic plan before launching, some business owners just jump in. So, this business plan can add value by outlining how your business plans to reach specific goals. This type of planning can also help a business anticipate future challenges.

5. Business Acquisition Plan

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Investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.

A business acquisition plan may include costs, schedules, or management requirements. This data will come from an acquisition strategy.

A business plan for an existing company will explain:

  • How an acquisition will change its operating model
  • What will stay the same under new ownership
  • Why things will change or stay the same
  • Acquisition planning documentation
  • Timelines for acquisition

Additionally, the business plan should speak to the current state of the business and why it's up for sale.

For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased. It should also include:

  • What the new owner will do to turn the business around
  • Historic business metrics
  • Sales projections after the acquisition
  • Justification for those projections

6. Business Repositioning Plan

businessplan_6 (1)

When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.

This plan will:

  • Acknowledge the current state of the company.
  • State a vision for the future of the company.
  • Explain why the business needs to reposition itself.
  • Outline a process for how the company will adjust.

Companies planning for a business reposition often do so — proactively or retroactively — due to a shift in market trends and customer needs.

For example, shoe brand AllBirds plans to refocus its brand on core customers and shift its go-to-market strategy. These decisions are a reaction to lackluster sales following product changes and other missteps.

7. Expansion or Growth Business Plan

When your business is ready to expand, a growth business plan creates a useful structure for reaching specific targets.

For example, a successful business expanding into another location can use a growth business plan. This is because it may also mean the business needs to focus on a new target market or generate more capital.

This type of plan usually covers the next year or two of growth. It often references current sales, revenue, and successes. It may also include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Growth opportunity studies
  • Financial goals and plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Capability planning

These types of business plans will vary by business, but they can help businesses quickly rally around new priorities to drive growth.

Getting Started With Your Business Plan

At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan — and the business it outlines — will be.

When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts. If you need one of these, download HubSpot's Free Business Plan Template below to get started.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Nine reasons why you need a business plan

Building a great business plan helps you plan, strategize and succeed. Presented by Chase for Business .

why do we need business plan

Making the decision to create a new business is an exciting yet stressful experience. Starting a business involves many tasks and obstacles, so it’s important to focus before you take action. A solid business plan can provide direction, help you attract investors and ensure you maintain momentum.

No matter what industry you plan on going into, a business plan is the first step for any successful enterprise. Building your business plan helps you figure out where you want your business to go and identify the necessary steps to get you there. This is a key document for your company to both guide your actions and track your progress.

What is the purpose of a business plan?

Think of a business plan like a roadmap. It enables you to solve problems and make key business decisions, such as marketing and competitive analysis, customer and market analysis and logistics and operations plans.

It can also help you organize your thoughts and goals, as well as give you a better idea of how your company will work. Good planning is often the difference between success and failure.

Here are nine reasons your company needs a business plan.

1. Prove your idea is viable

Through the process of writing a business plan, you can assess whether your company will be successful. Understanding market dynamics, as well as competitors, will help determine if your idea is viable.

This is also the time to develop financial projections for your business plan, like estimated startup costs, a profit and loss forecast, a break-even analysis and a cash flow statement . By taking time to investigate the viability of your idea, you can build goals and strategies to support your path to success.

A proper business plan proves to all interested parties—including potential investors, customers, employees, partners and most importantly yourself — that you are serious about your business.

2. Set important goals

As a business owner, the bulk of your time will mostly likely be spent managing day-to-day tasks. As a result, it might be hard to find time after you launch your business to set goals and milestones. Writing a business plan allows you to lay out significant goals for yourself ahead of time for three or even five years down the road. Create both short- and long-term business goals. 

3. Reduce potential risks

Prevent your business from falling victim to unexpected dangers by researching before you break ground. A business plan opens your eyes to potential risks that your business could face. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions that may need research and analysis to answer. This is also good practice in how your business would actually manage issues when they arise. Incorporate a contingency plan that identifies risks and how you would respond to them effectively.

The most common reasons businesses fail include:

  • Lack of capital
  • Lack of market impact or need
  • Unresearched pricing (too high or low)
  • Explosive growth that drains all your capital
  • Stiff competition

Lack of capital is the most prevalent reason why businesses fail. To best alleviate this problem, take time to determine how your business will generate revenue. Build a comprehensive model to help mitigate future risks and long-term pain points. This can be turned into a tool to manage growth and expansion.

4. Secure investments

Whether you’re planning to apply for an SBA loan , build a relationship with angel investors or seek venture capital funding, you need more than just an elevator pitch to get funding. All credible investors will want to review your business plan. Although investors will focus on the financial aspects of the plan, they will also want to see if you’ve spent time researching your industry, developed a viable product or service and created a strong marketing strategy.

While building your business plan, think about how much raised capital you need to get your idea off the ground. Determine exactly how much funding you’ll need and what you will use it for. This is essential for raising and employing capital.

5. Allot resources and plan purchases

You will have many investments to make at the launch of your business, such as product and services development, new technology, hiring, operations, sales and marketing. Resource planning is an important part of your business plan. It gives you an idea of how much you’ll need to spend on resources and it ensures your business will manage those resources effectively.  

A business plan provides clarity about necessary assets and investment for each item. A good business plan can also determine when it is feasible to expand to a larger store or workspace.

In your plan, include research on new products and services, where you can buy reliable equipment and what technologies you may need. Allocate capital and plan how you’ll fund major purchases, such as with a Chase small business checking account or business credit card .

6. Build your team

From seasoned executives to skilled labor, a compelling business plan can help you attract top-tier talent, ideally inspiring management and employees long after hiring. Business plans include an overview of your executive team as well as the different roles you need filled immediately and further down the line.

Small businesses often employ specialized consultants, contractors and freelancers for individual tasks such as marketing, accounting and legal assistance. Sharing a business plan helps the larger team work collectively in the same direction. 

This will also come into play when you begin working with any new partners. As a new business, a potential partner may ask to see your business plan. Building partnerships takes time and money, and with a solid business plan you have the opportunity to attract and work with the type of partners your new business needs.

7. Share your vision 

When you start a business, it's easy to assume you'll be available to guide your team. A business plan helps your team and investors understand your vision for the company. Your plan will outline your goals and can help your team make decisions or take action on your behalf. Share your business plan with employees to align your full staff toward a collective goal or objective for the company.  Consider employee and stakeholder ownership as a compelling and motivating force. 

8. Develop a marketing strategy

A marketing strategy details how you will reach your customers and build brand awareness. The clearer your brand positioning is to investors, customers, partners and employees, the more successful your business will be.

Important questions to consider as you build your marketing strategy include:

  • What industry segments are we pursuing?
  • What is the value proposition of the products or services we plan to offer?
  • Who are our customers?
  • How will we retain our customers and keep them engaged with our products or services and marketing?
  • What is our advertising budget?
  • What price will we charge?
  • What is the overall look and feel of our brand? What are our brand guidelines?
  • Will we need to hire marketing experts to help us create our brand?
  • Who are our competitors? What marketing strategies have worked (or not worked) for them?

With a thoughtful marketing strategy integrated into your business plan, your company goals are significantly more in reach.

9. Focus your energy

Your business plan determines which areas of your business to focus on while also avoiding possible distractions. It provides a roadmap for critical tradeoffs and resource allocation.

As a business owner, you will feel the urge to solve all of your internal and customers’ problems, but it is important to maintain focus. Keep your priorities at the top of your mind as you set off to build your company.

As a small business owner, writing a business plan should be one of your first priorities. Read our checklist for starting a business, and learn how to take your business from a plan to reality. When you’re ready to get started, talk with a Chase business banker to open a Chase business checking or savings account today.

For Informational/Educational Purposes Only: The views expressed in this article may differ from other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender, ©2023 JPMorgan Chase & Co

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5 Reasons You Need a Business Plan for Long-Term Success

Do You Really Need a Business Plan?

Alyssa Gregory is an entrepreneur, writer, and marketer with 20 years of experience in the business world. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community for entrepreneurs, and has authored more than 2,500 articles for The Balance and other popular small business websites.

why do we need business plan

Entrepreneurs who are starting a new business often wonder, "Do I really need a business plan? Is writing a business plan really the best use of my time?" The answer to these questions is almost always, "Yes." A business plan is an integral part of starting a new business.

In reality, business plans can take a long time to write, require that you have a tremendous amount of data at your fingertips, depend in part on projections and often are responsible for creating a long list of research you still need to conduct and other work you need to complete.

Plus, not everyone is sold on the usefulness of a business plan. Consider the study of 116 new businesses conducted by Babson College. The study found that the presence of a formal business plan before starting a small business made no difference in the ultimate success of the business, assuming it was one that was not seeking outside funding.

Some also argue that taking the time required to create a business plan can stifle the startup process and cost precious opportunities for a small business.

On the other hand,  one study  found that entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical non-planning entrepreneurs. Other  studies  have shown that while completing a business plan is not a guarantee of success, it does indicate that the type of entrepreneur who completes a business plan is also more likely to run a successful business.

So why not arm yourself with one of the best tools a small business owner can have? If you're still on the fence, consider these five reasons you should write a business plan before doing anything else in your small business.

1. A Business Plan Is Simply a Must-Have for Some Businesses

If you plan to approach a financial institution for a loan, apply for a small business grant , pitch your business idea to investors, or enlist the support of a business partner, a business plan is required.

Potential investors and supporters want to see the true potential of your business idea clearly laid out in hard facts and numbers. A business plan is the best, and generally, the only acceptable way to provide this information.

2. A Business Plan Helps You Make Decisions

There are some sections in a traditional business plan that you simply cannot complete if you are on the fence, undecided, or not fully committed to a certain point. Business plans help you eliminate the gray area because you have to write specific information down in black and white. Making tough decisions is often one of the hardest and most useful parts of writing a business plan.

For example, if you have not decided on exactly what products you will sell at what price points, it will be very difficult for you to complete the Products and Services Section of your business plan. Identifying this and other vital information is a valuable end product of the business planning process.

3. A Business Plan Can Be a Reality Check

Writing a business plan is often the first real struggle for the small business owner who wants to launch a new venture, but doesn't want to consider that his or her business idea may be a bit flawed or is not yet fully developed.

While this is an unwelcome and terrifying thought for an impassioned entrepreneur, identifying gaps early on in the process gives business owners a chance to shore up their research, test their ideas and take steps to make the business stronger and more viable. This may initially be a step back, but any and all further work can bolster the entrepreneur's chance of success before he or she invests time and money in a business that is likely to fail.

4. A Business Plan Can Give You New Ideas

Discovering new ideas, different approaches and fresh perspectives are some of the best things that can happen from the depths of the business planning process. Despite the sometimes negative reputation, a business plan isn't just a long, stiff and structured document.

In fact, an effective business plan is the opposite; it's a flexible, growing and dynamic tool that can help you think creatively and come up with new solutions for some of your toughest business challenges. This is especially true when you consider the Marketing Strategy Section . Here, as you create a blueprint for your marketing activities, creativity and fresh ideas are invaluable.

5. A Business Plan Creates an Action Plan

A business plan is a useful document for any small business owner. But when you use your business plan as a tool to help you outline action items, next steps, and future activities, you are creating a living, breathing document that not only outlines where you are and where you want to be but also gives you the directions you need to get there.

Going back to the original question of whether or not you really need a business plan, you may still be able to build a successful business without a plan, but it is most certainly easier to do with a well-constructed business plan in your hands.

Keep in mind that if you are using your plan as a true business planning tool, you don't have to wait until you have all of the answers to get started. You can create an outline of your plan now, filling in all of the information you have at this point, and then work on the blanks as you learn more about the market. This type of fluid and flexible document can be invaluable to a new business.

For more on business plans, review this business plan outline . Then, for a quick and painless start to the business planning process, try this simple business plan template.

Do You Really Need a Business Plan?

The art of storytelling, from net margin to sales.

Do You Really Need a Business Plan?

Why is a business plan important?

  • Who will the reader be?
  • What do you want their response to be?

Four Reasons to Write a Business Plan

1. To raise money for your business

2. To make sound decisions

3. To help you identify any potential weaknesses

4. To communicate your ideas with stakeholders

Rich Longo

More by this contributor:

  • Challenges Become Opportunities
  • Discontinuing Healthy Workplace Consultancy
  • Financial Planning for the Pandemic

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  • Vinay Kevadia
  • December 18, 2023

11 Min Read

why do you need a business plan

When Meta was initially planning to go mass scale, founder Zuckerberg had a plan for the next three, five, and ten years.

As reported by Business Insider , they knew their expenses would increase by a whopping 70%, but they were confident because they had a foolproof business plan at their disposal.

Fast forward to today—we know where they stand—neither Facebook nor Mark need an introduction.

That’s enough evidence, I guess to prove why you need a business plan .

Any organization, regardless of size or age, needs a business plan as a fundamental document.

It helps you reach significant milestones and lead your company in the right direction, from luring potential investors to keeping it on course.

Convinced? No? Here are 17 reasons you need a well-prepared business plan as a business owner.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a thorough document, detailing how to achieve the business goals, what products & services your business will provide, how will you work daily, how much finance will be needed, and all other information about your business.

It is a necessary document for every business especially if you need funding. Also, it is a living document, so you can alter it whenever you want according to the market situation.

In short, a business plan provides a comprehensive view, encourages visionary planning, helps in decision-making, and enhances the chances of overall success.

Benefits of having a business plan

A meticulously crafted business plan holds significant value, providing entrepreneurs, existing businesses, and their teams with a means to communicate goals and monitor progress as their business expands. Some other benefits are:

  • Guides your business with a clear path to achieve goals
  • Evaluate the feasibility of your business idea
  • Identifies potential challenges and risks
  • Outlines plans to reach and retain customers
  • Essential for attracting potential investors and securing funding
  • Defines business structure and operational processes
  • A living document that adapts to changes in the business environment

17 Reasons why you need a business plan

1. to test the viability of your business idea.

Think about this—you have many business ideas, but how do you know which is better to start with and which one to shut permanently? Well, with a plan, it is easier to understand each aspect of the business.

A business plan forces you to think of everything about your business as:

  • What is the market demand?
  • Which market segment will you cater to?
  • What is the profitability status of the particular business idea in the local market?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What entry barriers do you have to go through?
  • How much capital will you require to start a particular business?
  • What is the financial forecasting of the business?

This way you will get a chance to question everything that takes to start a successful business, which will ultimately help you decide the viability of your business idea.

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2. To Reduce Potential Risks

Every business contains risks, and a solid plan is like taking some of that risk out of the business.

It not only helps you to know the viability of your business but also other aspects like:

  • Are your operational costs manageable?
  • Will your proposed model generate sales, or do you need to switch to another?
  • What will be the break-even point, and when will your business achieve it according to the financial projections?
  • What if the demand for the product or service you provide decreases?
  • What will be your exit strategy?

These are all risk-related questions you will get answers to while creating a business plan.

For those who already have a business and are working on expanding it, a business plan will help you understand the ongoing risks & costs and how to manage them.

Hence, knowing potential risks beforehand will help you solve them smoothly without a big fuss.

3. To Determine Your Financing Needs

Can you go to investors, banks, or anyone else for funding without knowing your financing needs, Of course not!

A business plan will help you know the financing needs of your business. It will help you think about the financial projections practically by comparing the market situation with the competitor’s revenue.

Also, when you go for funding, there should be evidence of how much you need, your budget for each aspect of business, and where you will spend all the funding money.

Investors also need to see the break-even point and when the company will start turning profitable. This all is possible with a sound business plan.

4. To Outline a Perfect Marketing Strategy

A marketing plan is about how to reach new customers and retain them. With the help of a business plan, you can make a chart of SWOT analysis & competitor analysis to understand the USPs of your business.

All this will make your brand positioning clear for investors & readers to make their decisions. A business plan will help to define the target audience of your business.

You can also get an idea of the marketing budget and on which marketing strategies you should spend.

5. To Better Understand Your Competition

You have to first understand and describe who are your competitors, what is their price point, what is their USP, what is their market positioning, and what products or services they provide.

This stage helps you know the competitors, their working styles, target customers, and everything about them. It forces you to do 360° research about your competitors to know the exact brand positioning of your business.

6. It Helps You Grow 30% Faster

Creating a plan goes beyond trying to foresee the future of your company. The significance lies in the process itself. The business plan is a living document; you can revisit your plan and alter it according to the market situation to reach your goals and ensure success.

Studies confirm that companies engaging in regular planning experience a 30% faster growth rate.

Moreover, research indicates that planning contributes to overall better performance. Businesses that plan are less prone to becoming unfortunate failure statistics or facing cash flow crises that could jeopardize their existence.

7. To Get Funding

Finally! Getting funding is a relief, right? But you can’t just go to them with an elevator pitch, you will need a solid business plan and everything else in one place to show them about your business.

All readers will want to know your business plan and review it for their benefit. Although investors will mainly focus on the financial aspects of the plan, they will also understand your industry and market before making any decision.

Without enough funding, your business will collapse. So, first, write a business plan, make necessary financial assumptions, and then go to investors for funding. In short, having a business plan will increase your chances of having funding.

8. To Attract Investors

A business plan is the basis for investors’ decisions. The business plan answers a lot of questions of investors like:

  • Is there any market demand for your products and services?
  • What are the financial forecasts?
  • When will the company turn profitable?
  • What is the company’s exit strategy?

They will review your plan thoroughly and make their investing decision accordingly. Thus, make sure you have the perfect length business plan and not just a long essay.

9. To set goals for everyone

Setting goals and deadlines for everyone from the management team to other employees will make everyone’s task clear. This way everyone can make their mini-plan and organize things according to the priority.

Business planning makes everything clear in your head before you communicate it with your team and makes sure that you all are on the same page.

10. To make sound decisions

After mentioning everything in detail about your business in the business plan, you will be confident enough to know the market scenarios and make decisions.

It serves as a roadmap for your business and a reference point for any kind of decision-making. Think of it as your business guide, which will eventually bring everything into place.

11. Catch Critical Cash-Flow Problems Early

Smooth cash flow is one of the main bricks of any business. It is one of the key financial statements your investors will review.

Reviewing your cash flow statement regularly will help you see potential cash flow disturbances and challenges at the earliest. It will also support you in avoiding any cash-related crisis where you can’t pay your bills timely.

12. To Position Your Brand In The Market

Luckily, there is one section of competitive analysis that will give you all the information about your competitors. According to that, you can place your brand in the market. It points out certain questions like:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors?
  • What are your USPs?
  • How can you make your business stand out?
  • What is your target market, and what are your competitors’ customers?

Answering these questions will help you to know your strengths and market position in the industry.

13. Future-Proof Your Business

Whether it is a new business or an existing one: everyone is interested in what will be there in the future. To understand the financial position of the future, you need to write a business plan thoroughly with practical assumptions.

This proves to be risk-saving and future-oriented for your business by saving time on predicted problems.

14. Tracks Your Progress

One of the main overlooked sides of a business plan is the success metric it provides. An integral part of creating a plan involves mentioning all your goals and predictions.

By regularly reviewing that, you will be able to know which business milestones you have reached and what is the next one. Furthermore, you can even know about the setbacks of your business and then re-edit your business plan according to the market analysis and situation.

15. Your Business Plan Is An Asset When Considering Selling Your Business

Out of the woods down the road if you ever decide to merge your business with someone else or want to sell it. A business plan will be an asset that will support you in selling your business.

It will help to showcase the brand position and finances of your business to any third party. Also, how many milestones have you achieved, and what is the experience of your business; one can get everything from your business plan.

16. To Allot Resources

As a business owner, you know there are many investments and expenses you need to make before & after starting a business. Thus, allocating those resources to different segments of the business is necessary.

Here there are different activities like purchasing raw materials, marketing costs, or some other production costs.

A business plan provides an exact idea of your investments and resources needed in each segment of the business.

17. To Make An Exit Plan

Beyond guiding day-to-day operations, your business plan is a valuable tool for planning your exit strategy. While many entrepreneurs focus extensively on launching their businesses, not as many plan for the eventual need to liquidate or transfer ownership.

Your chosen exit strategy could be driven by various factors, such as achieving your business goals and shifting focus or selling to an acquirer. Therefore, even for partnership or dissolvation, an exit strategy is necessary.

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Told you, there are various reasons why you should not skip writing a business plan. Though daunting, you can not skip this part. Now the question is, how to write a business plan? Well, a business plan software like Upmetrics can resolve your problem.

It has an amazing AI feature that can bring the essence of your idea into the document. Here you can even make financial calculations without complicated formulas. Apart from that, there are various tools and guides to make your business plan writing process smoother.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a business plan.

There are three main purposes of a business plan:

  • Secure funding
  • Guiding operations
  • Evaluating the progress of your business

How long should a business plan be?

Generally, the length of a business plan depends on the niche of the business and the purpose of the business plan. Ideally, a business plan should be 15-35 pages.

What resources are available to help write a business plan?

To secure funding and impress potential investors, an engaging business plan is necessary. Here are some resources from where you can find business plans:

  • Library of 400+ sample business plans
  • SBA’s business plans
  • AI business plan generators
  • Consultants and advisors
  • Business plan writers

Should you write a business plan even if you don't need funding?

A business plan will help you detect the problems beforehand. It also helps you in creating marketing & operational strategy. A business plan also guides you as a roadmap. Thus, even if you don’t need funding for your small business, a business plan is necessary.

When should you write a business plan—before or after starting a business?

If you need funding, you have to write a business plan before you start any business. But if you are expanding an existing business or writing a business plan as a guide for your new business, then anytime is okay. Note: Sooner is always better in this case.

About the Author

why do we need business plan

Vinay Kevadiya

Vinay Kevadiya is the founder and CEO of Upmetrics, the #1 business planning software. His ultimate goal with Upmetrics is to revolutionize how entrepreneurs create, manage, and execute their business plans. He enjoys sharing his insights on business planning and other relevant topics through his articles and blog posts. Read more

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Do You Need a Business Plan? Scientific Research Says Yes

Male entrepreneur sitting in an office in front of computer. Reviewing a research study covering the impact of small business success due to planning.

Noah Parsons

13 min. read

Updated November 20, 2023

Should you spend some time developing a plan for your business, or just dive in and start, figuring things out as you go? There has been plenty of debate on this topic, but no one has pulled together the scientific evidence to determine if planning is worthwhile—until now .

With the help of my friend Jeff, from the University of Oregon, I’ve been looking at academic research on business planning—the actual science around planning and how it impacts both startups and existing businesses.

But, before we dive into the data, why do we even need to look at research on business planning? It seems like most advice on  starting a business  includes writing a business plan as a necessary step in the startup process. If so many people encourage you to write one, business plans must add value, right?

Well, over the past few years, there’s been a lot of controversy about the value of business plans. People look at certain companies that have been very successful but haven’t written business plans and conclude that planning is a waste of time.

After all, taking the time to plan is a bit of a trade-off. The time you spend planning could be time spent building your company. Why not just “get going” and learn as you build your company, instead of taking the time to formulate a strategy and understand your assumptions about how your business might grow?

Well, the research shows that it’s really not a “write a plan” or “don’t write a plan” conversation. What really  matters is what kind of planning you do  and how much time you spend doing it.

  • Planning can help companies grow 30 percent faster

One study (1) published in 2010 aggregated research on the business growth of 11,046 companies and found that  planning improved business performance . Interestingly, this same study found that planning benefited existing companies even more than it benefited startups.

But, this study still doesn’t answer the question it raises:

Why would planning help a business that has a few years of history more than one that is just starting up?

The answer most likely lies in the fact that existing businesses know a bit more about their customers and what their needs are than a new startup does. For an existing business, planning involves fewer guesses or assumptions that need to be proven, so the strategies they develop are based on more information.

Another study (2) found that  companies that plan grow 30 percent faster  than those that don’t plan. This study found that plenty of businesses can find success without planning, but that businesses with a plan grew faster and were more successful than those that didn’t plan.

To reinforce the connection between planning and fast growth, yet another study (3) found that fast-growing companies—companies that had over 92 percent growth in sales from one year to the next—usually have business plans. In fact,  71 percent of fast-growing companies have plans . They create budgets, set sales goals, and document their marketing and sales strategies. These companies don’t always call their plans “business plans” but instead often refer to things like strategic plans, growth plans, and operational plans. Regardless of the name, it’s all forward-looking planning.

Action:  Carve out some time to set goals and build a plan for your business. More importantly,  re-visit your plan as you grow  and revise it as you learn more about your business and your customers.

Business planning is not an activity you undertake only when you’re getting your business up and running. It should be something you return to, time and time again, to revise and improve upon based on new knowledge.

What’s your biggest business challenge right now?

  • The quality of the plan matters

But, it’s not as simple as it might appear. Just having a plan doesn’t guarantee faster growth.  It’s the kind of plan you have and how you use it that really matters .

It turns out that startups, especially ones building highly innovative businesses, should create shorter, less detailed plans (4). That’s because these innovative startups are learning new things about their product and customers at a very fast pace and their strategies change more frequently. Simpler plans get updated more frequently and are more helpful to these companies because they can review their strategy at a glance.

Meanwhile, more established companies know a lot more about their products and customers and can craft more detailed strategies that are less likely to change as quickly. For these companies, more detailed planning is generally more helpful.

And it’s not just the size of the plan that matters. What you include in your plan is important as well.

The same study we talked about above—the one that found that businesses grow faster with a plan—also found that companies that did a good job defining their  value proposition  do even better than companies that have a hard time defining their customers’ needs.

These researchers also found that  having a plan is less about accurately predicting the future, and more about setting regular goals, tracking your actual progress toward those goals and making changes to your business as you learn more about your customers.  Silicon Valley businesses like to call the act of changing strategic direction “pivoting.” All it really means is that you need to stay nimble, keep your eyes open, and be willing to make changes in your business as you compare your actual results to your goals and gather additional feedback from your customers.

Action:  Skip the 40-page business plan and instead focus on simpler planning that defines your goals and documents your customers’ needs. Adjust your plan frequently as you learn more about your business.

Being prepared matters when you’re seeking funding

Over and over again, you hear venture capitalists talk about how much the team matters in a funding decision. Beyond just the team, you also hear them talk about passion—how much the entrepreneur believes in the idea.

But, it turns out that there is something that trumps passion when VCs make their decisions. Research shows (5) that how well an entrepreneur is prepared is much more important than how much passion they have.

This doesn’t mean that VCs will ask for a business plan. In fact, they probably won’t ask for one.

What it means is that entrepreneurs need to have done some planning, in some form, so that they can be prepared to talk intelligently about their idea, their target market, their sales and marketing strategies, and so on.

So, the formal 40-page business plan document may not be useful when you’re pitching VCs. But, you’d better have done some planning, so that you can communicate verbally or through a  pitch deck  what would normally have been found in that written document.

And, not only will business planning help you be more prepared, it will actually improve your chances of getting funded. A study at the University of Oregon (6) found that  businesses with a plan were far more likely to get funding than those that didn’t have a plan .

Action:  Know your business inside and out. Document your strategy in an internal document, but skip all the time and effort creating a well-crafted business plan document.

When you start planning is important—the earlier the better

So, if business planning increases your likelihood of success, and in fact helps you grow faster, when should you start working on a business plan?

Research shows (7) that entrepreneurs who started the business planning process early were better at what the scientists call “establishing legitimacy.” That’s a fancy way of saying that these entrepreneurs used business planning to start the process of talking with potential customers, working with business partners, starting to look for funding, and gathering other information they needed to start their business.

Entrepreneurs that did a good job of using their business plan to “establish legitimacy” early were more likely to succeed and their businesses tended to last longer.

Not only that,  starting the planning process before starting marketing efforts and before talking to customers reduces the likelihood that a business will fail ( 8). 

That said, planning should never take the place of talking to customers. An ongoing planning process—one in which the plan is constantly revised as new information is gathered—requires that you talk to your potential customers so that you can learn more about what they need, what they are willing to pay, and how you can best reach them.

Action:  Start the planning process early. Even if all you do is build out a simple  elevator pitch  to try your idea on for size, it will help you begin the conversation with potential customers and kick-start your business.

  • Planning makes you more likely to start your business

If you’re like me, and like most entrepreneurs, you like to dream up new business ideas. You constantly think of new ways to improve existing businesses and solve new problems.

But, most of those dreams never become a reality. They live on as ideas in your head while other entrepreneurs see the same opportunity and find a way to make it happen.

It turns out that there’s a way to turn more of your ideas into a viable business. A study published in  Small Business Economics  found that  entrepreneurs that take the time to create a plan for their business idea are 152 percent more likely to start their business ( 9). Not only that, those entrepreneurs with a plan are 129 percent more likely to push forward with their business beyond the initial startup phase and grow it. These findings are confirmed by another study that found that entrepreneurs with a plan are 260 percent more likely to start their businesses (10). 

Interestingly,  these same entrepreneurs who build plans are 271 percent more likely to close down a business . This seems counterintuitive to the stats above, but when you think about it a bit more, it makes a lot of sense.

Entrepreneurs with plans are tracking their performance on a regular basis. They know when things aren’t going to plan—when sales aren’t meeting projections and when marketing strategies are failing. They know when it’s time to walk away and try a different idea instead of riding the business into the ground, which could have disastrous results.

Action:  If you really want to start a business, start committing your goals and strategy to paper. Even if it’s just a simple  one-page business plan,  that will help you get started faster. And, once you do start, track your performance so you know when to change direction and try something different.

You’re less likely to fail if you have a plan

Nothing can absolutely prevent your company from failing, but it turns out that having a plan can help reduce your risks.

Yet another study of 223 companies found that having a plan reduced the likelihood that a business would fail. Having a plan didn’t guarantee success, unfortunately. But, those companies with a plan had better chances of success than those that skipped the planning process.

Having a plan and updating it regularly means that you are tracking your performance and making adjustments as you go. If things aren’t working, you know it. And, if things are going well, you know what to do more of.

Action:  Build a plan, but don’t just stick it in a drawer. Track your performance as you go so you can see if you’re reaching your goals. Your plan will help you discover what’s working so you can build your business.

  • Your success depends on the type of planning you do

In the end, creating a business plan seems like common sense. You wouldn’t set out on a trip without a destination and a map, would you?

It’s great to see research back up these common-sense assumptions. The research also validates the idea that the value of business planning really depends on how you approach it.

It’s not a question of whether you should plan or not plan—it’s what kind of planning you do.  The best planning is iterative; it’s kept alive and it adapts.

It’s not about predicting the future as if you’re a fortune teller at a carnival. Instead, it’s a tool that you use to refine and adapt your strategy as you go, continuing to understand your market as it changes and refining your business to the ever-changing needs of your customers.

I recommend starting with a one-page plan. It’s a simpler form of planning where you can start by documenting your business concept on a single page. From there, iterate, gather feedback, and adjust your plan as needed. If you need some inspiration, check out our gallery of over  550 free sample business plans .

Finally, a big “thank you” to  Jeff Gish at the University of Oregon , who was immensely helpful in gathering and analyzing the research mentioned in this article.

What has your experience with business planning been like? Will you approach the planning process differently in the future? Tell me on Twitter @noahparsons.

References:

1 Brinckmann, J., Grichnik, D., & Kapsa, D. (2010). Should entrepreneurs plan or just storm the castle? A meta-analysis on contextual factors impacting the business planning–performance relationship in small firms.  Journal of Business Venturing,  25(1), 24-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2008.10.007

2 Burke, A., Fraser, S., & Greene, F. J. (2010). The multiple effects of business planning on new venture performance.  Journal of Management Studies,  47(3), 391-415.

3 Upton, N., Teal, E. J., & Felan, J. T. (2001). Strategic and business planning practices of fast growth family firms.  Journal of Small Business Management, 39(1), 60-72.

4 Gruber, M. (2007). Uncovering the value of planning in new venture creation: A process and contingency perspective.  Journal of Business Venturing,  22(6), 782-807. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2006.07.001

5 Chen, X.-P., Yao, X., & Kotha, S. (2009). Entrepreneur passion and preparedness in business plan presentations: A persuasion analysis of venture capitalists’ funding decisions.  Academy of Management Journal,  52(1), 199-214.

6 Ding, E., & Hursey, T. (2010). Evaluation of the effectiveness of business planning using Palo Alto’s Business Plan Pro. Department of Economics. University of Oregon.

7 Delmar, F., & Shane, S. (2004). Legitimating first: Organizing activities and the survival of new ventures.  Journal of Business Venturing,  19(3), 385-410. doi: 10.1016/s0883-9026(03)00037-5

8 Shane, S., & Delmar, F. (2004). Planning for the market: Business planning before marketing and the continuation of organizing efforts.  Journal of Business Venturing,  19(6), 767-785. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2003.11.001

9 Hechavarria, D. M., Renko, M., & Matthews, C. H. (2011). The nascent entrepreneurship hub: Goals, entrepreneurial self-efficacy and start-up outcomes.  Small Business Economics,  39(3), 685-701. doi: 10.1007/s11187-011-9355-2

10 Liao, J., & Gartner, W. B. (2006). The effects of pre-venture plan timing and perceived environmental uncertainty on the persistence of emerging firms.  Small Business Economics,  27(1), 23-40. doi: 10.1007/s11187-006-0020-0

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Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan. He started his career at Yahoo! and then helped start the user review site Epinions.com. From there he started a software distribution business in the UK before coming to Palo Alto Software to run the marketing and product teams.

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Table of Contents

  • Being prepared matters when you’re seeking funding
  • When you start planning is important—the earlier the better
  • You’re less likely to fail if you have a plan

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Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

Above view of team creating a strategic plan

  • 06 Oct 2020

Do you know what your organization’s strategy is? How much time do you dedicate to developing that strategy each month?

If your answers are on the low side, you’re not alone. According to research from Bridges Business Consultancy , 48 percent of leaders spend less than one day per month discussing strategy.

It’s no wonder, then, that 48 percent of all organizations fail to meet at least half of their strategic targets. Before an organization can reap the rewards of its business strategy, planning must take place to ensure its strategy remains agile and executable .

Here’s a look at what strategic planning is and how it can benefit your organization.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Strategic Planning?

Strategic planning is the ongoing organizational process of using available knowledge to document a business's intended direction. This process is used to prioritize efforts, effectively allocate resources, align shareholders and employees on the organization’s goals, and ensure those goals are backed by data and sound reasoning.

It’s important to highlight that strategic planning is an ongoing process—not a one-time meeting. In the online course Disruptive Strategy , Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen notes that in a study of HBS graduates who started businesses, 93 percent of those with successful strategies evolved and pivoted away from their original strategic plans.

“Most people think of strategy as an event, but that’s not the way the world works,” Christensen says. “When we run into unanticipated opportunities and threats, we have to respond. Sometimes we respond successfully; sometimes we don’t. But most strategies develop through this process. More often than not, the strategy that leads to success emerges through a process that’s at work 24/7 in almost every industry.”

Strategic planning requires time, effort, and continual reassessment. Given the proper attention, it can set your business on the right track. Here are three benefits of strategic planning.

Related: 4 Ways to Develop Your Strategic Thinking Skills

Benefits of Strategic Planning

1. create one, forward-focused vision.

Strategy touches every employee and serves as an actionable way to reach your company’s goals.

One significant benefit of strategic planning is that it creates a single, forward-focused vision that can align your company and its shareholders. By making everyone aware of your company’s goals, how and why those goals were chosen, and what they can do to help reach them, you can create an increased sense of responsibility throughout your organization.

This can also have trickle-down effects. For instance, if a manager isn’t clear on your organization’s strategy or the reasoning used to craft it, they could make decisions on a team level that counteract its efforts. With one vision to unite around, everyone at your organization can act with a broader strategy in mind.

2. Draw Attention to Biases and Flaws in Reasoning

The decisions you make come with inherent bias. Taking part in the strategic planning process forces you to examine and explain why you’re making each decision and back it up with data, projections, or case studies, thus combatting your cognitive biases.

A few examples of cognitive biases are:

  • The recency effect: The tendency to select the option presented most recently because it’s fresh in your mind
  • Occam’s razor bias: The tendency to assume the most obvious decision to be the best decision
  • Inertia bias: The tendency to select options that allow you to think, feel, and act in familiar ways

One cognitive bias that may be more difficult to catch in the act is confirmation bias . When seeking to validate a particular viewpoint, it's the tendency to only pay attention to information that supports that viewpoint.

If you’re crafting a strategic plan for your organization and know which strategy you prefer, enlist others with differing views and opinions to help look for information that either proves or disproves the idea.

Combating biases in strategic decision-making requires effort and dedication from your entire team, and it can make your organization’s strategy that much stronger.

Related: 3 Group Decision-Making Techniques for Success

3. Track Progress Based on Strategic Goals

Having a strategic plan in place can enable you to track progress toward goals. When each department and team understands your company’s larger strategy, their progress can directly impact its success, creating a top-down approach to tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) .

By planning your company’s strategy and defining its goals, KPIs can be determined at the organizational level. These goals can then be extended to business units, departments, teams, and individuals. This ensures that every level of your organization is aligned and can positively impact your business’s KPIs and performance.

It’s important to remember that even though your strategy might be far-reaching and structured, it must remain agile. As Christensen asserts in Disruptive Strategy , a business’s strategy needs to evolve with the challenges and opportunities it encounters. Be prepared to pivot your KPIs as goals shift and communicate the reasons for change to your organization.

Which HBS Online Strategy Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Improve Your Strategic Planning Skills

Strategic planning can benefit your organization’s vision, execution, and progress toward goals. If strategic planning is a skill you’d like to improve, online courses can provide the knowledge and techniques needed to lead your team and organization.

Strategy courses can range from primers on key concepts (such as Economics for Managers ), to deep-dives on strategy frameworks (such as Disruptive Strategy ), to coursework designed to help you strategize for a specific organizational goal (such as Sustainable Business Strategy ).

Learning how to craft an effective, compelling strategic plan can enable you to not only invest in your career but provide lasting value to your organization.

Do you want to formulate winning strategies for your organization? Explore our portfolio of online strategy courses and download the free flowchart to determine which is the best fit for you and your goals.

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How Fast Should Your Company Really Grow?

  • Gary P. Pisano

why do we need business plan

Growth—in revenues and profits—is the yardstick by which the competitive fitness and health of organizations is measured. Consistent profitable growth is thus a near universal goal for leaders—and an elusive one.

To achieve that goal, companies need a growth strategy that encompasses three related sets of decisions: how fast to grow, where to seek new sources of demand, and how to develop the financial, human, and organizational capabilities needed to grow. This article offers a framework for examining the critical interdependencies of those decisions in the context of a company’s overall business strategy, its capabilities and culture, and external market dynamics.

Why leaders should take a strategic perspective

Idea in Brief

The problem.

Sustained profitable growth is a nearly universal corporate goal, but it is an elusive one. Empirical research suggests that when inflation is taken into account, most companies barely grow at all.

While external factors play a role, most companies’ growth problems are self-inflicted: Too many firms approach growth in a highly reactive, opportunistic manner.

The Solution

To grow profitably over the long term, companies need a strategy that addresses three key decisions: how fast to grow (rate of growth); where to seek new sources of demand (direction of growth); and how to amass the resources needed to grow (method of growth).

Perhaps no issue attracts more senior leadership attention than growth does. And for good reason. Growth—in revenues and profits—is the yardstick by which we tend to measure the competitive fitness and health of companies and determine the quality and compensation of its management. Analysts, investors, and boards pepper CEOs about growth prospects to get insight into stock prices. Employees are attracted to faster-growing companies because they offer better opportunities for advancement, higher pay, and greater job security. Suppliers prefer faster-growing customers because working with them improves their own growth prospects. Given the choice, most companies and their stakeholders would choose faster growth over slower growth.

Five elements can move you beyond episodic success.

  • Gary P. Pisano is the Harry E. Figgie Jr. Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the author of Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation (PublicAffairs, 2019).

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  • Become Debt-Free Some student loan borrowers will start   seeing their debt forgiven in February
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'Your loans will be forgiven': Over 150,000 student loan borrowers may soon get an important email

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President Joe Biden and his administration are clearing $1.2 billion in student debt balances for 153,000 borrowers .

Borrowers on the Saving on a Valuable Education income-driven repayment plan who originally took out $12,000 or less in loans at least 10 years ago have started being notified that their debt is forgiven, the administration announced Wednesday. 

"I hope this relief gives you a little more breathing room," the email from President Biden to qualifying borrowers reads. "I've heard from countless people who have told me that relieving the burden of their student loan debt will allow them to support themselves and their families, buy their first home, start a small business, and move forward with life plans they've put on hold."

The SAVE plan rolled out in summer 2023 , with the administration touting it as the "most affordable" repayment plan available to borrowers.

The opportunity for low-balance borrowers to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of payments was initially slated to go into effect this upcoming summer, but the administration announced in January it would move that timeline up.

Now, qualifying borrowers have started receiving emails notifying them their loans have been forgiven. "Congratulations—all or a portion of your federal student loans will be forgiven because you qualify for early loan forgiveness under my Administration's SAVE Plan," the emails read.

Those affected do not need to take any additional steps to receive relief, the administration says. Next week, the Department of Education will begin contacting borrowers whose loans are eligible for forgiveness, but who have not enrolled in the SAVE plan yet.

All borrowers on the SAVE plan are eligible to have their remaining balances forgiven after 20 years of repayment for undergraduate borrowers or 25 years for those with graduate school loans, regardless of how much they initially borrowed.

Those who borrowed $12,000 or less only need to make payments for 10 years before becoming eligible for forgiveness on the SAVE plan, or an additional year for every $1,000 borrowed above $12,000. That means anyone who took out $21,000 or less in undergraduate loans can have their debt forgiven on a shorter timeline than the standard 20-year term.

Why low-balance borrowers may need relief the most

While it may seem like those with smaller initial student loan balances should have an easier time paying them off, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona highlights the fact that many of those borrowers wind up with small loan balances because they don't finish college, and therefore tend to earn less than their degree-holding peers. 

As a result, 21% of borrowers with less than $15,000 of outstanding student debt were behind on their payments, compared with 17% of borrowers with higher balances, according to a 2020 Fed survey .

"We recognize that for those who take out smaller loans, a lot of those folks are the ones that end up without a degree and with debt that they can't handle and they're low-income earners," Cardona told CNBC Make It in January. "This is a subgroup that's really negatively impacted by the current system."

What's more, borrowers who met forgiveness eligibility requirements before January 2024 but still made loan payments that month or later can have those payments refunded, according to the Federal Student Aid website . 

"This means that, for example, if we determine that your forgiveness date is in February 2024, then any payments you made during or after March 2024 will be refunded to you," FSA says. "However, if we determine that your date of forgiveness is in July 2023, then only payments made during or after January 2024 will be refunded to you."

The forgiveness comes at a time when student loan borrowers are facing critical decisions like how to balance their student loan payments with saving for retirement . Though more relief is on the way for borrowers on the SAVE plan — including even lower monthly payments later this summer — debt forgiveness advocates are celebrating this recent round of cancellation.

"Student debt cancellation results in freedom from a financial burden that has weighed thousands of borrowers down," Natalia Abrams, president of the Student Debt Crisis Center, said in a statement . "This is more proof that student debt cancellation is the path forward to achieve an affordable higher education system in this country again."

Want to land your dream job in 2024?  Take CNBC's new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

My side hustle brings in $400K a year—how I spend my money

Sam Altman wants to raise up to $7 trillion. That's, uh, a lot of dough.

  • Sam Altman is trying to raise up to $7 trillion  to manufacture new chips to power AI. 
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, he's partly trying to raise money in the UAE. 
  • $7 trillion is ... A LOT. Like, way more than the US spent building highways. 

Insider Today

The Wall Street Journal reports that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has met with officials from the United Arab Emirates to pitch his plan to build lots and lots of new chip factories. The cost? $5 trillion to $7 trillion.

OpenAI needs more computing power (currently, it relies on Microsoft for this) — and this means it needs more silicon chip factories. A lot more. And chip plants ain't cheap.

According to the WSJ :

As part of the talks [with the U.A.E.], Altman is pitching a partnership between OpenAI, various investors, chip makers and power providers, which together would put up money to build chip foundries that would then be run by existing chip makers, some of the people said. OpenAI would agree to be a significant customer of the new factories. Much of the effort could be funded by debt, one of the people said. The discussions are in their early stages, the full list of potential investors isn't known, and the effort could span years and ultimately might not succeed. 

It's true that the world needs more silicon chip factories — President Joe Biden recently signed the CHIPS Act , which gives $52 billion in subsidies to build factories in the US (although the promise of many new good jobs is falling short ). So Altman's ambitious plan to make more happen is great (I think?).

But ... whew … $5 trillion to $7 trillion is a whole lotta clams. That kind of number isn't typically something a relatively new company thinks about raising. In fact, there aren't very many things at all that cost in the trillions.

How much is it? Consider this:

$23.36 trillion: US gross domestic product

$6.3 trillion: the US federal budget for 2022 fiscal year

$2.31 trillion: the cost of the US's war in Afghanistan as of 2022

$4 trillion: US's cost for World War II, adjusted for inflation

$964.4 billion: holiday shopping in 2023

$330 billion: the cost of ending world hunger by 2030

$4.23 trillion: gross domestic product of Japan

$3.08 trillion: Microsoft's market cap

$794.7 billion: 2023 US public school spending on K-12

$32 trillion to $44 trillion: estimated cost of 10 years of universal healthcare in the US

$1.48 trillion: the market value of all residential and commercial real estate in NYC

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Watch: Sam Altman moves to Microsoft after OpenAI fires him as CEO

why do we need business plan

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IMAGES

  1. [Infographic] Why do we need a business plan

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  2. Why Do We Need A Business Plan? [Infographic]

    why do we need business plan

  3. Creating a Business Plan: Why it Matters and Where to Start

    why do we need business plan

  4. PPT

    why do we need business plan

  5. Why We Need a Business Plan? [Infographic]

    why do we need business plan

  6. Why do you need a business plan?

    why do we need business plan

VIDEO

  1. Why We Plan 📙 S01E01

  2. Left vs. Right: Business & Regulation

  3. 1.2 Why create a business plan?

COMMENTS

  1. 14 Critical Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

    Good questions. Here's every reason why you need a business plan. 1. Business planning is proven to help you grow 30 percent faster Writing a business plan isn't about producing a document that accurately predicts the future of your company. The process of writing your plan is what's important.

  2. 5 reasons you need a business plan

    Here are 5 reasons why you need a business plan: 1. It will help you steer your business as you start and grow. Think of a business plan as a GPS to get your business going. A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business.

  3. 20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2024

    Top 20 Reasons Why you Need a Business Plan 1. To Prove That You're Serious About Your Business A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties — employees, investors, partners and yourself — that you are committed to building the business.

  4. Why You Should Write a Business Plan

    A good business plan helps you define your target market, competitive advantage, optimum pricing strategies, and better prepares the business for upcoming challenges. A business plan helps you secure funding and attract new investors. To Test the Feasibility of Your Business Idea

  5. 6 Reasons You Really Need to Write A Business Plan

    1. Legitimize your business idea. Pursuing business ideas that stem from passions you've had for years can be exciting, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a sound venture. One of the first things a business plan requires you to do is research your target market.

  6. 15 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan in 2023

    1. Reduce your risk Writing a business plan takes some of the risk out of starting a business. It ensures that you're thinking through every facet of your business to determine if it can truly be viable. Does your solution fit the market? Are your startup or operational costs manageable? Will your proposed business model actually generate sales?

  7. The importance of a business plan

    1. To help you with critical decisions The primary importance of a business plan is that they help you make better decisions. Entrepreneurship is often an endless exercise in decision making and crisis management. Sitting down and considering all the ramifications of any given decision is a luxury that small businesses can't always afford.

  8. Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One

    For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives. There is no single format that a business...

  9. Write your business plan

    Executive summary. Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company's leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

  10. What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates

    Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan? In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.

  11. Nine Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

    1. Prove your idea is viable Through the process of writing a business plan, you can assess whether your company will be successful. Understanding market dynamics, as well as competitors, will help determine if your idea is viable.

  12. 5 Reasons You Need a Business Plan for Long-Term Success

    Alyssa Gregory Updated on November 4, 2018 Photo: andresr / Getty Images Entrepreneurs who are starting a new business often wonder, "Do I really need a business plan? Is writing a business plan really the best use of my time?" The answer to these questions is almost always, "Yes." A business plan is an integral part of starting a new business.

  13. Do You Really Need a Business Plan?

    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.

  14. How To Write A Business Plan (2024 Guide)

    Describe Your Services or Products. The business plan should have a section that explains the services or products that you're offering. This is the part where you can also describe how they fit ...

  15. Why You Need to Write a Business Plan

    Reasons to Create a Business Plan Writing a well thought-out and organized business plan dramatically increases your odds of succeeding as an entrepreneur. A good business plan can help: determine whether your business has a chance of making a good profit provide an estimate of your start-up costs, and how much you'll need to invest or finance

  16. Why Every Entrepreneur Needs A Business Plan

    Matthew Podolsky Feb 25, 2019,09:00am EST Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linkedin For many entrepreneurs, especially first-timers, business plans are daunting: Building a 50-page...

  17. 17 Reasons Why do you Need a Business Plan?

    In short, a business plan provides a comprehensive view, encourages visionary planning, helps in decision-making, and enhances the chances of overall success. Benefits of having a business plan

  18. What is a Business Plan? Definition + Resources

    Related: 14 of the top reasons why you need a business plan What research shows about business plans Numerous studies have established that planning improves business performance: 71% of fast-growing companies have business plans that include budgets, sales goals, and marketing and sales strategies.

  19. Do You Need a Business Plan? This Study Says Yes

    What it means is that entrepreneurs need to have done some planning, in some form, so that they can be prepared to talk intelligently about their idea, their target market, their sales and marketing strategies, and so on. So, the formal 40-page business plan document may not be useful when you're pitching VCs.

  20. The Importance of a Business Plan for Entrepreneurs: 18 ...

    13. To share your business plans with coworkers and family. When you open a business, you will likely get a lot of questions about what you do from previous coworkers and family members. Drafting a business plan can help you answer these questions, sharing your goals and plans with them.

  21. Why Do I Need a Business Plan?

    A financial plan is an essential step for every new business and particularly important if you're working with investors or lenders. It's a useful tool to steer your business in the right direction. And it provides guidance to ensure your startup can establish itself as a viable business, especially in the early stages when cash flow is ...

  22. Why Do You Need a Business Plan?

    1. It Helps You Make Better Decisions Managing a business involves making tough decisions - many of them in high-pressure situations - without any time for contemplation. However, an effective business plan enables you to visualise and plan for at least some of these problematic situations as they arise in your business.

  23. Why Is Strategic Planning Important?

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