Grow your existing business
Create an annual plan where you can establish strategy and allocate resources according to strategic priority. You can guide your growth, manage your priorities, assign responsibilities, track progress and plan for future cash needs. Revisiting these items once a year will help your company stay on track.
Back up a business loan application
Lenders want to see your business plan and will expect the plan to cover the main points of your vision backed up with financial analysis.
Seek investment for a business, whether it's a startup or not
Investors need to see a business plan before they decide whether or not to invest. They'll expect the plan to cover all the main points of your vision as well..
Create a new business
Use a plan to establish the right steps to starting a new business, including what you need to do, what resources will be required, and what you expect to happen and when.
Valuation of the business for formal transactions
Valuation is the term for establishing how much your business is worth. Usually that takes a business plan, as well as a professional with experience. The plan tells the valuation expert what your business is doing, when, why and how much that will cost and how much it will produce.
Sell your business
Usually the business plan is a very important part of selling the business. It helps buyers understand what you have, what it's worth and why they want it.
Deal with professionals
Share selected highlights or your plans with your attorneys and accountants, and, if this is relevant to you, consultants.
Develop new business alliances
Use your plan to set targets for new alliances, and selected portions of your plan to communicate with those alliances.
Share objectives with your management team
Make selected portions of your business plan part of your new employee training and set goals with them to accomplish their part in the plan.
Decide whether you need new assets, and whether to lease or purchase them
Use your business plan to help decide what's going to happen in the long term, which should be an important input to the classic lease vs. purchase. This decision will be based upon how long will this important lease or purchase will last in your plan.
Hire new people
This is another new obligation (a fixed cost) that increases your risk. How will new people help your business grow and prosper? What exactly are they supposed to be doing? The rationale for hiring should be in your business plan.
Decide whether or not to rent new space
Rent is a new obligation for expansion, usually a fixed cost. Do your growth prospects and plans justify taking on this increased fixed cost? Shouldn't that be in your business plan?
Deal with displacement (Opportunity Cost)
Displacement or Opportunity Cost is probably by far the most important practical business concept you've never heard of. It goes like this: "Whatever you do is something else you don't do." Displacement lives at the heart of all small-business strategy. At least most people have never heard of it.
Share your strategy, priorities and action points with others
Your business life goes by so quickly: a rush of answering phone calls, putting out fires, etc. Don't the other people in your business life need to know what's supposed to be happening? Don't you want them to know?
Set specific objectives for managers
Good management requires setting specific objectives and then tracking and following up. Many existing businesses manage without a plan. In truth, you're really just taking a short cut and planning in your head but as your business grows you want to organize and plan better. Be strategic. Develop a plan, don't just wing it.
Credit: Tim Berry