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If you are developing, or have invented, a new product or service, it may be beneficial to start the business planning process by reviewing the sections of Getting New Business Ideas covering Assessing Ideas and Next Steps.
Preparation of a comprehensive plan will not guarantee success in raising funds or mobilizing support, but lack of a sound plan will, almost certainly, ensure failure.
Preparing a satisfactory business plan is a painful but essential exercise.
For an established business it demonstrates that careful consideration has been given to the business's development, and for a startup it shows that the entrepreneur has done his or her homework.
A formal business plan is just as important for an established business, irrespective of its size, as it is for a startup.
As the prelude to developing a strategic plan, it is desirable to clearly identify the current status, objectives and strategies of an existing business or the latest thinking in respect of a new venture.
Correctly defined, these can be used as the basis for a critical examination to probe existing or perceived strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.
Answer the question: "if someone from Mars visited the business, what would they see or sense?
" The nature of a business is often expressed in terms of its Mission which indicates the purposes of the business, for example, "to design, develop, manufacture and market specific product lines for sale on the basis of certain features to meet the identified needs of specified customer groups via certain distribution channels in particular geographic areas".
The planning process forces managers or entrepreneurs to understand more clearly what they want to achieve, and how and when they can do it.
Even if no external support is needed, a business plan can play a vital role in helping to avoid mistakes or recognize hidden opportunities.