In my opinion, using a template always adds value: it let’s you focus on the main topic (which is after all writing down your business idea) and offers a proven structure for putting things together.
But why should you write such a plan in the first place? The answer to this is very simple – at least it is to me: your business plan keeps you on track and let’s you gain detailed insight into your new business venture. You would write such a plan at the beginning of a new project or if you want to start up a new business. So basically, this plan will help you in the first instance and as a second benefit will support you in communicating your business idea more clearly to others.
Who will those other people be? Maybe your boss who wants to be convinced that a specific project will create added value to the business or you might need a venture capitalist (or your bank manager for that matter) to support your idea financially. Which means that you need to be clear about what you want to achieve and a template for writing a business plan will support this task.
And what should it at least contain? At least you should cover the following topics:
- Which product or service are you selling?
- Who is your customer?
- How do you sell your product?
- Whom are you competing with?
- At which price do you sell your product?
I mentioned ‘at least’. In some cases, your business plan would need to be more detailed. In those cases a well designed and professionally created template can add value to your business plan. Think about the following: a professionally defined template is the result of hours and weeks (maybe even months) of experienced work put together into this one single document. You can’t go wrong with that. And if you need to convince others that your business idea will be a success, using a proven template does surely add to your story.
How long will it take to write a business plan? This really depends on the idea that you try to cover. In my experience, you would at least spend about 1 month to compile everything.
What do you do with this plan as soon as it is finished? Again, this answer is very simple: you keep reviewing it. If you successfully started up your business, you would want to see how well you performed in a year or so. You can only definitely say that when you compare information. Your business plan is the best source for this comparison.
Using a template for your business plan review will again ensure that you compare every relevant information and it helps you to see where you got off track or where you reached your intended goals.
But the truth to be told, a template does force you into a specific structure. Having said that, this structure let’s you concentrate on the main part of your job: on filling in the gabs and this is the most important part of any business plan!