Business-Plan Target Audiences and Key Messages

Your business plan is the blueprint for how you plan to build a successful enterprise. It’s a comprehensive document that covers a lot of territory and addresses all sorts of issues. To help focus your efforts, consider which groups of people will have the greatest impact on your success. Those groups will be the primary audiences for your business plan.

For example, if you need capital investment, investors will be your primary audience. If you need to build strategic alliances, you want to address potential business partners. You and your team are another key audience for the plan, of course, because it will serve as your guide. Be sure to keep that fact in mind as you fine-tune the messages you want to convey.

After you know who you want to reach with your business plan, you can focus on what those readers will want to know and what message you want them to receive.

Your audience

All the people who have an interest in your business venture — from investors and lenders to your employees, customers, and suppliers — represent different audiences for your business plan. Depending on the situation you face and what you want your company to achieve through its plan, certain audiences will be more important than others:

  • If your company seeks investment capital, your all-important target audience is likely to be filled with potential investors.

  • If your plan includes the introduction of stock options (possibly in lieu of high salaries), your current and prospective employees will be a primary target audience.

  • If you’re launching a business that needs clients, not cash, to get up and running — the sooner the better — potential customers will comprise your plan’s primary audience.

  • If you’re a self-employed freelancer, your plan may be for you and you alone to focus your efforts, chart your course, and anticipate problems before they arise.

Your message

After you target the audiences for your plan, the next step is to focus on the key messages you want each group to receive. People with different stakes in your business will read your business plan with different interests and values. For example:

  • A person who owns shares in a company wants to read about growth plans.

  • A banker considering a loan request wants to see proof of strong revenue and profit prospects.

  • Employee groups want to see how they’ll benefit from the company’s growth and profits.

  • Regulators focus on operational and financial issues.

But for now, do some preliminary planning:

  1. Identify the three most important audiences you intend to address with your business plan.

  2. Jot down key points you need to make to each target audience.

    Writing down your key points doesn’t require fancy prose; just get your ideas down on paper so you can refer to them when you begin writing your business plan.

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