Target Your Business Plan to Key Audiences

Immediately after you decide who’s going to write your plan, you need to think about your audience. Your business plan should communicate your vision and strategy — what you plan to do, and how you intend to do it. But it can’t communicate if your audience can’t understand it. You don’t want to fill your written business plan with technical jargon that your audience won’t understand.

Your stakeholders include everyone who has a vested interest in your company, what it does, or how it operates. That includes employees, customers, suppliers, outside consultants, lenders, shareholders, regulators, competitors, and other interested parties.

Some of these groups may have direct stakes: You owe them money, for example, or they own a piece of your company. Others have less tangible interests: suppliers who want to continue selling to you or civic organizations that want to make sure you remain a good corporate citizen. Obviously, not all your stakeholder groups share the same interests or values:

  • Someone who owns shares in your company is probably most interested in whether and when you plan to grow bigger.

  • A local environmental group may want proof that you’re following environmental regulations.

  • Bankers look at your plan with a focus on your financial health — studying your cash flow, business assets, and forecasts to determine your prospects for solid, stable growth. They have to decide whether to finance your business, so they look for proof of your long-term prospects along with assurance that you’re a good risk when it comes to repaying loans.

  • Investors are interested in the factors that predict growth — especially rapid growth, so they turn a sharp eye to sections that describe your business opportunity, your management team, and your plan of action.

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