Target Your Business Plan to Key Audiences
Immediately after you decide who’s going to write your business plan, you need to think about who’s going to read it. After all, 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 the people who read it can’t understand it. You wouldn’t speak French to someone who only speaks Chinese, right? For the same reason, you don’t want to fill your written business plan with technical jargon that your audience won’t understand.
If your business idea is based on something brand new, write your plan in such a way that the company overview section explains your new technology in terms that anyone can understand. Include all the technical details in an appendix.
Identify your stakeholders to determine the appropriate audience for your plan. 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. 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.