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An Overview of Business Plan Types

Part of preparing a business plan is determining the type of plan the business needs. There are four basic types of business plans, each with their own use. There are pitch plans, operational plans, presentation plans, and even digital plans. Each type of plan requires different specific inclusions and thus different amounts of labor to produce them. The uniqueness of each type of plan prevents proportional comparison of results. For some uses, a pitch plan is best suited. For others an elaborate presentation version may be required.

The Pitch Plan

Pitch plans consist of one to ten pages. The simplest is a one-page plan that is little more than an outline of the business concept. They are a great technique for “fleshing out” a business concept quickly and measure a potential partner’s or minority investor’s interest in the idea. The pitch plan should include at least summary or bullet point information on the business concept, marketing plan, financial statements, anticipated cash flow, projected income statements and a startup capital budget. The pitch plan can be the launching point for a more detailed business plan later. Caution should be exercises when using a pitch plan. It is not intended to substitute for a full-length plan, only as a starting point. Sending a pitch plan to a potential investor or venture capitalist can make you look foolish and unprofessional. Wait until you have a fully functional plan before approaching the big dogs.

The Operational Plan

Operational plans are the road maps developed by entrepreneurs for use as guides in operating their business. Operational plans go more into the meat of operations, defining specific goals and short-term objectives. They are typically detailed, but unwieldy. As with the pitch plan, the operational plan is definitely not for use in formal presentations. Operational plans tend to omit many of the elements that would be included in a more formal plan as they are for internal use only. Operational plans will almost never have an appendix with staff resumes or product photos. However, operational plans can be just as complex, do to the inclusion of day-to-day operating information. The manner in which a operational plan is kept is also quite different from the spit polish routine usually found in plans that are more formal. Unlike formal plans that may be printed on linen parchment, operational plans will usually be found in a humble three-ring binder with a label of “Business Plan” scrawled across its spine, if it is marked at all by the staff. Facts and figures are just as crucial in a operational plan as in a formal plan aimed at those outside the business. Physical aspects such as style, date formats and so on are a little more lax. A operational plan is like a faded Star Wars t-shirt you might wear on casual Fridays or the archaic computer kept in payroll because it refuses to die. It is there to be used, not for show.

The Presentation Plan

Transitioning from a working business plan to a presentation plan is like the job done on Cinderella by her fairy godmother. The core of the operational plan is taken and refined, clarified, and otherwise made more presentable. This Cinderella plan is then suitable for the ball where bankers, investors, and many others outside the business will examine it. The only true difference between the operational plan and presentation plan is the manner in which it is styled. In the presentation plan, business standard vocabulary is used for clarity. Operational plans tend to be filled with informal jargon, slang and industry shorthand. This can be quite useful in the workplace, but is highly inappropriate in a presentation plan. The presentation plan will be read by many people who will not be familiar with your operation and probably only vaguely familiar with your industry in general. The operational plan is used as a guide and reminder; the presentation plan is your introduction to financiers and the general public. Presentation plans also require the inclusion of key information that is not usually found in a operational plan. These inclusions address the potential investors’ requirements for due diligence and as such must include discussions on competitive threats and business risks. Include anything that might fit in these categories. Something you consider insignificant could end up the critical element in an investor’s lawsuit later. The difference in presentation between operational plans and presentation plans can also be radically different. Operational plans, as was stated earlier, are often found in three-ring binders or even simply stapled together at one corner. A presentation plan is usually printed in color on higher quality paper (commonly linen parchment) and secured in a booklet form. A presentation plan must be as accurate and consistent as possible. Any mistakes could be construed as misrepresentations by outsiders or at very least will make you look less than diligent. A summary that shows the business needing $80,000 in financing but a cash flow projection showing $90,000 in financing during the first year may be a simple typo or accidental oversight. The investor you are asking to back your operation may not be as understanding.

The Digital plan

Business plans today are usually composed on a computer and then printed out for presentation in hard copy form. However, more and more business data, once shared between parties on paper, is now sent via email. It may be appropriate to keep a digital version of your plan handy. Digital plans can be a PowerPoint presentation, as one example, or could include Excel spreadsheets for discriminating investors who insist upon delving into the stability of your spreadsheet computations. A digital plan can also be an interactive website, allowing potential investors to “flip” between pages. The information on the website can also be cross-referenced with the relevant information only a click away or, using the enhanced environment of the Internet, have term definitions and explanations of financial figures embedded in the document itself that pop up when the investor hovers over the linked text, making the plan more comprehensive and persuasive.

About Our Company

Our company writers are avid professionals with years of experience. Most of them have extensive experience with technical business writing and can easily and quickly assist you in developing a business plan at any of these levels or in taking a operational plan and developing it into a presentation or digital plan. Let us tell you more by contacting us today with your unique needs.

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