The best use of business plans starts with founders using plans to establish strategy, tactics, milestones, and (especially important) essential projections of sales, spending, headcount, startup costs, capital needs; it`s for the founders to know, first, what they plan to do.
If you expect to be the market leader in 2 years, you need to demonstrate why this is possible and how you`ll meet this goal. If you say your product will be viral, you have to support this statement with facts and a strong analysis explaining why people will like your product or service and how they`ll help you promote it.
Often the biggest decisions you`ll make for your business are amidst volatile periods of growth, decline, or even external crises. This requires you to make highly consequential decisions far more quickly than you may like. Without up-to-date planning and forecast information, these decisions may be less certain or strategic than they need to be.
The most common mistake by far is on profits. Startups that grow don`t produce profits. Investors make money on valuation increases, not profits. Real businesses rarely produce more than single-digit profits. Big profit projections are sophomoric. Take all those profits and dump them into marketing expenses and you`ll be better off.
Don`t bother to include terms of a potential investment, as that will always be negotiated later. Instead, just include a short statement indicating how much money you need to raise.
Writing a business plan is about establishing a foundation for your business. You`re not predicting the future, you`re working through the core strategy of your business that will help you grow. This initial document isn`t meant to be perfect but is designed to be reviewed and adjusted to help you identify and reach your goals.