Inc.com has a robust section of articles on business plans, which is certainly worth a look if that’s a project that you’re tackling soon. What struck me was the short article, The Business Plan that Always Works.
In this article, Michael Gerber distinguishes two types of business plans. The first is the plan that you write with your “head.” This is the type of business plan you’re thinking of every time I say “business plan” in this article. It’s the document you write to present to potential investors or when you’re looking to get a loan from a bank. It’s the formal document that contains market research and projections and lots of charts. It’s also the business plan that you use for a short time and then don’t pick up again after you’re done with it.
The second type of business plan is the one that you write with your “heart.” This is the business plan that you need to write before you write your “business plan.” It answers why you’re starting this business, who your customers are, and what your values are. This is the kind of document that should become a guiding force for your company beyond a particular need for more funding. Great companies have clear values and a business plan written from the heart can become a guiding force for many years.