A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how a business, usually a new one, is going to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written plan from a marketing, financial and operational viewpoint.
A business plan has two primary purposes. First, and foremost, it should be used to help run your company with a more cohesive vision. It is your roadmap. By truly analysing your plan for marketing, sales, manufacturing, website design, etc., you greatly improve your chances for success.
The second purpose of a business plan tends to be for submission to financial institutions or other lenders as they will not invest in your company unless you can demonstrate that you have a roadmap to success.
A good plan accomplishes three important tasks. First, it aligns the management team toward a common set of goals. Then, once the vision is on paper, it forces the team to take a long, hard look at the feasibility of the business. “A business plan is like a dry run to see if there is a major problem with your business before losing any money,” says Mike McKeever, author of How To Write A Business Plan. Finally, a business plan is a sales document: It aims to attract professional investors who may only have time for a cursory glance at each idea that crosses their desks.
The business plan process is simply the steps you go through and actions you take when producing a business plan. In effect, it describes how you produce your business plan.