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Business Plan vs. Business Proposal: What’s The Difference? | Process Street | Checklist, Workflow and SOP Software

Seema is a Product Expert at Revv, a leading document management software and eSignature company that provides business document templates that help run your business. She believes in the pobusiness wer of words and storytelling and loves spending her time creating exciting and knowledgeable content of the SaaS world. When not working, you can often find her watching adorable pups videos, or experimenting with recipes!

Well, honestly, I wasn’t surprised or peeved at the half-baked knowledge of my friend’s father when he made a snap judgment and conveniently labeled my marketing profession as sales.

After all, this wasn’t my first time when someone tagged me as a salesperson. So, I took a deep breath and explained to him how sales are different from marketing.

We, humans, dwell in a herd mentality and hone our word skills from our surroundings. Sometimes, we are simply careless, sometimes oblivious, but most of the time, we actually don’t know that the word has a different meaning.

This can be ignored in a casual conversation, but using the wrong words in a business space can change the implied meaning and lead to miscommunication. For example, cost vs. price, digitization vs. digitalization, warranty vs. guarantee, machine learning vs. artificial intelligence, etc.

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” – C. S. Lewis

This Process Street guest post untangles the confusion between two crucial terms – business plan and business proposal. These are used interchangeably in the business world, but their meaning and application are pretty different.

Words are the building blocks of communication. There is a French phrase for using the right word – le mot juste.

Let us strive for le mot juste!

Hop on and be a part of this fantabulous journey. What is a business plan? What is a business proposal? Difference between a business plan and a business proposalBonus: How to make ‘wow’ business plans and business proposals? Winding-up: Key takeaways

Here we go! 🚀What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal guide that acts as a blueprint, deciphering every root and branch to make a business successful. It is a written document that provides insights to internal and external stakeholders on business vision, goals, and strategies to achieve those goals.

“Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost. You need to have goals, create milestones and have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success.” – Yogi Berra

A business plan, at its core, is an explanation of the below questions –Who are we? What are our offerings? Who are our customers? Who are the competitors? What is our competitive advantage? What are the business projections? What is the roadmap to achieve the goals – marketing, operations, research and development, manufacturing, and financial plans? What are the funding/investment requirements? What is the return on investment? Why do you need a business plan?

A business plan is not a bag of puffery statements. It is a document with factual information necessary for the survival of a business. You can create a business plan with the right tools or opt for a good business coach to get you started.

Let’s see what Tim Berry, business plan expert, founder and chairman of Palo Alto Softwar and bplans.com, has to say on business plans.

“What I love most about business plans is the business rencana: like walking, it’s constant correction and review and revision. Planning, done right, is steering a business, managing growth, aiming the business towards the right future.” – Tim Berry, Small Business Trends

According to a study done by Palo Alto Software, those who create business plans double their chances to succeed in business.

Let us get down to brass tacks and understand why a business plan is super-duper important. (Source)

Record and present business information 💾The primary intent of a business plan is to record and communicate information. It must document the business goals and the methods to attain those goals in a structured manner. It keeps businesses on track with their objectives.

A blueprint for seeking business investment 🗄️Whether you are a fledgling start-up or an established business seeking expansion or diversification, writing a winning business plan acts as a magnet to attract investors. It builds confidence and trust among investors about the lucrativeness of a business idea.

Lay down the right path ✔️Not everything discussed verbally at an ideation stage transforms into reality in a pragmatic environment. Jotting down a business plan differentiates achievable from impracticable based on market dynamics, opportunities and threats, and company’s strengths and weaknesses. It sets the right track for business growth.

Establish short-term and long-term goals 🎯A business plan sets down short-term and long-term goals and the direction to accomplish them, right from baby steps to giant leaps. It becomes a basis to revisit the goals from time-to-time and make iterations depending on the present scenario.

“Any business plan won’t survive its first encounter with reality. The reality will always be different. It will never be the plan.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Get clarity on your business 🙋A frequent question that pops-up in business discussions is: “Are we doing it right?”

A well-articulated business plan brings insightful knowledge on each aspect of a business – from what it has to offer to how to market the offerings.

Make informed decisions 💡A business plan is a reality check to track what is being fruitful and what is causing hindrance. It paves the way to make a business sustainable.

Predict future financial performance 📈Financial projection is the spotlight of a business plan. It’s the carrot that captivates the eyeballs and tickles investors to fund a new business.

A promising business plan talks about the company’s future financial performance – expenditure, profit, revenue, etc.

Explore new business opportunities 💰A business plan is a flexible document that enables learning on the go. It bolsters research and infuses businesses with new and more feasible business opportunities. It gives organizations a fresh outlook and ushers them to be a howling success. How to prepare for a business plan

Now that we have answered the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of a business plan, let us move forward to solve the next riddle – how do you prepare it? (Source)

Identify your company’s vision, mission, and values 🎯Start by answering and figuring out your business personality:What do you desire to be? How do you want to be perceived? What values put your business in motion?

This is your organization’s compass that acts as a foundation for the succeeding steps.

Know your target audience 🧑‍💼Dig deep into:Whom are you going to cater to? What is your sasaran market? What is the size and potential of the target market? What are the needs of a prospective customer? How are the needs addressed presently?

Learn market trends 💹Identifying market trends keeps businesses ahead of the game. Analysis of industry data leads to business growth and profitability in the long run.

Weigh in the impact of unforeseen circumstances 🤦From financial turbulence to natural calamities and pandemics – a lot can go wrong in the future and leave a business shaking. Expect the unexpected and gird your loins for these testing times. How to write a business plan

Creating a winning business plan increases the chances of success and spurs investors to fund your business.

According to a study published in Small Business Economics, entrepreneurs that create a plan are 152% more likely to start their business and appoint a registered agent and 129% more likely to push forward with their business beyond the initial start-up phase and grow it.

Here are the key components of an excellent business plan:

Executive summaryFirst impression is the last impression!