A business plan is a document which details exactly how you will run your business, and includes everything from how you will promote it, to how you plan to fund it, and who your customers will be.
Your business plan should include details of your financial forecasts, explaining how much money you think you will make as well as how much you will need to finance the business, and how you plan to go out raising funds.
Business plans include detailed market research looking at how big your market is and who your customers are. You will segment your market depending on information such as your customers' spending habits, interests, income, age and socio-economic groups.
An accurate plan will help you determine if your business idea is feasible. By making financial forecasts and looking at your target market, you can work out whether your business will succeed and if you will be able to earn an income.
A solid business plan will also reassure potential investors you are a sensible investment opportunity.
Even if you're not planning to raise money, a business plan will help you map the future of your business. It will allow you to come up with a comprehensive strategy on how you will deal with various scenarios.
Your business plan gives you a place to list specific goals and objectives for your business, helping you to set out clearly how you plan to meet these goals and forcing you to commit to that course of action.
Because you include detailed financial and market forecasts in your business plan, it will help you manage cash flow by showing in detail exactly when money is coming in and going out within given periods of time.