In our section on business documents we have already looked at a number of basic business documents such as memos, letters, emails and business reports.
Now in response to readers’ enquiries I want to distinguish between a couple of more sophisticated documents used in business decision making, and then consider each of them in detail.
A business plan
A business plan is usually developed at the launch of a business and is often used to access funding for the business. It sets out the business goals, strategy and objectives.
A business case
A business case is usually an argument to convince decision makers to approve a proposed business action. It can be used to get approval for a project, obtain resources for a project, or document the scope of the project and justify the funding.
A business proposal
A business proposal is a document sent to a potential client, to bid for a contract to carry out a specific piece of work for them.
A business plan
Let’s look again at a business plan, usually developed at the launch of a business and is often used to access funding for the business.
We looked at this document in detail in the first module on the site, but you may want to revisit it now. It includes examples and downloads for you.
A business plan includes a formal statement of the goals of the business, how they will be attained, and plans and tactics for achieving them. It will outline the products or services, route to market, pricing policy, and will include background information about the management team.
You can download a business plan and a cash flow forecast from this page.
A good business plan will force the writer to evaluate the rationale for the business, considering every aspect of it, and examine likely profitability. It will include an operations review, marketing review and a cash flow forecast.
It is useful to review the plan annually as part of a strategy review, to check the business is still on track. You may be asked to submit a business plan regularly if you have successfully accessed funding from a bank or investors.
So in summary, a business plan is the plan for the whole business; a business case is the justification for a specific project, and a business proposal is essentially a sales bid.