Traditionally business plans have been highly confidential and quite limited in audience. The business plan itself is generally regarded as secret. An open business plan is a business plan with unlimited audience. The business plan is typically web published and made available to all. In the free software and open source business model, trade secrets, copyright and patents can no longer be used as effective locking mechanisms to provide sustainable advantages to a particular business and therefore a secret business plan is less relevant in those models.
Business plans may target changes in perception and branding by the customer, client, taxpayer, or larger community. When the existing business is to assume a major change or when planning a new venture, a 3 to 5 year business plan is required, since investors will look for their investment return in that timeframe.
A business plan should be detailed. In listing your products and services for example, you should not really stop by just enumerating them. You also should write down the descriptions and scope of your products and services, touch base on production and identify means on how you can market your "brain - child" to your targeted niche.
A business plan is a formal statement of business goals, reasons they are attainable, and plans for reaching them. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals.