Assess your competition. Understanding your competition is an essential component to understanding any business environment. Whatever the business you are looking to establish, you will always have competition in varying degrees. Perhaps you want to open a restaurant in an area that is already saturated with eateries; you then need to think about what is the unique selling point of your restaurant. Or maybe you have found a niche in the market, why is that? In order to make your business a success you should look to your competitors to see how they are managing their business or areas where they could improve. You also need to assess whether you can compete effectively with the existing businesses and how you plan to do so.
Business plans may be internally or externally focused. Externally focused plans target goals that are important to external stakeholders, particularly financial stakeholders. They typically have detailed information about the organization or team attempting to reach the goals. With for-profit entities, external stakeholders include investors and customers.
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.
External stake-holders of non-profits include donors and the clients of the non-profit's services. For government agencies, external stakeholders include tax-payers, higher-level government agencies, and international lending bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, various economic agencies of the United Nations, and development banks.
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