Honig and Karlsson (2004) define a business plan as “a written document that describes the current state and the presupposed future of an organization” (Honig and Karlsson, 2004). “The business idea crystallizes into the business plan; a plan that represents the mental anticipation of the process of founding an enterprise and exploiting a commercial opportunity in the market place” (Volkmann et al., 2010) It is a document that gives founders the chance to capture and tell their vision, objectives and goals for the future of their business in a consistent way (Delmar and Shane, 2004a). Completing a business plan shows externals that the founders are committed to their business. “The business plan is the structured systematic survey of the intended start-up project in written form with a planning horizon of usually three to five years.” (Volkmann et al.
, 2010)”Business plans can differ according to the sector the enterprise is operating in and the individual characteristics and features of the enterprise. This means that the “ultimate” ideal business plan does not exist Struck, (2001); Kuratko/Hodgetts (2001). ” (Volkmann et al.
, 2010). Anyway according to literature and governmental advice there are some elements that every business plan should cover, like an executive summary; information and qualification of the founders; the business idea and the business model; the market and its competition; the marketing and price policy; the organization and founding team; financial plan; opportunities and risks; prognostication of revenues and appendices (Volksmann et al., 2010; Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, April 2017)From recent literature as well as various parties like venture capitalist firms, government agencies and universities, business planning is highly encouraged when starting a new business. (Burke et al., 2010; Honig and Karlsson, 2004 honig nochmal prüfen) It is considered as one of the most important tasks for a new venture (source).The business plan covers a variety of purposes. In general it serves to help the business to achieve/ accomplish their business objectives/ goals through planning, confronting with the business and raising funds.communication to internal and external stakeholdersBecause most founders lack equity to finance their project/ untertaking (Delmar and Shane, 2003), one of the biggest issues of firms in the initial phase is to obtain financing of external stakeholders (Delmar and Shane, 2004; Denis, 2004; Blumberg and Letterie <- überprüfen).
Research has shown that business plans are a necessity for startups to obtain external capital (e.g. Fraser, 2004; Lerner, 2002) Since the absence of financial informations of new firms, external stakeholders/ investors focus heavily on a firms business plan (Delmar and Shane; 2004). The plan serves “as a sales document” (Berger & Udell, 1998) that provides the external stakeholders with additional information of the purposes of the business and shows the competence and the commitment of the founding team for reaching a financing decision (Blumberg & Letterie, 2007).Also a business plan is required to get governmental subsidies/ support for founding a new business. (Honig and Karlsson, 2004; Lerner, 2002)The plan also serves as a document that provides legitimacy and shows commitment due to pressure that arises from business partners or other external stakeholders like suppliers, customers and employees (Stone and Brush, 1996). Therefore, to obtain financing and legitimacy for external stakeholders business planning can be seen as really useful for the new firm.
The business plan also includes business objectives and helps to communicate these to internal and external stakeholders (Volkmann et al., 2010; Brinckmann et al., 2010 <- kontrollieren) . Having specific goals explicitly written down/captured in written form enhances the engagement spend in activities to fulfill those goals and therefore enhances the performance.
(Locke and Latham, 1990)A Business plan also has a supervisory and monitoring function which allows to reduce the risk of freeriding of certain team members (Chandler et al., 2005).