A business plan and a business action plan are meant for two very different sets of people and they have two VERY different purposes.

Which one should you use?

A Business Plan

Who: Someone who is thinking about starting a business

When: Before you start your business

Why: to provide a structure for ideas in order to initially define the business, determine whether there is a viable market for what you want to do and obtain funding if needed.

What: A Business Plan includes a whole heap of things you’ll never have to do again… it’s a really long list but if you’re thinking about starting a business it’s the first thing you need to do – it’s the only way to make sure that you’re doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time…

How: You can download a template for a Business Plan here 

A Business Action Plan

(Sometimes called a Strategic Plan or Strategic Action Plan)

Who: Business owners and management teams

When: Yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily… a Business Action Plan is a living document that you should be referring to every day. If you don’t yet have one – start now, then review it daily, weekly and monthly; update it quarterly and rewrite it once a year.

Why: Your Business Action Plan is your business roadmap. It details where you are going and how you plan to get there.

What: A business action plan should contain all of the following elements:

  • Long term goals (10 years +)
  • Medium term goals (3- 5 years)
  • Short term (one year goals)
  • Financial goals and targets
  • Strategies (How do you plan to achieve your goals and financial targets)
  • Action Items (What is your To Do list to implement the strategies)
  • Review – are you on track to achieving your goals… if your not reviewing how do you know whether you are still going in the right direction?

How: You can downloadable a template for the Business Action Plan here.


Brenda Thomson: Business Connections & Relationship Specialist
Helping Small Business Owners Create Powerful Networks & Communities

SMART Connect and SMART Small Business Alliance
LIN: Brenda Thomson
F: SMART-Connect Alliance - SSBA