There are both internal and external users of business plans.
The internal users of business plans are owners, employees, and closely related outsiders (such as family members and friends who have invested in your firm). Every business plan is created for the internal users and it documents:
- The objectives for your business,
- How you plan to accomplish those objectives, and
- What means are available to accomplish those objectives.
I believe that the business plan should be available to all internal audience members of the firm in some form or fashion (for example, remove sensitive financial information of officer's compensation from plan, verbally discussing the plan with employees instead of giving out copies, etc.). My experience shows that this practice helps get everyone on the same page and it facilitates constructive dialogue which improves a firm’s performance and profitability.
For small businesses, the external audience is usually sources of financing such as banks and unrelated investors. Generally, one of the first steps in gaining outside investment is providing investors with a business plan.
When constructing business plans for the external audience, you need to pay particular attention to spelling, grammar, and the way in which you present your ideas. You may need to use a CPA for the financial information and projections included in the plan because the external audience is more likely to accept this information when prepared by a CPA than when it is produced by company employees.