Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. — Vince Lombardi
Even those who write business plans on a regular basis have difficulty in defining the perfect product. With so many templates available freely online, anyone can write their business plan. However, there are certain elements that must always appear in a successful business. I researched information on what experts, successful entrepreneurs and lenders say about writing the perfect business plan.
The king of entrepreneurship, Richard Branson says your plan should explain how your business will make a difference to customers and provide a compelling alternative to competitors. This means, showing a new way of doing things to shake up the market, and explaining it in short, sharp and entertaining fashion. This means avoiding me-too businesses which are already flooded with other players.
The business has to be grounded in expert knowledge of the industry.
If you are going to launch anything — a new agricultural project, a new bank, a new fashion line — you need to demonstrate a solid understanding of the market and how you can disrupt it. Thorough market research is absolutely necessary.
The business plan must make sense to you, says a senior manager at a leading commercial bank.
All businesses should have a robust business plan that works for them which can be interpreted by investors as well as finance providers. That said, if you have a very dynamic business such as an innovative high-tech company, then the financial forecasts can be tricky to formulate. Take advice from other similar businesses, as well as getting input from an industry experienced accountant. If you fully understand the plan then you should be able to put this across to a potential investor or bank.
In the body of the business plan you will detail what market research you have undertaken and summarise the findings. These findings will have helped you create sales forecasts, which will then translate into turnover in the financial plan. It sounds obvious, but I have seen many plans that don’t provide the correlation between the two and where it is obvious that the financial plan has been written “bottom up” so the sales figure becomes the balancing entry.
A successful entrepreneur who has built several businesses says the point of your business plan is to communicate to potential investors what your business opportunity is, and persuade them to seek a meeting. Investors see literally hundreds of plans every year, but probably don’t read past the executive summary for most of them. Get your business plan noticed by first getting clear in your own mind why it’s a great opportunity. Don’t spend too long getting it “just right” because it’s likely you will re-write the plan numerous times, and during the process you’ll come up with much better ways of explaining how good your business is. Once you’ve started, it’s easier to think of ways of making your business plan more attractive than when you’re faced with a blank sheet of paper.
Of course you still need a good business plan template to guide you. You can download one and read more business planning advice at my website http://smebusinesslink.com. Until next, best wishes in accelerating your growth.
l Phillip Chichoni is a business development consultant who works with SMEs and entrepreneurs.
Demonstrate how you will make a profit
Max Soutter, the founder of Business Setup Group Zimbabwe offers two pieces of advice. First, that you have to demonstrate that your team is capable of success. Show how your team is well-equipped and able to implement this plan and make a success of this business opportunity. Talk about relevant experience, past successes and anything that gives your team the believability you need to reduce the risk in the mind of the investor.
His second piece of advice is that you must demonstrate that when the business gets off the ground it will generate more revenue that will outweigh the investment made. You should show the reader of your business plan that the risk of giving you the money is low and the reward is high. Think in these terms, because that’s what it comes down to.
This is where your marketing needs to weigh in. In most cases, the marketing plan is the most important part of the whole plan. After all, nothing else matters if you can’t get a customer.