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Business plans that work: The pandemic edition

write on the money:with Natsai Musarurwa

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year. Either your business has suffered or done exceptionally well, with a few businesses falling somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. As a result, a lot of companies are looking for funding in the midst of the pandemic to help them stay afloat or help them grow, and although the pool of investment capital is shallower this year, it is not empty. It may be harder to get investors in 2020, but it is not impossible.

I covered how to put together a winning business plan in a five-part series earlier this year and not much has changed in terms of the guidelines around compiling your plan. With the current situation, however, there are certainly areas that, if you have an existing business plan, you will need to relook at and adjust in line with the new reality (updating your business plan is something you should be doing on a regular basis anyway). The investment landscape has shifted somewhat, but what investors look for in potential investees really has not changed at a fundamental level. Yes, investors are looking for ways to get the best returns possible but more than anything when they go through your business plan, they are looking for relevance. This has always been the case but what is considered relevant in the era of Covid-19 is slightly different compared to a year ago.

There are two key areas where you will have to adapt your business plan if you want to secure funding for your business in the short to medium term (or however long the virus will be around for, which is likely a while), 1) your product/service offering; and 2) your market analysis. Sections such as your marketing plan, risk assessment, etc. will also need to be modified accordingly but since most other segments build off the previously mentioned parts we will focus on those two.

The first item mentioned, adapting your product/service offering, is probably something you have already heard numerous times by now; companies have to adapt.

Some businesses have pivoted, and some have completely reinvented themselves to remain relevant in the market. These options are not feasible for everyone, however, and if you are genuinely one of those businesses with limited flexibility (not that you just don’t feel like innovating), when pitching to an investor you need to get a bit creative about how you communicate your value proposition. You don’t necessarily have to change or adjust your product offering, rather you can frame the problem your product solves in a way that makes it relevant in the current context of the market. A simple, slightly exaggerated, example would be virtual tours in the real estate industry. Initially the problem being solved was one of convenience, now virtual tours can be sold as a service that could save lives; same service, but the problem is framed differently and now it is more relevant.

The next section you need to pay attention to is the market analysis. If the issue of Covid-19 is not assessed in your analysis you are going to have a hard time getting financing. If you use the PESTLE analysis framework, for example, you need to consider how the pandemic has brought about changes in policies, its economic effects, how it has changed social norms, how it has made technology that removes the need for human interaction more popular and possibly more expensive, etc. You also have to look at how Covid-19 has impacted the competitive environment in your industry and analyse what opportunities or threats have emerged as a result of it.

Your business plan always has to be up to date not just with regards to what is happening inside your company but also with regards to the external environment. A relevant idea will always attract investors, because relevance means demand, which means income, and (ideally) that generates a return on investment. For my company, Amras Communications, this has become a big focus for us, ensuring that our clients’ business plans remain relevant. There are more companies competing for increasingly limited funds, so we have to use our skills as researchers and wordsmiths to ensure that our clients are positioned in the best possible way, showcasing them as a worthy investments even in the middle of a pandemic.

l If your business plan needs updating, our team at Amras Communications is always ready to assist. You can contact us on +263787722016 or at info@amrascoms.com; we are committed to your success.

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