I am mentoring small businesses and I am amazed at the ideas I read from the entrepreneurs I have the pleasure of meeting.
Unfortunately, not many have well laid out business plans and most use the Internet for planning.
A big percentage of the documents they use from the Internet are impressive, but what they do not understand is that one cannot use a business plan tailored for another region of the world to fully execute his specific business.
Business concepts are similar universally, but execution and sustainability differ depending on one’s environment and market.
The business plans I have read display glorified projections and their market analysis clearly depicts great profit.
In short, one look at a business plan will tell you that some issues have yet to be thought out clearly. For example, competition, risk, challenges and so forth.
Before embarking on your venture, draft at least three business plans.
This plan is the truest of them all. I refer to it as the naked business plan. It covers almost everything including risk and possibility of failure. No business life lesson can be complete without a discussion on risks and risk management and no business can be started without embracing risk.
Risks are inherent in everything we do – business risk management is the key to ensuring risks are identified and a plan-B or C thought out. Some risks we can control while others we cannot.
This plan should cover who you are as an individual, what your honest strengths and weaknesses are and how you will handle stumbling blocks or closure.
It should address questions like; Can you persevere through tough times? Do you have a strong desire to be your own boss? Do the judgments you make in life regularly turn out well? Do you have an ability to conceptualise the whole of a business? Do you possess the high level of energy, sustainable over long hours, to make a business successful? Do you have specialised business experience?
Financial projections in the plan should cover, at the very least, five different modules. You should work on the plan yourself and get prepared for any outcome.
I like to call this the headlines business plan. You only have one shot at getting investors – make the best out of it.
This is a plan that shows what team you will be working with and how you plan to invest to make money for investors. Show a well laid out plan that includes short and long term financial gains.
The confidence, coupled with experience, shown in this document will determine whether you get the initial investment you seek.
Financial projections in this case can be three to five years. They are there to show sustained profit. You should not glorify the plan nor try to get a lot of money for the start-up.
You must mention what your competition is and how you plan to create your own niche market – having a business plan that does not have a thorough SWOT analysis could raise the red flag. You might end up not getting financial support.
Pick the right team, get professional advice, try to separate your product from the rest in order to achieve your own niche.
Do not spend too much money. Most people think that having a lot of money is fundamental in starting a business. That is a fallacy – you can make a lot out of very little.
This is the plan that you started out with – the ”sitting research” through which you came out with pros and cons of the venture. The plan that has been developed from different Internet searches to better understand what you will be dealing with.
This is the longest business plan. This plan has a lot of data, but you should sieve out information that is irrelevant for your business. Without this plan, it is difficulty to cover everything that needs to be covered in your proposed venture.