Sunday, May 10, 2015

SECRETS TO WRITING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS PLAN

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 What Is a Business Plan and Why Do You Need One?

Many  consider  a  business  plan  to  be  a  formal  document  containing five key elements:
1) Business goals,
2) The reasons why these goals are attainable,
3) A  plan  for  reaching  those  goals,
4)  Data  backing  the  uniqueness  of  the  products  and services  to  be  sold,  and
5)  Supporting  information  about  the  organization  and  team attempting to reach those goals.

A  business  plan  is  comprised  of  these  elements,  but  it  is  much  more  than  a  physical document; it is a structured process to test ideas to determine if they are feasible and financially  attractive.  Viewed  this  way,  a  business  plan  becomes  a  road  map  to successful  implementation  of  the  business  idea.  This  road  map  then  morphs  into tactical  plans  and  budgets.  During  the  process  of  developing  a  business  idea,  you develop  a  consistent  set  of  messages,  based  on  facts  and  analysis,  describing  your business  idea,  which  will  be  used  in  discussions  with  funders,  investors,  customers, board members, advisers, vendors, and employees.

Some events that trigger the need to write a business plan include:
1. Starting a new business (the classic reason)
2.  Growing  an  existing  business  through  new  products,  new  channels,  and/or  new markets
3. Acquiring a business or franchising your existing business
4. Exiting from the business and the need to provide potential buyers with information about the company. They will be interested in the past as a benchmark, but as you have already  reaped  the  benefits  of  these  accomplishments,  potential  buyers  are  interested in the future as you see it. What is the potential they may buy into?

Who Is a Business Plan Written For?

Although most people think the goal of business plans is to seek funding, ultimately, a business plan is written primarily for yourself—to help you decide whether or not to start  or  grow  a  business,  to  set  goals  and  benchmarks,  to  use  the  process  for developing a set of compelling and consistent messages describing your business and why  you  will  be  successful,  and  to  understand  the  two  roles  you  have  as  owner  and employee.

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Factors To Consider When Writing a Business Plan :

1. Clarity
The  person  reading  your  business  plan  is  busy,  often  has  other problems to deal with, and is consciously or unconsciously judging you by the way in which you express yourself. Therefore:
● keep your language simple;
● avoid trying to get too many ideas into one sentence;
● let one sentence follow on logically from the last;
● go easy on the adjectives;
● tabulate wherever appropriate.

2. Logic
The facts and ideas you present will be easier to take in and make more impact if they follow one another in a logical sequence. Avoid a series of inconsequential paragraphs, however well phrased. Also, make sure that what you say under one heading chimes in with all you have said elsewhere.

3. Truth
Don’t overstate your case.

4. Figures
The banker or investor reading your plan is numerate, thinking in terms of numbers. Words will not impress a banker unless they are backed by figures that you have made as precise as possible. So try to quantify wherever you can.

4. Designing the business plan
 The  layout  of  your  business  plan  can  help  greatly  in  keeping  the  a logical pattern.  You could present your material in the sequence shown here, using headings, so that the reader can survey your plan and navigate without difficulty.

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Steps to follow when preparing a business plan:

1  A brief statement of your objectives.
2  Your assessment of the market you plan to enter.
3  The skill, experience and finance you will bring to it.
4  The particular benefits of the product or service to your customers.
5  How you will set up the business.
6  The longer-term view.
7  Your financial targets.
8  The money you are asking for and how it will be used.
9  Appendices to back up previous statements, including especially the cash flow and other financial
    projections.
10  History of the business (where applicable).

Tackling each section

1. The brief statement
This should be to the point, just something to show the reader what it is all about. Say what you do in one sentence. In a second sentence, state how much money you want and what you want it for.

2. The market

When you come to the main body of your document, start with the section  that  is  most  likely  to  impress  your  reader.  The  majority  of  people  lending  money  believe  that  what  makes  for  success  in business  is  finding  and  exploiting  a  large  enough  market.  So,  as  a rule, the ‘market’ section should be the one with which you lead off.

Although your product may be the best since the invention of the motor car, and you may have the talents of a Henry Ford, you will get nowhere if there is no call for your brainchild or you lack the means of  projecting  your  product  into  the  market.  The  person  reading  your  plan  will  know  this  only  too  well,  and  will  want  to  find  out whether you are aware of these facts and how well you have done your homework. Your market research is crucial.

Note that where figures are given, and they should be given freely, the authority for the figures should be quoted. If your figures can be checked, this will promote confidence.

3. The skills, experience and resources of the persons involved

A lender or investor will want to know the track record of the per- sons to whom his or her own or clients’ money is to be entrusted. Therefore, you must give a fairly full account of your own business career  and  those  of  your  co-directors  or  partners.

School  and  technical qualifications, technical qualifications, on the other hand, are. Of almost equal importance is the degree of your financial invest- ment.  You  cannot  expect  others  to  risk  money  in  an  enterprise  to which the founders themselves are not financially committed in a big way.

4. The benefits of your product

This is the most difficult part about which to comment because it is the section in which you are likely to wax most enthusiastic. Human progress depends on new ideas, and people with good ones need all the support they can get. That having been said, you must face the fact that only a minority of innovations can be made commercially viable.  Your  banker  or  financier  has  probably  seen  hundreds  of  absolutely  brilliant  ideas  come  to  nought,  and  for  all  kinds  of  reasons. So this is the section you will have to write most soberly.

A famous American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson – a writer, not  a businessman – once said that if you made a better mousetrap, all the world would beat a path to your door. This is just not true. Any successful  business  person  could  have  told  Emerson  that  simply making a better product is only one step on the way to success, and not even the first or the most important step.

Do not get too disheartened. You have, you believe, a first-class product,  and  as  you  demonstrated  (under  number  2  above),  the  market  for  it  is  there.  What  you  must  do  now  is  to  persuade  your reader that your product is a good one and that it will have the edge to help you exploit the opportunities set out in ‘the market’ above.

Stick firmly to hard facts! ‘Puff’ sentences, such as ‘This is the best widget-grinder on the market and will be the cheapest too’, cut very little ice. Show, with figures, why it is the best and why, despite this, it  is  not  the  most  expensive.  If  you  have  some  independent  test results, say so, and give at least a summary of them in an appendix. A few genuine figures are worth a page of adjectives, on which, as was stated earlier, you must go easy.

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Information that could be included in this section is: 

● A brief description of the product or idea;
● How it works;
● Why it is better than its rivals;
● Any independent appraisal (with details in an appendix).

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