You can write a plan for your business idea yourself. If you choose to outsource the writing to a business advisor, you can learn to critically review it to be sure it is a viable plan.
Either way, writing your business plan is an exciting experience. It is like going on a trip to a destination of choice you have always dreamt about all your life.
Tame your fears
Would-be entrepreneurs dump their potentially profitable business ideas because of the fear of writing a business plan.
They consider it time consuming: “I don’t have time”; “It’s an academic exercise”; “It is too boring”; “I don’t have money to engage a business advisor”; “I can’t afford my advisor’s fees” are some of the excuses they give.
They just want to start a business and get on with it.
They do not want to go through the stress of writing any business plan that will drain them of the energy they need to run around to do business.
There is a pattern to writing business plan. You can overcome your fears and re-direct the emotional energies to learning the rudiments of writing a smart business plan: practical, flexible, smart and ready-to-go.
Easier than you expect
Your business plan is a living document. It is not an academic or artistic work to prove your writing prowess. Your objective is to write a plan that will steadily lead you starting up your business idea. You do not want to waste time writing up a document that will end up gathering dust on the shelf of any investor or banker.
So, once you have made up your mind to become an entrepreneur, the next thing on your agenda is to write your business plan.
It is your prototype
There are many templates in the various open source channels. There are different approaches to writing a business plan. There is no rigid way to present your document. The practicality and viability of your contents should matter more to you, your investor or banker.
You want to ensure that your business plan articulates your business ideas. It punctiliously lays down the plan of actions. These actions are easy to understand and implement. You are able to use them to build your business venture from start-up: it is practical; a prototype to guide your steps to implement your plan.
Simplicity is the rule
Your business plan should be simple; easy to read, understand, interpret, relate with, and implement. It is a concise and smart plan that amplifies your ideas and lays them out in few pages, unlike the voluminous traditional feasibility study.
Irrespective of your business (its description, technicality and complexity) and market, simplicity in the articulation of your thoughts and presentation of your layout and sections is the whole essence of writing.
As a general rule, you should make sure that your business plan is simple, strategic, factual, brief, clear, complete and a convincing presentation of your business idea.
It is also a strategy map
Your business plan is the map to your treasure island. You need to get to your treasures ahead of others. You do not have to waste. Your business plan is a guide: a smart navigator. You can write it within two days or two weeks, depending on how committed you are to translating your concrete idea to a commercial venture.
Your smart business plan can be three or six-page document. And, it will contain all the factual information you can work with every step of the way. It will be flexible. It will be responsive to the changing dynamics in the market. It will be attractive to both investors and bankers.
Identifying the sections
This smart business plan comprises six sections that is suitable for any business venture you are engaged in.
It begins with an executive summary of your business idea. This is the synopsis of your presentation, perspectives and context of ideas. You get the general picture of what your business plan is all about in this summary.
The main body of your plan starts with your product, market and competition. This first section describes your business. It will explain your value proposition, competitive advantage, customer profile, market, competitor analysis, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis and sales forecast.
The second section is your implementation strategy, marketing and sales. This will show your product, price, place and people. It will also show your marketing plan and promotion strategy. It will include your abridged marketing budget. Lastly, it will detail legal and regulatory requirements.
The third section is your resource plan. It is analytical. It shows what you require to start up your business: one-time costs and on-going costs for managing the business in the first six to twelve months.
The fourth section is your financial projections and key indicators. It will show assumptions and make necessary financial commentaries to justify your projections. You will have to learn to work with figures. You are not an accountant but you want to make money. So, the earlier you get used to money and how it is made, the better.
The fifth section is the identification and analysis of likely risks that your startup may be exposed to, the level of probability and how you can mitigate against them. Managing your risk will help you craft an exit plan that shows how you can get out of the business without losing your investment.
You may need a notebook or pad handy to practise as you read along. You will learn to interact and create your own business plan.
The next edition will start with writing the first section on product, market and competition. Jewel John, a new young entrepreneur will also write along her business plan as we course through the sections one-by-one. This practical scenario will enrich the discourse to write your plan.
You can learn to clean up your existing business plan from the lessons and make it simple, smart and viable, too.
Author: Babatunde Fajimi
This article was originally published in The Punch Newspaper on Friday, February 27, 2015 on Page 11 and can be viewed online via http://www.punchng.com/business/am-business/writing-your-business-plan/