A business plan should be viewed as a working document, a road map of where your business finds itself and where you are heading in the medium to long term. Many times a Business Plan is only drafted when an external party, be it a bank, an institution or possible investor asks for it. These plans are normally left to consultants in its entirety to be drafted which is not the best decision to make. Yes, you might be the best inventor of X and not necessarily a writer but in the end the zest of the plan is the Entrepreneurs heart put onto paper and who better than the creator to pen this down. The consultant can assist with the layout or structure and make it look more presentable, but the content should come from the driver of the business.
One of the most important aspects of a bankable business plan is that it should be thorough, to the point and should highlight key elements that are relevant to the purpose, if submitted to a third party.
The following are normally the main themes/headings of a business plan:
- Cover page
- Executive summary
- Business overview
- The Market
- Sales and Marketing strategy
- Financial statements and projections
- Legal and regulatory environment
- SWOT analysis and risk/reward assessment
- Appendices and supporting documentation
The Cover Page is the first visual to the reader and should therefore be eye-catching but remember less is more in most cases and the cover should not be overwhelming.
Executive summary, is a short concise summary of what the business and this plan is all about, the purpose of the business plan. Generally, this should not be too long, alternatively you will be paraphrasing the document and will most certainly bore the reader.
The Business overview gives a profile of the business, where it all started, what happened since and where you are heading. One should include your product/service offering, make sure there’s quite a few visuals to make this part interesting, as this section could become long, but is very important.
Management, for Small Medium Enterprises (SME’s) the ‘Management’ and ‘Ownership’ is normally the same person, but in any event, it should be highlighted who owns the business and who is managing it. We casually refer to this person as the jockey of the business and will normally determine its success or failure going forward.
The Market, this is the business’ playing field so to speak. It requires a thorough industry and market analysis, equally important is who your competitors are.
Sales and Marketing, we find ourselves in the 21st century and at the dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution. You will need to think outside the box, word of mouth is no longer sufficient. Furthermore, having a social media page or platform only is also not enough. To be on social media you need to actively manage your pages with current and relevant content, which is updated continuously (i.e., weekly, daily, hourly). Investing in a full time Social Media Specialist, managing these, is regarded as an investment.
Financial statements and projections, if anything this is the crux of the document when applying for funding. The information should be factually correct and accurate, there’s no room for error as it will speak to the integrity of the Entrepreneur and the viability of the business.
Then we get to the Legal and Regulatory section, this could be a couple of lines or paragraphs depending on the type and ownership of the business.
SWOT analysis and risk assessment, this gives details on what makes your business stand out and highlights some of your weak points that need to be worked on. It further looks at opportunities, which this plan could serve the purpose of achieving and some threats that may be out there. All this comes to a risk assessment of your business and what you need to do to mitigate that risk. It has become more and more important to become Environmentally and Socially friendly towards the communities in which your business operates and could be a potential obstacle if not compliant.
Appendices and Supporting Documents – the key to these is their relevance, are they complimenting the document and enhancing the content when added.
I have found more than often that the writer of a business plan has left out the contact details of the business owner or these credentials are sometimes completely wrong, please check them out!
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
GERSCHWYNE VAN WYK
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Business Partners International (BPI)
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