Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Business plan mania!
Over the past 2 weeks all of our focus has been on business planning and helping people access investing opportunities. So this weeks blog is... you guessed it!
Every business needs a business plan. Right? Whether setting up a business, looking for investment or looking to grow an existing business the business plan is one of your most important tools.
There are a million resources on what a business plan should contain, but for many the process ends up feeling like a box ticking exercise. And rather than a tool to guide thinking and actions in your business it sits in your bottom draw, gathering dust or is rolled out as a 100 page edition of war and peace with lots of great big words, fine looking figures and little robust thinking to underpin it.
Before putting anything down on paper ask yourself - who am I writing the plan for and what am I going to do with it? If it is for yourself then you need a plan that is a living tool helping you track activity. If it is for investors or funders you need to focus on the elements that are important to them and cut out anything else.
When you have a clear picture of why you are doing it, you will be able to develop a plan that actually helps you achieve your growth and financial objectives.
Here's our approach
• The who. What is your market and what is the target audience?
• The pain. What problem are you solving?
• The alternatives: Who is the competition and what other risks exist?
• The solution. What is it you do best and why can only you do it?
• The model: What is your economic engine & associate income streams?
• The people: Who is involved directly and indirectly in your vision?
• The roadmap: Past and future action plans and milestones
Save the appendix for financial projections and information that supports the above in greater detail.
And some top tips
1. Describe a well researched market, drawing on multiple sources of data including primary (1st hand data gathered from surveys or interviews with potential customers for instance) and secondary research (data compiled by others such as statistics from ONS - office or national statistics – government white papers, research reports from other organisations etc)
2. Give a real assessment of the competition. Anyone who thinks they have no competition needs to get real – all customer needs are being met by someone, somewhere, regardless of how well.
3. A sound market model detailing the proportion of the market that your solutions will access. Many people make the mistake of quoting the market size as the market opportunity. Investors will look at the total addressable market (the portion of the market that your product could fulfill)
4. Make sure you have a clear, differentiated offering that solves a market problem. Competitive positioning can help to demonstrate the gap your offering fulfills.
5. Be compelling and passionate and bring your plan to life. Whomever, you are communicating your plan to is a human being after all. Remember less is more. It should not be an exercise in how much information you can amass. Think about your audience. What is the key information they need to make a decision? How can you communicate this to them as succinctly as possible?
6. Ensure you and you team are well connected. Demonstrating that you can get others involved with your vision across stakeholder groups is important.
7. Avoid pipedream financials. Make sure financials are backed up with robust and evidence-based assumptions.
8. Remember people ultimately invest in people. That means they will invest in YOU if you are convincing and credible.
If you want any more information on what we present here just send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org