Perfect business plans

Perfect business plans

November 06, 2009 by Alison Knocker

If you have an idea for a business and want to progress it, you are probably thinking in earnest about your business plan. If you are looking for outside finance, you are no doubt keen that the business plan will be a great marketing tool for your idea to banks or other investors.

Years ago, when private equity was still called venture capital, I was involved in funding start-ups. I would look through countless business plans, trying to sort the ‘possible’ from the ‘dream-on’ varieties, with a view to investing in the best. Some plans were back-of-the-envelope affairs, with enthusiasm but no financial viability analysis; some described in depth inventive products, but showed no realism with regard to cost of production; others assumed world domination in a few months.

But what really put me off was the business plan that plainly had been written by someone other than the people who were going to make the idea happen. However slick the document, with every possible detail carefully analysed in beautiful spreadsheets, if the words do not reflect the essence of the entrepreneur – his enthusiasm, her conviction the idea will succeed, their commitment to the project – then the proposal will lack that essential ingredient that is the reason for making an investment. The basis of our decisions was mimicry of estate agents’ ‘location, location, location’ replacing the key word with ‘management’. Yes, of course we wanted to see that the projections made sense, and that the amount of investment required was adequate and would be wisely spent; that there was indeed a market for the product or service, and that it would be sold appropriately. But the key was always: is this the right person to make the proposed business succeed?

So if you do use professionals to help compile your business plan, make sure that the final result is imbued with your DNA, and that it convinces the reader why you are the one to turn the plan into the success you describe.

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Comments

Alison,
I agree that the business plan should be written with the essence of the business owner's voice if done by an outside party.

Something you didn't mention was the concept that people should re-address business plans during rough times.

My wife and I have run our own business for years. And we had a business plan. However, we didn’t plan for IN THE PLAN was the economic turn our country has undergone.

So we went back to our business plan and addressed how to earn profits under such circumstances in it.

Once we did that then the profits started flowing again.

Remembering to go back and revisit your original business plan made the biggest difference for us, and I hope it helps your readers out too.

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