All the Ws of a Business Plan

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A business plan is a written description of the future of your business and more importantly, how you are going to get there. It is a document that explains what you are going to do to make your company profitable and how you are going to achieve this. It defines both your business model and your strategies to make this business model work and more importantly profitable.

Normally when a business idea arises, you know what resources and capabilities you have at the start of your business and where you want to go in a certain period, usually in 3 or 5 years. But what is the way to reach that goal? Where to start? How to arouse investor interest? Even, how to get your business off the ground? Everything seems so easy when you have the great money winning idea and concept. It is how you are going to achieve these dreams and get enough money to keep the business going for many years to come.

Writing a business plan is to build a map that will guide you to where you start making money with your initial business idea. At is very basic structure, your business plan is a mixture of strategies and plans. It involves financials, marketing, staffing and products. Think of it as the foundation to your new business.

WHAT are the reasons that I might need one?
• To look for investors.
• To apply for a loan.
• To establish the viability of your business idea.
• To make improvements to your current business.
• To expand your current business.

All of these types have different emphasises and a different structure.

WHAT is a business plan?
It is a tool or document that describes a business opportunity or idea, the work team, the operational and marketing execution strategies, the business risks and the economic viability of your business. A well written document guides you to turn an idea into a viable business.

It can also be defined in another context in that the business plan becomes a fundamental tool within the analysis of a new business opportunity, a diversification plan, an internationalisation project, the acquisition of a company or an external business unit, or even the launch of a new product or service within the current business.

To summarise, both for the development or launch of a startup and for the analysis of new business investments, the business plan becomes an indispensable tool. So even though you have an established business, you will still need a business plan as you expand and improve that business.

A business plan is never finished and should be reviewed from time to time at least annually but certainly when large changes to an existing company are anticipated. This implies that every plan must adapt effectively and efficiently to the changes, helping the project to continue.

WHAT is the point of a business plan?
Many entrepreneurs think they only need a business plan when they are seeking investment or when the bank asks for one. However the act of business planning, when completed correctly, enables the entrepreneur to carry out an extensive market study that will provide the information required to design the best possible business model that will be both profitable and efficient.

Additionally, the business plan will develop the strategic measures for all functional areas that will enable them achieve the objectives for the new business.
Once written, the business plan will serve as an internal tool to assess the management of the company and its deviations from the planned scenario. Proposing, if necessary, adaptations to the agreed business model in order to obtain updated information for the daily management of the company. This will include preparation of the required changes and processes to bring the business back on track.

So lets dive into the concepts behind business planning a bit more.

The WHY of The Business Plan
• Why do you want your business plan?
• Why are you writing the plan now?

The WHAT of the Business Plan
• What is the purpose of developing a specific plan?
• In what period do you consider it possible to carry out your projects?
• What is your business model?
• What is your Value Proposition?
• What are your products or services to be offered?
• What positioning do you plan to develop to compete?
• What are your measurements of success?
• What markets do you plan to penetrate?
• What market percentage do you estimate to obtain?
• What margins do you consider possible?
• What income do you consider you will receive?
• What are the costs of expansion?
• What are the costs of obtaining new customers?
• What do you want to do with your business?
• What strategies do you want to undertake – financial, marketing and planning

The WHERE of the Business Activity
• Where will your products be sold from? Shop, office, website, social media, road side, party planning,
• Where are you based? Locally, centrally, virtually etc.
• Where are your products produced?
• Where are your distribution channels?
• Where are they going to be sold?
• Where is your market?
• Where will your staff need to be based?

The WHEN of your business planning activities
• When will you need to start your new activities?
• When will they end?
• When will your investor need to invest?
• When will your investor get their money back?
• When will you have enough staff to carry out your new changes?
• When will your products and services be available?
• When will your products need to be updated and/or improved?
• When is the best time to attract new customers?

WHO do you present your plan to?
• Bank for loan purposes and they will take a charge over a property usually.
• Investor to join your company as a shareholder.
• Angle Investor to join as a shareholder but also be involved in the running of your company.
• Management team so they know what is expected of them.
• Suppliers who will be offering credit.
• Director level hires so that they are encouraged to join your company.
• Believe it or not the entrepreneur should also refer back on a regular basis.

As you can see there are a lot of Ws involved with a business plan – the biggest W is why should you write a business plan and the answer is – because it is such a great business tool.

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