Lately, I have been witnessing a new renaissance in business plan seminars, which in and of itself is a good thing; however, I am bugged by the purpose of these seminars, in the first place! Is it a marketing ploy, a sales tool for purveyors selling something or a purposeful gathering of experts discussing the one most important element for an entrepreneur, besides the venture itself, and that being “THE BUSINESS PLAN.”
I have been teaching and writing books on business plans for the last 40 years, the first 12 years at UST, while I was building my own business and writing my own business plans as proof of what I was teaching, including taking my company public (IPO) before I joined the world of banking/finance, and began reading the business plans of would-be borrowers, who were applying for loans, until I purchased my own bank and relocated to Florida and ultimately retired to San Francisco, where I started teaching again including business plan composition and delivery, at both U C Berkeley and Santa Clara University, so I can unabashedly say “I KNOW BUSINESS PLANS!
However, I did not make the connection between being an experienced business plan preparer with actually being an author until I began writing books, at which time it dawned on me that the entrepreneur or growing business person wanting to write or update a business plan is actually an author writing a story, which all too often looks like fiction rather than fact, and typically fails as a best seller, which is why you, as the visionary, must recognize that your mission is to present a “best seller” to an audience that knows, loves and wants to read the content of your "best seller" and respects it as fact and not fiction, the latter of which, unfortunately finds its way into such chapters as FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS and INDUSTRY ASSESSMENTS among many other titles.
So attempting to write your own business plan is a beginner’s major faux pas as what you may save in dollars is often lost in failure, much as if you actually wanted to write a book and had the topic and the basic content but realized you are not a writer and wisely hired a professional, sometimes called a “Ghost Writer (that would be me), to help you with your manuscript, which is, and make no mistake about it, your business plan, which you want to be a BEST SELLER if it is to win the hearts, minds and souls of the intended audience.
Now having said that, let’s explore reviewing some prudent advice assuming you have already invented or conceived of your idea, maybe to the point of having filed for a patent and/or gathered friends or partners, while completing some initial exploration of your idea with them or others and yourself:
1, Start an in-depth mission to read as many books, bulletins and papers on the subject of your venture, as is necessary for you to know the world you are trying to enter, whether it is science, retail or manufacturing et al, which at this juncture, and pardon my own advertising, should include my book. 2. Then attend some seminars on the subject? Meet other entrepreneurs with more experience, meet consultants, bear in-mind they better have battlefield experience on whatever consulting specialty they attest to or don’t hire them, you would be wasting your time and money. 3. Once you have assembled all the information you believe you need and realize that the success of your venture, not only, begins with the quality of the venture, but also, how and to whom you present it, which often begs the question, to whom do you present a business plan once conceived and drafted as the answer will determine the content of you plan. WHO WILL BE MY AUDIENCE? *My FRIENDS AND FAMILY *THE BANK FOR A LOAN *TRADITIONAL BANK LENDERS, NEEDING COLLATERAL & CASH FLOW *NON-BANK BANKS FOR A LOAN TAKING GREATER RISK @ HIGHER RATES *AN INVESTOR FOR EQUITY OR A LOAN WITH CONVERSION OPTIONS *A FRANCHISEE, WHOLESALER OR RETAIL IF APPLICABLE *A LICENESEE Example: There is no use sending a business plan targeting an investor if you hate the thought of sharing your venture with another owner, especially if that owner wants majority ownership as so many of my clients do.
FYI: You can test most business plan consultants and preparers by going through all the aspects of a business plan and see, after they are finished with their own recital, if they even raise the question about AUDIENCE, if not, they are probably doing exactly what you could do and much cheaper and that is create a GENERIC business plan, which you do not need or want so say goodbye to them and find somebody, who understands the sequence.
If you think I am overstating this factor, think of it this way, if you were writing a book about fishing and your target audience was hunters-how many books do you think you would sell? No, you would have written a book on fishing, just as you would do writing a business plan targeting an investor, if you are open to splitting ownership and if it were a plan for a bank you would be focusing on CASH FLOW to service debt as opposed to an equity position-you get the idea. Bottom line, every business must be PLAN SPECIFIC, Yes, some components of a business plan can be universal; such as, bios. your organizational history, past industry stats and history but your executive summary, industry projections, financials, cash requirements, ROI, exit strategies all must be specific to the target audience’s interest or Katie is not by the door she is through it!
Ronald Mitchellette-Author, Adjunct Professor, Business Consultant Mitchellette and Associates, LLC www.mitchelletteandassociates.com Book: “Entrepreneurial Decision Making” Available at B & N in-house and on-line
FYI: There is a networking event coming up here in-town next Tuesday 10/24, hosted by SILICON PRAIRIE ONLINE, a reputable Crowd Funding portal professional organization, where attendees can gather a “Body of Knowledge” on the subject of Business Plans. It is called BUSINESS PLAN BOOT CAMP and is located at 475 CLEVELAND AVE N STE. 315 ST. PAUL, MN’ STARTING AT 6 PM.
SEE YOU THERE!
*THIS WILL BE THE CONTINUATION OF BLOG 4 BACK IN 2016 AS THERE IS MORE TO ADD ON BUSINESS PLANS AS THE MARKET IS CHANGING, RAPIDILY,