Thursday, July 7, 2011
when it is time to write your business proposal
Forget the time you wrote letters at school (nodding to this may lead to actual revelation of your age, beware), with technological advancement, there are fewer and fewer times when you really must communicate formally, either in writing or in typing (is there is such a thing).
You realize we put our points and opinions across without need for formality both in thought or expression. A status update will suffice, just like a text message could be all the update you need to your banker, employer or employee. Not so with investors. If I have found a crop of old fashioned Club members, everyone investment related seems to belong here. With reason.
On the other hand, people who branch out into entrepreneurship are rarely your average guy or girl on the block. Some of these people border on creepy. A lot of them are talented. They don't just think out of the box, they don't know of any boxes. Ideas flow effortlessly and they seem to have a crazy out-of-this word way of seeing and doing things.
The meeting of Investors and entrepreneurs therefore, is one you want to experience. It is talent meeting money. You, my entrepreneur friend may need to prepare well. The best acceptable presentation of all time is the business proposal. That is why I referred you to your old letter writing ways. It is one thing having a great idea, it is a totally another league presenting that idea for funding. You need to know what you are doing.
You could argue that if the idea is yours and you are running without any outside funding, you have no need to write the business plan after all. Wrong. As you grow, you will attract more people, be they employees or partners. Your head alone will therefore be insufficient as safe custody for company ideas and solutions. You need to put them where they can be seen, read and filed.
A lot of us will only find reason to write a business plan, at the start of our business and we seem to think we shall never need one again. Wrong, again. A business plan is a working document one that should have life and therefore should grow with your business.
Most of the people associated with business plans or proposals are social entrepreneurs. If you belong here (in the civil society world), read on because most of resources (financial mostly) are outsourced, you need to be able to write a flawless business proposal and since the end of the need to do good is not anywhere in sight, this is a skill that will serve you well in life.
You could also be a business person, working for profit, and for bankers and investor and partners to join you in the venture, they will need a plan or proposal.
Most importantly, it is when you grow bigger that you need this even more, you may want to invest in another country or be accorded investment privileges that come with big investors even in home countries. You will therefore need an Investment license and before that an investment or business plan. Several billions later, when you need to raise more resources or take a company public be sure number one requirement will be our friend the business plan. How else will people invest with you if they don't know how you do what you do!
I regret, we may not be able to go through everything about writing a business plan here, but I will give you what you need to start with.
Whether research means asking questions or scouring the internet, do it. Get information about your potential partners, what they want and what the don’t. You may also need to learn all about where you do business, like who else is in the game with you and how good or bad they are. You may not have needed to know this before, but someone will definitely ask, so be sure to have an answer.
In line with that, ask you everything there is about your business .
Why, well, exactly why are you doing business and why this next step?
How? Telling how you intend to run business.
When, for timelines.
Who, for everyone on your team, now and in the future, and be sure to answer all these till there are no more questions.
The budget, for materials. People who may need to be paid; time that may cost, say foreign exchange changes and inflation, other material.
In a nutshell the cost implication of each and every activity that will be undertaken in your plan.
Note, at this point, that if you are the kind who had high school letters written for you, then you need to find someone here too. All I am saying is prepare well, even if you need to quire external help
Make the presentation of your life, both in writing an in person if you get the chance.
However, remember that if you are unable to present your case on paper in less than three pages, don’t be tempted to write more. Speaking or writing more does not always mean hitting the point. Sometimes less is more and these are some of those times. If someone is not interested or convinced enough in three pages of great presentation, you won’t do better in forty.