Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Becoming Wise - Wild & Free: Writing A Successful Business Plan - Part 1 - "Do It For Yourself"

Copyright 2004, Rod Francis

Most people write a business plan when they need to raise money. I wonder how many business plans would actually get written if the bankers, financers and investors did not require them? Not too many I would expect.

For most people, writing a business plan is intimidating because it is not something they do every day and it adds to the daily workload. For those that are already in business it means taking time out of their busy day to do something that does not make them money and besides they already have their plan in their head, right? For those that are just starting out it is all guess work and they are probably going to take the risk anyway, that is, if they can get the money.

So sit down and write a business plan so that you can get the money that you need. You can embellish it as much as you want to make it look very enticing for the investors and financers. You can even hire someone and pay a couple thousand dollars to get a really good plan. If you are a good writer you might as well save the costs and write the plan yourself.

Wait a minute. What about your own investment? Can you make enough to support your family? Are you going to spend thousands of dollars only to find out that the venture was not worth it? Are you going to spend years tied into a business that can never quite make it because you have put up all your assets for security?

I am here to tell you that business planning is not just about writing a plan to get money, it is about making sure that the venture is feasible and that it will be satisfying. When I say satisfying, I mean with regards to your personal and your financial goals. Writing a business plan is an opportunity for you to learn about your business, to start networking with suppliers and professional service providers, and a way to find out if it is what you really want to do.

When you sit down to write your business plan make sure that you are doing it for yourself first because when all is said and done it is you that needs to know the most about your business. Start with the financial feasibility by producing a set of three-year projections, which includes a cash-flow analysis. Make sure you research each aspect of your project by finding the right information and talking to the right people (suppliers, professionals, service providers, etc.) and be certain that you have covered everything. If the idea is feasible in your mind and on paper you can go on to write notes to the projections and add the narrative portion of the plan.

Take your time, do everything in steps and make sure it is something that you are absolutely sure you want to do. If you do it right the knowledge and insight you gain through the process will give you the confidence that you need to raise the money you require and you will have the ability to create a more successful enterprise.

Look for the next article on Writing A Successful Business Plan - Part 2 - "Do It In Steps" of the Becoming Wise - Wild & Free series.

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