Writing a Business Plan
Writing a business plan takes a lot of time and effort. The process is like the months of training that athletes need to endure before a major sports event. Just as an athlete needs a coach to help him or her succeed, you also need help to develop a first-class business plan. It’s wise to ask a finance professional and non-professionals (a friend or family member) to review your plan. After that, discuss your plan with someone who knows the business you are entering. Ask this person to challenge all your assumptions. Or course you’ll need to discuss your plan with colleagues too, but they may be too close to the project to give an objective opinion.
The purpose of a business plan is to:
- Provide direction – it’s your road map for starting-up and developing your new business
- Convince investors (banks, shareholders, private equity funds, partners) to support your project with their money
Ask yourself every day:
- Why should anyone care about my project?
- Why would I – or anyone else – risk putting money into this business?
- What is the purpose of this project, beyond returning money to those who invest in it?
Why should anyone care? If all that you offer is a satisfactory return on investment, is that enough to attract an investor or lender? Many investors these days want more than money, they want to feel that their investment is improving lives by employing people, providing a new market for farmers, improving access to nutritious food, or helping to build a sustainable food value chain.
No business exists in isolation. You’ll depend on raw material suppliers, your own production and quality assurance teams, utility suppliers (electricity, water) … even before you reach a customer. Your customers have other options too and you may need months of hard work to convince them to buy from you, instead of from someone else.
Don’t treat your business plan lightheartedly. It’s your ticket to raising project finance and your road-map to building a profitable and durable business. Read it and re-read it, continuously put yourself in the shoes of a stranger invited to invest in this project. Get outsiders to challenge your thinking. For example, Insta-Pro would be happy to review the plan and provide their insight. If you are passionate about the project and ready to risk your own money, then you’ll probably be able to transmit your enthusiasm to others.