Do you really need a business plan?

Business owner preparing a business plan to grow business and apply for funding
What if there were two type of business plans? One for your eyes only and another if and when you decide to apply for funding.

 

This is one of the most controversial topics debated amongst business owners, entrepreneurs and academics.  The answer is quite simple, it depends on you as the business owner or entrepreneur.

Many business owners and entrepreneurs have never done a business plan, but they do have highly profitable businesses. On the other side of the coin, some say failure to do a business plan led to business closure. What if there were two type of business plans?

One for your eyes only and another if you decide to apply for funding.

The business plan for your eyes only

The first scenario is preparing a business plan for your own business, this means you make the rules and keep yourself accountable to the plan in your format. 

There are no rules here, the business plan can be hand written, a mind map, a collection of notes pinned on a board, a video or voice recording.

Give this business plan a name that inspires you to implement the details daily in your business.

Doing this should be a fun and fulfilling process because you get to make the rules and put your creative ideas to work. However, enjoying the process does not mean missing important details of a business plan. 

You are preparing this business plan for your eyes only, but the day may come where you need to change the format to suit the requirements of a venture capitalist or a financial institution (Bank).

So, what topics should you include in your business plan?

Business Plan for your eyes only Banks and Investors
Introduction what does your business do? Executive Summary
Who will buy my products and services? Target Market
How many clients do I think I will have? Market Analysis and Size
How will I go about finding new clients? Where will I find clients to pay for my products and services? Marketing strategy and plan
How will my business achieve our goals? Execution Plan
Who will help achieve the business goals? Staff and Management Team
How will I know if the business is making progress? Milestones
How will my business make money? How much money will the business make each month, what are the monthly income and expenses? Financial Information – cash flow, revenue forecast, expense report, profit and loss, balance sheet, financial assumptions

The table above is useful for drafting a business plan for your eyes only but also gives you the most important headlines when applying for funding with banks.  Remember to always set up a meeting with the bank or investor to get a clear understanding of what they want to see in your business plan.

What do banks want to see in a business plan to approve funding?

Bankers use two words, “viability and feasibility” this simply means your business plan needs to show how your business can make the loan repayments every month.  This information needs to be shown in the business marketing plan and financial information provided in your business plan. 

Take time to revamp your CV banks and funders look for your experience and qualifications.

Make sure your compliance documentation is in order:

 

  • FICA – proof of address for personal and business
  • Business registration documents and ensure your business is not de-registered
  • Cash Flow – dated and signed by members / directors / shareholders
  • Audited Financial Statements – business trading for more than one year
  • Cash Flow – dated and signed by members / directors / shareholders
  • Tax Clearance Certificate – ensure the document is valid
  • B-BBEE Certificate – if requested

Where can you apply for funding in South Africa?

Financial Institutions – banks generally have the fastest turnaround time on funding applications. Before applying for funding ask the banker which industries will be excluded from funding due to risk in the financial services sector.

Family and Friends – in some cases you may have people close to you who are willing to invest in your business. Always have written agreements to ensure you do not ruin relationships if your business does not grow as fast as you anticipated.

Venture Capitalists – there are online platforms to source funding for business ideas from venture capitalists ensure your business plan meets the requirements. Do a Google search for venture capitalist and the requirements to be considered for funding.

Entrepreneurship competitions – there are many competitions for entrepreneurs to pitch business ideas for funding every year.  Do an online search to find these opportunities, perfect your business plan and pitch and enter. Maybe you not yet ready to apply for funding but would like to learn how to pitch your business to investors, enter the Pitch and Polish competition held annually by RaizCorp. You will learn the most important skills to pitch your business to potential investors.

Government organizations:

  • SEFA provides funding to entrepreneurs
  • NYDA provides grants to youth (18 – 35)
  • DTI provides a combination of grants and funding however, in most cases your business should be trading for more than 12months and should have financial statements

Online funding solutionsFinFind helps you match your funding needs to a wide range of funders. This online platform is really useful and saves time visiting the offices of numerous funders.

The top rate software by business owners to help you draft a winning business plan

There are two options, you could find a company or friend to draft a business plan for your business. The problem is that without doing the business plan yourself you may not understand the details and also not be able to implement the plan.

Using business plan software online will save you money but also give you the opportunity to carefully review and understand your business, implement your plan and answer questions from funders.

Two online software options to consider which will help you prepare a winning and fundable business plan.

  • Enloop – includes a 7-day free trial and takes you through each step of preparing your business plan. Easy to use, and follows a step-by-step process which is easy to understand.
  • LivePlan – includes loads of business templates and a step-by-step process to help you craft your business plan like a pro.

Try Enloop and LivePlan and see which option suits your business and needs.  The cost of using either one of these options is much less than paying R6000 – R25 000 for business plan services which may not be funded.

The next steps for business owners and entrepreneurs

Firstly, consider doing a business plan for your eyes only this will help you see the big picture and help you understand how you will grow your business. Remember to have fun and enjoy the business plan process, only you get to see this business plan.

Secondly, if you do intend to apply for funding with a financial institution first find out what information they want to be included in the business plan.  Request a template of a business plan or sample that was previously funded.

Finally, remember having a business plan is not going to grow your business unless you execute the plan. Most funders today are looking for proof of how your business is growing, if you do not have proof of income and have not tested your business concept in the market, you are going to face lots of questions.

Test your business in the market before applying for funding, this will help you get a clear picture of what you need to do before applying for funding. In some cases funding may find you without the need to apply. 

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