Enablis: Best Advice on Writing Your Business Plan

Enablis: Best Advice on Writing Your Business Plan

On the business model:

“Make sure you are very specific when it comes to describing your typical customer, your product and exactly how you are going to market the product. Too many business plans glibly talk about “mass media advertising” without the faintest idea about the costs. Be precise about how you are going to get your message to the consume

On the financials:

“You can outsource your financials if you are not a numbers guru, but that doesn’t mean you can abdicate from the responsibility to understand what they mean and make sure they are accurate and reflect a real possible business path.”

On the operational plan:

“This is where most plans gloss over the nuts and bolts reality. Make sure you identify the five top operational success factors for the business (eg keep spare parts in stock), and explain how you are going to handle each one on a practical level. Remember, things don’t happen by themselves.

On the marketing plan:

“Advertising costs money. Lots of it. Avoid ideas of big ad campaigns, billboards and radio ads unless you have the money. Think smart: leaflets, SMS marketing, direct selling. Again, it’s all about getting the message to your prospects, not the entire population of the country.”

On the Layout and presentation of the business plan:

“Keep it simple. White A4 paper, a simple 12-point font like Arial, numbered pages and as short as possible. I have seen fantastic business plans that are all of five pages long, and terrible plans that are 50 pages long. Write it on a “need to know” basis.”

On getting your business plan in front of the right people:

“Enter business plan competitions. Keep a copy in your briefcase at all times – you never know. Use Facebook and LinkedIn. Use your network. And when you present it, remember – the business is just a tool – they’re buying into YOU.”

On pitching and presenting the business idea:

“The biggest mistake people make is to oversell – they want to tell the whole story in the first meeting. Don’t. Tell just enough of the story to show that you know what you’re talking about and are going to make it work, with or without the investor. When you’ve pitched enough to intrigue the listener, stop talking and let them think and ask questions. You want to be at an intersection, not going down a one-way street.”

On asking for constructive criticism and making necessary adjustments:

“Yes, yes, yes. A real entrepreneur will always be receptive to a better way of doing things. Don’t be afraid to copy (legally), there’s nothing really new under the sun.”

On involving a mentor:

“Mentors are great, but too many people use them as a crutch. No-one is going to make it all come together except you. And make sure your mentor has run their own business for at least 20 years before you take their advice. Don’t discount female intuition.”

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