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About Business Planning

Developing the perfect business plan is about more than just the document.  The document is merely a communication of your business strategy, the methods you plan to employ to execute on that strategy, and the financial implications of doing so.  A key to a great business plan is a clear strategy that is simply and effectively communicated.

Many failed business plans start by considering a template.  The template and document structure is the last element to be considered.  Anyone can fill out a template, but not everyone turns one into a great business plan.

In building the Business Planning HQ approach, we considered many of the pitfalls, clients make when preparing a business plan and sought to address these issues in the most efficient way possible.

The business planning process - more than just one document!

The business plan is more than a single document.  Consider the business plan as a process.  Normally you will need to garner interest in your business opportunity prior to a meeting, you will need to conduct a pitch or presentation at the meeting, and finally any decision will be based on the detailed elements contained within your business plan document.

The business planning process when considered more broadly, generally requires 3 key documents.

  1. A non-confidential business overview that can be sent via email.  Think of this as a 1 page brochure about your opportunity.
  2. A pitch or presentation pack (usually Powerpoint)
  3. The business plan document itself.

Business Planning HQ supports the automated production of the entire business planning process.

 Using the one page non-confidential Investor Overview

People and companies don't like signing confidentiality agreements.  To start the marketing of your opportunity on the right footing, you need something that is non-confidential that can be distributed via email.  It is usually distributed after a brief phone discussion.

The overview document provides a marketing document for you to send to potential investors, partners, and banks. The one page overview should be different to your executive summary which contains confidential information. It should be more of a marketing or brochure style which just highlights some of the key elements of the business that will be of interest to your potential target audience. 

This overview can be distributed without the requirement for an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement)I or a CDA (Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement). 

The intent of this document is to gain potential interest for your opportunity, prior to the interested party agreeing to a meeting. It enables them to shear non-confidential information about the profile of your business with their own stakeholders. 

Using a Business Presentation

The business presentation is a set of presentation materials to be used during the initial meeting and left behind to be distributed to stakeholders who were unable to attend the meeting.  This information is confidential, and can't not be shared with out an NDA or CDA. 

An effective pitch pack should be no more than 12 to 16 slides, and take no more than 20 minutes to deliver.  This will leave time in your meeting for general introduction and discussion about the business opportunity.  You want to maximise the time you spend discussing the opportunity, as this enables you to specifically address any concerns the audience may have.  

The pitch pack should provide easy access to the information that contained within your business plan.The pitch pack should have the same look and feel as your business plan. 

  

The information contained in the pitch pack should effectively summarise the information that contained within the full business plan. No information should be presented in the pitch that is not supported in detail within your business plan.  The information in your pitch pack needs to be carefully targeted towards your audience requirements. A great pitch can make the difference between an opportunity being funded and an opportunity that fails to attract funding. 
The Business Plan

Your business plan is a key sells document that provides a more in depth review of your opportunity. The business plan is a document that outlines how you intend to execute your business strategy, and what the financial implications of that strategy execution are. Typically a business plan will include the three key elements:

  • an executive summary 
  • the body of the document 
  • and financial scenario analysis
The Business Plan Executive Summary
The executive summary is often one of the most difficult and time consuming parts of the Business Plan to write.  It compresses the key messages of your entire business plan into one or two pages.  The use of sub-headings within the executive summary is often overlooked, but can act to further break-up and categorise your key communications.  The executive summary should be consistent with the rest of the plan and highlight conclusions made throughout the business plan document.  Clarity of message is critical, as many readers won't make it past the Executive summary if it does not provide them with the information they are seeking.

The Body of the Business Plan
The purpose of the body of the document is to clearly articulate the business strategy and outline exactly how you will execute on this strategy.  A key issue in preparing the body of the document is that many businesses do not have a clear strategy from the outset.  This results in a compromised plan.  Any business planning process should start with defining, refining and re-defining the strategy.  If this is not clear, then the rest of the document will by nature follow this pattern.  

The body should create a level of certainty that you will be able to execute on the strategy, and that all associated risks and issues have been considered and planned for.

Business Planning Financial Scenario Analysis
The financial scenario analysis provides your audience with an understanding of the financial implications of your strategy and execution approach.  Whilst often under-estimated, this section is often the one on which investment decisions are made.  A great financial scenario analysis section will address the key drivers of business value and assess the implications of the risk of key drivers not performing as forecast.

The financial scenario analysis must be consistent with the strategy execution approach outlined in the body of the document.  For example, saying that you will start by focusing on the global market in the body of the business plan, needs to be backed up with costs for "a global sales force".  It is critical that your pro-forma financial statements reflects assumptions and conclusions drawn throughout the document.

This section is critical as it translates your strategy and execution approach into financial terms.  It is often the financial implications that drive the decision to be involved with the business, or not.