Some have asked me why banks often reject their loan applications. Banks can cite many reasons for rejecting an application. These range from lack of adequate collateral, flawed cash flow, or an unconvincing business plan. I think it is essential for me to explain more about a convincing business plan. The business trip is indeed rewarding and also a journey of discovery. We live in a world governed by laws. Non-compliance with the law relating to a certain aspect means failure in this line. Business is not spared either. There are laws of success that govern business.
For the business enterprise to grow and be sustainable, proper planning is necessary. There is a popular adage “To fail to plan is to plan to fail” (Benjamin Franklin), this adage may sound like music to your ears, but business planning is a key area that emphasizes on the importance of planning for any project. Unfortunately, this planning step is often overlooked and the result is always devastating.
There is a lot of money in Zimbabwe that could be tapped by companies if they plan well. Some good business ideas die, simply because they lack proper business plans that can attract funding.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a well-articulated roadmap that shows in detail how a business intends to achieve its objectives and goals. It aims to establish a written roadmap for the company from a marketing, financial and operational point of view. Both start-ups and established companies use business plans. A business plan is a document that presents strategic action items. Planning consists of defining the objectives of the company for a given period and formulating various plans of action to achieve these objectives by selecting the best possible options (or alternatives) among the various activities available. It concerns both ends and these are: what is to be done and how it is to be done. It bridges the gap between where we are and where we want to be. It is a rational approach, in which all members of the organization must work to achieve the objectives of the organization. In fact, everyone in the business should plan, try to keep a to-do list to achieve those daily goals.
It is a summarized structure of the company. To run a business smoothly, there is no other alternative than making a business plan. Depending on the industry, a business plan can sometimes be considered a business proposal, investment prospectus, business plan, loan proposal, etc.
Uses of a business plan
It is used by financiers and investors. Banks, for example, want to see how the company can achieve its goals. The plan is used to attract investment before a company has established a proven track record. It thus helps to secure loans from financial institutions. For large organizations, a business plan can serve to keep a company’s management team on the same page on strategic action items and on target to achieve established goals. They are so useful especially for start-ups because they show the way. Ideally, the plan is reviewed and updated periodically to reflect goals that have been achieved or have changed. Sometimes a new business plan is created for an established business that has decided to change direction. It gives direction to the company. A business plan reduces the risk of uncertainty. It reduces duplication and unnecessary activities. Planning encourages innovative ideas. Decision making is made easier. Planning establishes control standards.
1. A business plan is a very important and strategic tool for entrepreneurs.
It helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps needed for them to succeed with their business ideas, and it also helps them achieve short and long-term goals. Although it is essential to have one, some entrepreneurs are reluctant to put it in writing. They believe that every day should be different from the next and others believe they are ruled by the course of the economy, especially in a hyper inflationary environment like Zimbabwe’s economy. However, great business ideas can be useless if you cannot formulate, execute, and implement a strategic plan to make your business idea work. If you are looking to raise funds from investors and institutional lenders, keep in mind that having a good business plan is extremely valuable. The goal is to have a well-documented plan that speaks for itself. It should be clear and easy to read and understand.
2. Raise funds for your business
Potential investors or lenders want a written business plan before they give you money. In Zimbabwe, many companies have collapsed before and to mitigate risk, investors, banks, etc. need a business plan to see if management knows the finer points of their business. A simple description of the business concept is not enough. The plan should include a comprehensive business and financial plan that demonstrates the likelihood of success and what the business needs to be successful in the long term.
3. To make informed decisions
Besides banks, a business plan serves as a guide for the entrepreneur. The deviation from the guide is minimized. Having a business plan helps you define and focus on your business ideas and strategies. Because a plan touches many facets, the entrepreneur will not only focus on financial matters, but also on management issues, human resource planning, technology, and creating value for customers.
4. Identification of potential weaknesses
Having a business plan helps you identify potential pitfalls in your idea. You can also share the plan with others who can give you feedback and advice. Identify experts and professionals who can give you valuable advice and share your plan with them. Even banks can inform you of the risk associated with your business when you apply for a loan.
5. Communicate your ideas to stakeholders – Viability
A business plan is a communication tool you can use to obtain investment capital from financial institutions or lenders like banks. You can also use it to convince people to work for your business, get credit from suppliers, and attract potential customers. For an international company wishing to invest locally, ZIDA requires a well-written plan for it to license the entity. For special licenses, for example, telecommunications licensing regulators also review the business plan and business proposal.
6. Creating a business plan involves a lot of thought.
You have to think about what you want to do and use that as a starting point. It doesn’t have to be complicated. At its core, your plan should identify where you are now, where you want your business to go, and how you will get there. Writing a good business plan does not guarantee success, but it can go a long way in reducing the risk of failure. Moreover, even if you are not looking for investment, your entrepreneurial projects will quickly fall flat without a plan to guide them.
7. Planning reduces the risk of uncertainty
Planning helps the entrepreneur anticipate and anticipate change by deciding in advance what tasks to perform. The business plan shows how to deal with changes and uncertain (unexpected) events. Changes or events cannot be eliminated (suppressed), but they can be anticipated (predicted) and managerial responses can be developed in advance. Thus mitigating the impact of risk.
8. Planning reduces duplication and unnecessary activities
A good business plan should show coordination of efforts across different divisions, departments and individuals. It should also ensure clarity of thought and action and help to work smoothly without interruption. It should show stakeholders like the Bank that confusion, misunderstanding, unnecessary activities have been minimized. It facilitates the detection of inefficiencies and minimizes work pressure.
9. A good plan sets standards for control
Monitoring involves comparing actual performance with predetermined standards. If there is a deviation, management can take action to improve the results. All this is indicated in a business plan. Without a business plan, a manager will have no standard to monitor actual performance.
10. It must consist of an analysis of the industry:
A good business plan consists of a history and overview of the industry and, together with significant trends, key success factors, as well as an outlook for the future. This gives an open overview to the financier. This shows the profitability of the business.
Important Elements of a Business Plan
1. Executive Summary – This part includes the management structure of the business and it disburses the mission statement of the business.
2. Products and Services – This part aims to elaborate the services or products that the company offers or intends to offer to the market.
3. Market analysis – The company must show that it fully understands its market. Remember the Bible says there is nothing new under the sun – (Ecclesiastes 1:9) so business is not unique, trends that affect business have already been experienced by d ‘others.
4. Marketing strategy – the company must show how it intends to retain its customers and reach new customers.
5. Cash Flow – It should include financial projections for start-ups or historical for existing businesses.
6. Budget – A budget is essential to show investors or the bank how the business intends to use the funds.
It takes a lot of quality time to make a good business plan that speaks to your business. It’s always good to hire experts to write a talking business plan. FAILURE TO PLAN IS FAILURE OF PLANNING. To run a business smoothly, there is no other way than to make a business plan. A business plan must be followed to make the business successful, it must not simply be set aside. I encourage business owners to approach professionals like this writer to do their business plans.
There are so many investors in Zimbabwe looking for where to put their money, but sometimes they fail to convince companies to put their money. I have been approached by several potential investors who are hungry to invest in this country and my business encouragement is to have proper business plans, cash flow, bookkeeping and systems in place . Banks and investors also like to invest their funds in a business that has an effective and efficient business plan that clearly shows its financial projections and chances of succeeding in the projected business.
Francis Chitambira is the founder of Smartfiscal Consultants – a business consulting firm. He is a business consultant, entrepreneur, business tutor, tax advisor and business developer. He is interested in agriculture as well as marketing. He can be contacted on mobile/WhatsApp: +263775844941 or by e-mail: [email protected]; website: www.smartfiscal.co.zw