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February 12th, 2008
Writing a business plan can be a daunting task the first time you do it. So many would be great entrepreneurs have a great idea and need funding for it, some even self fund or boot strap their business and they all have big plans. They will tell you how big their company will be some day or why you should invest your money but most do not have a formal business plan.
Just this last week I was presented with a new idea that I really thought was excellent and the entrepreneur was clearly working hard and committed to getting the product to market. She was excited, smart and full of enthusiasm and of course wanted me to invest in her idea.
Now here is the reality the venture could be huge or a huge flop and that risk is always present so the risk is not why I turned her down. Nope it was the lack of a business plan that did it. She even had great packaging and was lined up to do trade shows and meet some perspective buyers from major retail chains. The risk is still there so I must make a risk assessment as an investor.
How I make a risk assessment
This is pretty simple I know the results if the product totally flops that is a 100% loss right? Yet what a business plan will tell me is what I can expect to see in gross sales and return of investment at various levels of success. How can an entrepreneur expect investment if they can’t even tell me the return I will get and in how long if things go right, mostly right or moderately successful. I need the numbers for all those out comes to weigh the risk reward, without that I can’t even get started.
I also may not understand the market, the supply chain, the competition and the total market cap and opportunity in a new niche. I need it spelled out and I need to understand the marketing that the company will use to communicate its message to the world. Additionally if I am to put my money or even just partner with assistance/consulting with a company need to know their vision. More importantly I need to know they understand their own vision. All of these things are addressed with a proper business plan. Even if you don’t want investors you need a business plan to be sure you have your own vision right, your own risk/reward ratio strait and to help you make the right decisions.
How do you do it? Easy turn to one of my heroes in business, Donald Trump for some free assistance. Trump University offers a free How to Write a Business Plan course you can sign up for and lean a ton from. I also recommend the excellent free business templates available from Score. They have templates for business plans, financial work sheets and other needs.Filed under Business & Marketing |