A Simple Business Plan

When Entrepreneurs hear “Business Plan,” they get worried that they might have to prepare a thick document with graphs, projections and glossy visuals.

In reality, having a business plan is conceptual. If you don’t have a plan in your mind that is crisp and to the point, putting lots of words (and graphs, spreadsheets, visuals) on paper isn’t going to help.

What should this simple business plan include:

  • What are you doing? Describe your product or service in simple , non-technical terms
  • Why are you doing this? Is there a need in the market place? What is the size of the market or need? What share do you expect to get? Are there competitors? Why are you better? What challenges/barriers are there? Do you have proprietary technology?
  • How and where are you going to do this? Describe your organization to design, manufacture/provide, deliver/distribute your offering. What are your selling channels and how will you reach your potential customers?
  • Whom do you have to support you? Review your management team and key personnel
  • What are the economics? How will you make money and how long will it take? How much do you need and how much will you make? How realistic are your numbers?

This is it – plain and simple. If you have thought through all these questions you are almost there. Practice your pitch and perfect it. Now put it in a nice, readable, short presentation and you are done.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Published in: on April 30, 2013 at 5:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Looking for Money

All Entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, are in need of money. What are the key things you need to do first when looking for money?

1.   Ask for a specific amount. Don’t state ranges or be vague. If you do not know the specific amount, it does not speak well of you understanding the financial needs of your business. It is okay to ask for slightly more than you need to provide for contingencies, but still look for a specific amount.

2.   Outline exactly how you are going to use the money. If you do not have a well-defined idea of how you plan to spend the money, it does not provide a high level of confidence to potential investors/lenders. However, resist going overboard and itemizing each and every item. You should have that for your own use, but do not need it when looking for money especially in the initial meeting.

3.   Present a realistic argument of how using this money will build a business that will generate positive cash flows. This will be the main selling point. Investors or lenders are not only interested in knowing how they will be repaid (with upside), but also whether the business can become a self-sustaining cash generator. Again, the idea is not present a thick business plan with fluff, but rather a well-defined and articulated strategy backed by realistic projections.

Spend some time in working on the above three requirements before you start looking for money.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Honest Feedback for Entrepreneurs

In order to continuously improve themselves and their business operations, Entrepreneurs need honest feedback.

While their other employees may be somewhat reluctant to do so, hiring key management personnel who can provide honest feedback may be quite valuable. Obviously there is a fine balance that senior management employees need to maintain between being perceived as criticizing their boss versus being loyal to the company.

Entrepreneurs need to surround themselves with key neutral advisors who are open to providing honest and realistic feedback to Entrepreneurs. Such advisors could be informal friends and business associates, members of a Mastermind Group, or Board of Directors.

It is of course necessary for Entrepreneurs to be ready to accept such honest feedback.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Keeping Informed of Company Operations

Although I advise Entrepreneurs to let their key managers run their departments within broad operating parameters, it does not mean that the CEOs should be unaware of what is going on.

Entrepreneurs might want to set up a periodic reporting system with their key managers so they can stay informed on the operations of their businesses. Such reporting systems might include a summary of key accomplishments, planned upcoming activities and issues that might require assistance from the CEO.

A periodic reporting system allows Entrepreneurs to keep informed without micro managing their key managers on a daily basis.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Fix Your Credit to Obtain Credit

Although the principle seems too simplistic, I am amazed at the number of Entrepreneurs who get into situations where their personal or business credit affects their ability to obtain lines of credit or loans.

Entrepreneurs start their business ventures through personal funds or credit, hoping to repay themselves from the profits from their companies. However, as they continue to grow, the need for working capital compounds the problems often affecting not only their personal credit but the credit rating for their businesses.

These situations become a vicious cycle where getting out is often very difficult and expensive. Entrepreneurs need to get a handle on their personal and business credit to afford them the opportunity to fund growth for their businesses.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

How Will You Deal With Potential Inflation?

Given the extraordinary and irrational current and planned government spending levels and resulting deficits, it is not abnormal to anticipate severe inflationary pressures on the economy.

If the other anti-inflationary factors do not not kick in over the next few years, Entrepreneurs will be faced with huge inflationary risks for their businesses.

Does you planning process take such inflationary risks into account?  What type of counter measures are you planning? Entrepreneurs may want to be proactive and start now to develop strategies to deal with potential inflation.

Please contact us at Patel CFO Services (www.patelCFOservices.com) if we can assist you in this process.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Are Vacations Mandatory?

Vacations are offered at almost all companies as a benefit to the employees. Employees use this time to spend leisure or social time with their families. Employees can hopefully recharge their batteries to come back to work rejuvenated.

Do you require vacations to be mandatory or can employees use the unutilized vacation time as extra cash compensation? If it is the latter, you might be doing a disservice to your employees. Vacations are meant to be used as a benefit for relaxation and should be used as such.

There is another important internal control feature in requiring mandatory vacations. It allows companies to uncover any irregular activities, if there are any, during the absence of  employees. Entrepreneurs should keep in mind this internal control aspect.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Is Your Banking Relationship Changing?

Entrepreneurs may want to get a pulse of their current banking relationship.

Given the tightening of government control over the banking industry, many banks are required to strengthen their capital:debt ratios. As a result of this, banks are reevaluating credit lines and debt relationships with clients.

Entrepreneurs may want to sit down with their banker and get a sense of what is going on at their bank. It might be prudent to draw up backup plans if Entrepreneurs get a feeling that the banking relationship is about to change.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

More Golf Analogies for Entrepreneurs

As I play and watch golf, I am constantly amazed by the analogies between golf and business.

On a macro level, course management is extremely important to professional golfers. Days before a tournament, pro golfers and their caddies study a course, especially a new one, to evaluate the layout, the challenges, the distances and so on. Entrepreneurs should be doing the same things – evaluating the market, understanding the layout, their own SWOT analysis and how it fits in the market landscape and so on. Preparing ahead of time is a contributor to success.

Playing from behind and winning, or being in the lead and finishing first in golf requires unique strategies by pro golfers. It is fascinating to watch these plans unfold as someone like Tiger is playing on the final day. Similarly in business, Entrepreneurs need to develop unique strategies for either playing from behind in the competitive marketplace or constantly maintaining the lead.

Golf and business – lots in common!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Consequences of Overdependence

The current administration is providing valuable lessons for Entrepreneurs.

If you extend a hand for funds or if someone forcibly “helps” you, be very, very leery. You never know what strings will be pulled later to affect your ability to run your business.

Current admistration behavior shows that money comes with huge costs – loss of independence and micromanagement.

Entrepreneurs seeking funds from lenders or equity sources should carefully evaluate the terms and conditions prior to commitment. More important, prepare and analyze “what if” options in the event of default. Are you willing to live with the consequences?

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com