How to create a Robust Business Plan

It is ever so often we think we have a whole plan in our head, or a few scribbles jotted down and there is really no compelling reason to put it on paper in a structured manner. This is perhaps a fundamental error in planning that we all make which we don’t realize till we don’t put things down on paper.

As soon as you start putting pen to paper you will realize the gaps which are there in what you thought was a “complete plan”, this act will allow for you to build a robust plan and also help create a clear roadmap for yourself. You will be in a position to share that with those who are on this journey with you. It will allow you to monitor your progress along the journey the benefits are manifold.

Also, it is very important to develop a strong business before you seek investment.

So what does a good business plan constitute?

State your dream and vision upfront so everyone knows what you’re after. What is it that’s driving you and what do you want to achieve at the end of it? Thereafter it’s about informing the route which you need to take to get there.

You will need to state the environment you will be operating within, the size and scope of the market and the element of the market you wish to address. State the competitive scenario which is going to be around, how do you propose to ward them off and keep yourself ahead? Build this up to the nuts and bolts of your execution plan and how each element will be addressed. There will be risks in any plan and those will need to be addressed and stated – how do you think they could be mitigated? At the end of it, what are the financials? This is the critical part of it all – what does the business generate and how much do you make at the end of the day?

If you are making a formal presentation, keep in mind to get to the point straight away, fancy jargons and language do not add depth to a plan. You should rather focus on the content and depth of the plan than the frills that go with it with basic hygiene in terms of presentation. The plan should be honest – the numbers should be “conservatively aggressive”. Realistic numbers go a long way in building your personal credibility. There is nothing more disconcerting than seeing a plan with unrealistic growth expectations just to achieve a certain “dream number” that sounds great. This brings me to the next point – depending on who you are addressing, use local currency and numbering system. You possibly can’t have costs in lakhs of rupees and ask for dollars in millions. Also be cognisant of how verbose the slides are – copy heavy content, whether numbers or otherwise is difficult to digest in a small time frame. At times, an appropriate visual does the job more effectively than a copy heavy slide. Think of it as telling a story of your business where the presentation is a tool to enable you to deliver it in an interesting manner. You will perhaps find it is easier then, to get the flow and content which you would like to share. Do bear in mind how crisp and sharp you need to keep it to ensure the recipient’s interest is not lost. Do feel free to use anecdotes to keep the interest alive.

So go crack that plan!

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