Some have been asking me why banks often reject their loan applications. There are many reasons banks can use to deny an application. These range from a lack of adequate collateral, incorrect cash flows, or a lame business plan. I feel that it is of the utmost importance for me to explain more about a compelling business plan. Business travel is truly rewarding and also a journey of discovery. We live in a world governed by laws. The non-observance of the law related to a certain aspect means non-compliance in that line. Businesses should not be 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 “Failure to plan is planning to fail” (Benjamin Franklin), this adage may sound like music to your ears, but business planning is a key area that focuses 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 companies could take advantage of if they plan well. Some good business ideas are dying simply because they lack proper business plans that can attract financing.
What is a business plan?
A business plan is a well-articulated roadmap that shows in detail how a company intends to achieve its goals and objectives. It seeks to design a written roadmap for the company from marketing, financial and operational points of view. Both startups and established businesses use business plans. A business plan is a document that shows strategic action items. Planning involves setting business goals for a given period and formulating various courses of action to achieve those goals by selecting the best possible options (or alternatives) from the various activities available. It has to do with both purposes and these are: what should be done and how should it 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 must plan, try to keep a to-do list to achieve those daily goals.
It is a summary structure of the business. To run a business without problems, there is no other alternative than to make a business plan. Depending on the industry, a business plan can sometimes be called a business proposal, investment prospectus, venture 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 scheme is used to attract investment before a company has established a proven track record. Thus, it helps to secure loans from financial institutions. For large organizations, a business plan can serve to keep a company’s executive team on the same page on strategic action items and on target to meet stated goals. They are very useful, especially for start-ups, because they show the way. Ideally, the plan is periodically reviewed and updated to reflect goals that have been met or changed. Sometimes a new business plan is created for an established business that has decided to move in a new direction. Provides direction for the business. A business plan reduces the risk of uncertainty. Reduces overlap and waste of activities. Planning promotes innovative ideas. Decision making is facilitated. Planning sets standards for control.
1. A business plan is a very important and strategic tool for entrepreneurs.
It helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps needed to make their business ideas successful, and also helps them achieve short-term and long-term goals. While having one is essential, some employers are reluctant to put it in writing. They believe that each day should be different from the other and also others think that they are directed by the course of the economy, especially in a hyperinflationary environment like that of the Zimbabwean economy. However, great business ideas can be worthless if you cannot formulate, execute, and implement a strategic plan to make your business idea work. If you are looking to raise funds from institutional investors and 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 has to be clear and easy to read and understand.
2. Raise money for your business
Potential investors or lenders want a written business plan before giving you money. In Zimbabwe, many companies have collapsed before, and to mitigate the risk, investors, banks, etc. they require a business plan to see if management knows the nitty-gritty of their business. A mere description of the business concept is not enough. The plan should have a complete business and financial plan that demonstrates the probability of success and how much the business needs to be successful in the long term.
3. To make the right decisions
In addition to banks, a business plan acts as a guide for the entrepreneur. 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 focus not only on financial issues, but also on management issues, human resource planning, technology, and creating value for customers.
4. Identification of possible weaknesses
Having a business plan helps you identify potential roadblocks to your idea. You can also share the plan with other people who can give you their opinions and advice. Identify experts and professionals who are in a position to provide valuable advice and share your plan with them. Even banks can tell you the risk associated with your business when you apply for a loan.
5. To communicate your ideas with stakeholders-Feasibility
A business plan is a communication tool that you can use to obtain investment capital from financial institutions or lenders such as banks. You can also use it to convince people to work for your company, get credit from vendors, and attract potential customers. For an international company that wants to invest locally, ZIDA requires a well-written plan so that they can obtain the entity’s license. For special licenses, for example, the telecommunications licensing regulators also review the business plan and business proposal.
6. Creating a business plan involves a lot of thought.
You need to consider what you want to do and use it as a starting point. It doesn’t need 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 doesn’t guarantee success, but it can go a long way toward reducing your chances of failure. Furthermore, even if you are not looking for investment, your business plans will quickly fail without a plan to guide them.
7. Planning reduces the risks of uncertainty
Planning helps the entrepreneur to look ahead and anticipate changes by deciding in advance the tasks to be carried out. The business plan shows how to deal with changes and uncertain (unexpected) events. Changes or events cannot be eliminated (eliminated), but they can be anticipated (predicted), and management responses to them can be developed in advance. Thus mitigating the impact of risk.
8. Planning reduces activity overlap and waste
A good business plan should show coordination of efforts across different divisions, departments, and individuals. It should also ensure clarity in thought and action and helps to work smoothly and without interruption. It must show stakeholders such as the Bank that confusion, misunderstandings and wasteful activities have been minimized. It facilitates the detection of inefficiencies and minimizes work pressure.
9. A good plan sets standards to control
Control involves a comparison of actual performance against predetermined standards. In case of any deviation, the management can take remedies to improve the results. All of this is shown in a business plan. In the absence of a business plan, a manager will have no standards to monitor actual performance.
10. Must consist of Industry Analysis:
A good business plan consists of background and an overview of the industry and, along with significant trends, key success factors, as well as an outlook for the future. This gives the financier an open overview. 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 lays out the mission statement of the company.
2. Products and Services- This portion seeks to elaborate the services or products that the company offers or intends to offer to the market.
3. Market analysis: the company must demonstrate that it fully understands its market. Remember that the Bible says that there is nothing new under the sun- (Ecclesiastes 1:9) therefore, the business is not unique, the trends that affect the business have already been experienced by others.
4. Marketing Strategy: The business must show how it intends to retain its clientele and reach newer customers.
5. Cash Flows- Must include start-up or historical financial projections for existing businesses.
6. Budget – A budget is essential to show investors or the bank how the company intends to use the funds.
It takes a lot of quality time to make a good business plan that speaks to your business. It is always good to hire experts to write a talking business plan. NOT PLANNING IS PLANNING TO FAIL. To run a business smoothly, there is no alternative way other than making a business plan. A Business Plan must be followed for the business to be successful, it should not simply be filed away. I encourage business leaders to approach professionals like this writer for their business plans.
There are so many investors in Zimbabwe who are looking for where to put their money, but sometimes they can’t get companies to put their money. I have been contacted by several potential investors who are eager to invest in this country and my encouragement to businesses is to have proper business plans, cash flows, keep books of accounts and systems in place. Banks and investors also like to invest their funds in a company that has an efficient and effective business plan that clearly shows its financial projections and its chances of success in the projected business.
Francis Chitambira is the founder of Smartfiscal Consultants, a business advisory firm. He is a business consultant, entrepreneur, business tutor, tax advisor and business developer. He has interests in agriculture as well as marketing. He can be reached on mobile/WhatsApp: +263775844941 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.smartfiscal.co.zw