Some have asked me why banks often reject their loan applications. There are many reasons banks can use to reject an application. These range from a lack of adequate collateral, incorrect cash flows or an unconvincing business plan. I feel it is extremely important for me to explain a more compelling business plan. The business journey is truly rewarding and also a journey of discovery. We live in a world governed by laws. Failure to comply with the law regarding a certain aspect is a failure in that regard. There is no need to save business either. There are laws of success that govern business.
Proper planning is necessary for a business to grow and be sustainable. There is a popular saying “To fail to plan is to plan to fail” (Benjamin Franklin), this saying may sound like music to your ears, but business planning is a key area that emphasizes the importance of planning for any project. Sadly, this planning step is often overlooked and the result is always devastating.
There is a lot of money in Zimbabwe that businesses could tap into 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-formulated road map that shows in detail how the company wants to achieve its goals and objectives. He tries to compile a written road map for the company from a marketing, financial and operational point of view. Business plans are used by start-up and established companies. A business plan is a document that shows strategic action points. Planning involves setting business objectives for a given period and formulating various procedures to achieve these objectives by selecting the best possible options (or alternatives) from the various available activities. It concerns both objectives 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 organizational goals. In fact, everyone in business should plan, try to keep a to-do list to achieve these daily goals.
It is the summary structure of the business. There is no other option for the smooth running of a business than to make a business plan. Depending on the sector, a business plan can sometimes be labeled as a business proposal, investment prospectus, risk plan, loan proposal, etc.
Use of business plan
It is used by financiers and investors. For example, banks want to see how a company can achieve its goals. The plan is used to attract investment before the company achieves proven results. It thus helps secure loans from financial institutions. For large organizations, a business plan can serve to keep the company’s executive team on the same page about the strategic steps and goals to meet established goals. They are so useful especially for new entrepreneurs because they show the way. Ideally, the plan is regularly 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 go in a new direction. Provides business direction. A business plan reduces the risk of uncertainty. It reduces overlapping and wasteful activities. Planning encourages innovative ideas. Decision making is easier. Planning sets standards of control.
1. A business plan is a very important and strategic tool for entrepreneurs.
It helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps they need to take to make their business ideas successful, and also helps them achieve their 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 must be different from the next and others also think that they are driven by the performance 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 want 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 must be clear and easy to read and understand.
2. Raising money for your business
Potential investors or lenders want a written business plan before they will give you money. So many businesses have collapsed in Zimbabwe in the past and to mitigate the risk Investors, banks etc. they require a business plan to see if management knows the essence of their business. The description of the business concept alone is not enough. The plan must have a thorough business and financial plan that demonstrates the likelihood of success and how much the business needs to be successful in the long term.
3. Make the right decisions
In addition to banks, a business plan serves as a guide for the entrepreneur. Deviation from the guide is minimized. Having a business plan will help you define and focus your business ideas and strategies. Since the plan touches on many aspects, the entrepreneur will not only focus on financial matters, but also on issues of management, human resource planning, technology and creating value for customers.
4. Identification of potential weaknesses
Having a business plan will help you identify the potential pitfalls of your idea. You can also share the plan with others who can give you their opinions and advice. Identify experts and professionals who can provide invaluable 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. Communicate your ideas with stakeholders – viability
A business plan is a communication tool that you can use to secure investment capital from financial institutions or lenders such as banks. You can also use it to convince people to work for your business, secure credit from suppliers and attract potential customers. For an international company that wants to invest locally, ZIDA requires a well-written entity licensing plan. In the case of special licenses, e.g. telecommunication licensing regulatory authorities, also examine the business plan and business proposal.
6. Creating a business plan requires a lot of thinking.
You have to consider 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 right now, where you want your business to go, and how you’re going to get there. Writing a good business plan does not guarantee success, but it can greatly reduce the likelihood of failure. Also, even if you’re not looking for investment, your business plans will quickly fall apart without a plan to guide them.
7. Planning reduces the risks of uncertainty
Planning helps an entrepreneur to look ahead and anticipate changes by deciding in advance the tasks to be carried out. A business plan shows how to deal with changes and uncertain (unexpected) events. Changes or events cannot be eliminated (removed), but they can be anticipated (anticipated) and managerial responses to them can be worked out in advance. This will mitigate the impact of the risk.
8. Planning reduces overlapping and wasteful activities
A good business plan must show the coordination of efforts across different divisions, departments and individuals. It must also ensure clarity of thought and action and help work smoothly without interruption. It must demonstrate to stakeholders such as the bank that confusion, misunderstanding and unnecessary activities have been minimized. It facilitates detection of inefficiencies and minimizes work pressure.
9. A good plan sets standards for control
Controlling involves comparing actual performance with predetermined standards. In case of any deviation, the management can take corrective measures to improve the results. All this is stated in the business plan. If there is no business plan, the manager will have no standards to check actual performance.
10. Must include industry analysis:
A good business plan consists of a background and 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. It shows the lucrativeness of the business.
Important elements of a business plan
1. Summary – This section covers the corporate governance structure and costs of the Company’s mission statement.
2. Products and services – This part tries to develop the services or products that the company offers or intends to offer in the market.
3. Market analysis – The business must demonstrate that it fully understands its market. Remember the Bible says there is nothing new under the Sun – (Ecclesiastes 1:9) therefore business is not unique, trends that affect business have been experienced by others.
4. Marketing strategy – the business must show how it wants to keep its clientele and reach new clientele.
5. Cash Flow – Must include financial projections for start-ups or historical projections for existing businesses.
6. Budget – A budget is essential to show investors or the bank how the business intends to use the funds.
Developing a good business plan that speaks volumes about your business requires a lot of quality time. It is always a good idea to involve experts to design a Talking Business Plan. FAILURE TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL. There is no other alternative for the smooth running of a business than making a business plan. A business plan must be followed for the business to be successful, it must not be simply put off. I encourage business leaders to reach out to professionals like this writer to make their business plans.
There are so many investors in Zimbabwe who are looking for places to put their money but sometimes they can’t get businesses to put their money. I have been approached by several potential investors who are hungry to invest in this country and my encouragement to businesses is to have proper business plans, cash flow, accounting and systems in place. Banks and investors also like to invest their funds in a company that has an effective and efficient business plan that clearly shows its financial forecasts and chances of success in the planned activity.
Francis Chitambira is the founder of the consulting firm Smartfiscal Consultants. He is a business consultant, entrepreneur, business tutor, tax advisor and business developer. He is interested in agriculture as well as marketing. You can contact him on cell/WhatsApp: +263775844941 or email: [email protected]; website: www.smartfiscal.co.zw