Every entrepreneur is faced with the challenge of creating a business plan to communicate the opportunity they see for their new idea and to attract investors.
Where do they turn for guidance? Business planning templates are plentiful and can easily be found on the internet. They are all pretty similar in content and format and generally follow “accepted principles” of academics and consulting pundits.
But I think most traditional approaches to build an effective business plan for entrepreneurs miss the mark because they don’t recognize their very unique needs.
Entrepreneurs usually have these things in common:
— they usually have limited financial resources;
— they think they have an amazing idea;
— time is not their friend; if they are unable to secure funding for their idea, their business will join the many other good ideas that fail;
— they are inexperienced when it comes to what will turn an investor on to a new investment opportunity.
A business planning process for entrepreneurs must recognize their reality; a plan for them should meet these 5 critical requirements.
Keep it simple
Long winded strategy documents may satisfy the academics’ thirst for exhaustive analysis and theoretical completeness, but it won’t enable the entrepreneur to get their idea to market very quickly. I have seen new CEO’s spend way too much time grinding out a plan just to feed the prescribed content and format rather than produce a simple strategy that tells their story with only the relevant chapters in it.
So, toss out the parochial planning boilerplate and adopt my proven strategic game plan method that produces the right plan by answering the three critical questions necessary to launch a new business idea:
— HOW BIG do you want to be?
— WHO do you want to serve?
— HOW do you intend to COMPETE and WIN?
Your strategic game plan can be created in just 3 days or less because of its simplicity. Time is not wasted on feeding the template with information you don’t require to produce a document investors will like — btw, I’ve seen potential investors roll their eyes when a budding entrepreneur tables a 50-page planning document and begins to recite SWOTS.
The strategic game plan is created in a workshop mode with the leadership team responsible for launching the new idea. It may be the CEO alone or it may include other partners. In under 3 days your game plan is produced — with minimum paper damage to the environment — at a cost that will surprise you!
Keep the plan action oriented
You won’t produce any results if your plan is theoretically pristine and follows all the prescribed planning rules. If your game plan doesn’t drive action in the market, nothing happens; no value is created, investors won’t notice you and you will fail. It’s as simple as that.
The reason I call my product a strategic game plan is that it is totally focussed on what has to be done to “move the ball 10 yards” (pardon the analogy but it’s accurate). It’s the appropriate balance of strategy and tactics which results in the right stuff getting done to progress your new idea.
Keep it focused
This is where the discipline of the mandatory replaces the art of the possible. You don’t achieve real progress by chasing rainbows.
The strategic game plan uses the rule of 3: focus energy and priority on the critical few (3) things that are likely to determine 80% of the outcome you intend to achieve.
Trying to achieve “the possible many” will waste your time and energy and will likely kill the success if your breakthrough idea. Objective setting in the game plan has the rule of 3 as the filter; the process disallows scattered thinking.
It is in this area that most entrepreneurs fail in the development of their plan. They have too many things they say they have to accomplish in order to succeed. The opposite is actually true: the more you attempt, the greater the likelihood you will fail at the startup stage.
Define your uniqueness
If your idea isn’t different from all others competing with it, why should it attract interest? If it can’t be distinguished from competitive offers why would investors be convinced that it has any chance of succeeding?
THIS is the area of your business plan that needs the most attention; it’s the critical piece in answering the “HOW do you intend to COMPETE and WIN?” question.
The core concept behind this work is what I call The ONLY Statement; declaring the distinctiveness of your product or service with the audacious claim “This is the ONLY product that…”.
It is a claim that is binary: it is either true or it isn’t and it is backed up with proof points that legitimize it. It’s founded on the notion that rather than be the best of the best, you need to be the ONLY one who does what you do.
Most entrepreneurs use words like “better”, “best”, “leader” or “number 1” in their product differentiation claim; they don’t work — no one believes these words and they can’t be proven in any event. BE DiFFERENT; go with The ONLY.
The entrepreneur game is all about cash flow which in turn is based on how fast a new idea can reach the market and start generating revenue.
My business plan process was designed with speed, simplicity, cost effectiveness and competitive advantage in mind.
Who wouldn’t be interested in a new idea with a pitch like this?
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