A while back I was at a start up conference where panel discussion was taking place. The panel was composed of successful entrepreneurs who all had built at least one successful business. One of the topics of the panel discussion was the importance of a business plan. While everyone on panel agreed that the business plan started with did not reflect the business they made a success, as they found that things changed as products were developed and they gained a better understanding of their markets. Makes sense, as they were able to succeed by adapting to changes in a variety of factors and conditions that were not originally accounted for in their initial business plan. That is what successful entrepreneurs do. A couple of panel members said they did not feel that a business plan was even needed in today’s business climate, and that a Power Point presentation was sufficient. I respectfully disagree.
A well written business pan is a key and vital document that all businesses should have. It should show where your business is at, how it got there, and where it is going; and very importantly how it is going to get there. It needs to be comprehensive in its explanation of the business, answer the questions investors may have, and explain the risks a business is facing. At the end of the day it should give investors a level of comfort that will allow them to feel comfortable making an investment.
A well written business plan has another purposes. It is a useful tool that company management can use to monitor a business and gauge its success, or spot potential problems before they become too big to fix. A well written business plan allows the management of the company to be able to monitor the success of its operations and determine where new courses of action need to be implemented. However, a business plan is not a static document, it is something that should be constantly updated and it should evolve with the business. It should help the business identify new opportunities where it can grow and expand; where it can deploy its resources the most productively and in order to generate the most profits for shareholders.
A business plan is something that every business needs regardless of its size, not just start ups. I recently met with the owner of a 15 year old business that had stagnant sales for approximately the last 5-7 years. Despite being a hands on owner operator, he could not name all of his advertising venues or tell you where a majority of the company’s sales came from. He wanted to sell his business and grudgingly acknowledged that he needed to increase the sales and profitability of the business in order to get the price he was looking for, but had not been able to do so. The development of a well written business plan should allow this business owner to effective grow the sales of the businesses existing product lines, and identify new opportunities for new products; and in the process allow the business to grow to a level in a few years where he will be able to get price he wants when it comes time to sell the business. A well developed business plan will also help give the new owners of the business confidence that they are making the right decision to buy the business.
As for the start up businesses out there. I realize that a few companies are able to raise money with just a Power Point presentation, but in my opinion those businesses are very few and far between. The vast majority of businesses who fail to raise funds do so because they cannot demonstrate to investors that they deserve the funds they are seeking. Not having a business plan can very easily and quickly put your business into this category. While I agree that a well developed Power Point presentation can be a very useful tool to help gain the interest of potential investors, it certainly should not be the document that you should rely upon.
The companies that I have seen be successful always have a well developed business plan.
About Coral Capital Partners
Coral Capital Partners is an independent consulting and advisory firm focused on companies and participants in the lower and middle markets. We partner with our clients to provide cost effective solutions to real world issues and situations. Our experienced team brings a diverse set of skills that allows us to service a wide variety of needs. Our area of services and expertise focuses on bringing services and solutions to our clients that are normally only available to much larger firms.
Coral Capital Partners, Inc. provides services to Investment Banks, Private Equity Funds, investors, and both privately held and publicly traded companies, as well as various stakeholders in those organizations. This has included international public companies with operations on three (3) continents to smaller privately held domestic companies.
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