I work as an attorney and business strategist.
One of the unique things about being in the position that I (and my team) are in, is that we get to see a lot of business plans. We’ve seen the good, we’ve seen the bad, and we’ve seen the ugly. There are certain lessons that we can take away from these plans that we can apply to others. There are things you want to be looking for, to determine which bucket your business plan might fall into, and then uplifting yourself to a better level. Why is a business plan so critical? It’s because people are looking at the business plans – they are making decisions on your business based on your business plan. It’s also a road map for business.
Let’s talk about the elements we see. We’ll start with the ugly, and we’ll work to the good. Obviously, your goal is going to be to get to the good. The ugly business plans just aren’t thought through. They don’t have the details – they don’t contain the standard elements. You’re going to want to include some standard things in all of your business plans:
- Who your management team is;
- What your market opportunity is;
- How you plan to capitalize on that marketing;
- Your financials;
- What you expect to do with the company, projected financials;
- How you’re going to get from here to there; and
- What is your ultimate plan to commercialize and roll out whatever your business is?
Ugly Business Plans: The ugly business plans typically contain very few of these, and they don’t make logical sense. The reader doesn’t understand why or how, or what’s different about the business, or even why this opportunity looks different than another business.
Those are the ugly business plans.
Bad Business Plans: The bad business plans start to mix in some of the elements that we’ll see in a good business plan, but they aren’t developed. Once you get into it, and you start working with investors, they’re really going to expect a developed business plan. They’re going to want a lot of detail, a lot of color, a lot of information, and it really needs to be connected, and really needs to make sense. They’ll poke holes through it. If you have a bad business plan, you probably haven’t spent enough time visiting with experienced business people, having them ask questions and answering those questions within your business plan.
Good Business Plans: The good business plans are a step better. They typically are logical, they make sense – they connect the dots. They explain how we’re getting from here to there. They contain the standard elements that we expect to see in a business plan. They really make sense. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get financing, and it doesn’t mean the business is going to succeed. But it does mean that you’ve done the right things and you have a much better chance to succeed. When we are interfacing with third parties, they’re going to respect a really good business plan. You really want to develop the details. You want to make sure you have all the different elements of your business in there, and you want to make sure it makes logical sense.
Let’s Chat: What have you seen in business plans? What has made business plans good? What has made them bad? What has worked particularly well in your past business plans? What things are you thinking about getting in your business plan? Put some ideas in the comments below, and let’s discuss it.
This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein. This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity.
About the Author
Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. He is a frequent speaker at events. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment (www.yourbusinessspeaker.com), gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 418-0258.
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