“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln
World over, 90% of business ventures fail within 12 months of being launched. Most Zimbabwean businesses fail because of a wrong approach to business planning (or lack of it) and founding. There is a world of a difference between business planning (the process) and a business plan (being the written document). What you focus on (process? Or document?) may indeed determine if your business will last the distance.
Many professional business plan writers have mushroomed in Zimbabwe. They charge anything between US$80-US$150 for a business plan which you then take to the angel investor. The angel loans you the money…a few months down the line the business fails. The problem lies with the short-cut nature of the business plan production process. Stay with me… As a business owner (or prospective) you are better off investing in business planning (the process) than the business plan (being the document). Investing in the former will help you build a business that lasts the distance.
The Most important question you must answer when developing a business plan for a new venture is – What is the purpose? There are two major reasons for writing a business plan (the document)…
To conceptualize the business you need to start – I know you have one or a few brilliant business ideas, but you are not sure whether or not it is viable or what is needed to pull it off. More important than coming up with a document is the process of contextualizing the plan or idea. Business planning (the process) at this stage takes the form of a feasibility study which educates you on the dynamics of your proposed venture. You should be able to either (1) satisfy yourself that the business is not viable or (2) prove that it is viable and determine what is needed to make a profit. The result of this process is a business owner who has a holistic view of all the facets of the business (Human resources, Cash, Technology, Industry, Market) and how they fit together. When the above process has been completed, you can then come up with a business plan (being the document) where you define the opportunity and how you will exploit it. The important thing is to make sure that the plan is written to be understandable by you and your team. Organisation, style and grammar are not really crucial.
To assist in raising money for the venture – However, if your primary purpose is to raise money, then organization, style, and grammar become much more important. Not more important than content, but, your plan needs to be written so well that not only can everyone understand it, it needs to be written so well that no one can misunderstand it.
It is one thing to get an “expert” from The Herald Classifieds to write a business plan for you, pay them, and never see them again. It is another to get a business advisor to take you through the business planning process (which may or may not result in a document) and be there to support you through the process.
I have nothing personal against professional business plan writers but I feel they do more harm than good. The crux of the matter is most Zimbabwean business owners are investing more in the document than the process. The advocacy of this post is to point out that when launching a business venture (or expanding an existing one) business planning (the process) is more valuable than the production of a document.
Remember…BIG things happen when small things are done write right…