Reaching the international trade zones has been the dream of virtually every entrepreneur. However, many are those who have struggled for over years without succeeding.
Indeed, we all know that it takes more than just having a well registered business with perhaps the nicest and the most attractive offices and producing tones of goods and offering several competitive services to be internationally recognised.
Too many businesses see the need to make business plans only when a bank or some investors demand to look at their business plan. But this is something that should even be put in place before the start of operation.
I was at a meeting where many businessmen and women were asked whether they had business plans and business profiles but to my chagrin it appeared that many of them did not have both or either of the former or the latter.
It has been very difficult for many businesses in Ghana to attract funds and international partnership because of lack of basic business plan or profile. How can you win a tender or any big contract if you don’t have a business plan or profile? As a result, many viable firms and industries that are doing well locally cannot win big contracts both locally and internationally.
I know that many business associations like the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ghana Union of Traders Association do give training to members on such important issues but like the typical Ghanaian attitude many are those who fail to attend such meetings and those who attend do not even put what they learn into practice.
It is important to note that without a business plan, no company or organisation can really thrive because such businesses are like well-furnished classrooms without teachers- what meaningful education can go on there? No investor will risk his money or logistics to invest in any business that has no clear cut business plan or profile.
It therefore stands to reason that, both business plan and profile are two inevitable aspects of every trade, firm or industry. Your understanding and preparedness to have well-crafted first rate copies would do your business a great deal of good.
What factors are involved in creating a good business plan then? Is it the length of the plan? The content it covers? Its quality or how well it is written? Although all these are important, a brilliant business plan entails more than that.
A business plan should be seen as a part of a process. Following this process in designing and implementing it will to a greater extent determine the success of your business. There are some qualities in a plan that makes it more likely to create results, and these are important.
No matter the richness of your business plan, it may be difficult to implement it and achieve the desired result if it is not simple, specific, realistic and complete. As Tim Berry acknowledges, ‘every good plan needs someone to follow up and check on it.’ Thus, the human element is very significant in facilitating the plan.
Tim Berry, therefore, suggests the following process which I also recommend:
“Planning is a process, not just a plan;” Tim Berry
It is always important to keep in mind the people involved in the total operations of the organization or company. This encapsulates those persons starting and running the business as well as the outside parties providing key services or important resources for it, such as its researchers, accountants, lawyers, marketers and suppliers.
Again, you should also consider the profile of the business itself, that is, what it sells and to whom, whether the business can grow and how fast, what its economics are, how and what challenges can impede the success of your venture.
You should remember to make your plan brief as no investor or creditor is interested in or has time for a lengthy business plan. It is advisable that your document does not exceed 50 pages.
Every business plan (whether for an existing company or one yet to be created) should reflect the first eight points below:
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Definition of the Market
- Organization & Management
- Description of the Products and Services
- Marketing & Sales Strategy
- Funding Request
- Financial Projections/Management
Following this simple outline will give you the ability to present your idea in a professional manner. It is, however, worth noting that, the first step to business planning is determining your target market and why you think they would want to do business with or buy from you.
Watch out for the part2 which addresses components of the steps.
By: Isaac NUNOO
The writer is a Communicator and a Researcher
(Communications and Marketing___ GCCI)