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Business

Establishing a Business Plan: How to Proceed

business

Canvas, SWOT, TAKE OFF – with the right analysis model, the business plan has the tools necessary for the adventure of self-employment. But for the trip to succeed, it is still necessary to be well prepared.

What is a business plan?

Former US General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower summed it up well: “A plan is nothing, planning is the key”. And whoever does not think about the future will fail just as quickly. A detailed business plan helps prepare for the adventure of self-employment.

When a startup needs financial support from a bank or investors, a detailed business plan becomes a must for the founders. Nevertheless, young entrepreneurs who finance the start-up of their business with their means would also do well to ask themselves a few questions in advance. “It still happens too rarely today,” notes Michele Blasucci, CEO of STARTUPS.CH. With his company, Blasucci assists startups, among other things in the drafting of the business plan. We only determine the business plan for the economic guarantor in the next line. “We do it on the front line for ourselves.” Only in this way can you bring clarity to the most important questions of the company.
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A business plan must indicate the means to implement to realize a business idea. It includes information on the strategy by a brand strategist, the market situation, the measures envisaged, and the financial needs to be expected. The idea, planned activities, and goals are recorded in the business plan.

Starting a new business is not always the reason for developing a business plan. Here are some examples of other reasons for establishing a business plan:

  • The need for investment in new products
  • The development of the company’s activities, its expansion
  • The takeover of a business
  • Succession planning, restructuring
  • Collaborating with partners or advisors
  • The request for financing by credit or leasing

Canvas and TAKE OFF!

There are various methods of developing a business plan. One of them, very well known, is the Canvas business model. Here, the central success factors for the company are previously named, analyzed, and put about each other:

  • Customer segment: Who do you want to make money with?
  • Values ​​and commitments: What products and services do we want to offer the customer?
  • Channels: where and how do I reach out to customers?
  • Relationships with customers: what form should this relationship take? Personal, automated?
  • Sources of income: here we describe its pricing strategy.
  • Key resources: resources and infrastructure for operation
  • Key partners: who to work with, if any?
  • Cost structure: financial planning

STARTUPS.CH summarizes the business plan under the abbreviation TAKE OFF!

Activity: the idea of ​​the activity and how it was formed.

  • Customer base: potential customers and target segment
  • Competition: the precise analysis of competitors
  • Entry: how should the company position itself in the market?
  • Organization: growth and process in the new company
  • Long-term vision: external influences, preferably using a SWOT analysis
  • Finances: sales, turnover, and cost planning.

Writing an executive summary is recommended at the beginning of the development of the business plan. This summarizes the content of the latter and serves as brief and concise information for partners, shareholders, and potential investors. The Management Summary comes at the end.

S – Strength

W – Weaknesses

O – Opportunities

T – Threats

Strategies through trade advertising can already be deduced from the SWOT analysis, for example by combining strengths with opportunities (SO strategy).

Writing the business plan: the basic rules

Give yourself time. All compiled factors are related to each other and influence each other. The road to a neat business plan is more arduous. “You have to commit two to three weeks of effort”, is convinced Blasucci.

Check profitability. As a company founder, it is necessary to subject the figures’ part, ie the chapter “Cost structure” in the Canvas method or “Finances” at STARTUPS.CH, to a critical examination. If it still works, then we are on the right track.

Keep it brief. When writing the business plan always keep the readers in mind. 20 pages should suffice. The most important, however, is the summary, or Managements Summary. Busy bankers or investors rarely take the time to study the entire business plan. They want to see the essentials explained in the Management Summary in a brief, clear and logical manner.

Ask for help.  Most business founders struggle when it comes to the precision of language. Not everyone can explain complex factual reports simply and understandably, as well as in impeccable language. The help of specialists in this case represents money invested wisely. Friends or colleagues reading the business plan with a critical eye and making suggestions for improvements can be a big help. “Whoever makes mistakes in the summary, botches the work, or does not answer the essential questions loses in advance” declares Blasucci.

Plan the first steps. Starting a business is always a challenge. Good preparation helps to better overcome the first months and years. Good planning, however, always helps.

Infoniqa’s partnership with STARTUPS

Infoniqa maintains a partnership with the portal for startups STARTUPS.CH, to assist young Swiss entrepreneurs optimally. Those who set up their business through STARTUPS.CH benefit twice: from a wide range of advice and advantageous conditions with partner offers, such as e.g., Infoniqa ONE Start, the management software for startups.

The business plan in established companies

“A business plan is for startups. Established businesses run on their own, an annual budget is enough.” This is the widely held opinion. But is it true? How many times is the budget off at the end of the year because it did not correspond to reality? Planned changes justify a different approach: a business plan then serves as a guide through the maze of assumptions, wishes, and plans. Of course, this one must also result in a solid budget, but not in the first place. For an established company, the business plan should consider a few additional points, not relevant to a startup business plan.

Analysis of the situation

In the beginning is the bare truth: how is the company doing? Why are some offers not performing as well as they should? Why do others do well? With this analysis, you get a realistic picture of your company’s current situation as a starting point for your business plan. This will identify the weaknesses, strengths, and opportunities from which you need to work. Adding an external moderator is advisable because it brings an entirely different point of view and challenges the routine argumentation.

Goals

After analyzing the situation, establish the objectives. Formulate these goals in a specific, quantifiable, attractive, realistic, and time-bound way. How do you want to be present on the market? Would you like to introduce a new service or modify an offer? Here too one should not build castles in Spain but remain realistic. It can’t hurt to ask your customers about their needs. As soon as you have set a goal, it is advisable to divide the path leading to it into stages. In this way, you remain in control and can intervene in time in the event of delays.

Take changes into account

Goals are a beautiful thing, but they also need to be achieved. It only works if you also care about the “How” because growth and change not only change the bottom line but the entire business. Consider where the changes produce what effects.

  • The organization: does the current organization support the change or must it be adapted? Is the assignment of responsibilities, interdependencies, and processes still valid?
  • Employees: who do you need in the future, and above all where to find these specialists?
  • Communication: often undervalued and afterward perceived as a disruptive factor. Addressing the issue already in the business plan helps minimize wasted time.
  • The tools: if necessary, you need a new tool with which you can manage and monitor your project. How much does it cost, who uses it and takes care of it?
  • Culture: can employees support change with enthusiasm and passion? Do they know enough to understand what is changing and why?  When and how should I inform? How many employees are possibly already involved in the change process? Who needs training, and how much does it cost if any?
  • Annual closings with the balance sheet, income statement, and annexes
  • Current interim financial statements with debtors and creditors
  • Cash flow statements
  • Information about machines, locations, etc. of the company
  • Existing contracts of participations, cooperation, licenses, etc.
  • Tax returns

Optimize the business plan and avoid weak points

To achieve its objective, the business plan must be written in a coherent, understandable, and unambiguous manner. Define your target group as precisely as possible. Define who the business plan should address. Which formal conventions are important? Which technical terms can be considered known, which need to be explained?

Completeness is also important: check whether essential information on the competition, finances or market environment is available. Be careful not to confuse hope with reality. Make realistic estimates, for example about financing and the income statement, but also declare the best (optimistic) and worst variants. This creates transparency.

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