HOW TO CUSTOMISE BUSINESS PLAN FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

CUSTOMISE ONLINE BUSINESS PLAN
Customise online business plan

How to customise business plan is a complete guide that gives you a step by step instruction on how to write a business plan.

Although the article primarily targets online businesses. It is useful for both internet business plan or offline business plan writing.

The internet is a safe and cheap way for many small businesses to grow. It enables small businesses to reach many consumers and the initial investment is small.

This article is a complete guide on how to write a business plan for your online business. It also gives you information about how to customise your business plan to meet the needs of the target audience.

The article is structured in a way to make it easy for you to write your own business plan.

It gives you a step-by-step guide covering the various aspects of a business plan.

Therefafter, you will find information about what various business plan audience expects see in your business plan.

This information is important because it will help you make necessary adjustments to your business plan. This will make the plan more useful and ensure that it is suitable for the target audience.

Why do I need to write a business plan?

There are various reasons why you’ll need to write a business plan for your business.

Generally, when you are writing a business plan, the audience varies.

The audience might include suppliers, distributors, major customers, the board of directors, outside consultants, banks and investors.

In addition to writing a business plan for those mention above, you as an ecommerce business owner may want a business plan to assess the feasibility of your business idea.

A business plan therefore serves as a blueprint to guide your actions.

A business plan outlines opportunities and costs as well as the strength and weaknesses of your business ideas.

This is useful whether you are a start-up or an existing business owner.

A crucial purpose of a business plan is to raise finance.

The business plan is possibly the first and only – major contact that a potential funder has with you and your buisness.

It is a sort of ticket of admission which gives you the chance to impress prospective sources of finance with the quality of your proposal.

For example, more than three-quarters of business angels require a business plan before they will consider investing in a business.

Therefore, since a business plan has several purposes and target audiences, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to writing your business plan would not work for you as an entrepreneur.

The additional information given below will help you make the necessary changes to make the business plan useful and meet the needs of your business.

Writing online business plan step-by-step guide.

Rather than just showing you s generic business plan template, the aim of this guide is to give you enough information that would help you in preparing your business plan.

Especially a business plan that is specific to your business needs. Rather than just copying and pasting from templates.

Executive Summary.

The executive summary is a short section summarising the business plan. This part of the business plan covers the following aspects briefly:
*Background of your business.
*Business name.
*Is your online or e-commerce business a start-up or an existing company?
*Purpose of the business plan: to source for finance, for personal use, suppliers etc.

Business Background.

*Type of business e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership or limited liability company.
*Target audience: who are your customers.
*Vision of your company: the long term goals of your business.
*Mission of your company: the reason why you are in business.
*Management team.
*Business model: how you provide value to end users or businesses.
*Business process: the methods of buying and selling or rendering of services.

Market Research.

*Current state of the market: figures about the growth or decline of eCommerce market, opportunities in the market.
*Competitors: threats, opportunities for collaborations.

Marketing and Sales.

*Sales strategies: what your business is offering the customers, online business technology driving your business, methods of selling to customers.
*Communication with customers: search engines, optimising improved page ranking.

Security.

*Technology adopted: behind the scene processes, technology adopted to reduce cyber risks.
*Protection of logins and passwords, identification.

Financials.

*Estimations: capital, assets, net profit, break even analysis.
*Sources of funding: individual contribution, family and friends, venture capitalist and bank loan.

Growth Strategies.

*Growth plans: short and long term.

Things to consider when writing a business plan

The aim of this section is to provide ecommerce entrepreneurs with guidance on how to customise online business plan according to the type of funder that you propose to approach.

Including the relevant information when you write a business plan outline as well as the actual business plan is an important step in launching your new online business or when expanding an existing one.

It is important to understand the target of audience of your business plan when writing a business plan.

This is because various audiences evaluate business plans differently.

For example, the way in which bankers, venture capital fund managers (VCFMs) and business angels (BAs) would evaluate business plans, and the questions that they ask differ.

Therefore, understanding the information which they consider in making lending decisions would help you to customise your business plans accordingly.

How to customise your business plan for a bank

When writing a business plan to obtain loan from a bank, your business plan has to show clear financial forecasts.

Although when assessing lending decision, the bank is interested in information to assess your competence, commitment and business prospect.

However, there is lesser emphasis on the full evaluation of your proposed project and your personal characteristics as an entrepreneur.

The bank would be more interested in financial considerations – collaterals, margins, cash flow forecasts, gearing ratios, asset management ratios and financial controls.

Lending to small businesses is risky because sometimes information needed to assess business risks is unavailable, uneconomic to obtain or difficult to interpret.

In addition, information is often unclear due to the lack of track record especially for new businesses.

Banks also consider the challenges of monitoring entrepreneurs after a loan has been made. For example to ensure that an entrepreneur does not switch to riskier projects.

That is, projects different from the one the loan is approved initially, which could enrich the entrepreneur at the expense of the bank, or reduce their effort.

Therefore banks are usually interested in minimising these risks by making adequate collateral backing a necessary condition for any loan.

Taking collateral as security – in the form of personal guarantees or personal collateral for new businesses – is attractive to bankers.

The collateral is also thought to align the interests of the entrepreneur with that of the banker. Your willingness or ability to offer collateral indicates confidence in your own abilities and in the likely success of your project.

Therefore when you have a business project and seeking funding from a bank, make sure the business plan presents clear financial forecasts.

You may need to make use of the services of a professional in writing this type of a business plan in order to ensure success.

How to customise business plan for a Venture Capital Fund Manager (VCFM)

A VCFM is returns-driven and their primary objective is to deliver high returns to the outside investors (limited partners) whose funds they manage.

They are therefore more concerned with market risk. This is due to unforeseen competitive conditions affecting the size, growth and accessibility to the market.

A VCFM would protect themselves from the risk of lending to an entrepreneurs. They will do this by using stringent contractual provisions. For example, one that allow them to replace an entrepreneur for readons such as: under-performing guilty of misconduct or if found to be incompetent.

Like the banker, a VCFM also encounters the problem of inadequate information necessary to help in evaluating investment opportunities. However, as equity providers, they adopt a very different approach to their funding decision. A VCFM invests for capital gain.

Therefore, unlike the banker, they share in the success of your business when they invest in it. If your business fails or does not achieve signiificant growth, their investment in your business is fully exposed and they would lose money.

As a result, if you are writing a business plan targeting a VCFM, you should place greatest emphasis on your capability, the capability of your management team, the product/service and the market.

In addition, emphasise your management skill and how that quality influences your investment decisions.

Also, make clear your familiarity with the industry/market, your leadership capability and your ability to evaluate and handle risks.

Other criteria you could include are the characteristics of the management team and the management team’s track record.

How to customise your business plan for a Business Angel.

Business Angels are more concerned with the risk that is caused by the separate and possibly differences in the interests of entrepreneurs (agents) and investors (principals).

Business Angels approach to investment decision-making though similar to that of Venture Capital Fund Managers – is not identical.

Business Angels may not have the resources to collect and analyse (costly) market-related information so less due diligence is conducted compared to venture capital fund managers.

However, Business angels tend to keep simple and informal contracts with entrepreneurs which sometimes makes it harder for them to enforce sanctions. Also, Business angels tend to take a more hands-on role when they invest in your business.

A business angel would place greater importance on the ‘chemistry’ between you and themself.

If there are skills gaps in your management team, that would not deter a Business Angel because they can contribute the missing expertise through their own involvement in your business.

The opportunity to contribute to your business is part of the ‘return’ a Business Angel considers when making investments in your business.

This is because they think that their involvement in your business can contribute to the success of your business.

They invest their own money. In addition to capital gain, their consideration also includes satisfaction and enjoyment derived from playing a role in the entrepreneurial process. Also in some cases, altruism.

Therefore, a business plan meant for a Business Angel should reflect your brilliant and captivating business ideas and teamwork.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is important that you know how to write a business plan or get the services of an expert business plan writer. Even if you do the latter, this guide would help you in assessing whether the plan prepared for your business is suitable or not.

If your business plan is for financial reasons, you should attempt to engage potential investors by customising your business plan accordingly. Ensure your financial information is accurate and meaningful if approaching the banker. The numbers are also important to equity investors in order to assess profitability. VCFMs are mostly interested in the financial returns. Business angels emphasise personal relationship issues and should be engaged on a more emotional level.