Business plan as an important tool for successful investment

2010-03-05
THE PUNCH Newspaper-Ademola Alawiye


A lot of businesses in Nigeria have collapsed not because of the economic problems they businesses face but sometimes as a result of lack of planning by the owners. It is said that when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Hence, the need to plan before you engage in any business becomes necessary.



A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons they are believed to be attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organisation or team attempting to reach those goals.



Business plans are decision making tools. There is no fixed content for a business plan. Rather, the content and format of the business plan is determined by the goals and audience. A business plan should contain whatever information is needed to decide whether or not to pursue a goal.



The primary value of your business plan will be to create a written outline that evaluates all aspects of the economic viability of your business venture including a description and analysis of your business prospects.



A good business plan can help to make a good business credible, understandable and attractive to someone who is unfamiliar with the business. Writing a good business plan can‘t guarantee success, but it can go a long way toward reducing the odds of failure.



The Managing Director, Mark George Consultants, Mr Olugbolahan Mark George says, ”A business plan is a reality check, a tool for tracking progress towards your vision. It can also serve as a marketing document to promote your business.



“The business plan is a foundation to start your business, it is fundamental to the success of your business. The business plan acts like a guide. It is a reference tool that keeps you on track. Always check at least every month to know if you are on track. Besides, you need to review the plan at each initiative, and also prepare for challenges.”



He adds that the business plan gives one the opportunity of having a business profile, product/service description, market analysis, operational details, management structure, workforce description, financial history, threats and opportunities, marketing and promotional plan and market budget among others.



In Nigeria, most people who open retail businesses have an erroneous belief that they do not need a business plan. Interestingly, it is more important for retail businesses to have a full financial business plan completed before they open the business because of their weak and flexible structure.



According to the owner of Carles Computer Services, a retail business outfit, Mr. Charles Adoh, ”I started my business 10 years ago. I had many years of experience and had my savings. I thought I knew everything but I didn‘t have the most important thing- a business plan. So, I was working on a daily basis and achieving nothing until I learned from a business seminar, all the basic tools I needed to put in place to achieve my desired result.”



The business plan format is a systematic assessment of all the factors critical to your business purpose and goals. When drawing a plan, place some reasonable limits on long-term and future projections because long term planning becomes meaningless when the reality of your business changes from the initial concept. Emphasis should be placed on short term objectives and modify the plan as your business progresses.



A lecturer in the Department of Business Administration, University of Lagos, Mr. Bisi Alabi-Labaika, says, ”Planning is required in any proposed action of man for success to be achieved. In all spheres of life, and not only business, it is necessary to plan in anything you do in life. More often than not, anything you do without planning may not give you the desired result.”



“When you have a business plan in place, you will definitely know when you are deviating. The probability of your business succeeding is high when you have a mapped out business plan. But in many cases, Nigerians don‘t rely on business plan especially the retail businesses. Some businesses have clear business plan but don‘t follow it. That is responsible for a lot of people‘s failure.”



Speaking on how to draw a business plan suitable for a particular business, Labaika says, ”In drawing a business plan, you can solicit for opinions and advice from people, including those in your intended field of business, who will give you invaluable advice. Better still, you can get the services of business consultants.”

 

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