The process of writing a business plan

The process of writing a business plan

The process of writing a business plan.
We receive over 50 requests per month from entrepreneurs, companies, and owners of old and new businesses, all of them want the same thing – a professionally written business plan.
We have already discussed the different types of business plan. This month’s newsletter considers the phases our clients must go through in the writing process, from initial phone call to final meeting.
Stage 1: Request for information
The first stage, the initial enquiry, can occur in one of 3 ways: by telephone, using the contact page on the website, or using the detailed enquiry form which is also found on our website. Before approaching the company, we suggest that you read over some of the content on our website, and get a better idea of what it is that we do and how we differ from others. You can also read about some of the clients we have worked with, and get an impression of the environment in which this product that we provide – the business plan – is created. A product, which we believe we can do better than anyone else. A short survey over the material should help you be clear and more focused in your initial request.
Stage 2: We get back to you (first cut)
We promise to get back to you within one working day and reply to some of your questions. This introductory telephone call is conducted by a professional consultant (project manager) who will be best suited to your needs. This first conversation plays an important part in our decision making process about whether or not to proceed with a client or not. At this stage a NO-GO may be due to a variety of reasons, such as: the client presents an immature business idea, or is unclear about their needs, or the business idea is virginal and needs time to develop before it can be translated into a business plan, or even the idea cannot be actualized, or there is a serious discrepancy between the entrepreneur’s expectations and the price they are willing to pay to satisfy them.
Stage 3: First consultation (second cut)
The purpose of this consultation is to get to know one another in greater depth. For this meeting, you will be invited to our offices and in most cases you will be introduced to one of the company owners, to whom you will present your reasons for needing a business plan and your intentions. Truthfully, you do most of the talking in this meeting and we mainly ask the questions. The purpose of this interview is to make a second cut before we proceed to the next stage. During this stage (and if we missed something in the first telephone conversation) a NO-GO may be due to an immature or virginal business idea, discrepancies in expectations etc. At the end of this meeting we will decide whether to proceed to the next stage – a formal proposal.
Stage 4: The proposal
Within three working days we will send you a formal proposal including a detailed description of what you will receive, an ETA and the cost of the service. At this point we will also determine the best business plan type for your venture and set a date for the first working meeting.
Stage 5: The Work begins
Once we have established the most suitable project management team for your venture, we can begin the process of writing your business plan. This process is fascinating, educational and often surprising, and demands that all parties involved remain open minded. We liken this stage to an intense two month course in business management (even for experienced businessmen). During a series of scheduled meetings we will join forces to brain storm every aspect of the business plan. You, the client, play an important role in these meetings and must arrive prepared, focused and sharp. The purpose of every meeting will be preset and prepared for. While most of the preparatory work falls on us, you must also be ready. You will receive “homework” to do, most of which involves “thinking”.
During the first meeting we mainly listening to you and ask questions for clarification purposes. The meeting is usually held in the presence of one of the Company owners as well as a project manager. Part of the purpose of this meeting is to get to know and understand exactly what it is you want, and what your expectations are. We will also set a time table and define the milestones in the plan writing process.
The second meeting, the one we like to call “the difficult one”, usually occurs after we have received initial data from you, and have conducted some of our own research into the industry. The purpose of this meeting is to clarify and verify our initial conclusions. At this point we begin to get a better idea of the business plan you need, maybe even better than you….
During the third meeting we begin to consolidate a business strategy, identify your business’s ongoing advantages, and what differentiates you from your competitors. We also begin to formulate a business model and try to understand the “message” that we are jointly trying to convey in the plan.
During the fourth meeting we ask you to “show us the money”, or in other words, we start to talk numbers. We also begin to consolidate some basic financial assumptions on which to base the financial forecast.
During the fifth meeting we continue to solidify our financial and business assumptions and touch upon all the factors related to these such as; pricing policy, target market size, perceived value of the product, organizational structure , General and administrative expenses, marketing budgets , sales and promotions, financing, tax rates and many more.
At the sixth meeting, we present you with a draft of the profit/loss statement and forecast cash flow.
The remaining meetings (7 -10) are intended for clarification of details and finalization.
Of course, every project differs in the nature and number of meetings that are held. The character of the meetings is also dependent on the personality of the client – which is what makes our job so varied and interesting.
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