Can Your Business Plan Be One Document That Fits All?
A few weeks ago, one of my mentees, Ifedayo, that engaged me to work on her business plan called me and was unhappy that her business plan was rejected and feedback was sent to her. I immediately asked her to forward the feedback that was sent to her to my email address so that I can review their feedback to fix the issues raised. She obliged.
When I finished reviewing their feedback, I was disappointed with her and I told her that she was lazy. I have to be honest and be brunt with her.
You see, she had previously used the same business plan for a business kickstart and empowerment programme and it was adjudged as one of the best. So she forwarded the same business plan to the organization without taking time to review and adapt it to meet their needs and requirements.
So I asked her, “why did you send the same business plan to this new organization without taking time to adjust it to meet their objectives and goal?”
“What you sent to them shows that you didn’t take time to review the requirements and it goes to show how clueless you are”.
I see a lot of entrepreneurs like Ifedayo make this mistake simply because they are too busy or just being lazy. So they ignore very important tasks to do before submitting their business plan to potential fund providers.
Are you looking for a “one size that fits all business plan”? A business plan is not one document that fits all. And the reason is that different opportunity to raise funds for your business comes with different requirements, needs, and objectives and you have to always adapt your documents to meet the fund provider’s needs.
Because she got funded using the same business plan with company A doesn’t mean the same business plan will be successful with company B without tailoring to their needs.
Now look at this, do you know that the way Bank of Industry (BOI) wants you to design your business plan is quite different from the way other financial institutions want you to design?
BOI has a format that they want you to tailor your plan to because their mandates, objectives, requirements are quite different from other financial institutions.
BOI hardly gives funds for operational expenses except for assets and capital equipment. As a matter of fact, they won’t even give you the fund directly to you, they send it to your equipment suppliers or manufacturer that they have vetted and certified to be real and true. They purchase the equipment that your business needs for you. It’s only on some rare occasions that funds are given to you for operational expenses and that is usually not more than 30% of the total fund requested and approved.
Now, let us take look at some facilities and conditions from commercial banks in Nigeria. They have no business purchasing the equipment or anything for you. Once their due diligent team is certified with your application and approved, the fund is disbursed to your account and most time in one tranche so that you can use it for your business needs and achieve your business goals and pay back as at when due.
So the question is, “does one size (one document) really fits all?”. It’s like wearing one dress for different occasions. Naturally, you know that wouldn’t make sense at all. Funding or empowerment opportunities come in many shapes and sizes. It would be impossible to design a business plan or a proposal that would truly fit all
So, it’s a case of different strokes for different folks.
But why would entrepreneurs want to use one business plan or proposal for different opportunities understanding that different opportunities out there come with different requirements, terms and conditions?
One or all of the following reasons could be responsible:
- Due to a lack of resources,
- Lack of time,
- Sheer laziness,
- Being overwhelmed,
- Not taking time to read the requirements, terms, and conditions and understand.
Because of the aforementioned reasons, many entrepreneurs take a one-size-fits-all strategy to explore numerous opportunities.
What happens when you used the one-document fits all approach?
The result is always a failure because your business plan would:
- Provide unrealistic financial projections,
- Boring your readers
- Being vague,
- Not defining many winning key points,
- Showing your investors or fund providers how clueless and unserious you are.
Your business plan serves as a roadmap to your destination. It makes the journey easy and comforting and putting a business plan together can be intimidating especially if you haven’t done it before.
Let us help you to make it easy.
You should understand that your business plan is a living and breathing document, a roadmap that guides you to your destination. It provides valuable and relevant information along with clear objectives and action steps and as such, needs to always be visited and adapted to the new reality. It shouldn’t be stagnant. You update as you make progress and also adapt it to meet the needs and requirements of your specific audience.
In conclusion, the “one document fits all” approach is flawed because it assumes all opportunities are the same. A business plan or proposal should be differentiated to suit the individual needs of each unique opportunity or fund provider. Only then can you receive the best possible reward that would help you to achieve your business goals.
This is not only applicable to the business plan alone, but your marketing and promotion should also be tailored to suit different audiences, relationships with your staff (people learn differently and work differently), and customers as well (just to mention but a few). They need different approaches for the best result and experience.