This is the most common question I ask after reading a business plan. Strange isn’t it? A business plan is all about the business, what it does, what it will do, how it will do it etc. Which makes it all the more surprising that so often a business plan can be read cover to cover without me knowing what the business does.
If you are looking for business finance then the lender needs to know what you do within the first 10 seconds. It also needs to sound pretty sexy, even if you are an accountancy firm you can still make it sound exciting… (sorry, we genuinely love working with accountants…)
What Do You Really Do?
Even if you can sum up exactly what your business does, make it sound exciting and grab the attention of the reader, are you really sure that is the best thing to do?
This is the really interesting bit…
Getting your business purpose and aim clear and correct is essential. But it can be done wrong. Let me give you this description;
‘…are going to build a large building on wasteland, it will cost a fortune, the roof probably wont last forever and 6 months after we finish building it the property will be empty and we have no application or interest from anyone that might want to occupy it…’
Sound good so far? Not sure it will be getting my hard earned cash…
How about this instead;
‘…world leading music venue, fantastic access via public transport, iconic building built at the home of time itself. Hosting leading artists in purpose built arena in London…’
This is the story of the Millennium Dome, now known as The O2. Same building but at the outset it only had a limited life and no real direction it what it would do, it sort of sounded a good idea but never quite felt right. Now, anyone who has seen anything the O2 will know how superb a venue it is not just for a concert but a whole day out.
This example is used simply to show how not expressing the purpose of your business correctly at the outset can be the deciding factor.
Do McDonalds say they ‘fry burgers and sell them’, do Costa say ‘we sell hot drinks for as much money as possible’? No, because the business is something else. It is about status, brand, reliability, value, whatever… But saying clearly what you do is essential.
The top tip is to get someone who knows nothing about you or your business to read your business plan then ask them to tell you what you do. If they get it wrong then revisit your plan, say what you do clearly and concisely in the first paragraph. Oh, and make sure you say what you really really do…
By Dave Farmer
If you want any help putting a business plan or funding proposal together then please get in touch on 01293 541333, contact Lime Consultancy via the website here or add your comments above.