by Deborah Valentine of a hand in The Hague
clare-summerfield-business-plan-wbii-networkingThe irony has not escaped me: that I would be writing the review of Clare Summerfield’s presentation on THE business plan from the WBII’s November networking evening.
Having started my own business, because of opportunity and without a business plan 8 years ago did not make me a good candidate. Or did it?
One thing was clear from what Clare so enthusiastically shared with us: it is never too late to draw up, or go back to, your business plan. Key word here being, your or rather, our own business plans.
Clare’s presentation was thorough, thoughtful and accessible – even for those of us intimidated by the prospect. Among the many tips shared with and explained to us, was the fact that the hardest part is actually starting the plan. That step, once taken, will reveal and unleash the enthusiasm Clare heard when we each introduced ourselves, and what we do, to the group.
The fact of the matter is, a business plan is in fact a way of keeping us in check with our own ambitions and our own desires for our business. The template provided – with a handy table of contents – was simply that, a guide. For at the end of the day one of the first questions you need to address is: what do you want to achieve, and who will be reading it.
Clearly if you are applying for financing, or investors, it is an absolute necessity. But, even if you are not appealing to others to invest in your business, in order to get it off the ground, having the business plan does help you to focus, review, adjust and redefine as and when needed. For not knowing what you are doing, for whom, and why does make it difficult to develop the ‘action plan’.
And, in thinking about who you are writing it for – who will be reading it – will help tailor the tone of voice, content and answer all the other questions posed by the template. There are in fact multiple purposes for a business plan, not one single purpose.
Clare suggested starting with an Executive Summary – capturing the mission you are setting out to do, and then, break it down according to some of the guiding principles listed in the Table of Contents.
Clare referred to the Mastermind Groups as an excellent way of each of us working on our business plans, chapters within them – and especially in the process of charting our own SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).
Clare’s presentation was extremely helpful to many participants – providing not only a template for business plans, but also raising issues about future professional development workshops the WBII could offer to support the development of stronger business plans. The first which came up had to do with the financials, and how to effectively and accurately prepare the corresponding spreadsheets to support business plans. So, stay tuned for developments on this front.
Thank you Clare for making THE business plan accessible to us all, and reminding us of one of the values of the WBII: as a platform to sell and promote our businesses.
Clare’s presentation is available for download here.
Photo credit: Dymphna Elsink