The Modern Business Plan – How Business Plans Have Changed

Kurt Graver Business Funding, Business Plan

The last economic crisis had a profound impact on how entrepreneurs and business owners finance their business and write business plans.  The post-COVID-19 economic recession will have a similar impact.

Banks have been reluctant to lend money to start-ups without them offering significant collateral against the loan. Despite all the publicity that they are lending more money than ever banks are still assessing loans based on the CAMPARI model that has been used for the past 200 years. This simply rules out 95% of entrepreneurs.

The government has created several new start loans and there are hundreds of grant opportunities. The criteria for the loans and grants are usually restrictive and most grant funding has to be matched by the business. Applications for some of these schemes can also take up to a year.

Due to the difficulty in obtaining capital from institutions Angel Investors & Crowdfunding have emerged as the most likely source of external funding for entrepreneurs.  Venture Capital and Corporate Venturing are still options but are limited to a small percentage of high growth technology companies.

The financing of new businesses has shifted from institutional capital to personal capital. Angel Investors and crowd funders invest their own money into businesses. They do this because they are either interested in the business or believe in the entrepreneur.

The mindset of an angel is different from a bank who just want to know if they will get their money back. Angels do it for the fun of it and the potential return they may get back. This means you require a different type of business plan, one that is engaging, presents an attractive proposition for the investor and a plan that you can highlight your ability to make the business a success.

What is different in modern business plans

Gone are the days where you need a 60-page plan, nowadays your plan should be no more than 30 pages. Although the quality required is much higher. Your plan has to be slick, concise, well-researched and tailored to specific requirements of your audience.

What is essential for a modern plan is the entrepreneurs and management team have to show their personalities.  Business angels and crowd funders are just as likely to base their investment decision on the people who will run the business just as much as they would base their decisions on the business itself.

Graphs, infographics and images are used to capture the potential investor‘s imagination. While still having to be practical and prudent, good business plans give the potential investor a glimpse of what could be possible in the business.

The useful life of the modern business plan is shorter. Most plans change within a few weeks. A business plan is now a live document that needs to be changed as you go through your investment journey.

What is the same in modern business plans?

A business plan is about results, a well-formatted and presented plan that is not executed is worth nothing. A badly formatted plan that is well-executed, creates business value.

A business plan helps you focus your business, anything that helps you to analyses and reviews your business and its performance is beneficial. Updating a business plan should be part of an ongoing process.

Planning isn’t accounting. Even though the projections look like accounting statements, the context is completely different. No one expects you to hit the exact numbers in the plan. The important part of it is that the numbers can be substantiated, and you understand what is required to achieve those numbers. In essence, the financials are an educated guess.

Overall, the modern business plan should reflect the current business environment.  It should be concise, full of relevant information, accessible anywhere and should highlight your ability to run the business and make it a success.  

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