An entrepreneur rarely doubts the chances of success for the start-up he dreams of creating. But even if it means scraping in his safety, he must commit himself to an essential task: to formalize his idea in writing, in a logical and rigorous way. This phase prior to creation comes in the form of a report that describes in detail the economic and financial reality of the project. This “business plan” or “development plan” is primarily useful for the project manager: it allows him to test different hypotheses and obliges him to ensure that his intuition is good but also viable! “It served us to formalize our ideas, and in the end, it was from what he taught us that we decided to launch ourselves,” testifies the founder of an online concierge service for individuals.
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Create three scenarios to drive your future
Writing such a report is tedious, sometimes ungrateful work that cannot be accomplished in two hours. On the contrary, it is meant to evolve, to be repeated over and over again depending on the maturity of the project. Do not hesitate to build three scenarios: an optimist, a sensible and a pessimistic. Subsequently, when the company is actually launched, the business plan will become a management tool to verify that the goals are met and that the company is developing at the planned pace.
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Calibrate your plan according to your interlocutors
The first role of the business plan is to convince. For Christophe Chausson, managing partner of Chausson Finance, a consulting firm specializing in fundraising for companies under creation or development: “The business plan is above all a communication tool. It aims to convince financiers that we want to link capital – whether they are bankers, subsidizing bodies or organizers of competitions – as well as the key people we seek to recruit. “
These interlocutors are not all looking for the same information, but all want to be sure of the project’s seriousness and want to measure the founders’ enthusiasm. The business plan must therefore achieve a balanced synthesis between these two components. Christophe Chausson recommends applying what he calls “the law of the 2 Rs” (“dreaming” and “reassuring”), by adapting the presentation of the document to the interlocutor: “A venture capitalist wants double-digit growth “Make it dream! A bank would rather be sure to get its money back, no matter what? Try to calm it down.”
Both a summary and a preface to your business plan, executive summary should be the subject of your full attention: some of your interlocutors will only read it! This two-page text should make you want to dive into the whole document. It is also intended to be sent to your correspondents following an initial telephone inquiry. Its typical recipients are fundraisers, venture capitalists and business angels who have no time to lose. The summary allows them to perform an initial sorting among the received files.
Take care of the two pages of your “summary”
First imperative for this “summary”: Keep it short – a maximum of two pages – without compromising on reading comfort. The document should remain pleasant to read, airy, composed of short paragraphs that follow each other logically. A typical plan is to start with a headline that includes the name of the future business, its logo and ideally a slogan or a few words that summarize its positioning. Then explain in a few lines the most important points in the project. Indicate what unmet needs you are filling out. Describe your product or service and highlight what sets it apart from the competition. Then introduce yourself and your team.
Do not just mention the positions you have held in the past, but rather explain how they made you legitimate to carry out this project.
Ask for help with the financial part
Finally, move on to the financial questions: give some numbers, especially sales forecasts for the first two or three years. And remember to state what your “business model” is, in other words, by what mechanisms you intend to win markets and make a profit.
It’s a good idea to get help writing your business plan: all kinds of professionals are able to deliver their expertise on the most technical aspects, especially the financial part. It can be a certified public accountant or a support network for business creation. But the responsibility for the work as a whole should under no circumstances be delegated. The new entrepreneur you are will have to defend yourself when the time comes, each of the points developed there, which involves mastering the smallest details.
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Maximum 30 pages to convince investors
A business plan generally consists of two separate parts and rarely exceeds thirty pages:
The first part is one description of the future business : what need, unsatisfied until then, fills the product or service? Who carries the project? What is business model ? Where is the competition? What are the material, legal and human needs of the society of the future? What is the planned schedule for the first months of activity?
The second part is one presentation of the financial perspective with figures, including forecast dashboards. In addition, there are appendices that collect the documents that justify the creation of the company: statements, articles, list of leads … Finally, a two-page summary,Summarypresents the company in a concise way so that the reader can form an opinion about the value of the project.
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