Here is the continuation of the file “How to create your business”. After Step 1, Find the idea, Step 2 is to build a business plan.
Have you found the idea that makes you want to get started? Perfect. To move forward, you now need to structure your social project. To this, many entrepreneurs swear by the business plan, this formal document that allows you to present your business and your financial goals. Others, on the contrary, absolutely do not support it. This artificial and time-consuming exercise would hamper the agility of the project managers. So, to do or not to make a business plan?
The answer probably depends on each person’s personality. In any case, the business plan will be crucial to finding financing. “It allows you to have a clear vision of your project to convince a banker, a business angel or a future partner,” says Guilhem Bertholet, “serial entrepreneur” and founder of La Cuisine du Web. For him, it is first and foremost a job for himself in order to refine his strategic vision. If he agrees to rub shoulders with numbers, an entrepreneur can set financial goals and choose the right indicators to monitor his activity.
Christophe Baillon, founder of the Startup Maker accelerator, is a little more skeptical. “The business plan is an exercise that does not necessarily add much value to the project, but you have to know how to confront it, because you can not escape it today.” And to write it with confidence, here are some common sense tips gathered from entrepreneurs and those who support them.
You do not have to worry about it
“In the collective unconscious, the business plan is a large deterrent document crammed with figures,” notes Guilhem Bertholet. In reality, it’s all about writing the elements that are already in your head on paper: your product, your customers, your competitors, your commercial strategy and your preliminary income statement. That’s it for the background. As for the form, it’s pretty free, but it’s better to aim for fifteen pages or PowerPoint slides. Choose an effective approach because investors read dozens of business plans every week. In terms of outcome assumptions, no one expects you to actually achieve what you wrote three years ago. “The business plan is a collective lie,” states Fany Péchiodat, founder of My Little Paris. “First of all, it provides an opportunity to see if an entrepreneur has a well-made head.” In any case, the business plan must evolve with the project constantly. Many successful start-ups are completely out of step with the original idea of their founders. Criteo, the French nugget of advertising targeting on the Internet, changed its economic model three times before finding the right application for its algorithm.
Do not waste all your energy
The biggest criticism traditionally made of the business plan is that it can be very time consuming. Especially if you write it before you start your activity. “The worst thing is to spend six months writing it to assure yourself of the feasibility of your project,” warns Guilhem Bertholet. I will not risk taking it down! ” At the beginning of the entrepreneurial adventure, it is better to spend a good portion of your energy on meeting your future customers. This is the reason that validates or not a market, and which makes it possible to develop a coherent commercial offer. An effective way to combat the garage syndrome, where “an entrepreneur spends two years developing a revolutionary product in his corner by consuming all his financial resources and then realizing that there is no market”, according to the description by Christophe Baillon . Finally, it is preferable to go back and forth between the field and the business plan, between action and formalization.
Ask for help
There are many support structures for business start-ups in France. The Danish Agency for Business Creation, for example, offers resources on its website to make a business plan when you want to establish a traditional company or a small craft company. Local chambers of commerce can also help by offering leadership training. Incubators and accelerators, private or public, can provide more intensive support (premises, advice, address book, etc.), but they often take small shares in the companies that are supported. Networks of business leaders often prove to be resourceful. “I was accompanied by Réseau Entreprendre,” says Fany Péchiodat. “They gave me a very available coach who helped me a lot. More generally, as soon as I met someone, I turned him into a consultant paid in checks gifts!” To find help and skills, partnering with other people with a complementary profile can be a great solution.
Do not get locked inside
“To me, it’s heresy when people say, ‘I’m not talking about it, I’m afraid someone will steal the idea,'” Christophe Baillon assures. On the contrary, it is necessary to talk about it as much as possible so as not to miss crucial meetings. It can also be helpful to have your business plan reviewed by professionals in the sector so they can improve it. “You have everything to lose by staying in your corner,” supports Guilhem Bertholet, who advises going to the many events hosted by and for entrepreneurs, such as Apéro Entrepreneurs or Startup Weekend. And for those who are tired of face-to-face with their computer, coworking spaces, that is, collaboration, are a place for fruitful exchanges. Maybe you want to meet the graphic designer who will design your logo or the developer of your website.
Interview with Margaux Derhyfounder of La Petite Etoile, which supports entrepreneurs in the realization of their business plan.
“Impossible to attract investors without having drawn up a real business plan”
What is a business plan used for?
When looking for money for your business, it is important to make a business plan. Impossible to attract investors without having prepared one. Even before you need money, well in advance of fundraising, it can be very helpful to write the business plan. It is an excellent exercise that allows you to ask yourself the right questions about your project.
What do you put in a business plan?
There are four essential elements to develop. A brief presentation of the project team and its potential mentors is crucial. Like the description of its product by highlighting its added value. You need to show what the “magic” of the product you are offering is. Deciphering your environment, that is, your customers and competitors, is also essential: It is a matter of proving that you have an informed and not too naive understanding of the ecosystem you want to fit into. Finally, it is necessary to detail its strategy (commercial marketing) by explaining how the start-up intends to do so that the whole of France knows its product.
What mistakes should be avoided?
The business plan should not become an overly academic exercise, but become a real tool for seduction. It is also necessary to keep up to date with the “trends” in the business plan or pitch, that is, to know what is being done in your sector. Today, for example, it is better to prefer a presentation in 15.-20 dias than a 50-page block in Word. On the other hand, calculation errors in financial forecasts really need to be avoided because they seriously undermine the credibility of the entrepreneur. Finally, do not believe that a business plan is something fixed. On the contrary, an entrepreneur spends his time reworking it over the meetings and the progress of his project.
If you need advice on implementing your business plan, then who should you turn to?
It all depends on what type of business you want to start. Business Creation Agency (APCE) and BGE are good interlocutors with many resources to support traditional projects, such as starting a business. For digital entrepreneurs, it is better to turn to specialized accelerators and incubators who are better able to understand innovative projects. Finally, networks of entrepreneurs often offer advice from mentors and provide access to a valuable network.
Interview and article by Clémence Boyer
>> These 4 essential steps to create your business successfully
>> Step 1: Find the idea
backpacksurvival kit for start-ups, by Maddyness and La Petite Etoile (ordered at www.startupbackpack.co).
The hard about hard thingsby Ben Horowitz, a bible for many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.