Tips & Traps for Writing an Effective Business Plan

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Author: Greg Balanko-Dickson

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi


Having an effective business plan is critical to the success of any business. That is why we are X-raying this text entitled “Tips & Traps for Writing an Effective Business Plan”. It is written by Greg Balanko-Dickson, a third-generation entrepreneur, Licensed Professional Business Coach and founding member of the Professional Business Coaches Alliance.

According to the author, whether you want to start a business or grow one, buy or sell one, attract investors or obtain a loan, fine-tune your operation or restructure it, attempting to do it without a well-crafted business plan is like going to the sea without a compass.

This text is divided into five parts of 27 chapters. Part one is generically christened Introduction and contains two chapters. Chapter one is interrogatively entitled “What is a business plan? Why do I need a business plan?” In the words of Balanko-Dickson, “A business plan is an instrument used to document the intent and plans of the owner regarding every aspect of the business. The document itself can be used to communicate plans, strategies, and tactics to your managers, partners, and investors.”

This author adds that business plan has an equation structure of Goals + Research+ Strategy = Business plan. Balanko-Dickson educates that a business plan is much more than notes on a napkin or to-do list and is a roadmap to guide the business, its owner(s), and its employees on the journey to success. According to him, developing a detailed business plan will provide you with an opportunity to shape a powerful business development strategy, whether your goal is to get financing to start a business; get financing to expand your business; be more organised and increase your success level; identify the value of your business and prepare a plan for selling your business, etc.

This author identifies ten sections of a business plan as industry analysis; market analysis; products and services; business description; marketing strategy; operations and management; financial plan; implementation plan; contingency plan; and executive summary.

Chapter two is based on the subject matter of understanding the process and getting prepared. Here, Balanko-Dickson discloses that the benefits of writing a business plan are often misunderstood. “Yes, a business plan will help you get the money you need when you’re starting a business. But it will also help you make an existing business more effective,” educates this author.

In part two having a general thematic focus of the ten sections of a business plan and containing ten chapters (chapters three to 12), Balanko-Dickson discusses concepts such industry analysis; market analysis; products and services; business development; marketing and sales strategy; operations and management; pro forma financial plan; implementation plan; contingency and emergency plan; and executive summary.

Part three is summarily tagged “Writing a business plan in 30 days” and covers three chapters, that is, chapters 13 to 15. Chapter 13, like the whole part, is entitled “Writing a business plan in 30 days”. This expert says writing a business plan can be a time-consuming task. You are planning your business for the next three years, and you want to give it the attention it deserves.

Balanko-Dickson says the more familiar he is with the industry and market, the faster he can get the plan finished. He adds that you can easily minimise distractions in writing your business plan by getting away from the business to write your plan. This author educates that if you are unable to get away from the business, choose a quiet period of the day to work on your business plan.

In chapters 14 and 15, this author discusses common mistakes in writing a business plan and working with professional advisers.

Part four is based on the broad subject matter of special considerations for specific businesses and covers ten chapters, that is, chapters 16 to 25. Here, Balanko-Dickson beams his intellectual searchlight on concepts such as business planning for investors; business planning for a retail business; business planning for a manufacturing business; business planning for a service business; business planning for consultants, etc.

Part five, the last part, is generically labelled “Getting the money you need” and contains two chapters, that is, chapters 26 and 27. Chapter 26 is entitled “Applying for a business loan”. According to Balanko-Dickson here, small business loans can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, a business loan can help you buy a business, start a new business and expand your business. He says you will deal directly with the bank’s loan officers and major small business loans are reviewed by loan committees. The author educates that loan officers are not part of a loan committee.

In chapter 27, this expert discusses the concept of getting funding from investors, family and friends.

On the quality of ideas articulated, this book is outstanding. Stylistically, the language of this text is simple, yet standard. The presentation is unique in that it is didactic and logical, while the text is embroidered with graphics to reinforce readers’ understanding. Balanko-Dickson includes a “Tip and Trap” section typified by graphical thumb/hand manipulation in every chapter, where he injects extra information and guides readers.

However, the author uses the symbol “&” instead of the appropriate word “and” in the book title. Also, the whole of part three is already summarised in chapter one, meaning that chapter one could have been harmonised with part three. Probably this author deliberately uses this style of repetition to ensure long memory on readers’ part.

In a nutshell, this text easily passes for a masterpiece on business development. It is highly recommended to all existing and prospective entrepreneurs. It is simply fantastic.

GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.

Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425

Email: gokeiles2010@gmail.com

Website: www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng

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