Most small to medium businesses in Australia require financial support at some point in their journey.
Whether those funds are required to kick-start your endeavours or to help your existing business grow there is a crucial document they all need to access finance.
Enter the business plan, an essential tool that can significantly sway the success of finance applications.
What is a Business Plan?
At its core, a business plan serves as the roadmap for your business journey.
It’s filled with key insights, market research, and strategies to fuel your business success. These can serve you in two ways:
- Internally, providing your team with a clear vision and laying out the necessary steps for goal achievement.
- Externally, as a powerful tool for engagement with investors, lenders, and stakeholders.
It becomes the articulate voice of your business objectives, strategies, and financial projections, showcasing both viability and the potential return on investment.
How Business Plans Impact Finance Applications
Simply put, your business plan is the narrative for the financial viability of your venture. It allows lenders and investors to gauge the potential return on investment if they provide financial assistance.
Here are three things lenders and investors are aiming to learn from your business plan:
- Financial projections: Clear forecasts that are supported by thorough market analysis and sound business strategies.
- Risk mitigation: Finance providers are naturally risk-averse and want to know how you will proactively tackle any potential risks your business may face.
- Strategic vision: Beyond the numbers, financiers want to know the strategic vision you have for the business and whether your market research and projections match these goals. You can show this by providing long-term goals and how the funds you’re requesting will achieve them.
Essential Elements of a Business Plan
Creating a robust business plan is often the starting point for launching your new business.
However, it’s not too late if you’ve been trading without one. Business plans are living documents that should be regularly reviewed and revised in line with your industry trends and goals.
Here are the key elements every business plan should include:
1. Executive Summary
The executive summary captures your business essence, offering a snapshot for investors and partners.
It should be a concise yet impactful introduction, outlining your company, mission, market position, and unique selling propositions.
*Pro tip: Write this last once all the information has been gathered and added.
2. Business Description
Get specific here – your description should outline your products or services, target market, and value proposition.
3. Market Analysis
Your market analysis will serve as the foundation of our business plan. Here you need to demonstrate an understanding of your industry, identify your direct competitors, and analyse market trends.
This section will tell lenders that you are savvy and have a strategy to uniquely position your business within the market.
4. Organisational Structure and Management
Provide insights into your company’s structure and key personnel, giving investors a clear view of who is steering the ship.
Outline the roles and responsibilities of your team, showcasing their expertise and contributions to the business’s success.
5. Products or Services
Detail your offerings and how they cater to your target market. Highlight any unique features or innovations that differentiate your products or services.
6. Marketing and Sales Strategy
Detail your plans for promoting and selling your products or services. This would include your pricing strategy, distribution channels, and promotional tactics.
A well-thought-out marketing and sales strategy demonstrates your ability to reach and capture your target audience.
7. Financial Projections
Present realistic financial projections, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow forecasts.
Investors use this section to assess the potential return on their investment and the long-term financial health of your business.
Tips from a Finance Broker
Crafting a business plan might seem daunting, but with guidance, it transforms into a strategic asset for your business.
Here are some tips to help you kick-start the process:
1. Start with a Clear Vision
The first step is knowing where you want to go. So, define your business goals and vision.
2. Research Thoroughly
A credible business plan is grounded in thorough research. You should identify and clearly describe market trends, competitor analyses, and industry benchmarks to substantiate your strategies and projections.
3. Seek Professional Advice
Gain insights from a finance broker or business consultant. Their expertise ensures your plan aligns with industry standards and financial expectations.
4. Be Realistic in Financial Projections
It may be tempting to overinflate your financial projections to make your business look more appealing. Lenders can often see through this and throw up red flags in response. So be conservative with your estimates to help demonstrate your prudence and credibility.
The significance of a solid business plan in finance applications goes beyond being a mere document.
Small and medium business owners, armed with a carefully crafted business plan, can confidently navigate the finance application process.
* This blog is intended for general informational purposes only. For personalised advice tailored to your unique financial situation, please contact NMC Finance.