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Making the business plan has been a great hands on experience to learning about small business development. We were not only required to study theories on how a business is created but actually do it ourselves. For me it has been a great learning experience as I had to make a decision to think like an entrepreneur and develop the qualities an entrepreneur has and incorporate the qualities of creativity, drive and a willingness to take risk.
The aim of the below report is to summarize my contribution to this project as well as the key areas of idea initiation, teamwork, presentation experience, alternative scenarios and learning gained as well as other areas covered in the development of the business plan.
Teamwork - All three team members contributed to make this project successful and worked together to create an efficient team.
Idea Initiation - After several sessions of brainstorming the group decided on a Business and technology magazine under the guidance of Mrs Priti Punatar through the process of identifying opportunity by means of problem solving.
Presentation Experience - A learning experience about time management, public presentation and the importance of thoroughly understanding the business venture an individual wants to undertake as well as understanding the involvement of investors in the entrepreneurial process.
Alternative Scenario - Consideration of both best and worst case scenarios allows B&T to prudently predict steady growth rate.
A new venture team is defined as the group of founders, key employees and advisors that moves a new venture from an idea to a fully functioning firm and so with our team it was the case of bringing together people with different abilities and strengths to create a strong unified force to achieve the objective of making a successful business plan.
Each individual brought their own individual set of skills and played a different role in the planning and execution of the business plan. Our team was formed keeping in mind the strengths of its members and tasks were delegated accordingly.
Priyanka who is good with numbers did the financial plan as well as the marketing plan, Krupa who has the strongest organizational skills dealt with the organizational structure and risk analysis and I was delegated the task of Industry analysis due to my research skills as well as the operational plan.
Initially our team consisted of four members; Priyanka, Krupa, myself and Joyce Issowe who later dropped out due to medical complications.
Working efficiently in a team is a key success factor for anyone who wants to be a successful entrepreneur as he/she will be required to meet with and bring together a venture team to work with. We were very lucky in that, although our team involved the coming together of three highly opinionated individuals all were willing to listen and respect the others' opinions which allowed us to come up with the best viable solutions in a dignified manner.
In my opinion, each individual within the team worked efficiently to ensure the success of the team.
The executive summary, the business and appendices were completed with hard work from all the three team members equally. All In all, every team member put in the required effort, all meetings were attended in time and all our planned goals were reached
Process of Idea Initiation
In this most fundamental process our first and basic concern was to come up with a firm that would be entrepreneurial in nature as opposed to being salary substitute or lifestyle oriented. The business had to be feasible, innovative and we needed to have both the passion and knowledge required for it.
Initially through the process of brainstorming our group had a number of business concepts to go with. Joyce had suggested a dairy farm, Krupa suggested a school for performance arts, Priyanka suggested an engineering consultancy and my own suggestion was a web based real estate firm.
By the process of elimination using our checklist we realized that a dairy farm wasn't innovative enough, we didn't have the expertise required for an engineering consultancy and the market wasn't ready yet for a web based real estate venture or a school for performing arts.
As the foundation of any successful business lies in recognizing opportunity, we decided to speak with a few people, in our social network, involved in different industries whilst researching the trends in various fields and industries. Finally under the supervision of Mrs. Punatar, we decided to work on a business and technology magazine that would be the first of its kind to be produced in Tanzania.
Due to the growth in the economy and changing social factors such as more graduates entering the labour market and increasing diversity the need for information had arisen and there was a lack of a locally produced business magazine. We realized the window of opportunity was wide open and circumstances were just right.
Therefore our business concept came about; A business and technology magazine for Tanzanians, by Tanzanians.
Through this process I learnt that opportunity needs to be defined, timely, attractive and of value to the end user. I learnt also to identify opportunity through observing trends, finding a gap in the marketplace and solving a problem. Apart from this I saw how economic and social factors account for the creation of opportunities and how different characteristics such as prior experience, creativity and social networks help entrepreneurs and finally I learnt to apply the 5 steps of generating creative ideas as well as the different techniques involved such as brainstorming and surveys.
Important factors considered by investors in their decision making process include determining that the company has focus, specific solutions for the needs of the market, that customers are willing to buy the product and that the dynamics of the company are strong. They need to know that the company is run by smart people who can control expenses and make a profit.
If expected to invest, they in turn need to trust the management team running the business in terms of their experience, maturity, reputation as well as a track record of success and personal interaction therefore is a must. Also investors cannot be expected to have the time to sit down and go through lengthy documents, they want to get instant answers for any concerns or queries.
The process of crafting the slides to be presented, and ensuring the presentation would cover all essential areas whilst summarizing the entire business concept, was a challenging one that taught me about time management, extraction of essential information from available data and the involvement of visuals to convey essential points.
All three members of the group presented the plan in parts with me introducing the business, the problem we aimed to solve and our business model. Krupa then took over and covered management team, industry analysis and competition leaving Priyanka to finish the financial overview including; share offering, payback, profitability, break even analysis and current status and projected use of funds ending with exit strategy for investors.
Crucial lessons were learnt during this presentation about capturing and retaining the interest and attention of our potential investors, maintaining the set time limit as well as the importance of confidence and a deep understanding of the business venture.
The success of any business is dependent on external as well as internal conditions. Internal factors are easier to control and predict relative to the external factors. With regards to external conditions, there is always some degree of uncertainty. In order to be prudent all figures taken within the business plan have reflected a pessimistic view of the worst case scenario.
In order to achieve this and to reflect alternative scenarios that may arise due to unpredictable factors the revenue included in the business plan is less than that actually expected by investors. Due to the unpredictability of Macro-environmental factors the number of subscriptions has been kept at minimum and the advertising revenue included is less than what the firm will target to achieve.
Another relevant point concerns the break even analysis. To keep alternative scenarios in mind, both best and worst case of total revenue have been considered whilst the figure taken for cost has been kept at maximum in line with the accounting principle of prudence. This allows investors to be comfortable to know that the minimum success will be as presented in the business plan with an additional potential for greater growth.
Business partnerships have also been taken into account in order reflect alternate means to achieve a target. This can be seen as in the outsourcing of printing to keep costs low as well as the establishment of a network of free lance contributors.
Figures for costs and budget in the analysis of the financial statements have also been calculated after the consideration of the alternative growth scenarios and B%T therefore is expected to have steady growth as a worst case scenario where the best case reflects a quicker point of break even and higher profitability.
Learning and Usefulness of the Business Plan
The experience of coming up with a business plan opened up my eyes on the many aspects that are necessary to be considered whilst starting up a business. Extensive research is required together with knowledge of the industry. I have realized that an entrepreneur must have a clear vision on how exactly his company will work and perform.
Before making a business plan myself I had no idea of how important it is. This document includes all research and analysis showing feasibility of a new venture and how all the different resources needed may be brought together synergetically.
In developing a business plan it becomes necessary to look at every single aspect of the business and it therefore provides a clear picture of whether a new venture is likely to succeed or fail.
The business plan analyses the potential of turning an idea into a source of revenue and in so doing answers the question of viability, industry attractiveness and growth, size and buying power of target market, attractiveness and uniqueness of the business model, availability of skilled labour, completion, ROI, legality and critical risks. It can be stated therefore that it is a critical document providing answers to investors for them to make an informed decision on whether or not to turn a particular idea into a business venture.
This process has taught me a lot. I learnt to apply Porter's 5 forces model in considering substitutes, new entrants, existing rivalry, bargaining power of buyers and suppliers as this was necessary in order to determine the attractiveness and profitability of the industry and position our firm where we could make maximum profit.
In carrying out competitor analysis I understood the type of competitors B&T would face and was therefore able to develop strategies to allow the firm to compete successfully for example, establishment of B&Ts brand before the emergence of future competitors.
Through the next step of developing a business model we had to apply what we learnt in class to create an effective model for B&T as was the case with applying knowledge on financial analysis and the value of pro forma statements, forecasts and budgets to determining success of the new venture.
I also learnt how to develop a successful marketing mix through looking at the issue of core product versus actual product.
All in all this process has shown me that a business plan is the most important tool needed in the entrepreneurial process as is incorporates within it everything any stakeholder would need to know about the viability of the idea and its conversion to a business venture.