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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Top 5 Misconceptions Nigerians have about Business Plans

 Many Nigerian entrepreneurs have very wrong worldview about business plans. They tend to see it as something – akin to trying to pass an exam in school - you present to an investor, bank or development agency to score points by letting see what you think will convince them to buy into your business idea.

That would have been correct if the real world functions like the academic world. In real life business situations, street wisdom rules to a large extent and the same academic approach would fall flat on its face if the real issues that make things happen are conspicuously absent in your business plan. Secondly there are mindset issues you must eliminate before you ever conceive preparing a business plan for submission.

That is what this article is out to address, but will only focus on 5 misconceptions Nigerians have about business plans which can negatively affect how they can present professionally and persuasively to interested stakeholders. Here are 5 common misconceptions Nigerians have about business plans.

You Only Need a Business Plan to Raise Capital
Most Nigerian business owners or entrepreneurs think a business plan is only needed when it’s time to raise capital from investors or loans from banks and other lending institutions. They are partially right to think you may not need a business plan to succeed in business but that is if you are a master in your business. Sometimes even highly experienced business owners still need a business plan as a working document. A highly experienced business consultant I sometimes work with still contacted me recently to prepare a strategic plan for his consulting business which is over 15 years in existence and he isn’t looking to raise capital to fund it. He just needed an objective worldview for his consultancy over the next 10 years. So you don’t only need a business plan to raise capital, it can also serve as a blueprint for future success.

You can use any Format for your Business Plan
Initially I used to think this way too until I got a call from a business analyst who reviewed a business plan I submitted to a client. He was very upset that I used a sample business plan format I got online which according to him is not suitable for his client’s business model. He sent me another one to work with instead and asked that I be very mindful in future the kind of business plan format I use as different businesses require unique presentations. So business plan formats are not one size fits all, they must be adapted to a particular business for them to make good impact.

Professionally Written Business Plans are too expensive

This is one poor mindset to have in my opinion. It’s like wanting high quality education for free or wanting to live in a mansion but paying bus fare rate to own it. That is why many people who consult Professional Business Plan Writers in Nigeria scamper for safety when they hear How Much it Costs to write a Professional Business Plan only for them to end up patronizing quacks who can sell them pre-written and copied business plans for N10,000. A big mistake if you want to submit this to a business plan competition where probably other applicants in similar industry would have bought the same business plan and made skeletal editing. After having the business plan turned down, the same person may have no choice than to call on a professional to write him the business plan – that is like being penny wise and pound foolish.

Business Plan and Business Proposal both mean the same thing
For many Nigerian business owners/entrepreneurs, a business plan is the same thing as a business proposal. There is an informative article on what is business proposal which you will find here how to write an effective business proposal. They are very different indeed. A business plan is blueprint for success in business – how you will exploit a business opportunity using an established venture. A business proposal is an offer to be part of a business opportunity in which all parties involved stand to benefit and it’s usually short term and may or may not involve established ventures. The format, layout and targets for both are not the same.

You can Copy, Edit and Present a Sample Business Plan for Submission
Just as I stated earlier, this is a very bad idea especially when submitting to a business plan competition. It will portray you as someone lacking integrity and competence. Moreover just like finger prints, no two businesses are exactly the same no matter how one tries to copy another. There are differences in company structure, culture, mode of operations, even locations of businesses are different and target customers in different regions have different behaviours. The list goes on, can a supermarket based in Onitsha realistically have the same business plan as another based in Kano? If you copy and edit a business plan for a restaurant based in Los Angeles, do you really think its contents will apply for a restaurant that will operate in Lekki or Festac?

I will conclude by saying you are more likely to find success in business and in life if you are properly informed, getting rid of misconceptions and false beliefs is the starting point. Thanks for reading.

To get a professionally written business plan in Nigeria call: 0803 206 4106 or email: paulonwueme@gmail.com

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