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    22 Replies Latest reply on Jun 20, 2008 4:01 PM by designer

    Does a business plan have to be written?

    Iwrite Pioneer
      I was just wondering, could I or anyone ele sit down with a video camera and record a video business plan that they could pass out on dvd, cd or through a media clip?

      I have seen video resumes. Why not video business plans? I'm just asking. It seems like it would be a great way to get in front of potential investors and stand out.

      Should business plans take advantage of technology like everything else?

      Thoughts or comments?
        • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
          Iwrite Pioneer
          The 'ele' in the sentence: *"I was just wondering, could I or anyone ele sit down with a video camera
          and record a video business plan that they could pass out on dvd, cd or
          through a media clip?"* Should be 'else.'

          I need to slow down but this idea just hit me.
          • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
            caffeinated Scout
            I did a quick search on youtube.com and found an 8 part series on how to write a business plan

            http://www.youtube.com/results?search_que
            ry=business+plan&search_type=&aq=6
            &oq=business
            • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
              LUCKIEST Guide
              Does a business plan have to be written??

              Great question. As you know a Business Plan is a formal document explaining in detail
              plans to develop a successful business. And Bus Plans change as your business grows.

              So would you take the dvd, cd or media clip into your banker??
              It would or could make a great presentation or help on a web site like this when
              people are looking for lenders or investors.

              Want to start up a side business?? LUCKIEST
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                  Iwrite Pioneer
                  Yes, I would take it to bankers. Bankers watch TV and movies, they surf the web. I think the presentation would have more impact and give them a glimpse into the personality and passion behind the business.

                  I try to explain this to my clients all the time - no matter what a person does, he or she is still human. Talk to the human being while conveying a clear, concise and informative message and they will respond.

                  I am just thinking about whether or not it will work? I'm curious.

                   

                • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                  Lighthouse24 Ranger

                  I can't think of a business plan that I've helped develop (as a consultant) in the past three years that wasn't accompanied by a presentation in Windows media or on DVD (or both). A media presentation can do more than a written abstract to quickly grab the interest of a potential lender or investor, and to let the founder showcase his or her knowledge, skill, and experience in a way that "connects" person-to-person. Plus a lot of angel groups and business incubators are asking for these now (in lieu of scheduling so many "live" pitches). What I do is a bit more involved than just having the founder talk into a camcorder, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a big, expensive production (unless you're seeking VC-sized funding, then maybe it does).

                  A traditional written plan is still required, of course, to communicate detailed financial information and provide all the supporting evidence on which a decision will be based. Very often, sections of the plan are split apart and passed to different people within a bank or investment group for due diligence -- and they expect to see all the facts in black and white, and in a fairly "standard" format. Springing anything too different on those folks would be a mistake, I think.

                  To ever get a plan to those folks, however, you have to get someone's attention up front. Placing a CD or DVD in the package couldn't hurt -- and I can think of a couple of instances where it allowed firms to get looks and consideration that they probably wouldn't have otherwise. So, yes, I think small businesses should take advantage of the technology in this case.
                    • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                      Iwrite Pioneer
                      Thank you all for your insight. I have been asking some of the people I work with and many of us think you could create a website for your business plan that is password protected that could do what Lighthouse is talking about.

                      Not that I would ever want to work on something like that but I thought I would put it out there. I wanted to encourage us to think differently about things we normally do the same way.

                      I believe creative thinking can be applied to all aspects of a business. Well, maybe, don't get too "creative" with your accounting, that may be a crime.
                        • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                          Lighthouse24 Ranger
                          I've had clients use web-based versions of a plan for certain purposes (it's a great tool for recruiting managers and employees for a start-up or business expansion, for instance), but it doesn't seem to have much impact as a tool for getting funding. The reason (I think) is because a web-based pitch requires the target to "do extra work" (get on-line, enter a URL, enter a password) and they just don't in most cases -- plus with added security on the founder side to protect the plan, and lots of security on the banker/investor side to protect their resources, the multi-media download often won't fly (and when it doesn't, the whole opportunity is gone and forgotten). A media presentation that arrives with an attractive package is more likely to sit there on the desk continually whispering, "Watch me, watch me . . ." until the target is looking for a diversion in his/her day and finally does -- and it's more likely to work properly then, and show what you want it to show.
                            • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                              Iwrite Pioneer
                              Good points. See, this is what I like about this forum - this exchange has given me a lot of insight.

                              Lighthouse, how long do you think it takes on an average to have someone read and respond to a business plan?
                                • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                                  Lighthouse24 Ranger
                                  Lighthouse, how long do you think it takes on an average to have someone read and respond to a business plan?

                                  If you're asking in the context of seeking funding, I'd say that in 80 percent of the cases, it takes between 3 and 10 days to learn that an investment or lending proposal is under consideration (at which point, additional info is usually requested). From there, a final decision to fund (or not to fund) may be only minutes away or months away -- depends on dozens of factors (the type of business, the type of opportunity, the type of lender/investor, size of the deal, terms involved . . .).
                          • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                            Uncle Leon Tracker
                            <<Does a business plan have to be written?>>

                            Absolutely. Many people think that the reason for writing a Biz Plan is to obtain financing. and, of course, that can be one use of the Biz Plan. However, (IMHO) the PRIMARY reason is to do as the title suggests... PLAN.

                            The "seat-of-the-pants" business ideas do not addres the details of business operations that we should be considering. And, as the old cliche' states: The devil is in the details.

                            A Biz Plan FORCES you to confront details and obstacles that you might miss unless you do so in writing. It FORCES you to address the details of your marketing plan. It FORCES you to address the details of your financial plan. It FORCES you to plan your "Break-Even Point" and when you believe you will reach it.

                            That said, I certainly commend Lighthouse for his comments concerning the presentation for the purpose of submitting a financing proposal. Although a video presentation (in itself) will not get the loan, it certainly can provide th presentation with IMPACT, ATTENTION, and IMPRESSION.
                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                              • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                                Iwrite Pioneer
                                Even in creating a video or interactive business plan, you are going to have to PLAN. There is nothing "seat-of-the-pants" about a well designed website or presentation. On average, a website to my standards and price requires a minimum of 6 weeks to construct. We just put together a printed presentation that has taken up to 2 weeks worth of time for 4 individuals - I don't do "seat-of-the-pants" nor do I encourage anyone else to.

                                What I was suggesting was a well thought out presentation that takes advantage of technology to communicate the message in a more interactive and interesting way. Even if you are only doing the business plan for developing and running your business - how much more impactful would it be to hear yourself talking to you about what you believe your busness is going to be. The passion you have at the beginning might help to keep the fire going through the hard times.

                                Why can't these details and numbers be done in a video or interactive medium? I do agree that it may be too many steps for bankers but why can't it be just what a person needs to remind them of the plan and what they should be doing?

                                It would be easier to navigate. Easier to find information that you are interested in. And it would have a voice, it would be alive.

                                I am not telling anyone to do this, but I am asking why not? Has anyone tried it to say it will not work? Or are we uncomfortable with a new idea?

                                I don't care either way. I have a written plan. But I am thinking how creative was that? I am challenging my thinking to see if I could have done it better.

                                 

                                  • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                                    Uncle Leon Tracker
                                    Iwrite, you've grossly misinterpreted my post. A Biz plan must be written. Anything else is "gravy". Writing the plan must be preliminary to any video or internet applications.

                                    So, to clarify; if either video or internet usage is to be utilized, it must FIRST be written.

                                    The "seat-of-the-pants" phrase was referring to having no written plan, but rather "having in mind" a plan for the business.
                                      • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                                        Iwrite Pioneer
                                        Uncle Leon,

                                        My apologies. I did misinterpret your post but I think we both did. When I say "written," I meant as the only way it can be presented, does a business plan have to be presented in paper form?

                                        I am wondering if there is a better way to present the information in the business plan that ensures that it is reviewed?
                                          • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                                            Uncle Leon Tracker
                                            I meant as the only way it can be presented, does a business plan have to be presented in paper form?

                                            The only way? No. IMHO, it would depend upon the purpose and the "audience".

                                            I believe that before a business is ever pursued...still in the early planning stages, a biz plan should be written. As the plans progress, it should be continually upgraded. Before a biz plan is ever prepared for the use as a tool for obtaining financing, it should be used as a tool for clarifying all the details of the planed operations. THEN, it can be modified (in written form) for the purpose of obtaining financing. Only after that is accomplished, should a high-impact method of presentation be considered.

                                            A high-impact presentation can get attention, arouse interest, and build enthusiasm. But "when the rubber hits the road" if it doesn't make sense on paper, it won't make sense any other way. The numbers have to work.

                                            Of course...that's only my opinion.
                                    • Re: Does a business plan have to be written? Not always...
                                      PeoplePawn Wayfarer

                                      I believe that all entrepreneurs should use every tool available to be able to communicate their respective business plans and investment opportunities. Here in Seattle, there exists an incredible number of start-up companies. Being in start-up mode myself, I quickly realized that I needed to differentiate myself as much as possible from the heard in how I presented my business plan.

                                      Of course having the traditional plan in printed format is important as a basic foundation. My experience shows me that sophisticated angel investors want to hear several key data points with regards to a plan so that they can make a quick decision. Many angel investors do not have the time to read multiple printed plans, and many want to see/hear the entrepreneur in action......they bet on the jockey more than the horse at times.

                                      Here are a few examples of how I have taken the fundamental information from my business plan and created more flexible communication tools that can be accessed by or presented to investors remotely:

                                      1. www.PlanHeaven.com - I created a 9 minute video presentation for my current startup www.PeoplePawn.com. It costs me $500 to create and I'm able to offer remote viewing to investors both at this site as well on the investor area of the www.PeoplePawn.com .

                                      2. www.Yodio.com - I created "free of charge" an Investor PowerPoint Presentation with voiceover for my current startup www.PeoplePawn.com. I can email this "podcast" to potential investors so that they have a quick format for reviewing my deal.

                                      So....having a printed plan is fundamental once you have interest.....but using video and audio as an introduction to your deal is also an effective strategy...

                                      Best of luck.

                                      Patrick Kane - Patrick@PeoplePawn.com
                                      • Re: Does a business plan have to be written?
                                        designer Tracker
                                        I think everything has its pro's and con's. If you choose to do a DVD and are not upbeat, good with editing, photogenic, etc. Those can be negative things vs. a crisp, well-written professional document.