Business Plan: More than words on paper
Nigerians have issues with planning mainly because of how we see it. The Nigerian business man or entrepreneur sees the business plan as just words on paper. A form of document that is used once and discarded, suitable only for getting a loan or investment. During my years as a business plan developer and consultant I have come to realize that the average Nigerian business owner or entrepreneur will not write a business plan unless he/she wants a loan or investment facility. Even for those who write a business plan for other laudable reasons such as wanting a guide will dump the plan somewhere and later on tell you it was useless venture.
Every entrepreneur has an idea and a destination that they want that idea to take them to. That is the main essence of a business pan, or the reason why you write one. If you have a destination in mind you would need to have a map and find out the best route to take, how long it will take for you to get there and all other factors such as fuel and listening to traffic report. However this is not so with the Nigerian entrepreneur he would look at the map once and dump it, for those who look at the map; while other won’t even bother. When you plot your route using the map you might have to change it after you set out and the change will come to play only if you have another review of the map with a focus at your destination.
It is quite sad that we do not see the business plan as what it is but as a document that needs to be written to please the banker or loan officer so they can give us money.
One other reason why business plans fail is because the Nigerian businessman / businesswoman have dreams that are not achievable. The dreams themselves are too big for the dreamer, sorry to say. A lot of entrepreneurs write business pans they can’t work with. Their plans either have a taste way beyond their own taste buds or it’s out of their reach completely. The more realistic your plan is the more chances that you will go back to it at a later date and not dump it in the trash can.
A friend of mine told me at one time that writing a business plan is like going to war and to this I agreed. That is because it is true. The entrepreneur is the general in charge of the fighters who will be at the war front. In all honesty before a battle begin you have to draw up your strategy for winning the war and doing that with the least lives lost. What the general does and the Nigerian entrepreneur does not do are as follows;
- The general will always go back to the plan
- The general is always ready to adjust the plan and make changes
- The general will carry all the fighters along and make them aware of the plan
- The general ensures that he weighs every change against the lives of the fighters
- The general will never discard planning or the value of it to winning the war
It is time for Nigerians to see planning as what it is. It is not a waste of time or paper and therefore should not be treated as such. When you draw up a plan or map for your business don’t allow it to gather dust remember that “a rolling stone gathers no moss”.
The entrepreneur’s business plan must always be handy and at easy reach where it can be looked at and compared with actual running of the business, it should be reviewed and adjusted. It’s like a conscientious saver or accountant, he would always look at his books to make sure they are in order, if they are not he searches out why and makes amends or corrections where necessary.
If you see planning as what it is and not a gateway to instant access to fund then you will get the value of it. It is said that “He who does not plan, plans to fail” but he who makes a shoddy plan will get a business that collapses along the way. A shoddy plan is worse than not planning at all. His case will be like that of the traveler who failed to get to his destination and could not find his way back to the start point. Nigerian entrepreneurs beware!!!