Tips from the expert: Muhammad Massalha on building a business plan for startups

Muhammad Masalha is the CEO, iFunds - Economic center for business development, he shares in this article his tips for entrepreneurs and startups building their business plan.

Throughout my 13 years experience in the business consulting services for entrepreneurs and business proprietors, and till this day, I can hear the phrase 'business plan' almost on a daily basis from at least one of the entrepreneurs that I speak with.

The most interesting thing is that this phrase, 'business plan', which is used broadly by the 'entrepreneurs community', contains different and diverse implications.

'I need a business plan' is a very common expression among entrepreneurs. If we take, for example, 10 entrepreneurs with each desiring a different business plan, we will reach the conclusion that the first wants a business feasibility test, and the others want market survey, estimating the size of the investment, fund raising programme from an investor or venture capital fund, a credit-raising plan from a bank, future cash flow planning, work plan and timetable, strategic plan, LEAN CANVAS or product presentations, and onward goes the examples.

Therefore, before creating a business plan, and before hurrying to look for an expert to build our business plan, you should know what you, as an entrepreneur, need. You should identify in which stage you are, and define the different tools required for you to progress effectively to your target. Hence, if I have an outstanding idea for a product, a service, an invention, an app or anything else, and I don't obtain the knowledge or technological tools to implement them, than I might be in the stage where I should partner with someone who has technical knowledge and together we can move one more step in the process. Another example is if my project is already up and running and produces revenues, than I might need an attractive and to the point presentation that will persuade an investor to invest in my project, and not necessarily the investor will want to look at visual numbers in a thick paged, non-dynamic business plan.

After we've identified the stage we're in, it's easier to define the necessary steps for pushing the project ahead. Important to say that at each stage, my idea might sharpen, improve, or even change direction completely. When this happens, many of the parameters the 'business plan' was based on will change, bringing us to the situation where the detailed plan, with all my dreams and the financial forecasts describing the number of customers I'll have from each product/service I'll sell - this business plan is now becoming irrelevant!

As a conclusion, the product called 'business plan', especially in its popular format which includes detailed background on the entrepreneurs, their experience, broad overview of the market and predicted market-share analysis, which optimistic, profitable, financial forecasts and dreams are based on. This product is not suitable for a startup. Especially not suitable for its early stages.

In the world of accountants and economists it is said: if you doubt a loss - write a loss. If you doubt a profit - don't write a profit! In the world of start up entrepreneurs they say: doubtfully a failure, write an experience, doubtfully a success - the success will come! In order for this success to actually come, you should focus on your startup's success by being a dynamic, determined entrepreneur, fully aware of all the rapid changes in the innovation environment. You mustn't waste resources such as time, money and energy on describing the predicted success, but to invest these resources in making this success happen.

You should remember to identify the stage where you are situated in, define your startup's needs in each and every stage, consult with the right people - and you and your team with generate your success.

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