Magic, Market, Money and Management

More on the value of a business plan as a marketing tool.  There’re many textbook approaches to writing a business plan, almost all of them with considerable merit and wisdom.  If you had to distill a lot of these ideas into a list, a ‘classic’ business plan would contain the following:

– A description of the market in which your venture operates

– The customer problem your company/service will solve

– What makes *your* company uniquely qualified to offer this solution

– Financial gains and risks

– The management team

– How much $ is needed to make this happen


There’s a easy way to cover this ground – in a way that’s easy to remember.  Four words beginning with the letter “M”.

4 – M-s    :  Magic, Market, Money and Management

MAGIC:  Tell a story about how lives will be different with your company or product or service.  The narrative is important — potential buyers will remember a story far longer than they’ll hold onto a bullet-pointed list.  Remain truthful but leave your modesty at the door…

MARKET:  It’s all about people and numbers.  People — how many, who are they, (demographics), trends.  And its also about other players in your market.  Creativity in locating competitors and allies will go a long way in convincing potential buyers you’ve thought long and hard about your business. 

Example:  A local golf course was for sale and while the clubhouse offered the obligatory list of pro instructors, the owner thought about bringing even more business in by way of …  electronic games.  No-one claimed WII-golf was a replacement for thwacking real-world golf balls, the owner installed a few wide screens and WII equipment for the golfers’ family to play with.  That course owner also initiated a “student golfer days” program with the Physical Education program at the nearby Junior College.  Newbie golfers could sign up for golf partners who were, themselves, learning the game.  

MONEY:  If you’re not comfortable creating spreadsheets that show ‘what-if’ money projections (and we’re talking a page or two of these, at most), find a local B-school student who’ll crank out a couple of spreadsheets.  

MANAGEMENT:  Here’s where a standard business plan varies from what you’ll be showing potential buyers.  For the most part, plans tell what’s going to happen and why a particular management team is suited to the task.  Plans as a selling tools tell stories of how existing management (you) has been successful in meeting challenges and finding opportunities.  A stylistic tactic?  You need to keep a healthy ego in check as you write this:  potential buyers don’t want to think that its been so much rocket science to keep the company running – so … downplay the difficulty of the challenges and emphasise the cornucopia of opportunities that exists.

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