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A business plan is ineffective if not realistically thought through and most importantly not implemented and Mrs. Jacqueline Shaw-Nicholson, communication and client services manager, JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) has some suggestions to help in preparing a good business plan. 

“The business plan is important for persons seeking funding and helps entrepreneurs to focus on the specific steps necessary for them to make business ideas succeed,” Mrs. Shaw-Nicholson explained.

“It doesn’t have to be a 30 or 40-page document, but it must have certain basic information. For example, your financials must also be realistic. The typical plan should include an executive summary, a description of the business, market research, marketing, distribution and sales plan, organisational structure, and any other supporting details that you believe is necessary to make your pitch for funding.”

She adds that the document must also represent the entrepreneur seeking funding since he will need to explain the contents at some point.

“Too many business plans are generic, representing hopes for the venture and research data that the owner hardly returns to during the process of starting up, and especially after the business has started and continues to develop,” the JNSBL communication and client services manager stated.

 “What we encourage here at JNSBL is for entrepreneurs to make realistic plans, considering the unique elements of their idea and make it come to life by including practical and well-thought out steps to achieving their goal. When completed, it should assist with convincing your lender that you can achieve what you are planning to do,” she added.

  She pointed out that JNSBL recently there has also been a move towards completing a business model canvas for a number of reasons.

 “The business plan is still relevant; but, the Business Model Canvass is more agile than a business plan. The Business Model Canvas shows how a business creates and delivers value for customers and allows the entrepreneur to test different hypotheses or potential strategies about the business model,” she explained.

 She said the business model canvass allows for the observation of how the critical strategic components of the business are related and how they can be manipulated to impact the effectiveness of the business.

 “It looks at value propositions, customer segments, customer channels and relationships and how they interact to bring in revenue while managing key resources, partners, activities and related costs. When pitching for funding, the entrepreneur will be able to articulate how they will make money based on their actual earnings, this is what investors and lenders are most interested in,” she stated.

 She said persons can research online for samples of a business model canvas, or visit the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) for assistance with how to prepare a business model canvas.

 She maintains that although the business plan is important, it is just the first step in preparing for funding.

“There are other requirements that an entrepreneur may be required to meet,” Shaw-Nicholson explained, adding that, “the ability to sell your idea through your business plan or by articulating very well these key areas, will put you in an advantageous position.”

 She adds that JN Small Business Loan offers micro loans without the requirement of a business plan or business model canvas; however persons seeking larger funding amounts are usually required to submit a plan.

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