I’m trying to create a business plan for my team, and since I have no experience whatsoever, I need your help. I have no idea what a business plan is, nor any idea on what to include in it, or how to make it.
Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
P.S I’m googling what a business plan is right now, so I may not need the definition.
A couple things a mentor is going to be your best place to learn this type of thing so hopefully you have one who can help you. That said the white papers are a good place to start but also just spend some time with Google there is a whole lot of great ideas out there.
One of the things you will pretty quickly notice there are a lot of ways to write a business plan, picking what style will depend on two things who you are and who you are pitching(presenting too). We all have a style to how we talk/think/work ect you need to pick a style that works for you/your team (For example we wrote 254 and 1868’s plans very differently). The other thing is think about who you are presenting to, are the judges going to be VC’s or are they going to be accountants or engineers? Each of those different groups will prefer a different style and they will have regional differences as well and that should be considered. Just keep this in the back of your head.
So now for actually writing one
Companies exist to sell the solution to a problem. You buy a pen because you need to write something. What problem are you solving with what widget you produce? Are you selling your team’s ability to produce great future engineers? To promote FIRST? To sell those light bulbs? To help to community?
a. There are no wrong answers here and there can be more than one answer, ie “team XYZ is really spiffy because we constantly produce top students who spend their free time helping the community and saving kittens out of trees”
b. You at this point also need to have some idea of how you are fixing that problem. Tied into this why you? What are you doing that’s special why should you get the award/funding/money/gold stars
i. Personally I’m a big fan of http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/methodologies/research_mq.jsp They are a really great exercise in helping you to think about what you do, what others do, and where you can improve to gain market share.
Before you get into the really technical side of the b-plan I would take a look at http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html#axzz1WGnoAOtw this is a very very venture style concept but it’s a really great exercise try to make one for your team and follow the rules.
a. Note this is great practice for your judges you will never have time to get through a full plan with a they don’t have time nor will they read all 20+ pages of a full out prospects plan. If your luck you will get 10 min but done right you can get though this style of pitch and then give them the full one to read/show you did it.
Those are a good starting point combined with the white pages you should have some idea of where to start. If you need more help feel free to shoot me a message.
A business plan is a great thing, and I recommend it, but strongly keep in mind what a wise man once said (I dont remember who is was ) : “Make a business plan and then throw it away”,… meaning that its a good idea to know where you want to go, but don’t let a plan limit your journey.
On my old team, we based ours on the Skunkworks Robotics business plan and team 234’s as well. These two clearly outline what a winning and effective business plan looks like. And hey, in Palmetto this year, 11 won the business awards so it must have worked! Both documents are posted in CD Media.
Never heard of the business award, is it anything like the Entrepreneurship Award?
Glad to hear it won the awards since we borrowed liberally from 11’s business plan
P.S. Sure would be nice if entrepreneurship was easier to spell ;>
I agree with Nielsen about not letting the business plan hold you back, but there is a lot of valuable information in the business plans and really makes you think through what you can and can’t do and how you will handle serious problems that could easily arise during the year. So the process of generating the business plan is certainly as useful as having the plan itself.