A business plan is best described through it's table of contents and the actual
format can vary widely. However, a sophisticated investor is generally concerned
with four issues - concept, market, management
and cash flow. A good plan is one that rapidly addresses these issues and invites
the reader to learn more (most investors are overwhelmed with plans to review and often attempt to weed out deals early in
order to focus on the best investment opportunities).
Thus the major elements of a business plan include the following:
• Description of the business
- while painting a complete picture of the retail concept, the plan must articulate why the concept is competitively viable. Success in retailing is all about defining a particular set of consumer needs and
serving them better and with higher productivity than anyone else in the marketplace.
Addressed typically will be the customer profile, the store layout, the real estate strategy, products and services,
merchandising, distribution, and advertising. Obviously, this description will
be most credible when a prototype or pilot store has been developed.
• Market analysis -
the size of the market and the potential market share of the business are critical factors in evaluating the risks associated
with the concept. It is no coincidence that many of the successful rollouts in
the eighties were companies that targeted huge market segments with high productivity retail concepts (e.g. HomeClub and Office
Club). The global supply chain has now been developed for most merchandise
categories. Retailers needing to compete with Wal-Mart now look to local market differences to provide them a competitive
edge. However, niche marketers also were able to attract capital and companies
like San Francisco Music Box and Natural Wonders carved out significant market shares in relatively tiny markets. Many of these companies have morphed into e-commerce retailers for the same reasons. Investors
will also wish to understand the competition from conventional retailers and deep discounters, now and in the near future. Any business starting today, expecting to attract institutional investors, must set
out to be the market leader in customer service or productivity or both.
• Business plans - the
quality and credibility of the management team is as critical as the concept itself.
Most venture capital funded rollouts have organizations with "front loaded" top management teams comprised of executives
with prior expansion experience. Thus the plan must properly present key members
of management and the board of directors. In addition, the plan should describe
the organizational and systems development strategies that will enable the company to reach and maintain a competitive position. Other plans that may need to be articulated in detail are real estate, marketing,
operations and supply chain management.
• Financial projections
- in most retail business plans, the concept store pro-forma income statement is the key element. It helps the investor understand and evaluate the likelihood that the company will be competitive. Very often companies seek capital to move from one strategy to another (e.g. from
specialty stores to superstores). The plan needs to address the real cash flows
from the existing base business as well as the probable performance of the new stores.
A typical business plan will include the following financial tables (by month for the first two years ):
•• Single store pro-forma income statement by month
•• Consolidated income statements
•• Balance sheets
•• Cash flow statements
In an ideal situation, the business plans and the financial projections tie
to the company's historical financial reports and can be used as the operating budget for the first year of the plan.
Our fees are usually based on the time our consultants actually work on an engagement. In the particular instance of preparing a
business plan we usually negotiate a flat fee. Our experience has been
that the plan can be completed within sixty days of receiving client authorization to proceed. We
generally advise against expensive printing or binding options as the plan should be under continuous revision in light of
experience and feedback from investors. We also know that sophisticated investors
are interested in the contents - not the cover.
We have already suggested the idea that a business plan is not a destination
but a learning experience. Bartlett Joseph Associates is in a position to assist
in the rest of the journey. We
can suggest potential investors and make introductions ( we are not investment bankers, make no promises that money can be
raised and charge no performance fees except where specifically proposed and agreed in writing). We can assist in responding to term sheets from potential investors and lenders. We can help in implementing the business strategies outlined in the plan.
Most importantly, we rely on our reputation in the retail marketplace. We
stand by the plans we develop and will do everything we can to turn your entreprenuerial dreams into reality.