Creating a quality business plan is just the first step in moving your idea from the drawing board to a thriving, profitable business enterprise.
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Arguably, the distribution of your business plan is even more important than the document itself. But how will you keep track of who has received your plan and who hasn't? Better yet, what can you do to increase the odds of a favorable response, even if the prospect received the plan months ago?
A business plan is a sales tool. However, it won't do you any good if it sits in a drawer collecting dust. To get results you need to work your business plan into a comprehensive and aggressive selling strategy. You wouldn't think about selling widgets without a strategy, so the distribution of your business plan deserves as much organization as you can muster. At a minimum, here's what you need to do to get noticed.
Successful business plan distribution begins with a reliable spreadsheet or other tracking tool capable of labeling prospects and recording contact histories.
But before you get too carried away, you need to consider what the process will look like. How will you identify prospects? Will you just mail them a copy of your business plan or will you "pre-sell" them with an initial phone call or face-to-face meeting?
How long will you wait to follow-up with them after they have received a copy of your business plan? These are all critical questions that need to be answered and incorporated into your tracking device.
Resubmit (when appropriate)
In some instances, it may be appropriate to resubmit your business plan to an organization that has previously rejected it. Although there is a good chance your business plan will get the same response it did the first time around, it is also possible that the second time could be the charm, especially if the organization has seen turnover of key staff or experienced a philosophical shift.
Don't try to hide the fact that this is the second time you have submitted your business plan for consideration. Instead, be upfront about it and articulate your reasons for resubmitting.
Let's say you send the business plan to a prospective partner and you don't hear anything back from them from six months or more. There's no use even trying to follow-up further because they aren't interested, right? Not necessarily.
If your business hits or exceeds the short-term forecasts you outlined in the initial business plan, you can leverage that information to convince the prospect that your plan is realistic and highly achievable. You might even want to consider resubmitting to key prospects at predetermined intervals (six months, a year, two years, etc.) if your company is consistently hitting your forecasted goals.
If you are serious about getting your business up and running, you need to be prepared to share your vision with prospects you meet through unexpected encounters.
This means keeping a copy of your business plan handy at all times and being ready to go into selling mode on a moment's notice. When you get back to the office, don't forget to enter the new prospect into your database so you will remember to follow up with them later on.