This is the first in a series of 5 on writing business plans.
The Lion’s Den in Chiang Mai, Thailand is on August 1—just 5 months away. If you’re living and working in the 10/40 Window and need capital, apply! Every one of the B4T workers who completed the due diligence required at the last two Lion’s Dens were granted investment capital. But where do you start to find investment monies? You start with a business plan. This is the first in a series of 5 on writing business plans.
Reasons for a Business Plan
Business plans. Yes, some research shows that doing a business plan does not guarantee any greater odds of succeeding in business than not doing one; however, similar research shows that those who do a business plan are 50% more likely to get investment capital. So if you need money to launch or grow your business, a business plan is a must.
Research is hard work and it takes time. But actually starting and operating a business is extremely hard work and takes years of time. Bill Rancic, winner on Donald Trump’s show The Apprentice, says,
If it really were a no-brainer to make it on your own in business, then there would be millions of no-brained, harebrained, and otherwise dubiously brained individuals quitting their day jobs and hanging out their own shingles. Nobody would be left to round out the workforce and execute the business plan. 
Starting a business is work. Starting a business requires time, energy, and knowledge.
Jason, an OPEN worker who owns a business in Central Asia, adds,
Do not think that success will come quickly or easily. There are a lot of myths bound up with the concept of starting a business. Success takes long hours, strategic planning, and a commitment to the work involved. The rewards are great, but the effort is, too.
In this day and age the question is often asked, “Do I really need a business plan?” After all, everyone is in a hurry. In a world of 140-character tweets, can you really expect anyone to read a thirty-page business plan? Yet you need a business plan for when you finally get that all-important pitch meeting with investors, they will grill you on every aspect of your business. If you have not researched a thorough business plan, you will not have thought through every area of the business and be prepared to answer their probing questions.
Benefits of a Business Plan
From day one, every business needs a strategy for its future. Strategic development begins with prayerfully visualizing where you want the business and ministry to be in the future, as well as analyzing competitors, industry suppliers, and customers, while seeking opportunities to leverage all of your assets and strengths through the business.
A business plan will quantify the goals and objectives of this vision. A good B4T business plan will clarify what products or services the business can profitably provide; who the targeted customers are; and how marketing, human resources, evangelism, and discipleship will be intertwined and dealt with. The plan should also clarify how your business will actually bring transformation to the community.
Even if you are not looking for outside funding, developing a business plan can still be a critical factor for successfully starting a company. This is because it is the planning—not the plan—that is really important. It is the process of researching the plan that is the biggest benefit.
The business plan assists you in examining the critical aspects of the business, researching factors and trends affecting the business’s success, while asking and answering the tough questions. Bottom line—the most important reason for writing a business plan is that it is a vital tool for you. So first and foremost, doing a business plan is for your own benefit, and secondarily, for the benefit of others. Failing to plan ahead is not an option in business. Remember, it was not raining when Noah built the ark.
If you don’t have a business plan and are a little overwhelmed by the prospect of completing one from scratch, there is help. Both the OPEN Network (firstname.lastname@example.org) and IBEC (Robert.Bush@ibecventures.com) have coaches who understand the B4T world and who will assist you.
 Bill Rancic, “Power Thoughts,” Work It, Sova (Southern Virginia’s Business Communities), January 14, 2014, http://www.newsadvance.com/work_it_sova/power_thoughts/if-it-really-was-a-no-brainer-to-make-it/article_fcc49f1e-7d7d-11e3-bbd8–001a4bcf6878.html.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.