The 5 Key Attributes Of Successful Business Plans

SME BUSINESS PLANThe harsh reality, and an unfortunate one is that most business plans fail.


There are two major reasons for preparing business plans:

  1. To raise money from lenders and/or investors
  2. To develop a successful business strategy and roadmap to grow the business

In terms of raising money, consider these statistics: According to the National Venture Capital Association, venture capitalists fund less than 1% of business plans they see! According to the Center for Venture Research at the University of New Hampshire, angel investors fund only 11% of business plans they see!

In terms of business strategy, consider these statistics: Study done by Inc. magazine and the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA) revealed that 80% of new businesses fail within the first 5 years. And according to Dun & Bradstreet, 91% of businesses fail within 10 years…


At W-HBS, we have identified 5 Key Attributes for Successful Business Plans as follows:

Key Attribute 1 – Start With The End In Mind

All successful business plans have practical Action Plans… and these Action Plans are developed from “reverse engineering” success….

When you’re creating your business plan, you first must decide where you’d like to be in 5 years…

Ask yourself these questions: What will my business look like in 5 years?, What will my revenues be?, What will my profits be?, How many products and/or services will I have?, How big will my staff be?, How many locations will I operate?, etc

And then…

Once you develop this vision of success, you need to “reverse engineer” it… That is, figure out all the milestones you’ll need to accomplish to get there. This is how you create an action plan that allows you to convert your dream of success into reality.

For example:

The promoter of Metro Taxi came to us with just an idea based on an opportunity created by the Lagos State Government, but with the vision to be an innovative customer oriented company, with the sole aim of providing unparallel transportation service for both individual and corporate bodies.

We assisted in reviewing the taxi industry in London and Dubai and extracted best practices that could be adopted. We then went further to identify the target audience for the service and developed and administered a questionnaire to understand their unique needs. This helped us in developing the winning business plan for the business.

and the outcome? Just ask the Metro guys;
The business became a reality with debt financing from a local bank for the first fifty (50) luxury taxis and subsequently the next one hundred (100). Over a 110 jobs were created with the launch of the business.

Read more about our From Idea To Reality case study


Key Attribute 2 – The Right Value Proposition

At the end of the day, successful companies only need to do ONE thing really well…and that is, they must offer products and services that customers actually want. No matter how good your product, service or technology, if you’re not solving a “burning need,” you’ll fail.

For example:

PayPal’s initial business plan called for using their technology to allow one Palm Pilot to pay another. This was NOT a burning customer need… and this mis-step almost bankrupted the young company… It was only when PayPal focused on the “burning need” of secure online payments that the company took off… And the rest is history: PayPal sold to eBay for $1.5 Billion.

Speaking of PayPal,  when Health Forever Product Limited  was looking to formally launch its products to the rest of the world but could not decide which country to pilot and the market entry strategy, they contacted W-HBS.

We extracted and analysed their Paypal account to access the online customers to locate the countries where their products were mostly purchased. We then developed a questionnaire that was administered to the customers from the top three locations to understand drivers and barriers to the purchase. Finally we analysed the results, focusing on the client’s pressing questions.

Outcome? The client was able to clearly identify the U.S. market as the market to pilot based on the Paypal customer analysis. Based on the insights provided, we worked with the client to develop a marketing strategy for their products in the pilot country. Following the implementation of the marketing strategy, online sales tripled.

Read more about our Taking Africa To The Rest Of The World case study.


Key Attribute 3 – The Right Business Model

The third key attribute shared by successful business plans is that they have the right business model. Choosing the right business model for your company is critical to its success. According to a research study from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, your choice of a business model is a better predictor of your future financial performance than the industry you choose to operate in.

For example:

When Oil and Gas Soft Skills came to W-HBS with a poor first year performance, we were able to define their vision and clearly articulate the road-map for operations. We helped to analyse all the possible business model options and choose the one that will best ensure success.

Outcome? Visit their website and see their training offerings.

Read more about our Creating the Roadmap For The Future case study.


Key Attribute 4 – The Right Marketing and Sales Strategy

The fourth key attribute shared by successful business plans is that they include the right marketing and sales strategy. Most business plans only include a very basic marketing & sales plan. Often, they simply say they’ll promote the company via the usual places (like radio, TV, print, online), and hire more sales people. On the other hand, successful companies create well-thought-out and comprehensive marketing strategies.

For example:

When Saneki, a value-added reseller (VAR), came to us with issues of sales, we didn’t look at the obvious ways to improve marketing. For Saneki unsatisfactory sales levels was given a boost with a cheaper solution to media advertising – Training of the Sales Team.

Outcome? There was an tremendous increase in sales and customer service levels.

Read more about our Finding Sales Solutions In The Strangest Places case study.


Key Attribute 5 – Communicate Brilliantly

Finally, successful business plans get everybody (investors, team members, advisors) fired up about the company’s vision and potential. Simply put, the greatest business strategies and action plans in the world are useless if they are not effectively communicated to the key parties.

And this is where most business plans break down…

In mediocre business plans, the author sees the business plan as a “data dump” of the strategy and action plan. But that’s not going to get investors excited. Instead, you need to take a different approach. Instead, you need to realize that your business plan is really a marketing document. And who are you marketing to with your business plan? Chances are, you need to persuade one or more of the following:

  • Investors or lenders who may want to fund you
  • Employees to get them to buy into your vision and implement your action plans
  • Partners, distributors and key customers to do business with you
  • New management hires to get them excited about your business…

Here’s an example:

To improve the company’s bottom-line, an exceptional brand in the automobile industry needed all employees buy-in, from the cleaners, drivers up to top management. We assisted in facilitating an out-of-country retreat in Accra, Ghana where we developed and communicated the 5-year Growth Plan which was approximately 2,000% change in existing turnover. Imagine if the communication was poor and the employees failed to buy-in.

and the outcome? Just ask the Philly & Mools team;
The business has recorded financial, people and portfolio growth and the bottom line defined has been surpassed. Since the initial strategy retreat W-Holistic Business Solutions has consistently worked with the brand and is very proud of the growth of the firm in to a Group with 7 subsidiaries.

Read more about our Getting Employee Buy-In To Improve The Bottom Line case study.


To sum it up, if you don’t include these 5 attributes in your business plan, the odds are stacked against you… but when your business plan has all 5 of these key attributes, you dramatically improve your chances for success…

So to help ensure you succeed, W-HBS is offering to develop your business plan for you, so you can successfully raise money and grow your business…

Learn more about how we can help you with our 4 Options.

To your success!

Olanrewaju Oniyitan