At some point in your career you will probably be asked to complete a business plan, as part of a recruitment process. Candidates are often surprised, or worried that their good ideas will be implemented without them being hired (this doesn’t happen in my experience). However, they can cause alarm, as some people are good at their job, which doesn’t involve writing plans, and if the task is expected to be delivered in person it can cause some people to get very stressed. So below we’ve tried to outline so practical steps you can take, as there’s no need to miss out on a dream job just because you don’t know where to start with a business plan.
- Ask the hirer what they expect
Firms are happy to give guidelines and so ask them what format they prefer and the how long they expect the business plan to be. Will you be presenting the plan, will you be expected to leave it behind, or most likely is it just a discussion document? Feel free to ask what IT support will be provided if you’re expected to give a powerpoint presentation.
- Make the presentation visually attractive
You need to engage the reader
- Spell check
It’s so easy to forget to spell check your plan
- Ask someone you trust to review your business plan, or ask them if they would mind you running through your presentation
- Arrive early so you aren’t stressed
Aim to arrive 30 minutes early and have a coffee nearby, but don’t go to the interviewer’s office until 10 minutes before. Arriving very early can sometimes be as irritating as someone who arrives late.
What should a business plan contain?
Everyone has their own thoughts on this, but some of the better business plans contain:
i. An executive summary – this summarises the applicant’s experience, career aims, and business aims if hired
An example of this would be: “Simon has 20 years recruitment experience, much of it gained in management roles. His aim is to grow Fram over the next 3 years to xxx (you need to be realistic and specific with this aim)
ii. A description of the business you want to create, i.e. clients to be targeted and services offered with a target revenue
iii. A guide to how you plan to build this business, i.e. from your existing client base, from introductions from professional intermediaries, from the firm’s own sources of new business (this is often a client’s least favourite thing to see in the current climate).
iv. A guide to the activities required to achieve the above, i.e. not only what intermediaries you will target and how many relationships you have etc, but how many cold calls and appointments you will make. How often you will need to meet a client on average to get them to invest
v. Why the firm you are interviewing with could help you achieve this. What are the key selling points and differentiators.
vi. What support you will need. Will you need an assistant, additional training, or access to cold calling support?
vii. Financials – a breakdown of year 1, 2, and 3 revenues and the business mix, i.e. investments vs. lending if you are a private banker
viii. Referees – you list former colleagues etc, but only do this if you’re happy for them to be contacted. It demonstrates confidence and transparency
ix. Summary – reaffirming the skills of the candidate
We recommend sending a polite email after the meeting if the interviewer has given you their contacts details. It’s always nice to thank them for your time and it’s a chance to reaffirm your interest (if you are indeed interested in the role).
If you’re successful in the interview process, firms will expect you to implement the plan and so it needs to be realistic. It’s a nightmare for all parties concerned when someone over promises and under delivers. Whilst the firm will refine your plan once you have full knowledge of their aims and offering, it can often form the basis of your first 12 months.
Good luck and if we can assist, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01525 864 372.
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