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How_to_Write_a_Business_Plan

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					Title:
How to Write a Business Plan

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1345

Summary:
There are many types of symbols. Money from investors, banks or financial
organisations is one such kind of symbols.


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Article Body:
There are many types of symbols. Money from investors, banks or financial
organisations is one such kind of symbols.

A successful Business Plan (=a successful manipulation of symbols) is one
which brings in its wake the receipt of credits (money, another kind of
symbol). What are the rules of manipulating symbols? In our example, what
are the properties of a successful Business Plan?

(1) That it is closely linked to reality. The symbol system must map out
reality in an isomorphic manner. We must be able to identify reality the
minute we see the symbols arranged.

If we react to a Business Plan with incredulity ("It is too good to be
true" or "some of the assumptions are non realistic") - then this
condition is not met and the Business Plan is a failure.

(2) That it rearranges old, familiar data into new, emergent, patterns.

The symbol manipulation must bring to the world some contribution to the
sphere of knowledge (very much as a doctoral dissertation should).

When faced with a Business Plan, for instance, we must respond with a
modicum of awe and fascination ("That's right! - I never thought of it"
or "(arranged) This way it makes sense").

(3) That all the symbols are internally consistent. The demand of
external consistency (compatibility with the real world, a realistic
representation system) was stipulated above. This is a different one: all
symbols must live in peace with one another, the system must be coherent.

In the example of the Business Plan:

Reactions such as: "This assumption / number/ projection defies or
contradicts the other" indicate the lack of internal consistency and the
certain failure to obtain money (=to manipulate the corresponding
symbols).
(4) Another demand is transparency: all the information should be
available at any given time. When the symbol system is opaque - when data
are missing, or, worse, hidden - the manipulation will fail.

In our example: if the applicant refuses to denude himself, to expose his
most intimate parts, his vulnerabilities as well as his strong points -
then he is not likely to get financing. The accounting system in
Macedonia - albeit gradually revised - is a prime example of concealment
in a placewhere exposition should have prevailed.

(5) The fifth requirement is universality. Symbol systems are species of
languages. The language should be understood by all - in an unambiguous
manner. A common terminology, a dictionary, should be available to both
manipulator and manipulated.

Clear signs of the failure of a Business Plan to manipulate would be
remarks like: "Why is he using this strange method for calculation?",
"Why did he fail to calculate the cost of financing?" and even: "What
does this term mean and what does he mean by using it?"

(6) The symbol system must be comprehensive. It cannot exclude certain
symbols arbitrarily. It cannot ignore the existence of competing
meanings, double entendres, ambiguities. It must engulf all possible
interpretations and absolutely ALL the symbols available to the system.

Let us return to the Business Plan:

A Business Plan must incorporate all the data available - and all the
known techniques to process them. It can safely establish a hierarchy of
priorities and of preferences - but it must present all the possibilities
and only then make a selection while giving good reasons for doing so.

(7) The symbol system must have links to other, relevant, symbol systems.
These links can be both formal and informal (implied, by way of mental
association, or by way of explicit reference or incorporation).

Coming back to the Business Plan:

There is no point in devising a Business Plan which will ignore
geopolitical macro-economic and marketing contexts. Is the region safe
for investments?

What are the prevailing laws and regulations in the territory and how
likely are they to be changed? What is the competition and how can it be
neutralized or co - opted? These are all external variables, external
symbol systems. Some of them are closely and formally linked to the
business at hand (Laws, customs tariffs, taxes, for instance). Some are
informally linked to it: substitute products, emerging technologies,
ethical and environmental considerations. The Business Plan is supposed
to resonate within the mind of the reader and to elicit the reaction:
"How very true!!!"

(8) The symbol system must have a discernible hierarchy. There are - and
have been - efforts to invent and to use non-hierarchical symbol systems.
They all failed and resulted in the establishment of a formal, or an
informal, hierarchy. The professional term is "Utility Functions". This
is not a theoretical demand. Utility functions dictate most of the
investment decisions in today's complex financial markets.

The author(s) of the Business Plan must clearly state what he wants and
what he wants most, what is an absolute sine qua non and what would be
nice to have. He must fix and detail his preferences, priorities, needs
and requirements. If he were to attach equal weight to all the parts of
the Business Plan, his message will confuse those who are trying to
decode it and they will deny his application.

(9) The symbol system must be seen to serve a (useful) purpose and it
must demonstrate an effort at being successful. It must, therefore, be
direct, understandable, clear and it must contain lists of demands and
wishes (all of them prioritized, as we have mentioned).

When a computer faces a few tasks simultaneously - it prioritizes them
and allocates its resources in strict compliance with this list of
priorities.

A computer is the physical embodiment of a symbol system - and so is a
bank doling out credit. The same principles apply to the human organism.

All natural (and most human) systems are goal-oriented.

(10) The last - but by no means the least - requirement is that the
symbol system must be interfaced with human beings. There is not much
point in a having a computer without a screen, or a bank without clients,
or a Business Plan without someone to review it. We must always - when
manipulating symbol systems - bear in mind the "end user" and be "user
friendly" to him. There is no such thing as a bank, a firm, or even a
country. At the end of the line, there are humans, like me and you.

To manipulate them into providing credits, we must motivate them into
doing so. We must appeal to their emotions and senses: our symbol system
(=presentation, Business Plan) must be aesthetic, powerful, convincing,
appealing, resonating, fascinating, interesting. All these are irrational
(or, at least, non-cognitive) reactions.

We must appeal to their cognition. Our symbol system must be rational,
logical, hierarchical, not far fetched, true, consistent, internally and
externally. All this must lead to motor motivation: the hand that signs
the check given to us should not shake.

THE PROBLEM, THEREFORE, IS NOT WHERE TO GO, NOT EVEN WHEN TO GO IN ORDER
TO OBTAIN CREDITS.

THE ISSUE IS HOW TO COMMUNICATE (=to manipulate symbols) IN ORDER TO
MOTIVATE.

Using this theory of the manipulation of symbols we can differentiate
three kinds of financing organizations:
(1) Those who deal with non-quantifiable symbols. The World Bank, for
one, when it evaluates business propositions, employs criteriawhich
cannot be quantified (how does one quantify the contribution to regional
stability or the increase in democracy and the improvement in human
rights records?).

(2) Those who deal with semi-quantifiable symbols. Organizations such as
the IFC or the EBRD employ sound - quantitative - business and financial
criteria in their decision making processes. But were they totally
business oriented, they would probably not have made many of the
investments that they are making and in the geographical parts of the
world that they are making them.

(3) And there are those classical financing organizations which deal
exclusively with quantifiable, measurable variables. Most of us come
across this type of financing institutions: commercial banks, private
firms, etc.

Whatever the kind of financial institution, we must never forget:

We are dealing with humans who are influenced mostly by the manipulation
of symbol systems. Abiding by the aforementioned rules would guarantee
success in obtaining funding. Making the right decision on the national
level - would catapult a country into the 21st century without having
first to re-visit the twentieth.

				
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