How a Business Plan Can Work as Part of Your Curriculum
Friday, September 18, 2009
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
the Management Department
College, New York, NY
are creative forces bursting with ideas and ambitions. Many students dream of
being entrepreneurs and building successful businesses. For most entrepreneurs,
the transition from the idea stage to reality begins with a business plan that
tests the idea’s feasibility, presents the idea to others, and convinces
investors, bankers, and partners to participate. A business plan project can be
an effective part of an entrepreneurship or business course, and it can be
structured to fit the interests and abilities of students at any level. By
marshalling the students’ interests, goals, and motivations in the process of
writing a business plan, you can truly create a great learning experience and a
course your students will remember forever.
is a team sport and bringing a venture to reality requires the support of
others such as bankers, investors, and partners. With a structured curriculum,
students at any level of financial and quantitative skills can create complete
and convincing business plans with high-quality financial projections.
business plan integrates skills and issues from various disciplines including
marketing, management, finance, and law. In an era when so much business
education stays in separate silos, a business plan project breaks down these
divisions and shows students how their goals, skills, and knowledge can work
together. Because a business plan is a complete and professional document that
establishes the viability of their business ideas, the students get to build
both their writing and presentation skills.
heart of a business plan is financial analysis. This includes estimating how
much money is needed to start a business, what revenue and expenses will be,
and how much profit the company will make. Working on a plan answers questions
such as "How will I obtain the financing I need?” and "What will it cost me to
operate this business?”
used to answer these questions can be matched to the abilities, skills, and
background of the students. Students who are comfortable with Excel can create
their own financial statements; students can also use any of a number of
templates that help them through the process more easily. For students who are
less comfortable with quantitative work, the plan can use worksheets to answer
key business plan questions such as start-up costs, revenue projections, and
plans can be done as individual or team projects. Because many plans require
research about the industry, competition, and expense items, there is more than
enough work for a three- to five-person team. A team also becomes a forum for
discussion of the many decisions about the business that need to be made.
Individual projects work best when students have businesses they have already
decided to pursue and have carried out a great deal of the preliminary work.
business plan course should be structured around achieving interim goals such
as generating ideas, establishing the viability of the idea, completing
industry research, and developing operating plans, marketing plans, and
financial statements. These steps make the overall project more manageable and
less daunting. Reviewing their interim pieces or drafts of the entire plan
gives you the opportunity to provide feedback so the students can integrate
your comments into their final project and produce the best final plan
believe in having students do two presentations to the entire class during the
term. The first presents the idea and elicits everyone’s feedback, which helps
involve the entire class. The second presentation is of the full plan as if the
class were potential investors or bankers.
business plan is completed, students will have:
their business idea closer to
reality or figured out how it must be
changed to make it viable.
how knowledge and skills from
their other courses can be used
how all business decisions
and various business disciplines are
greater understanding and
respect for people who build and
manage their own businesses.
how a business is the result of
many decisions made by the
entrepreneur and the consideration of
many external factors.
who participate in a business plan project build their skills and knowledge.
They experience the process of generating and testing ideas. They learn how to
inspire others about their concepts, and when the plan is completed they have a
strong sense of accomplishment–and a project they will never forget.
have any questions feel free to email me at Edward.firstname.lastname@example.org.
For my textbook, Bankable Business Plans for Entrepreneurial
Ventures,(ISBN number 978-0-97915-222-1)