IF YOU are starting or running a business and do not know how to go about drawing up a business plan, do not stress. There is a free online tool to help you.
The National Empowerment Fund yesterday launched the Business Planner, an online tool freely available on the fund's website, www.nefcorp.co.za or wwww.nefbusinessplanner.co.za
It can be used by individuals and businesses to apply for finance and to keep in touch with the progress of their business.
Frencel Gillion, NEF chief investment officer, described the tool as a breakthrough in small business sustenance.
"Our experience in funding entrepreneurs has been that they hire consultants to write business plans for them.
"When financial institutions ask entrepreneurs about certain parts of the business, they cannot answer and this results in applications being unsuccessful," Gillion said.
The business planner is part of NEF's vision to empower as many aspiring entrepreneurs as possible to draft their own business plans and to be in contact with their progress and management.
To get into the Business Planner, simply register on the NEF website and construct a user name and password.
The planner has headings and each heading has a series of questions.
When you answer a question, it automatically reconstructs your information into a format required by financial institutions. You are able to see the report at every stage and able to change anything you are not happy with. The questions are part of a series of 10 steps available in IsiZulu, Xitshonga, English and Afrikaans.
The system then displays your business plan and if you are happy, you can print it.
Your business plan is saved in the system and can be updated as your business grows.
But it cannot be downloaded.
If you have an existing business, you can then switch to financial projections to where you put in figures of how your business is doing. The software then automatically translates your data into an income statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet.
Call-centre assistance is available. Call during office hours on 0861-843-633. - Penwell Dlamini