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5 mistakes to Avoid in your Business Case

You’ve got a great idea for a new venture or project. Now all you need to do is put together a strong business case or feasibility study to get funding or sign-off.

Avoid these five common mistakes to greatly improve your odds of success.

1. You don’t really know your stuff

Developing a business case is as much a thinking exercise as it is a writing exercise. If you’re having difficulty articulating the benefits and feasibility of your idea, it might be time to step backward and do some more ground-work.

2. Not presenting a full range of alternatives

You’ve done the work, and you’re ready to talk about how good your solution is! Even if you have worked meticulously through all of the available options and selected the best avenue, it can be easy to skip over this stage when writing your business case or feasibility study.

Take your reader on a journey that carefully and comprehensively leads them to your preferred option. You will create buy-in and dramatically improve your credibility and odds of success.

3. Optimism Bias

Optimism bias causes us to underestimate costs, overstate benefits and develop unrealistic timelines and project plans. Resist the urge to oversell your case and present conservative estimates for all preferred options.

Make this explicit in your assumptions or sensitivity analysis to show the decision-makers how sensible you have been. If your proposal falls over when conservative estimates are used, this should ring some warning bells for you about the viability of your option.

4. Not doing your market research

Many an excellent proposal has disintegrated when it comes to procurement time. Avoid a disaster and don’t make any assumptions about the capacity and capability of suppliers, contractors or potential staff to make your dream a reality. Make some calls, test the market and get an early heads-up on potential issues or changes that might be required.

5. Ignoring implementation

While a business case doesn’t usually require a full management or operational plan, you need to show that you have thought about how this is going to work. Who will you need to bring on board? Will there be training needed or new policies required? Have you run the numbers over a 5 year period?

I have worked with multiple community groups looking to raise capital for a new facility, who can present a stunning case for funding but struggle to explain how they are going to pay for ongoing building maintenance and keep the lights on. Make sure you show that you’ve thought about the everyday reality of your new project once the shine wears off.

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