9. Writing a Good Business Plan for Obtaining a Business Manager VISA
What is a Business Plan?
A Business plan is a document that shows how a business defines its objectives and what you plan to do to achieve the goals. In Japan, a business plan is an indispensable part of the examination materials for obtaining a Business Manager VISA. A great business plan will help you pass the document examination and obtain a Business Manager VISA successfully. Moreover, it will attract investment before your company has established a proven track record. This article is aimed to help you learn the important elements of a business plan. We have also given some tips to help you improve your business.
1. Main Components of a Business Plan
2. Tips for Improving your Business Plan
Main Components of a Business Plan
You need to submit a business plan (事業計画書- jigyou keikakusho), written in Japanese to the Immigration Bureau when applying for a Business Manager VISA. Therefore, it is recommended that you have a Japanese expert help you write it or have it translated from your native language by a professional translator. The Immigration Bureau has not defined any format for a business plan, so you may prepare them in a format of your choice. However, there is some essential information that should be included in a business plan.
1. Representative’s Profile
First of all, you should introduce who created the company. You have to provide the basic information about the representative director, such as academic career, work experience, and the motivation behind setting up the business.
2. Business Contents
In this part, you should paint an overall picture of your business, explaining the business concept, vision statement, and management philosophy. It is better to focus on content that is directly related to the features of the product or service you are to offer.
a. Business Concept
A concise definition of a business concept varies from author to author. However, some key elements must be explained in a business concept.
• A short description of the product and service you are offering.
• What the representative director want to do for the world by setting up the business.
• Why he decide to create the company.
b. Vision Statement
The vision statement focuses on the potential inherent in the company’s future. It is a description of what the company aspires to be in 5 years, 10 years, or more.
c. Management Philosophy
The management philosophy is a set of beliefs and principles used by managers to help them make decisions. You should ensure that the management philosophy of your company is founded on theory and practical experience. The more consistently you apply these principles, the greater likelihood you will build a team that will thrive and perform beyond your expectations.
3. Business Model
A business model is an outline of how your company plans to make a profit with its product or service. The business model is the key point used by the investors in evaluating whether your company is worth investing in. Also, the more detailed your business model is, the easier it will be to pass the Immigration Bureau’s examination. At its core, a business model explains three things:
a. Marketing Strategy・Sales Strategy
A marketing strategy refers to a business’s overall game plan for reaching prospective consumers and turning them into customers of their products or services. The following steps are required to develop a good marketing strategy:
• Product introduction
You have to not only provide the basic information, such as the categories, names, and prices of the product or service but also analyze the features and the sale points of your product or service to prove that they have great development potential in the future.
• Competitor analysis
Competitor analysis is a process of categorizing and evaluating your competitors to understand their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own. You have to make a list of your company’s competitors and then analyze the competition’s products and services in terms of features, value, and target to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your brand.
• The target of your business
After the competitor analysis, you will have a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your own business, so that you can define the target market and what types of people will buy your product or service.
• The promotional methods to make profits
The next step is to show how you plan to motivate the potential customers to purchase your goods or services, allowing you to make enough profit to expand your business in Japan. Here are some examples of strategies you can apply to reach customers:
1. Social Networks and Viral Marketing
2. Paid Media Advertising
3. Internet Marketing
4. Email Marketing
5. Direct Selling
6. Point-of-Purchase (POP) Marketing
7. Co-Branding, Affinity, and Cause Marketing
8. Conversational Marketing
It is worth noting that not all marketing strategies apply to your product or service. Therefore, you need to find out what makes your product different from the competition and choose the right marketing strategies according to its unique characteristics. The marketing strategies should also be adjusted according to the business process, the external environment, and other uncontrollable elements.
b. Financial Plan
A financial plan is a document containing a company’s current money situation and long-term monetary goals, as well as strategies to achieve those goals. It helps business owners set realistic expectations regarding the success of the business. A monthly-based financial plan for 3 years will be required when you apply for the Business Manager VISA. The components of a good financial plan are as follows:
• Profit and loss statement
It is essentially a statement that summarizes the revenues, costs, and expenses that will be incurred over a certain period. It provides information about a company’s ability or inability to generate profit by increasing revenue and reducing costs.
• Cash flow statement
It is an explanation of how much cash your business will bring in, how much cash it will payout, and what the ending cash balance will be, typically per month. The cash flow statement measures how well a company manages its cash position, meaning how well the company generates cash to pay its debt and operating expenses.
• Balance sheet
A balance sheet is a financial statement that reports a company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity at a specific point in time, and provides a basis for computing rates of return and evaluating its capital structure.
*You need to evaluate the current situation and create the above three types of tables with predicted values. Once the business is started, you are required to revise them to actual values and predict values for the next stage of your business accordingly.
• Sales forecast
This shows the forecast of what you think you will sell in a given period. You should create a forecast that is consistent with the sales number you use in your profit and loss statement. It should be an ongoing part of your business planning process as well.
c. Organization structure and personnel plan
An organizational structure is a system that outlines how certain activities are directed to achieve the goals of your company. These activities can include rules, roles, and responsibilities.
As you expand your business, a detailed hiring plan that includes projections of labor costs and recruitment costs will be required as well. Using precise figures and updating the monthly situation of your personnel plan will ensure the implementation of your business plan.
Tips for improving your Business Plan
1. Show the continuity and stability of your business.
• Show the current assets and the social network you have in your business plan, including the physical assets, customers, sales partners, and consultants, to explain that your business can grow steadily in the future.
• Present the facts to prove that your plan will succeed. This could be your past successes, the results of the market research you did before starting the current business, outlook on several years of income and expenditure, etc.
2. Make your business plan well organized and detailed.
• Good use of diagrams will make your schedule logical and clear at a glance.
• Use exact figures to forecast the profit and loss of the company, which should be specific to each month.
• Mention specific numbers of potential customers of each stage, the specific names of partners you want to work with, and your company’s competitors, instead of vague names.
Stay tuned for further articles on “How to Start a Business in Japan,” our series on foreign entrepreneurship!
• How to Start a Business in Japan: An Overview
• All you need to know about the Startup VISA
• Procedures for Coming to Japan with a Startup VISA: Renting a House and Resident Registration
• Procedures for Coming to Japan with a Startup VISA: Obtaining a Phone Number, a Name Seal, and a Personal Bank Account
• A Guide to Obtain a Business Manager VISA
• Banking in Japan
• Application for labor insurances after incorporation
Future articles would be discussing:
• Set up in Kobe