In 1785 the Scottish bard Robert Burns wrote his iconic poem “To a Mouse”, which begins with the immortal words: Wee, sleekit, cow’rin tim’rous beastie, O what a panic’s in thy breastie! Legend has it that Burns was ploughing in the fields and accidentally destroyed a mouse’s nest, shelter which it needed to survive the harsh winter that lay ahead. In the seventh stanza, he says: The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, meaning that the best plans often go astray.
In the world of business, planning ahead is crucial to success, for, as Benjamin Franklin famously said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This past week at CapeRay we have been focused on the writing and presenting of business plans. The first, entitled “Western Cape Medical Devices Cluster”, has seven founding members that have come together with a vision to support the development of a competitive, growing medical devices sector in the Western Cape region of South Africa. The plan was submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and among the key programmes will be support for securing certification such as ISO 13485, CE Mark and FDA Approval.
On Wednesday our CEO Kit Vaughan gave a lecture to engineering students at the University of Cape Town, entitled “Pitching your proposal to potential investors: some real-life lessons.” He structured his pitch around ten questions that an investor might want answered: What is the challenge? What is your solution? How big is the opportunity? (see below left) How will you make money? What are you looking for? Among the lessons Kit has learnt were: don’t sell yourself short; always have a positive attitude; focus on high-quality leads that are a good fit; and, patience is a virtue: keep it if you can!
Since 31 March signals the end of our financial year, the second week in April is normally when our auditors conduct their annual audit of our books. This year we have new auditors, Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo (SNG), and our business manager Natasha Steele has been scrambling to provide them with all the necessary figures. Yesterday one of SNG’s trainee accountants requested a copy of CapeRay’s business plan and Kit was pleased to oblige with a document that was “hot off the press.”
Our latest business plan certainly constitutes our best-laid scheme which we are optimistic will not gang agley but rather enable us to take CapeRay to the next level.