When preparing to write up your business plan, you need to be clear in your own mind about why it’s such a great opportunity. The point of your business plan is to communicate to potential investors, like banks or venture capitalists, what your business opportunity is, and persuade them to grant you a meeting.
Remember, investors see thousands of business plans every year, but almost never read past the executive summary for most of them. Here’s 5 ways on how to do all you can to get your plan noticed.
- Research & prepare yourself: To write the perfect plan, you must know your company, your product, your competition and the market intimately. It’s your responsibility to know everything you can about your business and the industry that you’re entering. Read everything you can about your industry and talk to your audience. To really prepare yourself, consider spending twice as much time researching, evaluating and thinking as you spend actually writing the business plan.
- Describe the journey of your business: The plan won’t just detail your idea, projected financials and sales & marketing strategies. It can also provide a map to help show the investors where you want the business to go, how you see the business developing in the future and how to spot potential bumps in the road. Be as clear and concise as possible when defining your goals to help build that attractiveness and interest towards your plan.
- Be open & honest: Investors will want to make sure that your business is going to make them money. Because of this expectation, investors want to know everything about your business and see the evidence for them selves. Be clear about any actual or potential weaknesses in your business. Every company has them, and as long as you show how you’re going to address them, you will reassure investors you’re not blind to possible drawbacks, and you’re being completely upfront about your proposition. You’ll need to be open and honest whilst writing up your plan and during your initial meeting. If you start to conceal things and you do end up receiving the investment, it can have very serious legal implications.
- Have a marketing plan in place: All business plans contain a strong strategic marketing proposal into your company’s product offering, promotional plan and monetising strategy. Remember that each marketing objective should have several subset goals, helping to break down the objectives and tactics for achieving those goals. Typical marketing objectives may include:
- What are you selling? (What benefits will you provide and what position or image do you have?)
- Who will utilise your products and services? (Identify your target markets)
- How will you reach your target markets and encourage them to buy? (Develop your product, pricing & promotional strategies)
- Have a strong set of financials: A component of any successful business plan is a strong set of financial figures. During your meeting, investors are going to want to assess your figures to try and distinguish whether or not your business is a worthy investment. Therefore in your plan, include financial summary results going back no more than three years and projections for the next three years, showing profit and loss, cashflow and balance sheets. Most people often submit poor plans to investors where there’s no connection between the financial forecasts, predictions and financial information, due to the figures being either to vague or even misleading. It is therefore imperative that you go through and check every figure before you finish your plan. Take your time to make sure the final version shows numbers you believe in completely.
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