How to Create a Business Plan that breaks from the pack
If you’re an entrepreneur with a great idea for a business and the guts to give it a go, at some point very early in the process of birthing your new business you’re going to need a plan outlining the details and the prospects for your business that you can share with investors, banks and other financing sources.
So what goes into a business plan that’s so important to the future of your company? There’s quite a bit, actually. Beginning with the exercise itself; which will force you to stop and think more deeply about your business and what you have to offer customers that is different and better than your competitors.
The better you frame out these critical steps the better your chances will be of getting the financing you’ll need to get through those first few years without becoming one of the three out of four startups who land squarely on their chins.
It’s Your Business. Plan to make it great.
If you’re excited by your business concept (and you should be!) it’s not enough to settle for an outline of a business plan that you found somewhere on the web. In most cases they’re cut from the same cloth if not directly lifted from the same source.
The basics of …
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
- Financial projections
… are all well and good, but it takes an even deeper level of thought and research to create a business plan that will compel investors to shove each other out of the way to get a piece of your action.
Turning good into great
For years, Fiore has helped start ups with great ideas and business owners looking to expand into new opportunities massage their presentations and do the extra legwork that’s necessary to show investors they mean business.
Many times our critical eye has pointed out areas of weakness that need to be addressed before our clients present to investors. A common flaw that we’ve encountered through the years is a lack of competitive research and serious trend analysis. A great idea isn’t enough. By applying our experience, research capabilities and broad market knowledge, we help business owners mine the data they need to strategize the ins and outs of their competitive environment, how long their idea will build and how their business model fits into that world.
By creating a foundational piece that includes the concept, business idea, rationale for the concept, who is the audience, what competitors are in that space and what they are doing to compete, and why you believe your idea is better and going to grab market share, you will be in a better position to support the details of the overall business plan.
Identify key talent in your business plan, not just executives.
It takes a lot to get a business off the ground and even more to get others to help finance it. That’s why we encourage our clients to include the key talent behind the product or service beyond the C-level suite. If your business or product relies on the talents of technical, scientific or engineering talent for it to be successful, it’s a good idea to include those lead individuals in your business plan so investors can see the credentials and expertise of the people who are supporting the concept. These are the people with expertise who do all of the research and development before marketing and sales ever gets involved. Depending on the kind of business you hope to launch, investors want to know that there is substance and the right support for the concept beyond the bells and whistles of a sales pitch.
Ask for more money from investors!
One quick way to turn off investors is to lowball the ask. We know investors who are put off by requests for funding which are too low to attract their interest. Essentially, this means they wouldn’t be able to make any money on the deal. So where’s the incentive?
With this in mind, we recommend you add in what we call an “opportunistic budget,” which are funds that go beyond your baseline ask so that you are in position to take advantage of any other opportunities that may present themselves once you are up and running. As you sharpen your pencil and do your projections for years 3-5 etc., keep this in mind. Rest assured, there will come a time when you see a great opportunity to expand your business and having the funds on hand to grab it can accelerate your drive for success.
Don’t bore them. Make your presentation visual.
If you’re standing in front of a room of potential investors the last thing you want to do is run through a bunch of Powerpoint slides crammed with text. The important minutiae can be left for the leave-behind piece. The presentation should hit all of the key points but not be so overblown with content as to be sleep-inducing. Charts, infographics, creative font treatments that focus on power words are all great ways to pack a lot of information into a more manageable, engaging form. If you don’t know the first thing about creating an infographic, hire an experienced graphic designer (or even better, hire Fiore) and we’ll bring your product to life for investors.
We turn traditional business plans into investor gold.
There are basically two types of business plans: the traditional and the lean startup plan. Fiore can help you craft either type. The latter is the view of your business from 30,000 feet with surface details and lots of holes for investors to decline filling with startup cash. That’s not to say a lean plan is without merit. The annals of successful startups that began in garages are legend. Perhaps yours will be next. Still, if at some point you need to attract serious investors so that you can continue to grow your business, you’re going to need a more comprehensive business plan to show that you’ve done your homework and are ready to handle growth. Fiore excels at turning traditional business plans into compelling documents that are way more exciting to behold.
Need help crafting your business plan?
The team at Fiore has lots of experience helping entrepreneurs craft finely tuned business plans that grab investor attention and, even better, raise funding for their enterprises. We can do the same for you. To learn more, call Patricia Fiore at (973) 359-4444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog was written collectively by the Entrepreneurial Team at Fiore Inspires. Questions, comments or would like to discuss your business options with one of our team members? Fill out the comment form below or send an email to email@example.com.