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  • Have You Finished Your Business Plan?

    August 17th, 2010 No comments

    If you haven’t finished your business plan yet, then watch this free presentation to discover how to finish your business plan in 8 hours (or less)!

    On the other hand, if you HAVE finished your business plan, here’s how to make sure it’s ready for investors:

    A business plan organizes your thoughts; serves as a set of management guidelines; and introduces potential investors to your company. If your business plan does not answer certain questions, investors will forget you in a blink.

    So let’s review your business plan, one section at a time.

    Is the Executive Summary is clear, concise, and compelling? Does it clearly describe what your company does and who your customers are? Be sure it mentions how big the target market is and how fast it is growing. Lastly, see that it explains why you are uniquely qualified to succeed.

    Does the Company Analysis contain the basics? Make sure it includes your date of formation, legal structure, location, and growth stage. It should also list your company’s past accomplishments and why it is uniquely qualified to succeed.

    Does the Industry Analysis properly identify your industry? Confirm that it illustrates the market share size, growth rate, and trends – backed by data from at least one independent market research firm.

    Does the Customer Analysis clearly identify your customer segments? Each segment must include demographics, psychographics, customer need, and customer decision-making processes.

    Does the Competitive Analysis define both your direct and indirect competition? Include their strengths and weaknesses – and how you will overcome them. This section should also detail your biggest competitors, as well as all publicly traded competitors.

    Does the Marketing Plan show how you will serve the customer and deliver the product? Check for the Four P’s:

    • Products/Services
    • Promotions
    • Prices
    • Places or locations

    The Marketing Plan should also addresses how the customers will be retained, as well as any strategic partnerships you will leverage.

    Does the Operations Plan illustrate your company’s short-term and long-term processes? Short-term processes are everyday activities required for the company to operate (R&D, manufacturing, distribution, etc.) Long-term processes are projected milestones like product release dates, revenue benchmarks, and exit strategies (IPO, buyouts, mergers.)

    Does the Management Team section contain all bios for the management team and board members? If there are any management team positions that need to be filled, this section must describe those gaps.

    Are the financial assumptions and projections in the Financial Plan realistic? Closely scrutinize the Financial Plan, as this is the section that investors spend the most time reading. It should contain both prose and charts to paint a full picture of the following elements:

    • Revenue sources
    • Pro forma (projected future) revenue streams
    • Market share
    • Operating margins
    • Employee head counts
    • Additional funding sources
    • Exit strategies

    Does the Appendix contain all pertinent documents to back up the rest of the business plan? Insert any necessary schemata, patents, diagrams, additional financials, customer testimonials, etc.

    Finally, do a page count and a beauty check. Is the business plan under 30 pages? Is the formatting clear and readable? Does it have a cover sheet with a company logo? Your rule of thumb here is to see that your business plan is credible rather than flashy.

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