Investors of all ilk see hundreds or even thousands of business plans every year. Since they are approached so often, investors develop strategies for eliminating the documents that indicate the entrepreneur has not put enough time and effort into development.
“If the business owner takes shortcuts during business plan writing,” the savvy investors say, “then why should we be interested in taking a risk on the enterprise?” Good question!
The business plan needs to standout in a crowd of documents. Every business owner thinks his or her ideas are going to change the future of humankind, revolutionize the marketplace, or save the world from self-destruction. The investor is thinking in more realist terms and are difficult to awe.
So the first task at hand is getting the investor to read past the Executive Summary or page one. Following are some tips to make the business plan step out from the crowd and draw attention.
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Prove Your Capability to Succeed
Every great business idea needs a great business person to bring it to life. Investors will only assume the risk of loss of investment if they think there is a fairly small chance they will lose money. Demonstrate in writing that management is fully capable, has the right kind of experience, and is able to maneuver through the challenges of starting and operating a new business. The future that investors will see is one guided by experience.
Get Creative but All Things in Moderation
Some people treat the business plan like a resume written by a desperate college graduate looking for the first job in a tight job market. They print it on brightly colored paper and add wild graphics, fancy borders, and silly images.
Being creative in the business plan is an accepted practice within reason. A business plan filled with only pages of text can get a bit boring (admit it!), and that takes some of the excitement out of the creativity of the business idea itself. Acceptable creativity includes adding a colorful or unusual logo that has meaning, including well-designed charts and graphs, and adding reasonable graphics.
Follow the advice, “All things in moderation.”
Demonstrate Remarkable Knowledge of the Industry and Market
You plan on selling a breakthrough product, do you? To who? Every industry has a set of markets and every market has niches. Which niche will the new business serve?
A niche is specific and is discovered through intelligent research and market analysis. Investors interested in funding new solutions are going to be interested in the business plan if it is clear that:
• The way the industry operates is well-understood
• The industry and market research is in-depth
• The market niche is well-defined
• The business has found an unmet need in that niche
• The business can meet the need of the market niche
In other words, identify the market niche and stay focused on it. Write the business plan to appeal to the type of investor(s) most likely to be interested in the business.
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Let Others Try to Ask Questions You Can’t Answer
That advice may sound a bit odd, but the final business plan needs to be like a tightly woven piece of fabric. The entrepreneur should think through every potential question that could be asked about the business. An excellent strategy is to let business professionals or consultants assist with business plan writing, or read it and ask questions.
One day some investors are going to invite the entrepreneur to give a short presentation and answer questions. Being unprepared to answer them is definitely not a good strategy. It shows lack of planning, confidence, and sincerity.
Bottom line: Make the business plan shine by using creativity tempered with common sense. If there is any doubt as to how this is accomplished then get professional help. It is too important to success to take any chances.
Illustrative business plan samples
OGSCapital’s team has assisted thousands of entrepreneurs with top-rate business plan development, consultancy and analysis. They’ve helped thousands of SME owners secure more than $1.5 billion in funding, and they can do the same for you.