I have been asked to give a presentation about tailoring business plans for investors at the Entrepreneur Country Building Your Business Summer Workshop tomorrow (30th June 2011) in partnership with Smith & Williamson. As this is a core topic for the book I am working on I am rather excited about the opportunity.
Googling “Writing Business Plans” returns 154m results so clearly there is more than enough information out there and yet on a daily basis I receive and read business plans that leave me bored, confused or simply disinterested. I think the problem lies in the process…
I believe that too many people see the process as a must do rather than a want to do and so as a result they lose so much of the flair and passion that they have for their business. As a potential investor, I want to feel what the proposition is about, how the entrepreneur will inspire his/her target market and how I can imagine myself using their product.
For me, one of the key ingredients missing in most business plans is the passion. The passion for what the business is about. Not in the form of the technology but in the form of what the technology can enable for the consumer of the service. This is the magic!
Including the passion and the story of the vision into a business plan is like making a tapestry. A tapestry has a specific underlying structure of the weave but it is the colours and combinations that make it unique. In presenting a business plan the same applies. Tomorrow I will be presenting what I consider the things not taught when learning to write a business plan – the soft side of bringing the weave to a level of passion and differentiation.
The first part of the process is to think about the structure much like Mike Harris’ Perfect Pitch architecture: What do you do? How are you different? What is your credibility? What is the market problem / solution you bring?
In preparing the structure of the business plan I always suggest the entrepreneur focuses on the questions of Why, What, When, Who and How so that at every stage of the plan you are answering the investor’s questions of Why this, why now and why you?
If the business plan focuses on the technology you are probably only going to inspire the technologists in the room while if you talk about the implications to the people who use your service all of a sudden it can appeal to a larger audience. You need to think about who it is who is reading the plan. If the investor does not invest, would you not still want them to buy your product, subscribe to your service or at least talk about you as a thought leader?
My 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts I am sure will get some interesting responses:
Map out the sections before writing them
Define your perfect user/customer/client
Always ask yourself if each section answers the Why, When, What, Who and How
Keep the plan to under 30 pages
Use external examples and data only when relevant
Start with the big market opportunity before the proposition
Make it bigger than it is just to please an investors 20x
Assume the investor knows your market
Say if we can get only a small percentage of a big market we can be huge
Say you have no competitors
For the presentation, follow this link or view it below: