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How to write and visualise an investor-friendly business plan

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HomeBusiness ModelsBuilding the ModelHow to write and visualise an investor-friendly business plan

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In this members-only post we’ll look at how to create and present a business plan. Much of the content that you view online is simply wrong.

The people writing the posts have never (and will likely never) attempt to raise capital themselves. Here is a simple to read outline of what we believe, from experience, a founder need to do.

Latin Start-up

There is no real set format. Each business will likely need a different pitch pack. However, the theme of the pack is always the same. If I had to sum it up in five words, it would be ‘concept‘, ‘problem‘, ‘solution‘, ‘timing‘ and ‘proof‘.

One of the most common mistakes founders looking to raise capital make is packing the presentation with too many words. Stick to facts, keep lettering large and make everything as easy to understand as possible by using facts and concepts and visualising them where and when possible.

THE TITLE PAGE

This page should introduce the company, its branding and immediately explain the company in one quick, sharp sentence. You should also display the contact details of key person, be it the presenter, or the leader.

Related article:
Outlining a platforms financial model

THE PROBLEM

  • What are the key problems you are solving?
  • What are the pain points for the potential customer?
  • What are the shortcomings of the current offerings?

These aspects are used to set-up the next slide, which is all about offering a solution.

THE SOLUTION

When presenting, this is one of the key slides. Explain to the audience how you are solving the problems; what the benefits are. I see this slide working alongside the others to reinforce the raison d’etre of the business.

THE TIME IS NOW

As a founder, you should love this slide. This is where you get portray the urgency… and why the time for action is now. Outline why what you are attempting has not been done yet. Get this right and you have a key benefit for any investor. Start-ups with the success of raising capital know how important timing is.

In business the success or failure of a business is often down to the timing. For example, with e-commerce widget business, a new technology that would motivate the purchase of a product by highlighting features more… and removing potential objections.

THE OPPORTUNITY

With this slide, you should visually explain how the key cohorts are. If at all possible, bring some data and statistics and try to answer the questions:

  • Who is the customer?
  • How many potential customers are out there?
  • How easy are they to reach?

THE VISION

It should go without saying, this is vital and can give context to your product and motives of the founders. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Execute well.

Related article:
Building a financial model for advertising inventory sales

THE PROPOSITION

This slide should visualise the business model in a simple way. It should focus on how the business plans to make money. Investors love businesses with proven business models, as they can prognosticate the potential for success and thus mitigate risk. Membership, or other recurring revenue streams are loved. Single transactions less so.

THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

Personally, I always look to use attractive visuals on this page. A common go-to is a visualisation of where the business/product sits in relation to the landscape of existing players. Perhaps using a ‘value to user’ and ‘cost to user’ axis. Alternatively, if the reader has an understanding of the sector and players within it, it is worth using brands and positioning them within the visualisation.

If operating in a set industry, it might be a good idea to include a short/simplified SWOT analysis slide.

THE TEAM

This slide should tell the story of the founding team and any existing stakeholders in the business. Care should be taken to reinforce the believability of the people involved. Many investors invest in people, not merely an idea. Be flexible. For example, if you are positioning yourself as a Chief Executive, but have little to no experience as a manager then investors might want to install an experienced CEO to look after their investment. It is your decision. This is fair.

THE FINANCIALS

As part of starting a business, you should have created a business plan and a model. This model should be based on actuals, industry averages (where applicable), be conservative (nee believable) and uncomplicated. Include revenue and margin… and (if relevant) users so potential investors can work out the perceived revenue per customer.

Related article:
Building a monthly travel page in a financial model

Again, keep it all as simple and possible. Execute well.

THE ROADMAP

This slide should highlight the five year plan for the business

THE CURRENT STATUS

This slide highlights the current status of the business. How far along are you? How are you travelling? Are you hitting and/or beating milestones?

THE USE OF FUNDS

This slide should explain exactly how any funds raised will be used. Try to keep this page simple and to the point.

THE END

This page should thank the reader and supply contact details and a closing message.

You can and should include pages in the presentation as your industry, niche, or company requires. These could include product specific benefits, or any further information on the competitive landscape and/or ecosystem.

Finally, it is vital that you sanity check and cite everything from valid research and analysis papers. Do not use Wikipedia, folks. Draw up a list of objections that potential investors should have. Know and understand additional facts… and specifically the industry you plan to operate in. You need to prove that you grok the industry and the drivers of the ecosystem. Basically put: know your sh*t.