What should a good business plan for investors contain?
There's nothing like drawing on your own experience (and that of your friends), when it comes to business plans. Because, while we all want to stand out and not look the same as every other business (or investment proposal), there's a bit of an art to ensuring that you include everything vital at the same time.
So, we got our own investors and our successful fundraising friends involved in creating this checklist guide. We looked at what worked for us too, to capture the key items listed below that we all felt a good business plan should contain – especially if you're planning to target investors.
Of course, they're just our views, and as one of our investors, Tarne Bevan, cautions in our guide to what investors look for, being successful at raising money (or running a business and getting sales) is not all about crafting a beautiful document or simply filling in a template.
To keep things simple, we talk about each of the areas to cover as 'sections'. Depending on how you want to present your plan, you might want to make these sections individual slides in a powerpoint document or pages in a booklet or simply sections in a word document.
You might want a cover sheet and it can be a good idea to have a contents page too. It's up to you.
Finally, remember that if you are targeting investors with your plan, there are very specific rules (set by the financial services regulations and enforced by the Financial Conduct Authority) governing how you can promote the plan to investors and you'll need to include some important legal disclaimer wording with your material. These rules apply to businesses and fundraises of any size and value. See our guide on how to lawfully promote your business to investors for more details.
Right, let's dive straight in to the main content to cover.
Section 1 - Cover sheet/Introduction
Keep this uncluttered and very much focused on who you are and what you do. This should be clear and stand out at nothing more than a glance. It's the equivalent of your 1 sentence or 20-second elevator pitch, if you're writing it or saying it out loud.
Save the detail for your executive summary slide, which will follow next.
Make sure your branding is clear and your core proposition, product or service is prominent. This is the image and the impression that whoever reads your plan will carry with them as they start reading on.
Section 2 - Executive summary
Here, make sure you cover off all the key points from the content in the rest of the plan.
What do we do?
We always write our executive summary last and recommend you do too as it's much easier then.
Our summary typically covers a sentence on each of the following:
1. The problem we're addressing
2. What we're doing in response and why we're the solution
3. What else we're planning (so readers know that we're a growing and evolving business)
4. What stage we're at on our startup journey
5. Some key financials
6. Our exit strategy - important if you're targeting investors (never lose sight of the fact that they don't want their investment in you to last forever. They'll be looking to get it back, with a good return)
7. Successes and key milestones met to date, including financial and funding-related ones
8. What we're looking for in terms of investment (again, only relevant if you are intending to use the plan for fundraising purposes)
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