Not long ago I covered the pitch deck template that was created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel where the most critical slides are highlighted. Most recently, I built and exited CoFoundersLab which is one of the largest communities of founders online. Your appendix should include supporting documents that, if included in one of your sections, would make it long and tedious. Traditional business plans can be big beasts of a project that suck time, money and mojo at a vital moment. Best Practices for Building a Brilliant Business Plan What makes a great business plan? These issues can be grouped under six major areas that are the pillars of every business activity whether large or small. Pixabay Business plans have long been a critical document for new businesses. In other words the business plan format helps you to clarify your own ideas and present them clearly to others.
Your document should contain a cover page, table of contents, executive summary, the informational sections listed in your outline, a summary and an appendix. It is a smart tool and essential one to have as a cover for your business plan. Every entrepreneur and startup company needs a plan. Even your friends and family, or the most aggressive angel investors. In fact, Brian Chesky found of Airbnb is famous for his one-page business plan for global domination. If you are having trouble starting the page numbers on a page other than the cover, create your cover page and contents page in one document, then start the page you want to designate as page one as the first page of a new document.
Can you scale customer acquisition cheaply and measurably? The opinions expressed are those of the writer. The author is a Forbes contributor. They have a lot of crossover factors. It is worth noting that these points are by no means exhaustive and are meant to serve only as examples. As I describe in my book, , a business plan is still a must for some scenarios and some reasons. .
Executive Summaries An executive summary is a different document again. Format, substance, and key data that viewers expect are all important. Before deciding exactly what that looks like and how to create it, there are some critical questions to answer and factors to understand. The Contents Every business plan should address a number of fundamental issues without which it would not be complete. New trends and the data show us that the best time to complete a robust plan may now come later in the journey than it used to. Your table of contents should make it easy for readers to find your different sections, which can include topics recommended by the U. These topics include an executive summary followed by your product or concept description, a market analysis, marketing plans, financial information, backgrounds and bios of key personnel, and a summary with your needs from a lender, partner or investor.
In the marketing communications section, further divide your content using subheads such as: advertising, public relations, promotions and social media. The Different Sections Your cover page should include a brief title describing what the document is and your contact information. Getting lost in rehashing and dragging out a business plan for a year or more can cost your startup the optimal moment to get to market and the best funding opportunities. Business plans vary in content and size according to the nature and size of the business concerned and on the emphasis that is placed on certain critical areas as opposed to others. The other is more organizational an internal in nature. Start your page numbers where they make sense, based on your document. The format provides you with a framework for presenting your thoughts, ideas and strategies in a logical, consistent and coherent manner.
There are plenty of great freelancers available online who can help handle time intensive parts of the process like research and formatting, and interactive pro-formas. Before digging into the best way to craft a business plan to help you crush it, and spending hours or numerous dollars on commissioning one, do you even need one? It is much more important to get started, test, and secure funding first. For example, your executive summary might be page one. Your business plan often is the first impression potential investors, partners or lenders get of you and your professionalism. Your section titles might include: Brought to you by Sub-Headings To break your document into more easy-to-read content blocks, format your document with sub-headings. With any longer proving futile.
In your marketing section, you might include: unique selling benefit, pricing, distribution, branding and marketing communications. Not only should the contents of your plan be top-notch, but how you present the information also should impress your different audiences. Greater line spacing can help make a short document look longer. So is the time you spend on it, and when you do it. We look for functional prototypes and customer development and most importantly, scalability. This is a brief 1-3 page document that sums up your business and plan, and gives viewers enough info to decide whether they want to see any more data or not.
Too many founders have also tried to cram the equivalent of a business plan into a pitch deck, only to find it is a hindrance to getting the results they want. Because of these realities, business plans written at the start end up nothing more than a fable. When to Create a Business Plan The big problem with business plans is that entrepreneurs often get bogged down in them. In the market analysis section, for example, you might include: target audience, competition, barriers to entry, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Summary A business plan still plays a critical role in launching a profitable and sustainable venture today. There are plenty of data sources to back up assumptions and to complete research.
Pitch Decks Business plans and pitch decks are two different things. The Basic Format There is no universally accepted business plan format, but many follow the same format used for school papers or business reports. Yet, some may also think that pitch decks and clever presentations may he displaced them. A decade ago anyone you approached with a business idea without a plan would have laughed and shooed you away. The table is intended to provide you with a simple format upon which to base your business plan.
Print several pages of your document using single spacing and double spacing to see which you feel offers the best readability. Entrepreneurs often have to pivot their business once it becomes clear that their original customer is not the right customer, or when it turns out that their product or service fits better in an alternate market. I am a serial entrepreneur and the author of the The Art of Startup Fundraising. If so, what best practices and data can help you create a winning document that will help your business get the funding you need and ensure your venture lasts? Pick one typeface, such as Arial, Helvetica, Geneva, Garamond, Times or Times Roman. If you are planning to go to a local bank for a business loan, or are approaching your sphere of influence for backing who you know is accustomed to seeing legit business plans, then you know you probably need to create something that they understand in a format they are comfortable with. Add different fonts of the typeface, such as bold face or italics, to highlight important concepts. Instead, use bold face, italics or underlining for sub-headings.