Whilst reading Getting started in consulting by Alan Weiss, I came across the following 11 steps to go through to create a business plan that is likely to attract investment. I have listed them below:
1 – Company Particulars – Make sure to note the name of the company, the address, the type of public or proprietary company that it is (eg proprietary limited liability company), and the contact details of the company.
2 – Officers and Shareholders – Include the names, addresses and positions of each of the relevant people.
3 – Brief Description of the firm – It is important to give a brief (1-2 sentence) introduction to the company. It should describe the products or services the company offers, the type of company and the target market. An example would be “Baker and McKenzie is an international law firm for medium to large organisations and specialises in mergers and acquisitions and environmental law.”
4 – History – Give a brief history of the company including how the company was founded, when it was founded and the success or results to date.
5 – Core Values – This is a good opportunity to examine what the company stands for and the overall purpose of the company. Typically, this will include concepts like respect for employees, caring for the community, integrity of financial systems, or development of staff to increase productivity. This list is obviously not exhaustive.
6 – Vision / Mission – Where is the company going? What is the company ultimately trying to achieve? This vision will be related to the business that the company undertakes. Eg, a web design firm’s mission may be to consistently create the best websites and to expand into the international marketplace.
7 – Market Analysis – This is one of the most important sections to potential investors (other than point 8 below) and should require a large investment of your time. Ensure you consider at lest the following questions in your analysis;
- What value does the company provide to its clients?
- Who is likely to buy the product or service provided? why?
- How does the company plan to reach / market to these people? Has the method to be used worked before? Is it novel in any way?
- Who is the competition? Why is the company superior to the competition (very important)? Are there any hurdles that need to be considered?
- What uniqueness does the company bring to the market? For example, low cost alternative, high quality product / service, previously unavailable (market niche).
8 – Projected Revenues – This is the other very important part of the business plan to potential investors and requires significant work to obtain all the required information. Try to include answers to the following (not exhaustive):
- Projected revenues and expenses for the next 5 years (ideal)
- What are the sources of income?
- What is the probability of deriving each source based on the market, the product and the competition?
- What compensation will be paid and to whom?
- What other expenses will be incurred?
- Is there any other debt associated with the business?
- Are there any other sources of income (interest, royalties etc)?
9 – Other assets / Uniqueness of the venture – This section can be very relevant if there is something unique about the company that will be attractive to potential investors. I have listed some examples below:
- There is a large contract that will provide revenue for a set period of time
- The company has contacts with certain suppliers or clients that will benefit the company
- A particularly strong marketing campaign that is already underway or that can be leveraged (publishing a book, TV personality, public speaking events)
- There will be a large amount of passive income
10 – What is the business seeking – This section should be definitive and relational in that the investment being sought must clearly relate to the objectives of the business. This section must be properly investigated to ensure that it does not look like the company is just asking for a random amount of money. Include the following:
- How much investment is the business seeking? Over how long and under what proposed conditions?
- What is the proposed debt / equity / ownership model? At what times and with what frequently will payments / dividends be paid?
- Are there any special requests? The creation of a board with the assistance of the investor’s team?
- Will the investor be silent or involved in the running of the business?
11 – References / Credentials – This section is fairly straight forward and relates to selling the reliability of those involved in the venture. Mention details like testimonials, character references, awards, public acknowledgments, basis of credibility, degrees, publications, appearances, and other relevant information.