business plan template
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business plan template

Write a business plan in 8 hours or less, while communicating to investors exactly what they are looking for. Check it out here:
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Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed

Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed | business plan template |

It’s particularly important if you plan to raise money.

Most of you will have a business plan for your startup, as this document acts as the blueprint and roadmap for your company. Whether it is to share with management to help with strategy or present to investors for funding, the business plan will provide the basis for future decisions. Read more: click image or title.


FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Growthink teaches how to FUND, build, grow, and sell a great business:


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Five big points with an action plan to correct.

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10 Things You Must Do Before Connecting With Investors

10 Things You Must Do Before Connecting With Investors | business plan template |
There are no shortcuts to building a solid network of engaged investors.

The majority of entrepreneurs have one thing in common: They're totally in love with their company and their product. They are passionate, enthusiastic and optimistic. They can’t wait to tell everyone how their idea or product is going to change the world. Before that can happen, though, entrepreneurs need to spend some time thinking about what motivates the people who will help fuel the jet engine. 

During my decades of raising capital and running startups, I've learned a few things about preparing for investor meetings. If you're lining up appointments with people who have the potential to write big checks, I recommend you make your way down this full list. Following these guidelines will help you secure funding and build valuable partnerships. Read more: click image or title.


FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The first impression is just the start, make sure you have all of these 10 points figured out.

Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, October 28, 2016 1:52 PM

Do this and increase your chances to get #funding

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5 Reasons your Business Plan sucks and how you can change it

5 Reasons your Business Plan sucks and how you can change it | business plan template |
Most plans fail to achieve their objective and end up misrepresenting the business.

Most of you will have a business plan for your startup, as this document acts as the blueprint and roadmap for your company. Whether it is to share with management to help with strategy or present to investors for funding, the business plan will provide the basis for future decisions.

However, despite its importance, your business plan probably sucks. It fails to achieve its objective and ends up misrepresenting your business to the detriment of decision makers. 

Here are the five biggest reasons your business plan is failing and how to overcome these roadblocks. Read more: click image or title.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Via TechinBiz
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Most #BusinessPlans we see are poorly made. They don't fulfill the basic intentions of writing one: informing the potential #investor about what they need to know. This article adds some good and real perspectives.

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Pitch Deck Examples: investor decks from successful startups

Pitch Deck Examples: investor decks from successful startups | business plan template |

This article is part of our new Pitch Deck Examples initiative, a blog + podcast focusing on the best pitch deck practices.

If you made it here your are probably looking for inspiration to create a pitch deck for your own startup. Let me start by saying that this might not be the best approach to take when pitching investors.

Each investor deck should be tailored to the companies strengths. The story you tell about your idea, team and concept validation (yes, metrics!!) is what will ultimately determine if your deck is appealing or not. Read more: click image or title.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

You still need your documents, such as #BusinessPlan.

ventureLAB's curator insight, October 19, 2015 2:45 PM

Great example #ventureLABca

SageRave of Get Custom Content's curator insight, October 19, 2015 5:54 PM

Need  free business plan template?

Howard Jacobson's curator insight, October 22, 2015 5:53 AM

Pitch decks are always a challenge - what do we put in, what do we leave out, what does the potential investor want to see? - this article is a good insight and provides great examples from famous companies

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You Think You’re a Startup, But You’re Really a Small Business (and that’s totally cool too)

You Think You’re a Startup, But You’re Really a Small Business (and that’s totally cool too) | business plan template |

Startups seem so glamorous. The awkward college dropout who locked himself in a garage for a few years to create technology that would go on to revolutionize the world. That’s a narrative we’re all very familiar with at this point. And thanks to shows like SharkTank and Silicon Valley, as well as movies like The Social Network and Jobs, more and more people are quitting their 9–5, throwing out their suits and briefcases, and buying a one-way ticket to Startuplandia in pursuit of creating the next big thing.

But what’s becoming increasingly more apparent to me is that startups are not for everyone. After mentoring hundreds of startup founders the past two years, it’s become obvious that many of them aren’t as informed as they should be about what it really means to launch a startup versus develop a small business. And this is an incredibly important distinction to make. It’s important because depending on how big you want to make your business, how fast you want it to grow, and what role you’d like to play in its future, you’ll need to enlist a certain strategy. And that strategy doesn’t always mean the typical startup approach.

So with this blog post, I’m aiming to provide a bit of clarity to those thinking about launching a startup. Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be able to identify the major differences between a startup and a small business and feel better equipped to make a decision about which one’s best for you.

Oh, and let me get this out of the way up front: in some circles, the term “startup” is not used to describe a type of business, but rather the stage of development any given business is in (i.e. all businesses are a startup when they first begin). For this article, however, I am positioning “startup” as a type of business that does differ from a small business. I am doing this because from my experience, there appears to be a difference in intent on the founders part. For instance, a founder launching a startup intends to grow her/his business as big and as fast as possible; whereas a founder of a small business intends to grow his/her business within particular limits that she/he is comfortable committing to.

Ok, so here it is…10 Differences Between Startups and Small Businesses:
Read more: click on image or title.

Need funding?

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"Hey Dave!
I bought one of your business planning templates and have been receiving your emails and videos for a few months now…
I just wanted to say thanks for cranking out such amazing work!
You're doing an incredible job, and I know entrepreneurs everywhere are benefiting from it!
Please, keep it up! Wishing you all the best!"
Colin Pape
President, Inc.

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent description of what a startup is as opposed to a small business. With the number of failures in the start up world it might be a good idea to consider creating a great 'small' business instead. With profit generation for years to come and the use of some growth techniques from the start up scene the number of failures may go down and the amount of satisfaction and ownership of great businesses may go up. You might want to check out some of the offerings of Growthink. They teach how to build a fantastic business that eventually you can put on autopilot or exit for a nice profit. Not necessarily startups... Give it a go: How to build an  '8 Figure Formula' business.

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Considering Crowdfunding? Why You Need a Strong Business Plan First.

Considering Crowdfunding? Why You Need a Strong Business Plan First. | business plan template |
Without one, you'll become one of the vast majority of hopeful entrepreneurs who find themselves without enough capital to keep moving.

Crowdfunding is a thrilling prospect. Connecting potential entrepreneurs with millions of micro-investors, the platform has helped fund and launch countless new enterprises, and it’s given a realistic platform for countless bright, young business owners who would otherwise have nowhere to go.

But crowdfunding isn’t a magic solution. It isn’t a money tree, nor can it be fully taken advantage of by any business that signs up for it. Like with pitching to angel investors or venture capitalists, you’ll need to have a solid foundation for your idea before jumping onto your crowdfunding platform of choice. Without one, you’ll become one of the vast majority of hopeful entrepreneurs who find themselves without enough capital to keep moving. Read more: click image or title.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km
"Hey Dave,
Yes, thank you, I have completed the business plan. Finance has been approved, accountant has done his thing, and the solicitor is lagging behind!
Thanks for the support"

Ruth Yates

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The clearer you get for yourself, the better your results will be when looking for funding. Whether it is crowdfunding, seedfunding, or any type of fundraising. A business plan will bring that clarity. It forces you to think through every aspect of the business.

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11 Killer Free Tools to Launch and Build Your Startup

11 Killer Free Tools to Launch and Build Your Startup | business plan template |
Use all of the resources you can find to your advantage.

Yeah, we’ve all heard of the $100 startup, but free is way better, right?

Building startups can be hard. They’re worth it, but definitely not easy, although starting can be simpler than people make it.

There has never been a better time to start a company. Mobile proliferation has led to a world that is always connected. Moore’s Law is in full effect with computing faster and cheaper than ever before. There are endless free and useful products online that can help you launch and build your startup.

This is a very short list, as there are thousands of products and tools out there for startups, but here are some I’ve found to be useful.

Read more: click on title or image.

For a free Business Plan Template, click here:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some good tools for building a new startup, it's a quick overview.

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Business Plan Template Review

Business Plan Template Review | business plan template |

Review of the Ultimate Business Plan Template by professional business plan reviewers.

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Check out our newly overhauled site. And it's also optimized for mobile.

Let me know if there are any glitches.

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To Investors, Startups Without Business Plans Are Expensive Hobbies -

By Martin Zwilling.

If you sold your last startup for $800 million, you probably already know how to build a business, and even conservative investors won’t worry about the quality of your next business plan. But for the rest of us, don’t believe the Silicon Valley myth that all you have to do is sketch your million-dollar idea on the back of a napkin and investors will line up to give you money.

Based on my experience as an investor and mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, one of the quickest ways to kill your credibility and your startup is to offer a poorly written business plan, or none at all. There really is no excuse these days, with samples on the Internet, business-plan books in every bookstore and dozens of apps to automate the process.

A great business plan doesn’t have to be a book in length, with extensive financial statements. Most good ones I see are in the range of 25 pages, which is more than enough to describe concisely all the business what, when, where and how. The plan must simply answer every relevant business question that you could imagine from your team, partners and investors.

In fact, the process of organizing and documenting these elements is the best way to make sure you understand the answers yourself. Would you be comfortable buying a house from a builder, or building one yourself, with no plan on timeframes, costs and features? I hope not. Most investors tend to think of startups without a plan as expensive hobbies.

There is no magic formula for a formal business plan format or sequence, but I would recommend the following 10 sections, in this sequence, with relevant content:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Problem and solution
  3. Company description
  4. Market opportunity
  5. Business model
  6. Competition analysis
  7. Marketing and sales strategy
  8. Management team
  9. Financial projections
  10. Exit strategy

A business plan that skips one or more of these topics is not complete, so don’t jeopardize your one chance to make a great first impression by offering a partial plan. It only takes a little extra work to make it a professional document, with a cover page, table of contents, headings and page numbers. Don’t try to impress constituents with technical terms, jargon and acronyms.

If you don’t have the time to write things down, or your writing skills leave something to be desired, don’t be afraid to get some help. No executive I know writes all his own contracts, but every smart one owns every one that is written for him, and understands every element. An entrepreneur who can’t manage a plan probably won’t be able to manage the new business.

Of course, if you don’t yet understand all the elements, it’s time to learn. My advice here is to check your ego at the door, and find a mentor or a partner who has business experience and domain knowledge to help you plan a viable business. Your idea may be technically right, but without a business plan, it could be dead right, which is not the result anyone is looking for.

There are no guarantees, but various studies have found that entrepreneurs who create a good plan generally double their chances of securing funding and building a successful business. In any context, and especially in the high-risk world of startups where more than 50 percent fail, you need every advantage that you can get.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Growthink helped me with two business plans. I liked working with Anna Vitale because she was a professional yet personable and that gave me a sense of trust. Keep up the good work.”

Phil Marcu

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Your key to getting funded: a good business plan.

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7 Ways to Make “Write a Business Plan Month” Work for You

7 Ways to Make “Write a Business Plan Month” Work for You | business plan template |

December is National Write a Business Plan Month! Every business owner needs a plan — whether you’re in startup mode, seeking financing or preparing for another year at the helm of a growing business.

Of course, there’s no better time to draw attention to business planning than on the cusp of a new year. We’re all guilty of putting off tasks such as planning, but knuckling down in December can really give your business an advantage over your competitors by putting you in a stronger position to get the financing you need or launch a big marketing campaign come January 1.

If you’re like most, planning is a burden and a chore that’s hard to prioritize. Here are seven tips to kick-start the process:

Focus on What You Do Best

One of the easiest ways to get started with the planning process and make it work for you is to think about what you do best. What differentiates your business from the competition? What do you enjoy doing? What would you like to do more of? Are there other markets you could go after? Then think about what are you not doing enough of.

In other words, put together a SWOT analysis. This exercise can help you focus your ideas and inform your plans.

Do a Sales Forecast

Nothing kick-starts a small business owner into planning mode better than doing a sales forecast.

Whether it’s a healthy forecast or not, the process of thinking about your pipeline, prices, costs, revenue per unit/sale, is a natural segue into thinking about what has to happen to help you achieve your goals.

As the year progresses, review your forecast against actuals, and adjust your plans accordingly to help you stay on track.

Talk to Your Customers

Customers are a great source of planning inspiration. It doesn’t matter whether you run a landscaping business or software company, your customers’ needs and challenges can help inform your service or product strategy. Ask to hear about the negatives, too — your plans should also include a focus on performance improvement.

Launching a New Product?

If you plan on bringing a new product or service to market, be sure to validate your new idea before starting on a plan. The purpose of this exercise is to better qualify your idea, confirm market need and test.

  • Identify the need your product or service will address.
  • Do your market research. Talk to customers and prospects. Do they have a need for your idea? Are there certain features that they like or want more than others? Is the market large enough?
  • Just as they do on Shark Tank, help customers or investors get a feel for your product by putting together a prototype or a trial run of your service. This will help gauge whether the feature/functionality really does have appeal.

Tackle Your Plans in Manageable Chunks

Business planning isn’t the chore many think it is. Plans don’t have to be encyclopedic. While you may have grand ideas for your business, the devil is in the details, so it makes sense to approach business planning in bite-size portions. For example, if your goal is to grow sales by 20 percent, think about what it will take to get you there.

You’ll need a marketing plan, but you’ll also need a plan for ramping up operations and a hiring plan to staff your expanding business. What about your IT infrastructure? Will you need to purchase new equipment? Then you’ll need an IT plan and budget.

As your business grows, consider your business structure and insurance needs. Should you incorporate your business and/or adjust your insurance policy to mitigate the increased risk and liability that expansion can bring?

By tackling each of these areas directly, with the big picture in mind, planning gets a lot easier.

Set Goals

Once you’ve looked at all areas of your business, set goals and deadlines around your plans.

For example, if you’re looking to move out of your home office, plan your timeline and the key steps along the way to achieving your goal. What needs to happen by when? Think about the assumptions and variables that come into play — whether it’s the cash flow to pay for rent on a leased space or getting new daycare arrangements for your kids and pets. Consider how these factors will impact your timeline and budget.

Tax Planning

As you’re planning, don’t forget your taxes. The small business tax landscape changes each year, so put time aside now for a consultation with your tax advisor. This is also the time to make sure you’re taking or have taken full advantage of tax deductions.

In addition, rewind and use this time to learn lessons from your earlier filings. Did you struggle to keep up with estimated payments? Do you need to find ways to better maximize cash flow so this doesn’t happen again? Would a review of your business structure help your tax position going forward?

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20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan | business plan template |

20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

Written by Pete Kennedy on Wednesday, April 9, 2008

1. To prove that you’re serious about your business. A formal business plan is necessary to show all interested parties -- employees, investors, partners and yourself -- that you are committed to building the business.

2. To establish business milestones. The business plan should clearly lay out the long-term milestones that are most important to the success of your business. To paraphrase Guy Kawasaki, a milestone is something significant enough to come home and tell your spouse about (without boring him or her to death). Would you tell your spouse that you tweaked the company brochure? Probably not. But you'd certainly share the news that you launched your new website or reached $1M in annual revenues.

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3. To better understand your competition. Creating the business plan forces you to analyze the competition. All companies have competition in the form of either direct or indirect competitors, and it is critical to understand your company's competitive advantages.

4. To better understand your customer. Why do they buy when they buy? Why don’t they when they don't? An in-depth customer analysis is essential to an effective business plan and to a successful business.

5. To enunciate previously unstated assumptions.
The process of actually writing the business plan helps to bring previously "hidden" assumptions to the foreground. By writing them down and assessing them, you can test them and analyze their validity.

6. To assess the feasibility of your venture. How good is this opportunity? The business plan process involves researching your target market, as well as the competitive landscape, and serves as a feasibility study for the success of your venture.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

7. To document your revenue model. How exactly will your business make money? This is a critical question to answer in writing, for yourself and your investors. Documenting the revenue model helps to address challenges and assumptions associated with the model.

8. To determine your financial needs. Does your business need to raise capital? How much? The business plan creation process helps you to determine exactly how much capital you need and what you will use it for. This process is essential for raising capital for business and for effectively employing the capital.

9. To attract investors. A formal business plan is the basis for financing proposals. The business plan answers investors' questions such as: Is there a need for this product/service? What are the financial projections? What is the company's exit strategy?

10. To reduce the risk of pursuing the wrong opportunity. The process of creating the business plan helps to minimize opportunity costs. Writing the business plan helps you assess the attractiveness of this particular opportunity, versus other opportunities.

11. To force you to research and really know your market. What are the most important trends in your industry? What are the greatest threats to your industry? Is the market growing or shrinking? What is the size of the target market for your product/service? Creating the business plan will help you to gain a wider, deeper, and more nuanced understanding of your marketplace.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

12. To attract employees and a management team. To attract and retain top quality talent, a business plan is necessary. The business plan inspires employees and management that the idea is sound and that the business is poised to achieve its strategic goals.

13. To plot your course and focus your efforts. The business plan provides a roadmap from which to operate, and to look to for direction in times of doubt. Without a business plan, you may shift your short-term strategies constantly without a view to your long-term milestones.

14. To attract partners. Partners also want to see a business plan, in order to determine whether it is worth partnering with your business. Establishing partnerships often requires time and capital, and companies will be more likely to partner with your venture if they can read a detailed explanation of your company.

15. To position your brand. Creating the business plan helps to define your company's role in the marketplace. This definition allows you to succinctly describe the business and position the brand to customers, investors, and partners.

16. To judge the success of your business. A formal business plan allows you to compare actual operational results versus the business plan itself. In this way, it allows you to clearly see whether you have achieved your strategic, financing, and operational goals (and why you have or have not).

17. To reposition your business to deal with changing conditions. For example, during difficult economic conditions, if your current sales and operational models aren’t working, you can rewrite your business plan to define, try, and validate new ideas and strategies.

18. To document your marketing plan. How are you going to reach your customers? How will you retain them? What is your advertising budget? What price will you charge? A well-documented marketing plan is essential to the growth of a business.

19. To understand and forecast your company’s staffing needs. After completing your business plan, you will not be surprised when you are suddenly short-handed. Rather, your business plan provides a roadmap for your staffing needs, and thus helps to ensure smoother expansion.

20. To uncover new opportunities. Through the process of brainstorming, white-boarding and creative interviewing, you will likely see your business in a different light. As a result, you will often come up with new ideas for marketing your product/service and running your business.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

About Growthink

Since 1999, Growthink's business plan experts have assisted more than 1,500 clients in launching and growing their businesses, and raising more than $2 billion in growth financing.

Need help with your business plan? 

  • Speak with a professional business plan writer today.

  • Or, if you're creating your own PPM, you can save time and money with Growthink's new private placement memorandum template.


Dj Baker says

I find this a very simple, yet effective, breakdown of the reasons why a business plan is absolutely essential. From personal experience these 20 reasons our very much the truth. It is also very reassuring to know that there are trustworthy sites out there who do contain valuable information. Much appreciated, Dj
Posted at 5:24 pm
dan says

thanks for the news letter, we are in the air cooling business. using air conditioners. we supply LG units. our major challanges has for the last 6 months been reliable suppliers of LG products at a competitives price. we do not have enough money to qualify as dealers hence we depend on thers, when i read the 20 reasons , i reflected to find out why our clients buy from us , and why others do not. thank you.
Posted at 5:19 am
Sindi says

Thanks for this article. It is indeed a great eye opener for me. Didn't realise there's so much a business plan can reveal about any enterprise.
Posted at 1:49 pm
Mohammed Ajmal says

Thanks for the all this valuable info free of cost.
Posted at 11:22 am
manas says

hi all this site such a wonder full i would like to thanks to all of u those who operating this website
Posted at 1:53 am
Suzanne Muusers says

Just found this post. What a great list of reasons to write a business plan. I particularly like: 13. To plot your course and focus your efforts. All too often I meet entrepreneurs who have been running their business for years without a business plan, and their business shows it. Writing a business plan creates the INTENTIONS and structure for success. Thank you, Suzanne
Posted at 11:41 am
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Samantha says

I think if you are looking forward to have a business then you must have a very well structured plan otherwise your business might not bring any good to you. Sam from Calgary Listings
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Get your Free Business Plan Template here:
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Check this "Review of Growthink's Business Plan Template":

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5 benefits of having a business plan

5 benefits of having a business plan | business plan template |

When done properly, a business plan is more than a document that tells you and your staff what the future might hold for your company. A well-executed business plan maps out the precise future of your business in detail.

It is a strategy that takes into account the resources and goals you have now, and explains what needs to be done to get your company or organization to a position of greater profitability and heightened competence as the future unfolds.

Here are five things a business plan can do for your business:

1. Helps you find funding. You might be a fresh entrepreneur looking for capital investment or an established market leader who is looking to grow. In any case, your business plan is the place where you and your consultant put on paper all the reasons why investors should support you with their capital.

2. Manages your growth. As your business evolves, many things can change including your yearly budget, number of employees and your financial and client targets. If you do not keep on top of the effects of these changes, who will? Your business plan can help you assess and monitor how your company is currently evolving and how it will continue to grow into the future.

3. Determines and monitors your objectives. Perhaps above any other benefit of business planning, the setting and following through of goals is integral to the success of your business. At the most basic level, your business plan lets you decide and keep track of where you are now and where you endeavor to be in 'x' number of months or years. At a more advanced level, a cycle of business planning keeps you on target through regular meetings and updates.

4. Delivers your marketing approach. Who is your target audience? What are the unique selling points (USPs) that allow you to stand out next to the competition? By what tactics will you best reach potential clients? A marketing strategy is an important task unto itself, but you'll have it neatly packaged within your business plan.

5. Manages organizational and employee requirements. This element of your business plan lets you figure out who within your organization is filling which roles, whether you could benefit from more or less staff and how you will go about recruiting new employees.

A business plan is a valuable part of how you start and conduct your business. In assessing your present and forecasting your future, you'll be well on your way to a clearer vision and a higher chance of success. Good luck!

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

A good business is structured and planned well.

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Quality is the best business plan, period. — John Lasseter

Everything I do and everything Pixar does is based on a simple rule: Quality is the best business plan, period. — John Lasseter, PIXAR Founder

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

So true!

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100% funding for your project? What does it take?

100% funding for your project? What does it take? | business plan template |

100% funding is very rare and requires top notch quality documentation such as a business plan made by a professional consulting company or institution, and/or a feasibility study.

The business plan needs to include detailed information on the management team, a marketing study, a sensitivity analysis, a risk analysis, financial projections, detailed information about your existing company, the amount of money spent and invested already in the project by yourself or your company and partners, and a detailed explanation on how you will deal with the risk factors, such as project and performance insurances. Exit options have to be clearly outlined and the ROI for the investors needs to be attractive and convincing. Read more: click image or title.



FREE Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Growthink teaches how to FUND, build, grow, and sell a great business:


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Ideas don't attract millions of dollars. In order to get funded, even get funded 100%, you need to line up a lot of documents and present a very solid case.

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Things to Do Before Starting a Small Business

Things to Do Before Starting a Small Business | business plan template |

The idea of starting a small business can be very intimidating. The pressures and pitfalls loom large, making one wonder if it is worth the effort. But with zeal, planning, and diligence you can deal with, if not avoid most of these pitfalls. The key here is a good foundation. So, without further ado, here are a few steps that will help you start your small business with every chance of success. Read more" click image or title.



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Via TechinBiz, Marc Kneepkens
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Start with a simple #businessplan and make the foundation for good business practices.

Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, August 3, 2016 8:39 AM

Here are some basics to look at before starting a #business.

Grimel's curator insight, August 3, 2016 4:18 PM

Mi empresa, que considerar antes de un emprendimiento.

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How to get your project funded, some advice and ideas

How to get your project funded, some advice and ideas | business plan template |

Business Plan: Once you have posted or sent out your teaser to potential investors and you have gotten a request for information you probably have sent your executive summary. When you get a positive sign of interest the funding source will ask for your business plan. This is a comprehensive document explaining all aspects of your project.
Get a free business plan template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km
Your business plan needs to include a detailed overview of what you need funding for. If for example you are looking for funding in renewable energy you need to describe the technology you use, the accomplishments and existing installations of your technology provider, the agreements you have in place with utility companies, PPA's for example, or existing regulations that show that there is a guaranteed off-take for the power you will generate. You need an overview of your projected financials, at this time you don't need pages and pages of spreadsheets with endless projections of numbers. What you do need is to give potential investors and idea of how much profit is in your deal and what the risk level will be. Finally you need to show how investors will get their principal back: what is the exit? Read more: click image or title.

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"Hello Dave,
You are a treasure to the Business community.
I have completed my business plan on the second day with your template.  And I had tried and failed for a year before."

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Your #BusinessPlan is essential in obtaining #funding. Have it ready before contacting your first #investor.

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Are You Ready to Seek Funding? This 10-Point Checklist Will Decide.

Are You Ready to Seek Funding? This 10-Point Checklist Will Decide. | business plan template |
If you start seeking funding before you're ready, you could end up wasting your time and heading toward disappointment.

You’ve got an idea that you’re excited about. You’ve talked about it with your friends and family members. You might have even quit your job to start exploring the possibilities of entrepreneurship. You’re on the verge of getting your company off the ground, but to do it, you need capital, and you can’t front all the money yourself.

Your natural inclination is to go out and start seeking funding as quickly as possible so you can build some momentum for your business. That level of passion and enthusiasm is admirable, but if you start seeking funding before you’re ready, you could end up wasting your time and heading toward disappointment.

Before you go out to seek funding, whether that’s from an angel investor, a venture capitalist or through a crowdfunding platform, make sure you’ve satisfied all the requirements of this checklist: Read more, click on image or title.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

First requirement: have a completed business plan. For free templates and articles around business plans, check

Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 26, 2015 2:16 PM
Here is the solution to deal with #7 in the article, 'Existing Investment". In order to set that up properly, you need to deal with compliance with the SEC, and find the right ways to do this. Check out Financial Architect® here: or go to to read how this works. Look in the navigation column for the page on #RaisingCapital, or the interview with Timothy Hogan.
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The Smart Entrepreneur: How to Overcome the Hesitancy to Write Your Business Plan.

The Smart Entrepreneur: How to Overcome the Hesitancy to Write Your Business Plan. | business plan template |

I’ve written many business plans not only for myself but for others. No matter how much experience you have there is always a tendency to shy away from the task at hand. Writing a proper business plan is a big challenge for each and every entrepreneur.

Too often the reluctance to start writing the business plan is purely mental – the natural reluctance of the mind to engage with a very challenging task. Every entrepreneur learns to overcome this in time. But, here is how I do it and the task is less overwhelming if the following is observed:  Read more, click image or title.

Need funding?

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some great ideas to get organized to write your #BusinessPlan.

Jean-Pierre Blanger's curator insight, August 1, 2015 3:46 AM

Some great ideas to get organized to write your #BusinessPlan.

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From A to Z: 200 Essential Resources for Entrepreneurs Building a Business

From A to Z: 200 Essential Resources for Entrepreneurs Building a Business | business plan template |
It is a very long journey from great idea to functioning business but, happily, there is help available every step of the way.

Being an entrepreneur can be difficult. Being an entrepreneur attempting to launch a startup is even more challenging. The good news? You don’t have to go it alone. There are a lot of tools and resources at your fingertips online to help you successfully plan, launch and run your business. And, here are 200 of those essential tools and resources. Read more: click image or title.

Need funding?

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great resources for entrepreneur. Not much about funding, only crowdfunding. Take a look on my site:

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Find A Business Mentor Near You for Free With a Virgin Startup Loan

Find A Business Mentor Near You for Free With a Virgin Startup Loan | business plan template |
With a Virgin Startup loan, you gain access to our network of experienced mentors. If you're interested in finding out who you could be working with, look here!

So, you’ve worked with your business advisor to help develop your idea and business plan until it’s a fundable proposition and you’ve gone through the application process. Now you’ve been approved for your loan. This is when we will hand-pick you a suitable Virgin StartUp Mentor. It’s our job to find a business mentor to match you and your new business.

Our mentors have been there and done it, they’re inspirational, impressive and highly qualified. They’re giving their time away for free to guide you through the difficult start-up phase of the business lifecycle and they are doing so because they genuinely want to support entrepreneurship.

Our business mentors are also carefully selected and better matched with their mentees than any other mentors, meaning that their advice and guidance is directed at the businesses in which it will deliver the biggest impact, the most impressive return on their invested time.

Take a look at just some of the hundreds of Virgin StartUp Mentors that are ready and waiting to support your journey. To see the rest of this article and a list of mentors click on the title or image.

Need funding?

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.l/1aKy7km

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Another great idea from Branson: once we give you money we'll set you up with a mentor. It cuts down the risk for them, plus they have a close look at what you're doing. You will get experienced advice and expert help.

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The 6 Key Components of Writing a Business Plan

The 6 Key Components of Writing a Business Plan | business plan template |
Having prepared a good business plan before starting your venture can often be the difference between startup success and failure.  I am not saying you need a 50 page detailed report, as investors don't typically have the time to read them anymore.

 But, it is more about taking the time to think through the below 6 key components of a preparing a business plan, to make sure you know what you are up against in your industry and have reasonable foresight into where the business is heading in terms of go-to-market strategies and financial returns for the company and its investors. Click on title or image to read the full article.

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Growthink really understands how to create compelling business plans and raise capital, and Growthink's Capital Raising Products succeed in infusing this knowledge.
-John Morris
Managing Director, GKM Ventures,
Board of Governors, Tech Coast Angels

Via TechinBiz, Marc Kneepkens
Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, February 19, 2015 4:08 PM

A business plan is your focus and compass when setting up a successful business. Investors or banks will require it, but even your team and yourself will benefit from having one.

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6 Tough and Timeless Startup Lessons

6 Tough and Timeless Startup Lessons | business plan template |

Success requires the confidence to begin and the humilty to listen when trustworthy people tell you what isn't working.

No one is born equipped with the skills to start and run a business. It takes hundreds of misses and trials in order to get to somewhere close to the initial idea that you have envisioned. Understanding the “why” of your idea is necessary and the “how” to go about it is penultimate. Keeping that in mind, here is a little cheat-sheet on five things that you should absolutely consider while you start a company.

1. Write a business plan.

Your business plan is a formal document that lays the foundation of who, what and why your company is. It is a step-by-step guide that will include your company goals, business model, product cycle and the marketing strategies you will use to achieve traction. It is also a window through which your business is shown to investors and financial institutions to raise funds.

However, an overlooked benefit of developing a business plan is that it gives ‘you’: clarity of thought and vision, more than anyone. Before convincing others, you have to convince yourself about the validity of your company and its raison d'être. Only then can you hope to encourage people to help you, work with you and fund you.

Once you have a well thought out business plan it is time to… Read more:

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"The team at Growthink delivered exceptional quality service in every aspect of their client services. Their staff of professionals were extremely instrumental in fine tuning my creative vision into a well developed business plan."
  James E. Spence, Jr, Founder & CEO
At Bread Boutique

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The essential business plan, you'll be asked for it when looking for funding.

Good article with several more good points.

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5 Reasons to Write a Business Plan

5 Reasons to Write a Business Plan | business plan template |
There are any number of reasons why you need to create a business plan, including starting a business, seeking funding and more.

In their book Write Your Business Plan, the staff of Entrepreneur Media offer an in-depth understanding of what’s essential to any business plan, what’s appropriate for your venture, and what it takes to ensure success. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer five reasons why someone would want to write a business plan and what they'll use it for.

Anybody beginning or extending a venture that will consume significant resources of money, energy or time and that's expected to return a profit should take the time to draft some kind of business plan.

But there are many reasons to write a business plan, including the following five:

1. You want to start a business.

The classic business plan writer is an entrepreneur seeking funds to help start a new venture. Many great companies had their starts in the form of a plan that was used to convince investors to put up the capital necessary to get them under way.

2. You own an established firm and are seeking help.

Many business plans are written by and for companies that are long past the startup stage but also well short of large-corporation status. These middle-stage enterprises may draft plans to help them find funding for growth. They may feel the need for a written plan to help manage an already rapidly growing business and to convey the mission and prospects of the business to customers, suppliers or other interested parties. A business plan can address the next stage in the life process of a business.

3. You need to determine your objectives.

There are so many options when it comes to starting a business, including the size, location, and, of course, the reason for existence. You'll be able to determine all of these and so many more aspects of business with the help of your business plan. It forces you to think through all of the areas that form the main concept to the smallest details. This way, you don’t find yourself remembering at the last minute that your website still isn't developed or that you still have most of your inventory in a warehouse and no way to ship it.

4. You're trying to predict the future.

It may seem dishonest to say that a business plan can’t predict the future. What are all those projections and forecasts for if they're not attempts to predict the future? The fact is, however, no projection or forecast is really a hard-and-fast prediction of the future. The best you can do is have a plan in which you logically and systematically attempt to show what will happen if a particular scenario occurs. You'll use your research, sales forecasts, market trends and competitive analysis to make well thought-out predictions of how you see your business developing if you're able to follow a specified course. To some extent, you can create your future rather than simply trying to predict it by the decisions you make. For example, you may not have a multimillion-dollar business in ten years if you're trying to start and run a small family business. Your decision on growth would therefore factor into your predictions and the outcome.

5. You want to use it to raise all the money you’ll need.

A business plan can't guarantee that you'll raise all the money you need at any given time, especially during the startup phase. Even if you're successful in finding an investor, odds are good you won’t get quite what you asked for. There may be a big difference in what you have to give up, such as majority ownership or control, to get the funds. Or you may be able to make minor adjustments if you cannot snare as large a chunk of cash as you want.

In a sense, a business plan used for seeking funding is part of a negotiation taking place between you and your prospective financial backers. The part of the plan where you describe your financial needs can be considered your opening bid in this negotiation. In a way, a business plan is an excellent opening bid -- it’s definite, comprehensive and clear.

But you know what happens to bids in negotiations: They get whittled away, the terms get changed, and, sometimes, the whole negotiation breaks down under the force of an ultimatum from one of the parties involved. Does this mean you should ask for a good deal more money than you actually need in your plan? Actually, that may not be the best strategy either. Investors who see a lot of plans are going to notice if you’re asking for way too much money. Such a move stands a good chance of alienating those who might otherwise be enthusiastic backers of your plan. It’s probably a better idea to ask for a little more than you think you can live with, plus slightly better terms than you really expect.  

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some great viewpoints in the business plan debate. I would say, write one, and clarify your business for yourself first.

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4 Things Entrepreneurs Should Think About That May Not Be in Their Business Plan

4 Things Entrepreneurs Should Think About That May Not Be in Their Business Plan | business plan template |
Two young women recount the lessons they learned from starting their social media-marketing agency.

Walking away from the comfy confines of the corporate world to start our own business was not only scary but we also encountered considerable skepticism from family and friends. What about job security, room for advancement, a 401(k) and insurance, they asked. Some wrote us off as simply two naive, young women. Others thought we were crazy to walk away from everything our burgeoning corporate careers appeared to offer for a situation in which success was far from guaranteed. 

We weren’t just making this decision on a wing and a prayer, though. We had identified a tremendous potential opportunity. Having recently helped several entrepreneurial friends market their new businesses, we recognized the positive impact that social media offered for brand awareness, reputation management and lead generation. We learned how to successfully target large numbers of business prospects in a cost-effective way. Once we were able to begin quantifying results and demonstrating a return on investment, we launched our own social-media-marketing agency.

We carefully constructed a comprehensive plan of our strategy for capitalizing on this opportunity. We had a mission statement and planned how much money we personally needed to invest to get the company running and cash to set aside for lean times. 

We projected how many clients we needed to sign and what to charge. We identified our target industries and our competitive advantage  over other agencies. 

With dollar signs and dreams of autonomy dancing through our heads, we ceremoniously offered our resignations the same day.  

Yet we quickly learned how much we hadn’t accounted for.  

There was way more to worry about and address than we had ever envisioned. Panic quickly began to set in. Perhaps the naysayers were right and we were in over our heads. Maybe we were, in fact, just two naive young women who had foolishly given up their corporate careers. Was it too late to call American Express and beg for our jobs back? 

We are happy to share that we never did make those calls. As bleak as things seemed, we somehow found ways to weather the storm and our company survived. Four years and seven additional employees later, the company continues to grow. 

Ye it took more hard work, sweat and tears than we ever imagined. This is where our pain becomes your gain: We want to help those about to dive into the entrepreneurial pool by sharing four items that are critically important to consider.

1. Find a good lawyer.

Shortly after launching, we received a cease and desist letter concerning the use of our company's  name. We were unsure about the ramifications and what would be needed to rectify it. If not for a competent business attorney with experience representing companies similar to ours, we could have lost more than just time and money.

Partnering with a trustworthy attorney who is knowledgeable and savvy in helping entrepreneurs is pivotal. Establishing the right relationship is key, as the right or wrong advice can make or break your firm. Take your time, perform due diligence and don’t simply go with the cheapest option. 

2. Work with a knowledgeable accountant.

Being so new to running a business, we did not know how much we actually did not know. Very early on we were introduced to an accountant who seemed smart, professional and pleasant. A big draw for us was that his rates were also very affordable. Everything was running smoothly. But as tax season hit, disaster struck. He did not sufficiently prepare us for how much money we were responsible for in taxes. Since we had a small cash-strapped business, the tax bill had the potential to cripple our firm.

Upset and seeking a second opinion, we were put in touch with a veteran certified public accountant who specializes in helping startups. Not only did he help us lay out a plan (which allowed us to meet year-end tax obligations), he pointed out several other items on our return where we had been missing out on an opportunity to save.

He also demonstrated how closely he works with clients throughout the year to help them manage and improve cash flow, all while setting realistic expectations and preparing them for the tax season. While it was a humbling experience, we learned the value of having a strong CPA. The right one isn’t just your accountant: He or she can be a partner to and an extension of your business. So do your homework.

3. Hire people better than you.

Early on, we were challenged in trying to attract great talent to build out our team. In addition to having a brand new agency with no proven track record and a tiny roster of clients, we were unable to offer salaries competitive enough to procure experienced individuals from other firms.  

We felt that if we were lucky enough to find someone pleasant, professional and competent who was willing to take a chance with our firm, we should hire that person.  

Once we got some people on board, we quickly learned how some individuals were not as experienced or hungry as they had advertised. Their work was OK but it was simply the bare minimum of what was required. We needed a certain level of quality to help differentiate our firm and attract other businesses to work with us.

We were now stuck with these staffers until we could find better support. This illustrates the importance of thoroughly scrutinizing and vetting candidates. This became our first lesson in the importance of being patient during the hiring process, regardless of the need for help.

Hiring the right person can take your business to new heights. Conversely, hiring the wrong person can quickly drag down a business. You can never be too careful when analyzing a potential hire. If you aim to hire people whom you perceive to be as talented and driven as you (or even more so), it will pay off.

4. Prepare to always be networking.

The biggest culture shock during our transition from corporate employees to business owners was the demands on our time. There were so many logistical and operational challenges peripheral to our brand’s mission that took our attention. But if we were busy dealing with lawyers and accountants, while interviewing, hiring and training support staff, how could we generate awareness of our brand and uncover new clients?

This is when we discovered the power of professional networking. As we accepted the reality that our professional lives no longer took place just between 9 and 5, we learned there were opportunities to attack all at once several areas involved in running a small business.

We were delighted to discover the wealth of events, trade shows and networking groups designed to connect us with professionals who could help our business from top to bottom. Most important, they put us in direct contact with the types of organizations we hoped to target. The connections we made at these events were invaluable. It also demonstrated to us that the work we did during the day was only half the battle.

If we weren’t personally out there spreading awareness of our brand and making strategic business connections, then no one else would do so for us. We were hunters now and would be able to eat only what we could kill. Therefore, we needed to always be prepared to network and connect with anyone and everyone we met.

Remember, your next client, deal or referral partner can come from striking up a simple conversation while waiting in line at a store or standing on the subway. Be prepared to introduce yourself, talk about your business and share your elevator pitch.

In addition, be sure to identify all events and opportunities that will allow you to connect with the right audiences. Fill your calendar. You are your brand’s best publicist.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 23, 2014 4:39 PM

Yes, a business plan is necessary, but there are a few more requirements that you will need in your business.

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Why Business Plans Don't Get Funded - Common Startup Mistakes

Why Business Plans Don't Get Funded - Common Startup Mistakes | business plan template |
Your business plan is very often the first impression potential investors get about your venture. Avoid these mistakes and make it to the next step.

Your business plan is very often the first impression potential investors get about your venture. But even if you have a great product, team, and customers, it could also be the last impression the investor gets if you make any of these avoidable mistakes.

Investors see thousands of business plans each year, even in this down market. Apart from a referral from a trusted source, the business plan is the only basis they have for deciding whether or not to invite an entrepreneur to their offices for an initial meeting.

With so many opportunities, most investors simply focus on finding reasons to say no. They reason that entrepreneurs who know what they are doing will not make fundamental mistakes. Every mistake counts against you.

This article shows you how to avoid the most common errors found in business plans.

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Content MistakesFailing to relate to a true pain

Pain comes in many flavors: my computer network keeps crashing; my accounts receivable cycle is too long; existing treatments for a medical condition are ineffective; my tax returns are too hard to prepare. Businesses and consumers pay good money to make pain go away.

You are in business to get paid for making pain go away.

Pain, in this setting, is synonymous with market opportunity. The greater the pain, the more widespread the pain, and the better your product is at alleviating the pain, the greater your market potential.

A well written business plan places the solution firmly in the context of the problem being solved.

Value inflation

Phrases like "unparalleled in the industry;" "unique and limited opportunity;" or "superb returns with limited capital investment" - taken from actual documents - are nothing but assertions and hype.

Investors will judge these factors for themselves. Lay out the facts - the problem, your solution, the market size, how you will sell it, and how you will stay ahead of competitors - and lay off the hype.

Trying to be all things to all people

Many early-stage companies believe that more is better. They explain how their product can be applied to multiple, very different markets, or they devise a complex suite of products to bring to a market.

Most investors prefer to see a more focused strategy, especially for very early stage companies: a single, superior product that solves a troublesome problem in a single, large market that will be sold through a single, proven distribution strategy.

That is not to say that additional products, applications, markets, and distribution channels should be discarded - instead, they should be used to enrich and support the highly focused core strategy.

You need to hold the story together with a strong, compelling core thread. Identify that, and let the rest be supporting characters.

No go-to-market strategy

Business plans that fail to explain the sales, marketing, and distribution strategy are doomed.

The key questions that must be answered are: who will buy it, why, and most importantly, how will you get it to them?

You must explain how you have already generated customer interest, obtained pre-orders, or better yet, made actual sales - and describe how you will leverage this experience through a cost-effective go-to-market strategy.

"We have no competition"

No matter what you may think, you have competitors. Maybe not a direct competitor - in the sense of a company offering an identical solution - but at least a substitute. Fingers are a substitute for a spoon. First class mail is a substitute for e-mail. A coronary bypass is a substitute for an angioplasty.

Competitors, simply stated, consist of everybody pursuing the same customer dollars.

To say that you have no competition is one of the fastest ways you can get your plan tossed - investors will conclude that you do not have a full understanding of your market.

The "Competition" section of your business plan is your opportunity to showcase your relative strengths against direct competitors, indirect competitors, and substitutes.

Besides, having competitors is a good thing. It shows investors that a real market exists.

Too long

Investors are very busy, and do not have the time to read long business plans. They also favor entrepreneurs who demonstrate the ability to convey the most important elements of a complex idea with an economy of words.

An ideal executive summary is no more than 1-3 pages. An ideal business plan is 20-30 pages (and most investors prefer the lower end of this range).

Remember, the primary purpose of a fund-raising business plan is to motivate the investor to pick up the phone and invite you to an in-person meeting. It is not intended to describe every last detail.

Document the details elsewhere: in your operating plan, R&D plan, marketing plan, white papers, etc.

Too technical

Business plans - especially those authored by people with scientific backgrounds - are often packed with too many technical details and scientific jargon.

Initially, investors are interested in your technology only in terms of how it:

  • Solves a really big problem that people will pay for;
  • Is significantly better than competing solutions;
  • Can be protected through patents or other means; and
  • Can be implemented on a reasonable budget.

All of these questions can be answered without a highly technical discussion of how your product works. The details will be reviewed by experts during the due diligence process.

Keep the business plan simple. Document the technical details in separate white papers.

Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

No risk analysis

Investors are in the business of balancing risks versus rewards. Some of the first things they want to know are what are the risks inherent in your business, and what has been done to mitigate these risks.

The key risks of entrepreneurial ventures include:

  • Market risks: Will people actually buy what you have to sell? Will you need to create a major change in consumer behavior?
  • Technology risks: Can you actually deliver what you say you can? On budget and on time?
  • Operational risks: What can go wrong in the day-to-day operations of the company? What can go wrong with manufacturing and customer support?
  • Management risks: Can you attract and retain the right team? Can your team actually pull this off? Are you prepared to step aside and let somebody else take over if necessary?
  • Legal risks: Is your intellectual property truly protected? Are you infringing on another company's patents? If your solution does not work, can you limit your liability?

This is, of course, just a partial list of risks.

Even though you may feel that the risks are negligible, potential investors will feel otherwise unless you demonstrate that you have given a lot of thought to what can go wrong and have taken prudent steps to mitigate these risks.

Poorly organized

Your plan should flow in a nice, organized fashion. Each section should build logically on the previous section, without requiring the reader to know something that is presented later in the plan.

Although there is no single "correct" business plan structure, one successful structure is as follows:

  • Executive Summary: This is a brief, 1 to 3 page summary of everything that follows in the plan. It should be a stand-alone document, as many readers will make their initial decision based on the executive summary alone.
  • Background: If you are in a highly specialized field, you should provide some background in layman terms since most investors will not have advanced degrees in your field.
  • Market Opportunity: Describe how businesses and consumers are suffering, and how much they are willing to pay for a solution.
  • Products or Services: Describe what you do, and how your solution fits into the market opportunity.
  • Market Traction: Describe how you have succeeded in attracting customers, marketing and distribution partnerships, and other alliances that demonstrate that experts in your market are betting on your solution.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify your direct and indirect competitors, and describe how your solution is better.
  • Distribution and Marketing Strategy: Describe how you will go to market, how you will price your products, etc.
  • Risk Analysis: Identify major sources of risks, and describe how you are mitigating them.
  • Milestones: Showcase a strong past track record, and describe key checkpoints for the future.
  • Company and Management: Provide the basic facts about your company - where and when you incorporated, where you are located, and brief biographies of your core team.
  • Financials: Provide summaries of your P&L and cash flows, and the assumptions used to come up with these. Also describe your funding needs, how you will use the proceeds, and possible exit strategies for investors.

As stated earlier, there is no "right" structure - you will need to experiment to find the one that best suits your business.

Financial Model MistakesForgetting Cash

Revenues are not cash. Gross margins are not cash. Profits are not cash. Only cash is cash.

For example, suppose you sell something this month for $100, and it cost you $60 to make it. But you have to pay your suppliers within 30 days, while the buyer probably won't pay you for at least 60 days.

In this case, your revenue for the month was $100, your profit for the month was $40, and your cash flow for the month was zero. Your cash flow for the transaction will be negative $60 next month when you pay your suppliers.

Although this example may seem trivial, very slight changes in the timing difference between cash receipt and disbursement - just a couple of weeks - can bankrupt your business.

When you build your financial model, make sure that your assumptions are realistic so that you raise sufficient capital.

Lack of Detail

Your financials should be constructed from the bottom-up, and then validated from the top-down.

A bottom-up model starts with details such as when you expect to make certain sales, or when you expect to hire specific employees.

Top-down validation means that you examine your overall market potential and compare that to the bottom-up revenue projections.

Round numbers - like one million in R&D expenses in Year 2, and two million in Year 3 - are a sure sign that you do not have a bottom-up model.

Unrealistic financials

Only a very small handful of companies achieve $100 million or more in sales only five years after founding.

Projecting much more than that will not be credible, and will get your business plan canned faster than almost anything else.

On the other hand, a business with only $25 million in revenues after five years will be too small to interest serious investors.

Financial forecasts are a litmus test of your understanding of how venture capitalists think.

If you have a realistic basis for projecting $50-100 million in Year 5, you are probably a good candidate for venture financing. Otherwise, you should probably look elsewhere.

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Insufficient financial projections

Basic financial projections consist of three fundamental elements: Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow Statements. All of these must conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP.

Investors generally expect to see five years of projections. Of course, nobody can see five years into the future. Investors primarily want to see the thought process you employ to create long-term projections.

A good financial model will also include sensitivity analyses, showing how your projected results will change if your assumptions turn out to be incorrect. This allows both you and the investor to identify the assumptions that can have a material effect on your future performance, so that you can focus your energies on validating those assumptions.

They should also include benchmark comparisons to other companies in your industry - things like revenues per employee, gross margin per employee, gross margin as a percentage of revenues, and various expense ratios (general and administrative, sales and marketing, research and development, and operations as a percentage of total operating expenses).

Conservative assumptions

Nobody ever believes that assumptions are conservative, even if they truly are.

Develop realistic assumptions that you can support, refrain from using the words "conservative" or "aggressive" in your plan, and leave it at that.

Offering a valuation

Many business plans err by stating that their company is worth a certain amount. How do you know? The value of a company is determined by the market - by what others are willing to pay - and unless you are in the business of buying, selling, or investing in companies, you probably don't have an acute sense of what the market will bear.

If you name a price, one of two things can happen: (a) your price is too high, and investors will toss your plan; or (b) your price is too low, and investors will take advantage of you. Both are bad.

The purpose of the business plan is to tell your story in the most compelling manner possible so that investors will want to go to the next step. You can always negotiate the price later.

Stylistic MistakesPoor spelling and grammar

If you make silly mistakes in your business plan, what does that say about how you run your business?

Use your spelling and grammar checkers, get other people to edit the plan, do whatever it takes to purge embarrassing errors.

Too repetitive

All too often, a plan covers the same points over and over. A well-written plan should cover key points only twice: once, briefly, in the executive summary, and again, in greater detail, in the body of the plan.

Appearance matters

At any point in time, an investor has dozens if not hundreds of plans waiting to be read. Get to the top of the pile by making sure that the cover is attractive, the binding is professional, the pages are well laid out, and the fonts are large enough to be easily read.

On the other hand, don't go too far - you don't want to give the impression that you are all style and no substance.

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Execution MistakesWaiting until too late

The capital formation process takes a long time. In general, count on 6 months to a year from the time you start writing the plan until the time the money is in the bank.

Don't put it off. Your management team should be prepared to invest about 500 hours into the plan. If you are too busy building your product, company, or customers (which is arguably a better use of your time), consider outsourcing the development of the business plan.

Failing to seek outside review

Make sure that you have at least a few people review your plan before you send it out - preferably people who understand your market, sales and distribution strategies, the VC market, etc.

Your plan may look perfect to you and your team, but that's probably because you've been staring at it for months.

Good, objective reviews from outsiders with a fresh perspective can save you from myopia.


You could spend countless hours tweaking your plan in the pursuit of perfection.

A lot of this time would be better spent working on your product, company, and customers.

At some point, you need to pull the trigger and get the plan out in front of a few investors.

If the reaction is positive, and they want to move forward, great.

If the reaction is negative (assuming that the investor was a good fit to begin with), then you may have been heading down the wrong path. Get feedback from a couple of investors, and if a general consensus emerges, go back and refine your plan.


It's a tough investment climate, but good ideas backed by good teams and good business plans are still getting funded.

Give yourself the best possible chance by avoiding these simple mistakes.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Must-read before starting that business plan.

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