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Startups, Entrepreneurs, be better informed before you 'Pitch it'!
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
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How To Avoid Investment Scams In The Startup World

How To Avoid Investment Scams In The Startup World | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

After you have heard a few startup success stories, like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, you may be tempted to invest some money yourself, maybe by pooling your funds with other investors who claim to have a great track record. My advice is to leave the investing in startups to the professionals (or friends and fools).

First of all, despite a few visible blowout successes, the odds of a payback from investing in startups is very low (that’s why VCs look for 10X returns to cover failures). Most investors agree the odds are better buying traditional public stocks, or even commodities. Even the hot new “crowdsourcing” companies springing up have yet to show any significant returns to investors.

Secondly, there are many scammers out there who look and act just like Bernie Madoff, even though he is safely tucked away in prison for the next 150 years. Most frauds are not on the scale set by Bernie, but even a few thousand dollars lost would hurt you and me as much as a few million did for some of his victims.

So what can you do, and what are the “red flags” to look for as you do your due diligence before pooling your money with other investors, or accepting money for your startup from investors? Here are some common sense tips:

  1. Get financial statements and verify. Every reputable investment firm is registered with FINRA and files regular reports with the SEC. Look for these and investigate thoroughly to check the truth of every statement about the company. Ask for references, and call or visit previous “successes” of the company to verify experience and satisfaction.

  2. Avoid “insider deals.” The Internet has just made it easier and faster for vultures to feed on entrepreneurs tempted by the possibility of an “inside deal.” Someone you don’t know promises you an “inside” deal. Why would a stranger pick you out to make rich? Does that make any sense?

  3. Listen for “unnamed sources.” Run away if all current investments are with “sensitive” clients, who are unnamed or unable to be contacted. Remember the old newspaper publishing rule of “All facts must be verified by two independent sources.” People claiming to be unbiased may actually be paid promoters or company insiders.

  4. Any mention of “offshore.” Watch out if someone has a complex plan involving offshore bank financing or gemstones or oil leases in Iran to make you rich. Why get involved in a complicated scheme you don’t understand, when there are plenty of opportunities that are legal and you can understand?

  5. Sounds too good to be true. The age-old wisdom here is that if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true. I continue to be amazed at the fact that the Secret Service still gets 100 calls per day from victims of the Nigerian unclaimed cash scam alone. What are these people thinking?

Here are a few questions you should ask that might allay any remaining qualms, or convince you to run immediately:

  • How much am I paying in commission or fees?
  • Has your source been involved in any arbitration cases or lawsuits?
  • How do they get paid? By commission? Amount of assets managed? Another method?
  • Has the firm ever been disciplined by the SEC or a state regulator?

Unfortunately, in the startup and investment business, we are trained to rely on networking, connections, and professional integrity for many decisions. Remember that people who run scams may be highly polished and sophisticated, and can wrap their con games in such an air of legitimacy it may be hard to see the truth.

Don’t assume you are safe now that Bernie is out of the picture. If you have evidence of fraud, don’t be too embarrassed to contact the Securities and Exchange Commission. If others had done this sooner, his clones wouldn’t be out there today looking to help you out (of your money).



Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Angel Investing Formula: this video explains how to find and reach them:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/fundingformula/gt4045/

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 27, 2013 10:57 AM

Good information, down-to-earth.

How to find real Angel Investors? Take a look here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/find-angel-investors.html

Fyodor Chesnakov's comment, September 27, 2013 11:02 AM
;jgf
Lori Wilk's curator insight, December 15, 2013 11:48 AM

In the excitement and the demands of entrepreneurs to find capital to launch or growth their businesses it is important to recognize legitimate offers from scams.In fact, avoiding scams at any time is the goal.

 

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Philippines needs angel investors – Tina Amper of TechTalks.ph

Philippines needs angel investors – Tina Amper of TechTalks.ph | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

What do startups need to grow? A conducive and supportive environment where one can learn and flourish – an ecosystem as we call it. The major hue and cry revolves around the immature startup ecosystem, especially when it countries or regions where startups have just started to bloom. Philippines, is one such region and the capital city – Manila – is taking the center stage of all the startup action happening in the country.

Next up in line catching up with the startup action and starting to bloom is the city of Cebu. While Manila is already a home to two main incubators – Ideaspace and Kickstart which are making some decent noise in the startup ecosystem, Cebu is embracing startups and gearing up too. Many startups get started in Cebu but it becomes hard for the entrepreneurs to pursue their passion because of no formal support structure. One woman who believes in and is trying to help and nurture Cebu’s entrepreneurial potential in her full capacity is Tina Amper...

To read the full article, click on the title...


Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This article gives a good picture of Startup activity in the Philippines.

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Physical And Mental Tips For Top Business Form

Physical And Mental Tips For Top Business Form | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

A lot of people are counting on you. The decisions you make affect the quality of lives of tens, hundreds, or maybe thousands of families, from the employees in your company to the stakeholders that are counting on your products or services.


Via Daniel Watson, Marc Kneepkens
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent article, it touches on every important aspect in your life, the wording is very balanced, and it brings it all back to yourself and the decisions you make. Highly recommended.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

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Daniel Watson's curator insight, July 15, 2013 8:56 AM


Far too many business owners and managers struggle with the concept of finding balance in their lives, but if they were more aware of why balance is so important, they would be more inclined to make changes that would be very beneficial for their businesses.


Businesses survive and thrive when quality decisions are consistently made, however where business owners and managers do not have good balance, their decision making ability can be severely compromised.


This excellent article, explains the importance of having a balanced life if you need to consistently make quality decisions, and in the dimensions of physical, mental and spiritual elements it offers nine tips to help anyone struggling to find the necessary balance.

Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, July 18, 2013 10:42 AM

Excellent article, it touches on every important aspect in your life, the wording is very balanced, and it brings it all back to yourself and the decisions you make. Highly recommended.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

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9 key things to mention when pitching your software startup

9 key things to mention when pitching your software startup | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
When it comes to pitching investors on something like software, the presentation is often more pivotal than the product itself. It's not something that can sit atop a conference table; ...
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent Points. Even if you're not pitching a software startup, take a look, very intelligent answers from succesful startup entrepreneurs.


Study the way investors think and the questions they ask. What is it that they want to know?


This article complements this other one:

http://www.business-funding-insider.com/business-plan.html



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6 Questions Every Business Plan Should Answer

6 Questions Every Business Plan Should Answer | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
What investors, mentors and advisers look for in business plans.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

www.Business-Funder-Insider.com provides information and articles to improve your business presentations.


Get your free Business Plan Template here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html


or check our 'Growthink's Business Plan Template Review'
Can you write your business plan in 8 hrs or less? http://www.business-funding-insider.com/business-plan-template.html

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5 Hot Opportunities for Start-ups

5 Hot Opportunities for Start-ups | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Fresh numbers from Intuit shine a light on where consumers are spending the most--and where you might want to look for new business ideas.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Very interesting article, every Start Up should be aware of these trends and take advantage of them.


Your Free Business Plan Template? Get it here: https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/


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10 Myths about Startups

10 Myths about Startups | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
There are some prevalent myths and preconceived notions about startups that are simply not true. Here's 10 of them.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great article, every startup should read this, it will at least make you think.


Hint: need a little help getting your thoughts and ideas organized? Get a free business plan template. It'll get you going: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-sample-business-plan.html

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20 words and phrases that will doom your pitch

20 words and phrases that will doom your pitch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Use these 'cursed words,' and many reporters and bloggers will delete your email. So will your employees. Plus, civilization might end.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

The same in business plans and investor presentations of any kind.


Some more good articles here: www.business-funding-insider.com

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Business Plan 101: Why You Need One, What's In It

Business Plan 101:  Why You Need One, What's In It | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

To start, or not to start, that's the question you've been pondering for some time. Maybe you're taking a leap from law firm or government practice to start your own, maybe you're a new graduate, maybe you've already started your...own firm.

Wherever you are in the decision process -- even if you've already started -- consider writing a business plan, because you are after all, starting a business.

Why You Need a Business Plan

A business plan is your road map; it allows you to set goals and form strategies. If you take the process seriously and do some soul searching, you may find that what you actually want, is different from what you thought you wanted. Well-written business plans can also be used as a sales tool whether you're trying to get financing, bring on a partner, or get bought out by a larger firm.

What Goes In a Business Plan

A good business plan will answer all the W (and one H) questions ..

To read the full article, click on the title...



Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 10, 2013 12:02 PM

Great questions from a 'legal professionals' blog.

Rachelle Howard's curator insight, September 13, 2013 9:27 PM

Useful for social enterprise; which are businesses for social gain - also good for collating your thoughts within an organisation 

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3 Startup Hiring Lessons from 'Duck Dynasty'

3 Startup Hiring Lessons from 'Duck Dynasty' | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Behind those bushy beards lie quite a bit of business savvy. So what startup hiring lessons can you learn from tuning into a Duck Dynasty marathon?


"Duck Dynasty, a reality show on A&E, might seem like an odd place to acquire tips to hire a great startup team. The reality program focuses on the backwater Robertson clan as they juggle a multi-million dollar duck-call-making business with their own natural inclination to just spend all day hunting."

Last season, the finale of Duck Dynasty drew 9.6 million viewers, putting it on the charts as the third most-watched show on television — even the broadcast networks. More impressively, in viewers ages 18 to 49, the little reality show could beat out Fox’s American Idol. The Robertsons have arrived in a major way.

To read the full article, click on the title.


Need a Business Plan? Get your Template from Growhtink: https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some good Startup tips from these hairy guys. Take a look.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

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12 of the Hardest Questions Venture Capitalists Will Ask You - AlleyWatch

12 of the Hardest Questions Venture Capitalists Will Ask You - AlleyWatch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Fundraising?  Make sure you know how to answer some of the toughest questions VCs will throw at you..
 




Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Pick up your 'Free Businesss Plan Template' here:

 https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/

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How Smart Angels Will Leverage Crowdfunding - Forbes

How Smart Angels Will Leverage Crowdfunding - Forbes | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Equity crowdfunding has a large and growing base of global supporters and advocates.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great article with great insights and analysis of where crowdfunding is headed.


Looking for funding? When using equity crowdfunding, you're still going to have to produce a business plan, especially dealing with Angel Investors, every single one of them will want to know what 'the plan' is.


Consider working with a Growthink Business Plan Template, it creates results. This is what Andy Kessler, Founder of Turning Earth (http://turningearthllc.com/), says about it:


"I was able to pick up a template that I could actually figure out how to use, had all the key components in it, and basically just drop in my idea... We, in fact, were able to raise money."


This is where to get full information and order it:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/businessplan/gt4045/


Get a free Business Plan Template here:

http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

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Real Business - Crowdfunding: what it's really all about

Real Business - Crowdfunding: what it's really all about | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Crowdfunding has the potential to become a valuable source of business funding. Can the model break into mainstream finance?
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some interesting comments in this article. Making it real!


Basics for Crowdfunding: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/crowdfunding-startups.html

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Strategies: Tired of emails? Print is making a big comeback - Denver Business Journal

Strategies: Tired of emails? Print is making a big comeback - Denver Business Journal | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” This...
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

After Facebook's retreat, this is more interesting news. The digital age has not completely taken over.


Want to get a real book about building your business, for free?

It's excellent, the title is 'Start at the End', by Dave Lavinsky from Growthink.

Here is the link: https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/book/gt4045/


Just pay for the shipping and it's yours (listed on Amazon.com for $15.61 + Shipping).


Here are a few endorsements for the book:


"As a business owner, I wish I had read this earlier in my career. Starting at the End makes so much sense, yet it’s difficult to do tactically without this book. This book makes your business plan and dream come to life. Read it, then do it." by Adam Shaivitz, Founder of 'Accelerate Performance Sales Consulting', and Author of 'Selling is Everyone's Business'.


"Absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!! Book. This is about as good or rather as great as it gets in terms of business education in a book. I love the writing style and the info is quite practical and easy to transfer into your everyday management as a business owner. Don't usually take the time out to comment on products - but for this one I really had to give it full props. BTW - For all those reading - this is a voluntary comment that honestly would have been against my conscience if I did not give feedback. Especially as the book was free... Great Job!!!! by Erica S. (spontaneous post on Start at the End's timeline).


Cheers!

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What are the early symptoms that a startup is going to fail?

What are the early symptoms that a startup is going to fail? | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Answer (1 of 29): I'm sure there are plenty more out there, but I look for these:

1. No demonstrated user need. For example, consider 3D movies and TV.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This is a question on Quora with some great answers, very informative for startups, much to learn here. Please discuss.


Do you still need to write that business plan? Start at least with a 'Free Business Plan Template': http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html



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20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan

20 Reasons Why You Need a Business Plan | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
From www.growhtink.com

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.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/


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:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/

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:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/

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:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/ 



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
private placement memorandum says

Wow Its a awesome article.It was very interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon.
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moronica says

me too likey but too much muni. i very happy you write me.
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moncler shop says

I'm preparing on opening a flavored coffee bar in San Diego and my company companion is heading to leave his work and operate the business, even though I ongoing to operate my day time job. Would it be much better for each of us to leave our careers in dive in mind first? Or mainly because I possess a company companion prepared to operate it entire time to remain at my present work and never arrive right up until the company is established?
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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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A good plan is a must for everyone who is going to make some mark in the business. It should be implemented too. I'm currently finding out some herniated disc treatments and I think I'll get some help soon
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Samantha says

Sometimes I wonder how can someone start a business without a plan but there are people who actually do that but I'm sure their business doesn't last for long. The things that you mentioned above are absolutely necessary. Thanks - hemorrojder
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Samantha says

That is a great post! I missed few of the points that you have mentioned above but I'm going to be a little more watchful next time. Thanks! Samantha from Cat Health Tips
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Eva says

I like the first 5 ones. This article is a good insight for people related to this field. video clips online
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Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent reasons for writing a Business Plan

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, July 21, 2013 11:07 AM

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

 http://www.business-funding-insider.com/business-plan-template.html



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

Jose Gonzalez's curator insight, July 21, 2013 9:31 PM

Very true !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Melissa Terrazola's curator insight, October 29, 2014 4:44 AM

This article is great. Business plan is a must to succeed