Showing all articles tagged: business-plan






Basic Business Venture Plan Outline ...

  1. What is the problem we are solving?
  2. Who are the prospective customers for the solution to this problem?
  3. What is our solution?
  4. What are the current existing solutions that are available to our prospective customers?
  5. How is our solution a better value than the alternatives?
  6. What people, places, things, time, and money resources do we need to create and deliver our solution to our prospective customers?
  7. Can our solution generate a profit after all reoccurring expenses are covered?
  8. How much, and when?
  9. Who is going to make this happen, and why are they qualified to do so?



Easy (easier? easiest?) way to create a business plan ...

Easy (easier? easiest?) way to create a business plan ...

The most common approach to creating a business plan to present to prospective investors and collaborators is through a PowerPoint (or Google Slides) presentation.

PowerPoint is an excellent tool ... it has good graphics capabilities built in, creating individual slides for each topic tends to force clarity in thinking, it allows for adding hidden (or not) "speaker notes" to each slide, and more.

One interesting "trick" ... use the "speaker notes" in a PowerPoint business plan slide deck to transform the slides into a more formal written business plan.

It is very common for prospective investors to ask for a copy of the slides before, during, and after a presentation. The down-side is that not all of the pertinent information is on the slides. The speaker for each slide is providing that information. However, there is a easy and fairly elegant solution. Instead of just printing the slide deck, print the slide deck with the accompanying speaker notes. But not just any ordinary speaker notes ...

Use the "Speaker Notes" feature of PowerPoint to write sentences and paragraphs as needed to help the reader understand what is on the slide (since the actual speaker is not there to tell them in person). Just like writing a "formal" document except with the added benefit here of coordinating with the venture plan slide deck and graphics.

There are typically 10 to 20 slides in a business venture plan slide deck (a suggested base outline is below).

From the PowerPoint slide deck with the sentences and paragraphs, the slides with "speaker notes" can be printed one or two slides per page. The results is a "written" business plan that coordinates perfectly with the slide presentation, and has more details than simply printing the slides alone.

Base (but likely not all elements) of an outline for a business plan/presentation ...
1] Title ... name of your venture, logo, tag line, contact information ... a billboard executive summary of the venture
2] Problem/Opportunity ... pain your alleviating or the pleasure you're providing
3] Value Proposition ... benefits versus price
4] Underlying "Magic" ... your solution, marketing brochure, the "secret sauce" behind your venture ... photos, pictures, diagrams,
actual prototype?
5] Business Model ... how you make money ... business model canvas is a good graphic
6] Go-to-Market Plan ... customer NWD profile and how you will fill the holes ... buyer, decision maker, influencer, user, et al
7] Competitive Analysis ... key competitors and perhaps a SWOT(T)
8] Management Team ... you, key advisors
9] Financial Objectives ... first week, month, quarter, year ... how you will meet these objectives ... key metrics
10] Timeline and Status ... Past 6 months, status now, next 6 months ...

While these 10 slides are fundamental, 10 slides alone are often not enough for some base business venture plan presentations. Add as needed but resist the urge to have more than about 18 slides for a 10 to 15 minute presentation.

171109G (c) 2017 Jim Jindrick


The 18 Base Slides for a Venture Plan Presentation ...

Slide 1: "Billboard"
Slide 2: Core Team ... who, what
Slide 3: Problem / Customer / Opportunity ... scale and scope of problem, SOM/SAM/TAM
Slide 4: Solution ... brochure
Slide 5: Value Proposition ... Customer NWD Profile, Benefits, FFFF
Slide 6: "Underlying Magic"... differentiation, competitive advantages, core competencies
Slide 7: Industry and Environment ... Who, What, SWOT
Slide 8: Competitive Analysis ... Who, What, SWOT
Slide 9: Business Model ... BM canvas
Slide 10: Go-to-Market Plan ... Strategies
Slide 11: Sales Plan ... Objectives
Slide 12: Operations ... Production, distribution, delivery, margin objectives
Slide 13: Growth Strategies ... Scale and Scope
Slide 14: Timeline ... What, when, where
Slide 15: Financial Objectives and Key Metrics ...
Slide 16: Use of Funds ...
Slide 17: Funding Proposal ... Equity, debt, grants, gifts
Slide 18: "Billboard"


Slides 19 to 100+ will have all the gory details!! Lists of 100: customers, prospective customers, target markets, competitors, prospective collaborators, suppliers, prospective investors, ...

These 18 slides also form the foundation for a formal written business plan and an executive summary.

2.05a


Venture Scorecard

Just as people have periodic health checkups where a physician examines a variety of elements to determine the overall condition of the individual, so too can a venture, company, business go through a similar process. Here are 30 categories to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a business venture. This is also a good checklist for early venture planning and validation research.


3.05

Plan ... Nitty Gritties

Business Plan review notes
[ ] Put a version.revision number on the front page ... change the v.R EVERY time you make a change in the plan so you and reader know which version they have
[ ] Front page "boiler plate" ... copyright, company name, logo, tag line, 25-word summary, team name (city, can remove later), team members and roles, legal disclaimer, version.revision number, date (?)
[ ] Nix the jargon!
[ ] You need to tell a story. All the puzzle pieces must fit together. Don't throw in any red herrings!
[ ] You all seem to understand elements and perspectives of a new venture ... Difficult to put them together in a realistic cohesive plan
[ ] You must drive the financials ... They don't just happen because we plug some numbers in a spreadsheet
[ ] Use headlines that say something
[ ] Lots of graphics... Lots!
[ ] Must cover basic and specific critical success factors
[ ] Use business model canvas and other "standard" visuals for communications
[ ] Need to explain financial objectives (projections) ... goals, forecasts, budgets
[ ] Home page / slide ... mini-exec summary of the venture

1.05

The Lawyers Want to See This on the Cover of a Business Plan!

Confidentiality Notice: This Business Plan is confidential and contains proprietary information and intellectual property of NEWCO. Neither this Business Plan nor any of the information contained herein may be reproduced or disclosed under any circumstances without the express written permission of NEWCO. This Business Plan does not constitute an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy securities of NEWCO. Any such offers and sales will be made only to “Accredited Investors," as defined in Regulation D under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, pursuant to separate agreements to be negotiated by the parties.

© 2011 by NEWCO. All rights reserved. Confidential.

[NEWCO is the example business venture.]

How We're Going to Write Our Executive Summary ...

The purpose of the executive summary of the business plan is to provide our readers with an overview of the business plan. Think of it as an introduction to our business. Therefore, our business plan's executive summary will include summaries of ...
  1. a description of our company, including our product and/or service and/or methodology solutions
  2. our management team
  3. the market and our customers including basic quantitative information
  4. marketing and sales strategies
  5. our primary competition
  6. our competitive advantage
  7. our operational strategies
  8. financial projections and plans
  9. why this is a winning business
  10. contact information
The executive summary will end with a summary statement, a "last kick at the can" sentence or two designed to persuade the readers of our business plan that our business is a winner.

To write the executive summary of the business plan, we will start by following the list above and writing one to three sentences about each topic. (No more!)

If we have trouble crafting these summary sentences from scratch, we will review our business plan to get us going. In fact, one approach to writing the executive summary of the business plan is to take a summary sentence or two from each of the business plan sections we've already written. (If we compare the list above to the sections outlined in the Business Plan Outline, we'll see that this could work very well.)

Then we'll finish our business plan's executive summary with a clinching closing sentence or two that answers the reader's question "Why is this a winning business?"

Tips for Writing the Business Plan's Executive Summary
  1. Focus on providing a summary. The business plan itself will provide the details and whether bank managers or investors, the readers of your business plan don't want to have their time wasted.
  2. Keep our language strong and positive. Don't weaken the executive summary of our business plan with weak language. Instead of writing, "Dogstar Industries might be in an excellent position to win government contracts", write "Dogstar Industries will be in an excellent position..."
  3. The executive summary should be no more than two pages long ... one page is probably better. Resist the tempation to pad your business plan's executive summary with details (or pleas). The job of the executive summary is to present the facts and entice your reader to read the rest of the business plan, not tell him everything.
  4. Polish our executive summary. Read it aloud. Does it flow or does it sound choppy? Is it clear and succinct? Once it sounds good to you, have someone else who knows nothing about your business read it and make suggestions for improvement.
  5. Tailor the executive summary of our business plan to our audience. If the purpose of our business plan is to entice investors, for instance, our executive summary should focus on the opportunity our business provides investors and why the opportunity is special.
  6. We should put ourselves in our readers' place... and read our executive summary again. Does this executive summary generate interest or excitement in the reader? If not, why?
  7. Remember, the executive summary of the business plan will be the first thing the readers of the business plan read. If our executive summary is poorly written, it will also be the last, as they will set the rest of our business plan aside unread!

[Susan Ward with editing by Jim Jindrick]
1.08

What to Avoid in Your Business Plan and Presentation

  1. Form over substance. If it looks good but doesn't have a solid basis in fact and research, you might as well save your energy.
  2. Empty claims. If you say something is so, back it up in the next sentence with a statistic or fact or quote from a knowledgeable source that supports the claim.
  3. Rumors about the competition. If you know for sure one is going out of business you can allude to it, but avoid listing their weaknesses or hearsay. Stick to facts.
  4. Superlatives and strong adjectives. Words like major, incredible, amazing, outstanding, unbelievable, terrific, great, most, best, and fabulous don't have a place in a business plan. Avoid ``unique" unless you can demonstrate with facts that the product or service is truly ``one of a kind". Your opportunity is probably not unique.
  5. Long documents. Keep it under 25 pages total. Write whatever you want to write, but keep it at home. If they want details, they will ask.
  6. Over estimating on your financial projections. Sure you want to look good, but resist optimism here. Use half of what you think is reasonable. Better to underestimate than set expectations that aren't fulfilled.
  7. Overly optimistic time frames. Ask around or do research on the Internet. If it takes most companies 6-12 months to get up and running, that is what it will take yours. If you think it will take 3 months to develop your prototype, double it. You will face delays you don't know about yet--ones you can't control.
  8. Gimmicks. Serious investors want facts, not hype. They may eat the chocolate rose that accompanies the business plan for your new florist shop, but it won't make them any more interested in investing in the venture.
  9. Typos and misspelled words. Use your spell checker, hire an editor or have four people read the document from back to front, but get those errors out of there if you want to be taken seriously.
  10. Amateurish financial projections. Spend some money and get an accountant to do these for you. They'll help you think through the financial side of your venture, plus put them into a standard business format that a business person expects.

[Kaye Vivian]
1.04

Business Plan... Characteristics of a Great Business Plan ...

  1. Presents a clear explanation of why the venture concept is a significant opportunity.
  2. Provides a concise description of the venture's products or services.
  3. Provides a clear, rational explanation of why the venture idea is better than anything else already available.
  4. Succinctly explains customer benefits in qualitative and quantitative terms.
  5. Provides a clear explanation of the one or two things the company does best.
  6. Focuses on market-driven opportunities.
  7. Provides evidence of customer acceptance of the venture's products and services.
  8. Presents evidence of the marketability of the products and services.
  9. Presents a quality, sophisticated, experienced management team, advisors, and board of directors with complementary and encompassing business skills.
  10. Gives a clear sense of what the founders expect to accomplish in 3 to 7 years.
  11. Provides a rational explanation of why the investor should trust the management team to do what they say they are going to do.
  12. Identifies all the alternatives available to prospective customers.
  13. Addresses how the venture will develop and sustain a distinct competitive advantage.
  14. Addresses how the venture will develop and sustain a proprietary position.
  15. Contains reasonable financial projections with key data explained and justified.
  16. Shows how and when the venture will generate sustainable positive cash flow streams.
  17. Describes the manufacturing and/or service delivery processes and associated costs in appropriate detail.
  18. Explains and justifies the level of product development required.
  19. Justifies financially the means chosen to sell the products and services.
  20. Supports credible growth projections.
  21. Provides a clear explanation of how the money invested in the venture will be used.
  22. Shows how and when the venture will generate sustainable profit.
  23. Shows an appreciation of investor needs.
  24. Shows how investors can cash out in three to seven years, with an appropriate return on their investment.
  25. Provides a clear explanation of what the investor will get for their investment.
  26. Identifies significant risks and proposes rational contingencies.
  27. Has the right appearance...not too fancy, not too plain.
  28. Is arranged properly with the executive summary, table of contents, and chapters in right order.
  29. Is the "right length"...not too long, not too short...to convey all the pertinent information.
  30. Is plausible throughout.
  31. Has facts rather than opinions
  32. Is quantitative rather than qualitative
  33. Stresses specifics rather than generalities
  34. Reads like a combination of the Wall Street Journal, a model of good business writing, and USA Today, a model of good story-telling

(c) 2015 by Jim Jindrick. All rights reserved.
1.07
VentureNotebook.com

Plan ... How to Write an Effective Business Plan

  1. Start with a clear, concise executive summary of your business. Think of it like an elevator pitch. In no more than two pages, billboard all the important stuff. At the top, communicate your value proposition: what your company does, how it will make money and why customers will want to pay for your product or service. If you are sending your plan to investors, include the amount of money you need and how you plan to use it. You have to know the whole picture before you can boil things down, so tackle the summary after finishing the rest of your plan.
  2. Next, establish the market opportunity. Answer questions like: How large is your target market? How fast is it growing? Where are the opportunities and threats, and how will you deal with them? Again, highlight your value proposition. Most of this market information can be found through industry associations, chambers of commerce, census data or even from other business owners. (Be sure to source all of your information in case you are asked to back up your claims or need to update your business plan.)
  3. While you may have convinced yourself that your product or service is unique, don't fall into that trap. Instead, get real and size up the competition: Who are they? What do they sell? How much market share do they have? Why will customers choose your product or service instead of theirs? What are the barriers to entry? Remember to include indirect competitors--those with similar capabilities that currently cater to a different market but could choose to challenge you down the road.
  4. Now that you've established your idea, start addressing the execution ... specifically, your team. Include profiles of each of your business's founders, partners or officers and what kinds of skills, qualifications and accomplishments they bring to the table. (Include resumes in an appendix.)
  5. If potential investors have read this far, it's time to give them the nuts and bolts of your business model. This includes a detailed description of all revenue streams (product sales, advertising, services, licensing) and the company's cost structure (salaries, rent, inventory, maintenance). Be sure to list all assumptions and provide a justification for them. Also, include names of key suppliers or distribution partners.
  6. After all of that, one big question still remains: Exactly how much money does your business stand to make? More important, when will the cash come in the door? That's why you need a section containing past financial performance (if your company is a going concern) and financial projections.
  7. Three-year forward-looking profit-and-loss, balance sheet and cash-flow statements are a must ... as is a break-even analysis that shows how much revenue you need to cover your initial investment. [Jim 2 cents: make clear these are objectives for your venture, not just "projections" of what might happen!]
  8. For early stage companies with only so much in the bank, the cash-flow statement comparing quarterly receivables to payables is most critical. "Everyone misunderstands cash flow," says Tim Berry, president of business-plan software company Palo Alto Software. "People think that if they plan for [accounting] profits, they'll have cash flow. But many companies that go under are profitable when they die, because profits aren't cash."
  9. After you've buffed your plan to a shine, don't file it away to gather dust. "A business plan is the beginning of a process," says Berry. "Planning is like steering, and steering means constantly correcting errors. The plan itself holds just a piece of the value; it's the going back and seeing where you were wrong and why that matters."

[From Mary Crane, Forbes.com]
1.08

Venture Hypothesis Outline ...

  1. Title slide or page ... venture concept name, team members, 3-word concept summary
  2. Opportunity ... the problem, market analysis, first customer(s)
  3. Solution and venture concept ... products and services, competitive advantage
  4. Business model ... how the venture will make money
  5. Marketing and sales strategies ... how the venture will attract customers
  6. Product development and operations strategies ... how the venture will develop and deliver solutions to customers
  7. Team and organization ... the current team and what do they do, advisors, team members to be added
  8. Risks and variations ... downside and upside risks, timeline and tolerances
  9. Financial model ... estimate of units sold, average selling price, revenue, expenses, margins, and EBITDA for first 5 years; key assumptions; significant startup expenses
  10. Validation plan ... how the hypothesis will be validated

1.03

Traditional Business Plan Outline

COVER PAGE
  • Venture Title
  • Tag Line
  • Logo
  • Principles and Positions
  • Contact Information
  • Copyright and Disclaimers

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  • Description of the Problem or Opportunity
  • The Business Venture Concept and Solution
  • Key Business Model and Venture Strategies
  • Target Market and Projections
  • Competitive Advantages
  • The Team
  • The Offering

THE INDUSTRY AND THE COMPANY
  • The Industry
  • The Problem or Opportunity
  • The Product and Service Solutions
  • The Company and the Concept
  • Entry and Growth Strategy

MARKET RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS
  • Target Market
  • Customers
  • Market Trends
  • Direct and Indirect Competition
  • Estimated Market Shares Sales
  • Competitive Advantage
  • On-going Market Evaluation

ECONOMICS OF THE BUSINESS
  • Business Model
  • Gross and Operating Margins
  • Profit Potential and Durability
  • Fixed, Variable, and Semi-variable Costs
  • Months to Breakeven
  • Months to Reach Positive Cash Flow

MARKETING AND SALES PLAN
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Pricing
  • Sales Strategies
  • Sales Forecast and Methodology
  • Distribution
  • Advertising and Promotion Strategies

DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN
  • Development Status and Tasks
  • Difficulties and Risks
  • Product Improvement and New Products
  • Costs
  • Proprietary Issues
  • Intellectual Property Issues

MANUFACTURING AND OPERATIONS PLAN
  • Operating Cycle
  • Geographical Location
  • Facilities and Improvements
  • Operational Strategy
  • Operational Plans
  • Regulatory and Legal Issues

MANAGEMENT TEAM
  • Organization and Legal Structure
  • Key Management Personnel
  • Management Compensation and Ownership
  • Employment and Other Agreements
  • Stock Options and Bonus Plans
  • Board of Directors
  • Investors and Shareholders
  • Supporting Professional Advisors and Services

SCHEDULE AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN
  • Timeline
  • Development Goals and Strategies

CRITICAL RISKS, PROBLEMS, AND ASSUMPTIONS

THE FINANCIAL PLAN
  • Actual Income Statements and Balance Sheets
  • Pro Forma Income Statements
  • Pro Forma Balance Sheets
  • Pro Forma Cash Flow Analysis
  • Break·Even Chart and Calculation
  • Cost Control Strategies

PROPOSED COMPANY OFFERING
  • Required Financing
  • Valuation
  • Offering
  • Capitalization
  • Use of Funds
  • Return on Investment

SUMMARY
  • Summary of Business Venture
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement

APPENDIXES
  • Resumes
  • Product Data Sheets
  • Marketing Material
  • Detailed Research
  • Issues of Sustainability of the Venture
  • Impact on the Environment
  • Impact on the Community
  • Service and Warranty Policies

Business Plan: Things to Avoid

  1. Form over substance. If it looks good but doesn't have a solid basis in fact and research, you might as well save your energy.
  2. Empty claims. If you say something is so, back it up in the next sentence with a statistic or fact or quote from a knowledgeable source that supports the claim.
  3. Rumors about the competition. If you know for sure one is going out of business you can allude to it, but avoid listing their weaknesses or hearsay. Stick to facts.
  4. Superlatives and strong adjectives. Words like major, incredible, amazing, outstanding, unbelievable, terrific, great, most, best, and fabulous don't have a place in a business plan. Avoid ``unique" unless you can demonstrate with facts that the product or service is truly ``one of a kind". Your opportunity is probably not unique.
  5. Long documents. Keep it under 25 pages total. Write whatever you want to write, but keep it at home. If they want details, they will ask.
  6. Over estimating on your financial projections. Sure you want to look good, but resist optimism here. Use half of what you think is reasonable. Better to underestimate than set expectations that aren't fulfilled.
  7. Overly optimistic time frames. Ask around or do research on the Internet. If it takes most companies 6-12 months to get up and running, that is what it will take yours. If you think it will take 3 months to develop your prototype, double it. You will face delays you don't know about yet--ones you can't control.
  8. Gimmicks. Serious investors want facts, not hype. They may eat the chocolate rose that accompanies the business plan for your new florist shop, but it won't make them any more interested in investing in the venture.
  9. Typos and misspelled words. Use your spell checker, hire an editor or have four people read the document from back to front, but get those errors out of there if you want to be taken seriously.
  10. Amateurish financial projections. Spend some money and get an accountant to do these for you. They'll help you think through the financial side of your venture, plus put them into a standard business format that a business person expects.

[From Kaye Vivian]


Jim Jindrick

You can send Jim Jindrick a message here: TextJim.VentureNotebook.com Jim's books are available here: Amazon.com/author/JimJindrick

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