Have you heard that investors don’t read business plans? Not true. Before they’re going to click OK on a wire transfer of $50,000 to $50,000,000, they’ll have a lot of questions.
Wouldn’t you?!? Your business plan is your proxy in front of many supporting characters—with specialties, expertise, biases, perspectives, contacts, money… It’s like a movie script on it’s way to a green-light with everyone who can support you. They’ll all have questions and ideas and suggestions. Why your product or service? Why now? And why from you? Brace yourself.
This is the untold story behind BizPlanBuilder and why this counter-intuitive system has won the hearts and minds of so many business advisors, entrepreneurs, and investors.
If you’re looking for a lot of money, I promise this will be worth reading.
Sometime way back, I was working selling word-processors. Not very interesting, but a useful application of technology. I did sell a bunch, but word-processors were just about to become dinosaurs. Eventually, the company crashed.
Plus, I had always wished that our marketing people would come out “in the field” and visit customers with me (too much reality check?). Funny how some marketing people are freaked out by customers?!? I blamed them. If only they had…
Anyway, there I was, now on my own, creating marketing materials for other companies — the marketing collateral I always wished I had. Say hello to Tools for Sales™. It was Silicon Valley, mid 80s. It was working.
Then a friend called. He had a deal going with Apple to use his engineering software in their circuit design. In those days, software was just getting interesting, but as many companies started, it seemed just as many failed.
Apple wanted a better idea of how my friend planned to stay in business, support the program, and continue development.
Without a convincing plan, no deal.
Hmmm… I could appreciate that. This wasn’t just an investment of money, it was also, a massive learning and implementation curve in the middle of their engineering and development process. The company was at stake.
Here’s what I learned from selling word-processors…
Many people are invested in a purchase like this. Initially, most attention is paid to pleasing the actual end-user. If it works for them and they like it, so far so good.
They’ll be your first champions. Next, their manager would be relieved to know how happy and productive their people would be and how smooth everything works — a dramatic improvement over the old system!
At another level, the CFO enjoyed the math showing how much less the equipment lease was than the most conservative estimate of time saved per person. Show enough ROI and your deal becomes a priority. (I even made a cool chart to demonstrate.)
And the CEO? S/He was happy to have his/her company performing at an all-time high-level while saving money and looking good.
Beyond all that, they needed to believe me. I was my company to them. Who I was and everything I said and did had to be congruent. (A crucial concept important in all selling as well as raising capital.)
Likewise, our “business plan” for Apple needed to speak to multiple people in different places, at all levels.
Their marketing people wanted to know how we were going to promote the company to grow the business.
Finance was all over the numbers, but the true story behind them was what made them believable.
R&D was more than curious about bug fixes, the development process, project management, etc.
Everyone was interested in the management team. Steve Jobs? I’m sure he was involved. (I regret I never met him.)
If it was “insanely great” we knew we were on the same page.
We addressed everything imaginable… the worst cases, the best cases, multiple contingencies, the list goes on.
Was it overkill?
A better question: How much money was at stake for us?
Considering the payday, the actual effort was well worth it. We got the deal. And now we were properly prepared for many more.
Over the next year a number of people came to me for business plan surgery. I wasn’t even promoting myself as a developer of business plans.
I thought of what we created to win the Apple business was an elaborate “brochure” that addressed all of their interests and issues up-front.
And that it would be passed around for scrutiny and approval from a diverse team of people with various biases and interests.
The problem now was that many of these new clients had some brilliant business ideas, but were unconvincing about their product/market fit, business model, marketing strategy, and financial plan.
And their business plans were missing crucial and compelling information. (Dare I say they sucked?!?)
(No mystery investors hate reading most of them.)
Perhaps if they had sold word-processors, they would have realized that a multi-faceted, multi-layered proposal that informed a variety of people who operated at different levels, and covered all the bases was necessary to inspire [and approve] a multi-million dollar investment.
A chain is as strong as its weakest link.
You should also know that, somewhere along the way, I was the Electronics Buyer and a Copywriter for The Sharper Image® catalog back in its heyday. The pictures and copy in that catalog were the entire sales pitch – the phone rang off the hook 24/7!
(We all had to spend an hour a week in the call center. I know. It was like fishing where the fish jump in the boat!)
Hmmm… Give people all the information up front? That was original. Obviously it worked.
Investors appreciate such candor and detail too. Once you get their attention and pique their interest, their wheels start turning.
Sure, a summary and good pitch deck may get them interested, but they’ll sleep on it and wake up with questions.
They’ll call their friends and experts. They’ll have more questions…
They’ll make every effort to jump on a good deal, but avoid an avoidable mistake!
Eventually, they’ll want to see it all in writing. And they want it right the first time.
Imagine how much easier it is to fund a company that is well documented, organized and planned.
Compared to all the other deals they’re looking at, how does yours measure up?
So, what are you doing to prepare your own investor “presentation package?”
I’ve rarely been in an investor meeting where someone didn’t interrupt the presentation with a pointed question after about slide #2.
I cringe at the number of times I’ve watched an entrepreneur die a little inside, when they had neither any idea what the question was about nor the right answer.
You must avoid this kind of “buzz kill” at the moment of truth!
General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “The plan is nothing, planning is everything.”
Investors pray every day that someone – You? – will walk in their door with a company worth funding.
The preparation is what you’re betting your company on, the business plan is your movie script that proves you’ve done your own due-diligence, and that you are fully prepared to move forward.
Long story short, I was standing in the shower one day when it crossed my mind that if I see another crappy business plan, I might hurt somebody…
What if I take all the content I used to write business plans, redact anything personal, and replace it with some sample ideas to be edited, put it all together into Word, Excel and PowerPoint templates and offer them on a diskette?
Give people an awesome headstart on doing this themselves.
The BizPlanBuilder business planning software template was born – not just any “bizplan” – this is BizPlanBuilder. It’s created from my original investor sales brochure – now evolved over 30 years.
It also includes a variety of supporting documents that make planning, pitching, as well as a number of things you can and should put in place that cost nothing.
(The more you can do without money, the more impressed investors are likely to be.)
So, if you’ve got a great business idea… And you think you should do it, you’ll learn what it will take.
If you shouldn’t do it, it will become readily apparent, and you’ll save a lot of heart-ache and money.
And if you just can’t not do it, this will give you every chance to figure it out and succeed.
We’ve been down the road you’re on.
Read on about a different kind of business plan…
BizPlan Builder writes a professional business plan for your project quickly and efficiently. Its organized system walks you step-by-step through the process of preparing an effective plan for a business proposal from defining your audience and analyzing the market to developing cohesive financial and marketing plans.
The pre-scripted sample business plan templates in Microsoft® Word, flexible Excel financial models, and PowerPoint presentation example can be accessed online where you can collaborate with your team and advisors. It works equally well for both Windows and/or Macintosh users.
It’s the fastest and easiest way of turning your ideas into an investment-grade business plan and a successful business. BizPlanBuilder also supplements the “business model canvas” and “lean start-up” concepts to give investors all the details they want for funding your start-up or company expansion.
BizPlan Builder is the funding leader evolved and vetted over 29+ years through thousands of deals with banks, SBA lenders, angel investors and venture capitalists worldwide.
The newest version incorporates a comprehensive online dashboard!