You have a business idea that has your friends and family impressed; you’ve even taken steps to research the market and prepare yourself for the opportunity.
But just wait, you’re going to need something: A properly developed business plan for investment should turn your business idea into reality.
In this article I’ll answer the ten biggest questions surrounding investment business plans. You’ve come to the right place whether you’re a start up, experienced business owner, or even a professional business plan writer.
What is an investment business plan?
An investment business plan articulates a business concept, growth strategy, key personnel, marketing strategy, key risks and financial projections.
The purpose is to provide an accurate summary of the company’s objectives and entice the audience, often an investor to capitalize on the opportunity by putting up money in exchange for equity. Every business plan is formatted differently, but yours should cover these ten key topics:
0.0 Cover Page
0.1 Table of Contents
1.0 Executive Summary
1.1 Mission Statement
1.2 Vision Statement
2.0 Company Summary
2.2 Critical Success Factors
3.0 Business Opportunity
3.1 Problem and Solution
4.0 Industry Analysis
4.1 Market Growth Rate
4.2 Market Concentration
4.3 Target Audience
4.4 Key Competitors
4.5 Key Trends
5.0 Business Model
5.1 Unique Selling Point
5.2 Revenue Streams
5.3 Key Performance Indicators
5.4 Price Point
5.5 Business Pipeline
6.0 Marketing Strategy
6.1 SWOT Analysis
6.2 Key Channels
6.3 Market Segmentation
7.0 Investment Proposal
7.1 Capital Requirements
7.2 Exit Strategy
8.0 Financial Projections
8.1 Projected Income Statement
8.2 Projected Balance Sheet
8.3 Risk Mitigation
9.0 Management Team
9.1 Key Personnel
9.2 Compensation Summary
10.1 Final Page
When writing a business plan a great place to start is with your executive summary.
Some people emphasize writing this last since it incorporates a key point from each segment, but we say do it first. By doing so you’ll have something to reflect on as you make progress.
The executive summary of a business plan is a bit like the synopsis of a book; it should explain what it’s all about.
But before you start writing you need to identify and understand the audience you’re writing the business plan for. Investors can be a very particular, analytical and judgmental audience.
A good mantra for writing a business plan for investors is: “don’t waste no time”. There’s simply no benefit in playing around with baseless stats, and ideas.
Every statistic, statement and plan presented must be backed up with clear and concise research.
An honest approach to your business plan creation is really the most direct route to success.
At BSBCON we call this a “back and forth” process. You may change your executive summary ten times before you have it right, and that’s what writing a business plan is all about. Vet your idea from each and every angle, so that your final copy is as clear as possible.
Should my investor-ready business plan include graphics?
Interesting question. There is no right answer here, but I will say this: to certain audiences, including investors, the presentation of your business plan is equally important as the written content.
Having a professional business consulting firm like BSBCON create a custom-tailored plan, with graphic design is a no brainer if you’re seeking a serious investment, or if you want to increase your chances of getting funded.
Presenting a sleek business plan with appropriate visuals and content shows an investor that you and your business are worth the investment. An investor won’t want to risk their hard earned money on a concept that’s presented poorly, and is visually unappealing.
Your business plan doesn’t need graphic design, but if done properly, with a well written plan it can pay dividends when presenting to an investor. One last tip on having graphics in your business plan: “less is more”.
What do investors look for in a business plan?
The answer is in the question. Investment 101 is: the bigger the risk, the bigger the perceived reward.
You rarely have an opportunity to invest in an asset that promises both security and substantial growth. Assets that offer impressive growth realize valuations that are priced more expensively due to the expected return on investment.
So, what does an investor look for in a business plan? By inheriting the risk of a startup, investors expect an opportunity to receive a substantial return on their principal investment.
That’s exactly why tech companies have the best chance of receiving funding: they present some of the best opportunities to receive a substantial return on investment (ROI).
But how should you approach your business plan if you aren’t involved in the tech space?
Honestly, there isn’t one magical answer, but you can try presenting a business plan that’s as concise and polished as possible. Investors deserve an accurate description of the business opportunity regardless of which industry it occupies.
Remember, there’s still plenty of solid businesses getting funded outside of the tech space. Double down on your opportunity regardless of which industry it’s in, and hopefully it’s a sustainable one!
What types of investors will fund my business?
There’s three types of investors that commonly fund start-ups. Each of them have positives and negatives; therefore, think long and hard before approaching any of them.
Personal Investors – or “love money” is family or friends that want to help fund your start-up. Be careful, as family and business is often a recipe for disaster. In addition, personal investors often lack the business acumen to help take your company to the next level. This is often the easiest money to attract but can come with the most baggage.
Angel Investors – Angel investors come in the early stages of a company, somewhere between personal investments and venture capitalists. They bear extreme risk, and typically expect a return of 10x their investment in less than 5 years. Angel investors commonly contribute between $10,000 – $100,000 on a start-up, and often act as mentors. Providing a clear exit strategy is key to attracting the initial investment of an angel investor.
Venture Capitalists – Venture capitalists (VC’s) manage the pooled money of others in a professionally-managed fund. They are most interested in technology based start-ups that are somewhere between start-up and well established.
Most venture capital firms have a minimum investment of $1,000,000 and require voting shares, plus at least one seat on the board of directors.
How do I value my business?
Most business owners want to sell the least equity at the highest possible price; therefore, retaining equity while getting funded. This process is completely up to, but be prepared for investors to ask how you’ve valued your business.
When coming up with your valuation use these tips to help support your offering:
● Does your company have any intellectual property (IP) that helps increase it’s value?
● How is your management team uniquely qualified? Do they hold professional advantages over your competition? Will you be able to leverage their experience?
● How much money have you invested so far?
● How much revenue has your business earned thus far?
● Is there anything proprietary including patents that your company owns?
● Are there any liquid assets your business owns?
At the end of the day your business is worth the valuation that someone is willing to pay for it. At BSBCON we’ve seen the most success in businesses offering a group of $10,000 investments between personal and angel investors.
For example, a company valuation of $1,000,000. Seeking an investment of $100,000 for 10%, 10 offerings of 1% at $10,000.
But how do you get to that $1,000,000 valuation? It’s often an equation of revenue up to now, management team, projected revenue and earnings growth.
How many pages should an investment business plan be?
A good number is around 15-20 pages of straight content. If you present a business plan for investment that includes graphic design with page dividers that number will go up substantially to around 30-40 pages.
Please just remember one thing: more content isn’t always better.
If you present a business plan that’s long, but filled with bogus content, exaggerations, and misinformation then one: you really shouldn’t be in business, and two: your audience will likely get bored and see right through it!
Yes, you want to present a detailed investor business plan, but it must be concise, clean and effective.
How can I get my business plan in front of investors?
The types of investors you present your plan to will depend on your industry, capital requirements and projections, but once you have that you can use these resources:
Personal Investors – email your business plan PDF to friends and family that may be interested in the opportunity.
Angel Investors – Reach out through the Angel Investment Network:
Venture Capitalists – Reach out through the following networks:
What questions will investors ask themselves?
Below is a list of actual questions investors have asked our clients about their businesses. Take a read and prepare yourself to be asked these questions upon an investor reviewing your business plan. Also, you should try to answer as many of these questions in your business plan.
Is the company scalable?
Tip: Explain your growth strategy. How large will the company be in 5 or 10 years. Even provide how many locations you’ll have, where, and at what dates. Any financial projection or growth milestone after three years is merely an approximation, and that should be clarified.
Does the management team understand their business better than their competitors?
Tip: Explain the value of your business through numbers. When entrepreneurs present themself as metrics-driven it’s as though they’ve entered an investors mind.
Has the entrepreneur been referred to me by a trusted colleague?
Tip: The best way to reach serious investors is by knowing them yourself, or being introduced to them by their friends, family or colleagues. When seeking investors you should build awareness around the opportunity by notifying those closest to you.
How long until I get my investment back?
Tip: Precisely explain this in the financial projections. Also, explain possible exit strategies or long term earnings growth.
Is the company’s unique selling point defendable or not?
Tip: Explain this, and how you plan to defend it. For example, will you pay your staff more than the industry average to attract the talent that can deliver superior customer service? This would apply as a defence if superior customer service was a function of your unique selling point.
Who is your best customer or client?
Tip: Get investors excited! With an accurate marketing segmentation report you can show each portion of your target audience.
Can you provide a demonstration of the product or service right now?
Tip: Seeing is believing. Showcase your product physically, in a written presentation, or through a video.
How did you come up with this idea or concept?
Tip: Be completely honest. This can either be done face to face with a potential investor, or professionally in the business plan.
Does the management team have the skills and expertise to execute on the business concept?
Tip: Explain why each of your management team members are uniquely qualified for this opportunity.
Is the lifetime value of customers or clients greater than the cost of acquiring them?
Tip: Conduct extensive market research on the lifecycle of your target customers. Are they one time purchasers, or loyal to their favourite brands? At what rate are your product or services increasing in value? Are there many add along product or services to be introduced?
Will the company require further rounds of financing, when, and at what evaluations?
Tip: This does not have to be answered in your business plan, but you should be prepared to answer this in conversation. Be honest about future financing expectations and the expected valuation of the business.
Can I provide any value to this company?
Tip: If an investor will put their hard earned money in a company they will also want it to succeed. Be ready for the question: How can I help? As the operators of the company you don’t have to provide a way they can help, other than realistic, actionable ones.
How will we measure our success?
Tip: Key Performance Indicators will provide short and long term landmarks to meet or exceed.
Have I been presented with a case study of a customer using your product or service?
Tip: This should be provided in your investment business plan. Try using actual photos or graphics for your case study.
What are three things you’ve learned so far?
Tip: This could be anything from customer feedback to a lesson learned. Think honestly about moments when you realized you could do things better.
What will your market look like in five years?
Tip: Go beyond emerging trends and assess how macro factors like technology and society will affect the direction of your industry.
Are there emerging competitors or trends that haven’t been addressed?
Tip: Simply be prepared for this question, and actively ask yourself as your business develops. A strong Research and Development strategy should include monthly, or quarterly assessments of emerging competitors and concepts.
What part of the business is giving the management team most trouble right now?
Tip: Be honest. Your prospective investor might have the perfect solution or know someone with the specialization to perfect this challenge.
What are the benefits of an investment business plan?
It’s important to compare the latter. So really, what are the benefits of an investment business plan to a bank loan business plan?
Quite simply, you don’t need to pay it back, whereas a bank loan will absolutely need to be repaid.
Second, it can be challenging to secure a business bank loan, especially in an economic downturn. In the current COVID-19 pandemic we see many more businesses get funded by investment over bank loan.
Third, an investor can bring their network and expertise to your businesses aid, where a bank cannot.
What’s the downside of an investment business plan?
By having a multitude of owners there can be benefits, but also some key downfalls like different visions or strategies for the company.
In addition, an investment business plan almost always equates to a loss in your portion of equity. Here’s a few ways to mitigate your loss of equity, by increasing the valuation of the business:
● Pristinely recorded financial records. Investors love to check the books, by ensuring your financial records are properly recorded with as much revenue, and the least debt you’ll be able to value your business higher.
● Having an innovative business concept. You’ll be able to value your business much higher with a new and promising concept. Even if your business isn’t in the technology space, ask yourself: “Are we delivering to a growth industry?” Investors that participate in start-ups seek a monstrous return on investment. How do you plan on delivering that to them?
● Presenting your management team as uniquely qualified. Your company is worth that much more if it’s being led by proven professionals. Explain why each of your management team members brings something proprietary to the table that can’t be replaced by your competition.
There’s a lot of moving parts when developing a successful investment business plan.
One of the most daunting being the challenge of securing a strategic investment in your company.
Try to forget about all the noise. Get back to the basics of business and business plan writing:
Does your business concept address a growing problem in the marketplace?
Does your business model defend your unique selling point?
Have you developed the right team to execute on the business’s mission?
Who are your key competitors and does your business model differentiate you enough to solidify your position in the market?
At the end of the day investors play a vital role in the development of growing businesses. Not every partnership is perfect, but you should try to find investors that have aligned values with your business.
If you have any further questions please reach out, or get in touch for a BSBCON business plan that will get you funded.