[Editorial notes: We recently covered DecideQuick, a startup that makes it easy for people to make decisions. In this article, Shameer Thaha founder of DecideQuick shares his experience raising angel money (fyi: DecideQuick has raised $100K in seed funding).]
There is no doubt that the first and most effective step in fund raising for your startup is to present investors with a good Business Plan.
We wanted to create a platform, which helps people make smart & informed decisions by analyzing social data from experts, friends, and their Peers (Tribes). We wanted it to be simple and unique by enabling users to derive value from their friends and influencers instantly and NOT making it another review platform.
Decidequick received $100,000 in seed funding from My NextBig Idea Incubators. The fact that we had a comprehensive business plan and financials to back up the idea made the process credible.
In the process we learnt a lot of things that are essential to get funded and would be really useful for any Entrepreneur.
The most important lesson we learnt: ‘you need to think like an investor’.
To think like an investor; ask yourself this question: What about this business excites me and does this solve a real problem?
Remember it’s not an essay writing competition, you need to convey the business in the least amount of time without missing out on any crucial information. Here are some fundamental elements you need in your business plan arsenal:
Executive summary: Investors don’t have much time these days as they are presented with many business plans almost every day. They decide which business plans to read further by reading this section. Put as much effort in writing this section and make it the best. Do remember to include all the Cutting-Edge features of your business like your USP (Unique selling Proposition),etc… in this section. Write this section with the intent of catching the investor’s attention.
My advice is to write this section after you have crafted the other sections of your business plan. Highlight the key features of your business and also the section about ROI (Return on Investment). Keep it simple in language and brief as not all investors belong to the same industry background as yours.
Goal: To catch investor’s attention from the first page.
Company Overview and Mission: This section is about your company.
- You should tell the purpose of your company and the products or services you sell
- This is the place to talk about any patents or researches that your company has done successfully
- Your company’s history so far (Flaunt your achievements)
- company mission statement (Why you do that you do?) and future vision.
Market and Competitors Analysis: Investors invest or bet on companies that have a market for its products. So tell your investors in this section about the Market share your product will acquire. Tell them about the targeted customers and their demographics. Tell them about the projection of sales.
If you are a startup with a first of its kind product like a first brain memory saver, first flying Car, etc, then talk about the market your product will create for itself.
Also tell that you know clearly who your competitors are. Tell the investors the weakness of your competitors and how you benefit from it. Also talk about their strengths and how they do not affect your startup.
Marketing and Sales Plan: In the above section you have already mentioned WHO you will sell your products to. In this section you will talk that HOW you plan to sell. Mention the strategy for reaching the targeted customers and your sales tactics.
- All your promotional strategy
- Pricing of your product
- Sales efforts that you need
- Unique marketing and sales methods.
Management Team and Organization: Investors want to know the people whom they are betting their monies on to execute this plan Is the team good enough to be trusted with their money and the leadership of the organization in which they are planning to invest? In this section just talk about the organizational structure of your company “Who is playing what role”. It’s good to explain the relationship among the founders and how they contribute to the startup. Explaining the organizational structure of you startup with the help of a business plan will be a good idea.
Risk Analysis: In this section tell the investors that you are aware of all the risks that are involved in your business. Also briefly discuss about your strategy for tackling those risks and minimizing those risks.
Financial plan: As the name implies this section of the business plan is all about the Finances
- How much funds you need? Give them a calendar of your financial needs (How much you will need and at what stage)
- When the break-even marked will be achieved?
- How much time till you make your first sale?
- How much money you need to start?
As you can see, writing a business plan is neither a mystery, nor complicated. While writing a BP you will also gain new insights into your startup. A great BP will help you convince investors to fund your startup. Of course what’s more important than writing a BP is the fundamental business concept and it’s execution.
It is also important to understand that just having a business plan isn’t the ticket to funding. Some of the investors we pitched to just didn’t get the product we were building or understand the differentiator which most would attribute as their lack of understanding in the space. But on closer observation, it occurred to us that we used a lot of technical jargons and did not make it easier for the investor. Remember, if the investor doesn’t understand how do you expect your customer/ user to understand. So KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid!)
I have tried to simplify the plan as much as I can. I wrote this article after speaking to a few investors (Angels & VCs) and based on my personal experience of getting funded. The business plan is your guide and serves not only to get your business funded by an investor but also to help you plan and strategize the way forward. Tell me more about what you feel should be there in a business plan for yourself and for your potential investors.