For Entrepreneurs, Professionals and Growth Businessess Developing a Business Plan to Guide Growth and Secure Venture Funding

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Jon Hunt is the Lead Consultant for The Business Plan Team which works with growing businesses, entrepreneurs & start-ups that need help developing a professional business plan to secure funding and guide internal management. It has developed business plans for a wide range of businesses and corporate clients looking to raise funding of between £250,000 and £200million in many different industry sectors including Social Media, Retail, Construction, Mining, Renewable Energy, Technology, Healthcare, Interior Design, Sport & Leisure, Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Trading. Testimonials from these clients illustrate the high levels of service TBPT provides.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Business Plan: Securing Funding Part 2

In "Business Plan: Securing Funding Part 1" we looked at "How" you write your plan and how a professional business plan gives an indication of your professional approach. We looked at avoiding hype, writing about a "plan" rather than an "idea", being realistic and paying attention to editing and presentation.

In Part 2 we look at content. What are the key elements that you must address in order to secure funding? There are, of course, no guarantees. However, you will significantly increase your chances of funding if you include the following:

1) The Opportunity to Solve a Problem - Your Market Opportunity
Be clear in your business plan what problem you are solving. If you are not solving a real world problem your product or service is simply a "nice-to-have" rather than a "must-have". Must have propositions have a much better chance of getting funded. Once you are clear that you are solving a real problem get clarity on the size of the problem - both in terms of volume and value. You then have an indication of the market opportunity. From there you can go on to show exactly how you are going to reach that market with your solution to the problem.

2) Delivering the Business Plan - Management Team Experience and Expertise
You wouldn't let someone who can't drive and hasn't got a license borrow your car. Whilst they have nothing to lose and will be more than happy to get behind the wheel, you are lining yourself up for an expensive fall! In a similar way, an investor is not going to lend you money for your business unless the management team has proven track record - in particular the knowledge and experience driving your type of product or service to market. Banks or investors need to be assured that the management team will deliver the business plan in front of them. If you haven't got the experience yourself, get it, or get someone on board who has. Investors also like to see that the management team are prepared to get their hands dirty and shoulder some of the risk. You are more likely to secure funding if investor and management risk are aligned.

3) Delivering a Return - Return on Investment (ROI)
You need to convince investors that you have a real market opportunity and that the scale of it has the potential to generate significant profits and cash-flow. You also need to show that they can exit their investment at a future date. Avoid the temptation in the business plan to over-analyse projected revenues, market growth, industry norms and financial valuation models. All this can end up with a highly speculative future business valuation / ROI that can easily be dismissed as over-optimistic by a potential investor. So, you might want to work out funding round valuations yourself, but concentrate your efforts in the business plan on justifying the commercial case. Let them see the potential for themselves and you can then discuss potential ROI with them.

Good Luck!

Jon Hunt
Lead Consultant
The Business Plan Team
www.TheBusinessPlanTeam.co.uk
The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and guide internal management. It provides a range of services from early feasibility studies through professional business plan development, to introductions to sources of funding. It is based in just outside Oxford, UK.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Business Plan Checklist to Secure Funding: Part 1 of 2

It's tough raising funding for your business plan at whatever level. You are up against hundreds of other businesses with polished business plans and you need to ensure that yours shines through. You may not have great experience of business plan writing but you can improve your chances of securing funds but making sure you cover off the basics. We have put together a checklist for anyone writing a business plan and in this first part cover a checklist of "How" to write the business plan.

How you write your plan conveys a lot about you. It shows your ability to organise and present information in such a way that is is relevant & coherent and gives an investor a window on how you approach your business. A professional business plan gives an indication of a professional approach. The opposite can equally be true. So here are a few basics to follow:

1) Write about a "Plan" not an "Idea"
Ideas are not enough. Ideas drain time and money and give investors the sweats. An investor or bank want to see a business plan that is ready to be actioned. If you get your funding tomorrow, do you have a time-table of what needs to be done? You need to explain in detail, exactly how you are going to reach your target audience / make your product / deliver your service / operate the business etc. Detail doesn't mean lengthy. Be concise and ensure your business plan is not too long.

2) Avoid Hype
Avoid extreme statements ("un-parallelled opportunity", "we have no competition", "will be outselling [insert any leading organisation of your choice] within 3 years" etc. .. ). Investors have seen all the hyperbole they can stomach and it won't improve your chances to try and think up some new word for "world beating". Show enthusiasm but stick to the facts. Build the case for the business proposition logically. Tell it how it is and you have a better chance of gaining an investors' respect, attention and funds.

3) Editing and Presentation
There is nothing worse than a poorly presented, repetitive, in-coherent business plan that is missing key information, and has obvious spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure your business plan has all the right sections, and don't get bogged down in tech speak or jargon. First impressions count, so ensure the Executive Summary is well structured and the document itself is presented in a professional way. If you are not the best at this then run the document past someone who is. If you decide that you need business plan help make sure you select a good business plan consultant to develop a professional business plan.

4) Realism
Ground your plan in the real world and avoid over-optimistic objectives and financials. Anyone funding a business plan wants to know they are not going to have to deal with a Walter Mitty character who lives permanently in the clouds, and who generally over-promises and under-delivers. Sanitise your business plan by looking at other businesses in your industry, their financial results, their cost base and their growth rates. You can be sure an investor will. If your business plan diverges significantly ask yourself whether you can justify your claims.

In Part 2 we will will look at "What" specific points you need to cover in your business plan that will improve your chances of securing funds.
Good Luck!

Jon Hunt
Lead Consultant
The Business Plan Team
www.TheBusinessPlanTeam.co.uk
The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and guide internal management. It provides a range of services from early feasibility studies through professional business plan development, to introductions to sources of funding. It is based in just outside Oxford, UK.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

3 Key Tips for Your Business Plan Executive Summary

The executive summary is a crucial part of your business plan. whether you are a Start-up or Growing Business It is the first - and possibly last! - thing that an investor, bank or partner will read. They say that people make up their mind about someone within seconds of meeting. The executive summary is similar - if you don't strike the right tone it will only be a matter of seconds before you hear the dull thud of your professional business plan hitting the reject pile. So, here are a few tips to increase your chances of getting your audience to read it, and read on.

1. Write It Last
The executive summary is the culmination of your business planning - not the start point. It should illustrate how joined up and complete your business proposition is. If you write it early on you are likely to create a disconnect between your executive summary and the content of your business plan. A good way to start is to summarise the content from sections of the plan. Then link them up and edit to create a compelling story....

2. Horses for Courses - Write for Your Audience
Make the purpose of the plan clear (raising funding? which type? etc.) and tweak your executive summary for your audience. If you are writing for an equity investor make sure you include a section on investment, ROI etc.. Likewise, if you are looking for a bank loan make sure you tick all the boxes in terms of lending criteria. Make sure it is crystal clear what you want from whoever is reading your business plan.

3. "Leave them Wanting More...
.. and you know they'll read on" (abridged. Bobby Womak). It needs to be complete in itself. It also needs to be short, to the point. And most of all - compelling. No one invests or signs of debt finance on the basis of an executive summary (if you know someone let me know). It is designed to give enough information to create interest and compel the reader to read on. So, make sure you cover the Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? of your business proposition. Keep sentences short for impact. And entice the reader to read on ...

Good luck!

P.S. If you are looking to get someone to help you develop your Executive Summary and Business Plan check out our tips about selecting a business plan consultant.
Jon Hunt
Lead Consultant
The Business Plan Team
www.TheBusinessPlanTeam.co.uk

The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and guide internal management. It provides a range of services from early feasibility studies through professional business plan development, to introductions to sources of funding. It is based in just outside Oxford, UK.