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Business Plan Template And Tips

Nov 22, 2007
In this note, I want to share my learning on business plans with you. Because I am involved in Venture Capital and Private Equity, I get a lot of business plans. And going by the number of proposals we reviewed or prepared in the last one year, the global economy is doing great! A lot of individual professionals have opened their own companies, and many companies are looking to grow with global demand for their products/services.

The physical location of people is getting less relevant in many industries. The Internet is playing a role in every business plan, across industries: Software Services, Financial services, Media, Healthcare, Café and Retail chains, etc.

One of the most common questions I see is this: How should my business plan look like?

Well, that depends on what your business aims to do, and who you want to approach for capital. While there is no one answer to it, I want to share a good business plan template that has been used with success. You can download it from the link on this page. http://alphaneuron.com/blog/business-plan-template-development-and-review/

From our business plan reviews, I also see a common mistake many people are making - there is a lot of emphasis on how much money is needed and what kind of sales will happen, etc. But there is insufficient information and analysis on the market in which you want to play and the differentiators with respect to competition, and therefore, what makes you think that you will win the sales that you show in your plan. Also, none or very little information is shared on the systems/processes in place for the business to run if you were to go down for some reason. These are important parts of a business plan. And we hope the template we have shared above will help you. Ideally, 20-25 slides are good for any business plan, including references and supporting data.

So please keep the following in mind if you are going to develop a business plan:

1. The purpose is to convince the investor that your plan is practical and that there is a good chance for success.

2. If you send your plan to every VC and investor around, your effort will be high, and also your rejection rate. Therefore, first connect with prospective VCs and check if they are interested at all in what you are proposing. It is often more productive to send customized mails to 20 VCs than the same mail to 200.

3. Be willing to face a lot of NOs. Be ready to start things small with alternate funding arrangements. If you will start only if VC money is available, then your plan is weak.

4. Show options at key decision points, so that different possibilities are visible. For example, what if the demand turns our to be only 50% of what you planned? Or what if it is 200% of what you planned? What if you go down with illness? What if a large company creates similar product? Identify real-life risks and show options for them. This will be received well because many VCs often start from the business risks.

5. There are many useful inputs available on the blog here that you can use while making your business plan: http://alphaneuron.com/blog/
About the Author
Shankar AVSB is CEO of MyOrbit- Online Business Channel and Director of Alpha Neuron- Better Business Decisions with experience in commercializing new products and has worked with 100+ business directors on real-life challenges.
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