If you want to raise funding as a startup, a strong business plan is crucial. However, translating your business idea into a well-founded plan is not something you do on the side. It requires time, dedication and perseverance. But what do investors really expect from your business plan? In this blog you can read what to look out for and how to proceed in the most structured way possible.
Much has been said and written about the importance of a good business plan. You are inundated with all kinds of tips, tricks and checklists that you can benefit from as a startup. Still, we regularly encounter entrepreneurs who have not sufficiently elaborated their business plan prior to the advisory process. In many cases, the focus is mainly on the product. And yes, as a startup you are missing the boat a bit. Especially if your goal is to attract external funding. Because investors really want to know more about you before they talk to you. They want insight into the feasibility of your plans, they want to know what your main goals are and especially how, with whom and in what time frame you intend to achieve them. In short, you can only win their trust with a complete and well-founded plan.
From head to paper
Of course, writing a business plan is not an easy task. It is a time-consuming job that requires a lot of patience and energy. But don't forget: with it, you lay the foundation for the course you will take with your startup in the coming years. The plan, a kind of roadmap, provides guidance for you as an entrepreneur and at the same time is an indispensable document to convince investors of the growth potential of your startup. Of course, the plan is already broadly in your head. You have thought carefully about the team you need, what the market conditions are, what problem of potential customers you solve with your product or service, and when and how you expect to make a profit. But to get investors to the table, the key is to put everything on paper in as clear and structured a way as possible.
Don't do it alone
Preparing a well thought out business plan requires a great deal of knowledge of all facets of your start-up. Of management, organization, finance and marketing, among other things. Matters with which you sometimes have little or no experience. This often makes the writing process difficult. For example, with only a little basic knowledge of finance, try making a financially sound business plan. That is why it makes sense to also use the knowledge and expertise of your own team in the areas that concern their field, and in addition external expertise where necessary. In addition to increasing the quality of your plan, this also increases support within the company. This is a good thing if you are on the eve of a new adventure together.
It is also advisable to invest in mentoring. Preferably in one or more mentors who have a lot of experience running a startup. You will find that they all look at the same problem in a different way. Chances are you'll be surprised with insights you wouldn't have come up with on your own. Moreover, they may give you access to their network. Who knows, there may be launching customers or financiers among them who will help make your startup successful.
Take your time
Preparing a compelling business plan is not a task you just do on the side, in addition to the day-to-day business. To do it well, you have to put in a good amount of time. Take that time, too! Make sure you are not distracted by operational matters of your business and block time slots in your calendar. It is important to schedule several hours per week over a long period of time so that you can work on your plan with full focus. When you work on your plan in a structured way, you force yourself to really think about all the relevant aspects concerning your startup. By being as specific as possible, you can critically test the commercial and financial feasibility of your business idea. Make sure your assumptions have been tested in practice and that you have sufficient evidence. Because again: everything you put on paper now forms the basis for the future of your startup.
Choose the right focus
As mentioned, the focus is still too often on the product. Sometimes all product features are described in detail in the plan. While you want to highlight precisely those elements that are so important to potential investors. Funders especially value watertight market validation. That means they expect that, in addition to the product, you have thoroughly researched and analyzed the market and the target market. In other words, with a market validation you demonstrate that your product has sales and growth potential and that your earnings model is correct. At the same time, make clear which competencies are present in your team, how the tasks and responsibilities are assigned and, of course, make sure you have a well thought-out financial plan.
Your business plan is subject to change. So to maintain the right course, it makes sense to regularly review the plan and, where necessary, update it. Especially, like now, in corona time. For example, how coronaproof is your startup? Are you flexible and agile enough to respond adequately to changing demands from your target market? And how do you plan to do that? Set up your financial model so that you can clearly see the consequences of different scenarios.
How can NOM help you?
Do you have questions or find it difficult to draw up a business plan? Then NOM can offer support. First of all: you write the business plan yourself. But we give you the right tools and are a critical sparring partner. Together we will improve your business plan and ensure that you are well prepared to meet an investor.
In this white paper:
- What challenges do you face and how do you deal with them?
- Becoming investor ready in four steps!
- An overview of all funding options
Please note that this whitepaper is only available in Dutch at the moment. We are in the process of translating this whitepaper.