If you want to secure investors for your business, you’re going to need to do everything you can to impress them. And the best way to impress potential investors is with your business plan. 

To give yourself the best possible chance of success, you need to know exactly what investors are looking for in a business plan.

What investors look for in a business plan

Investors need some assurance they’re putting their money in the right place. Remember, they’ll most likely receive proposals from countless start-ups, so your business plan needs to prove to them that your business has potential and you’re serious about running it. 

If you want to convince investors, your business plan needs to show the following qualities:

  • Vision
  • Research
  • Dedication
  • Specifics
  • Realism
  • Evidence

If you can prove all these things, investors will understand that you’re a professional worth considering. 

Vision

A unique idea is great, but it’s tough to create a genuinely original one. If you’ve had an idea, somebody else has probably thought of it already, but that doesn’t mean you can’t approach it uniquely.

A unique vision in your business plan will prove to investors that you’ve put thought into your basic strategy. 

For an example of a unique vision, think about a brand like McDonald’s. They weren’t the first burger restaurant, but they focused their business model around speed and efficiency, practically inventing the fast-food chain. 

Research

Your business plan should include thorough market research about target audiences, opportunities for expansion, expenses, and revenue projections.

It also helps to do some research about the investors you’re contacting. If you can give specific reasons for approaching an individual investor, it’s a surefire way to get their attention. 

Do background research about their business history. You could even reference something they’ve said in a speech or statement that caught your attention. 

Dedication

It can be difficult for investors to differentiate between serious business people and half-hearted entrepreneurs. If you want to prove you’re serious about your business, you need to show that you’re committed to the future. 

For example:

  • Have you invested your own money into the business?
  • Have you reworked your prototype after product testing?
  • Have you reduced your working hours to spend more time on the business?

Ultimately, investors are putting their trust in people – the best idea in the world won’t work if the person in charge isn’t dedicated.

Specifics

Investors need more than your best guesses and estimations. Providing specific figures shows your dedication and attention to detail. Your business plan should include exact figures based on detailed research, showing:

  • What the market is worth
  • How much you’ll spend on start-up costs
  • How much you’ll spend on running costs
  • How your costs will change as your business scales
  • Profit and loss projections for the first two years of business
  • When they can expect to make their money back
  • Your plan for the next stages of the business

Realism

Don’t try to fool investors with a flashy pitch that promises them the world – these are intelligent people who can smell nonsense from a mile away. 

Steady business growth isn’t very exciting, but it’s a realistic plan that shows you’re grounded in real-world expectations. If you foresee any difficulties in the future, don’t try to hide them. Instead, address those problems and explain how you plan to navigate them. 

Evidence

It’s easy to make a business look good on paper, but investors need a little more convincing before spending their hard-earned money. You need to show, with actual evidence, that your business plan is viable. 

With enough market research, hard work, and product testing, you should be able to provide evidence of the following things:

  • You’ve managed to progress the business on your own
  • There’s interest from consumers
  • There’s enough demand to sustain long-term growth
  • The financial projections you’ve provided are reasonable

How to prepare a business plan

Once you know what qualities investors are looking for, you can start to build your business plan with these seven sections:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Business overview
  3. Market analysis
  4. Products and services snapshot
  5. Marketing plan
  6. Operations plan
  7. Financial plan

1. Executive summary

Your executive summary is an overview of your business idea. The summary should include a concise description of:

  • Your business goals
  • Your product shortlist
  • Your target customers
  • Where and how you intend to sell your products
  • Your financial strategy

2. Business overview

List your official business name, talk about your brand, and define your business structure. If you have a mission statement, write it here. Explain your vision and include a brief description of your background.

3. Market analysis

Describe your competitors and talk about any industry trends you’ve noticed. Write about the consumers you plan to target and explain why your company is better than the competition.  

4. Products and services snapshot

Expand the product snapshot from your executive summary into a more detailed description. Explain the features and benefits of the products or services you offer, highlighting important features that set you apart from the competition. 

5. Marketing plan

Talk about how you plan to market your business through things like social media and paid advertising. Include a budget breakdown of how much you plan to spend on each strategy.  

6. Operations plan

This is the most practical section of your business plan. Describe your base, start-up costs, and operational needs, including equipment, supplies, and shipping options. 

7. Financial plan

This section will be of particular interest to investors because they can assess how viable your business is already. Most financial plans include the following three items:

  1. An income statement – How much money your business brings in per week, month, quarter, or year, after deducting business expenses
  2. A balance sheet – A list of your business assets and liabilities
  3. A cash flow statement – A list of when your income and your liabilities come in and go out every month. 

Alongside your current financial situation, this section should also describe the potential investment opportunity. In other words, what you would actually do with the investment. Investors will want to know the following information:

  • Your funding goal – How much you need in total.
  • Repayment terms – What they can expect in return. 
  • Milestones – What you plan to achieve with their investment. 
  • Use of funds – Where their money is going. 

Get all the financial data you need with financial data

Accurate financial projections make up a significant part of your business plan, so you need to make sure you’ve got the most accurate information possible. 

With the Countingup business current account, you’ll have access to loads of helpful features like cash flow insights, allowing you to produce accurate profit and loss statements to use in your business plan. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

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