Venture Management:

Business Plan

Startup Business Plan

An Important Tool for Raising Funds for Your Venture

by Vadim Kotelnikov

 

"A business plan is a document, a snapshot, of an ever-changing strategy. Change is a certainty." ~ John L. Nesheim 

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7 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurial Firms

  • A well-researched business plan that provides clear direction and focus... More

The Business Plan is not Just a Plan, but a Selling Document

Only one out of 20 business plans are read by prospective investors beyond the executive summary and only 6 out of 1000 business plans get funded on an average.

The quality of the business plan is crucial for winning attention of investors, especially for a first-time entrepreneur who has no track record in managing own business. It is not only important for a business plan to have the right content, but it also must be organized into logical and clearly defined sections and presented in a way that is informative and maintains readers interest.

Your business plan should:

  • provide a roadmap showing how your company plans to achieve its goals

  • provide Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis

  • discuss your company's plans for the near and long-term future.

In writing your plan, you should keep it as short as possible while ensuring that you cover all the important topics in sufficient detail to substantiate your proposal. Investors only give you one chance.

Address every key aspect of your plan: value proposition, financials, deal structure, marketing strategy, valuation and exit strategy everything investors consider when they decide which projects to invest in.

Venturepreneur

 

Chapters

Content

App. length pp.

Executive Summary

 

The executive summary is the single, most important part of the business plan. Describe the market opportunity, your product to harvest the market opportunity, your strategy for addressing and selling to that market, financial results in the first years of operation, long term objectives, and the key personnel.

This is a ”commercial” of your business plan as investors will read it first. It should be written last ensuring that only vital information is included in most clear and convincing way. As a general rule, your first paragraph should include your business name, what it sells, where it is located, and the nature and purpose of the plan. You might also refer to the keys to success, or at least summarize them briefly.

The outline of the executive summary should include:

  1. Disclaimer page (registration number; return instructions; non-proprietary)

  2. The Purpose of the Plan (attract investors; document an operational plan for controlling the business; test the financial feasibility of a business concept)

  3. The Company (the needs your company will satisfy; the products or services you will offer)

  4. Market Analysis (the characteristics and the size of your target market)

  5. Product or Service Research and Development (major milestones; ongoing efforts)

  6. Marketing and Sales Activities (marketing strategy; sales strategy; keys to customer success in a competitive environment)

  7. Organization and Personnel (key managers and owners; key operations employees)

  8. Financial Data (funds required and their use; historical financial summary; prospective financial summary, including brief justification for sales projections; valuation and deal structure; valuation summary and methods used)

2

Background

Describe the market recent developments, market trends and the market niche for your product. Your business plan must demonstrate clearly the commercial viability of the proposed venture.

1

Business Concept

Provide detailed description of the products or service and implementation arrangements for the targeted types of customers:

  • if you are selling a product: key suppliers and your terms and arrangements with them

  • If you are selling a service: which services will be provided at the business location and which will be delivered "in the field"

Business Model

1

Market Analysis

  • Market research (know your customer, describe your target customers, provide an industry analysis and current trends; market size, market segmentation, the market share you will capture, seasonality, unique aspects)

  • Competitive factors (describe your competitors: list competitors by name, location, and their strengths and weaknesses; your competitive strategy – how you will succeed against them; how they will react to your entry into the market)

2

Objectives and Strategies

 

 

 

  • General

  • Marketing

    • Objective, e.g. build a customer base to support your financial management objectives

    • Strategy, including description of  the "six P's" for your business:

      • Product: how you will design and package your product/service

      • Price: how you will price your product/service

      • Place: how products (and related services) are distributed to the customer

      • Positioning tactics: explain how you are planning to position your product or service against your competitors in your prospects' mind to retie the connection that already exist

      • Promotion or marketing plan: what media and marketing methods you will use to generate awareness and interest about your product/service; include examples of your promotional materials (brochures, print ads, copy for radio ads, calendar of special/regular promotional events)

      • People: who will be responsible for marketing your product/service

  • Operations

    • Objectives, e.g. to win customers by offering superior services

    • Strategy

      • Legal structure and why you chose it; include legal/governing documents (articles of incorporation and by-laws for corporation, partnership)

      • Management and personnel

    1. who the key managers/owners are and what relevant expertise and background they bring to the business; include synopsis (background, relevant employment and professional experience, significant accomplishments, and educational background of each member); detail résumés may be provided in the appendix

    2. describe non-management positions, responsibilities/qualifications, personnel policies

    3. outside advisors (board of directors; legal council; accountants; bankers; consultants)

    • Customer service: procedures and policies regarding your work and how you will treat customers

    • Location and operations

      1. your facility, including a layout, description of business image, hours of operation

      2. operations plan: how you will deliver your product/service to the customer, from start to finish (who does what tasks, how long it takes, etc.)

      3. renovations and equipment list (including prices and condition – new or used)

      4. taxes to be paid, licenses required, and insurance needed

    • Key people: who will provide accounting and legal services, technical assistance and support

  • Financials

    • Objective, e.g. generate certain gross sales during the first year of operation

    • Strategy

  • Risk Management

    • Objective, e.g. identify and act to minimize risks to your company

    • Strategy, e.g. to develop a responsive system addressing the specific issues

10

Financials

  • Financial Forecasts (provide in Appendix)

  • Sources of Capital (if the business plan is aimed to attract investors, define type of capital you need, explain clearly the investor’s exit strategy and how you expect to provide them with a return on their investment; note additional expected rounds of financing needed)

2

Technology / System Summary

  • Innovativeness (describe innovative aspects of your technology with relation to the market needs)

  • System Components (describe major components of the technology/system and how they satisfy specific customer requirements)

  • Manufacturing Methods

  • Competition (compare your development program with existing technologies)

  • Intellectual Property Rights (describe if your business is based on a proprietary technology and if the proprietary position is adequately protected)

2

Company Organization

  • Ownership at the initial stage and plans for the near future

  • Management: investors invest in people rather than products, so sell the management team. Describe the management team at the initial stage and plans for the near future, including coverage for the owner’s unforeseen absence (sick time, etc.) during critical periods

  • Location

1

Appendices

  • Issues list (acknowledge barriers to success – list important issues and solutions to these issues)

  • Issue, e.g. the owner has management/technology expertise, but no experience as a business owner; the proposed business concept is unproven; equipment damage risk; longer than expected time to the market; human resources shortage risk.

  • Solution to each issue, e.g. use experienced consultants; take training courses; conduct preliminary field testing; sub-contract certain work; obtain insurances and develop backup systems; limit number of projects and/or develop contingency coverage partnerships.

  • Marketing/promotional mechanisms (list mechanisms you are planning to employ for initial marketing of your product and provide their structure and brief description)

  • Financials: A full set of cohesive financial statements: startup costs (provide breakdown per cost components e.g. business license, corporation filing, legal fees, equipment, office expense, supplies, advertising, training, utilities, taxes, miscellaneous); balance sheet, income statement (list all your expenses incurred so far and income generated); cash flow forecast, for a period of 3 to 5 years, including loan amortization schedule, and detailed assumptions for each line item; break-even analysis; personal financial statement for all owners, co-signers.

  • Assets (cash, bank accounts, other assets)

  • Liabilities and Equity (credits, other liabilities, equity)

  • Glossary (provide definitions of the special terms used in the business plan)

  • Résumés of the owner and  the key members of the management team

5

 

 

 

References:

  1. High Tech Start Up, John L. Nesheim

  2. Venturepreneur, Vadim Kotelnikov

  3. Venture Financing, Vadim Kotelnikov

  4. Winning Customers, Vadim Kotelnikov

Venturepreneur