Are you about pitching your business plan to raise money? If YES, here is how to successfully present a business plan to investors, bank loan officer or boss.
A business plan is generally referred to as a document on which a new business outlines its modus operandi. An effective business plan contains a detailed plan of how a company intends to achieve its goals over a period of time. It has been noted that the more detailed a business plan is, the better, because a business plan is not only a company’s blueprint, but also a determinant whether the company can get external funding or not.
A lot of businesses, at some point in their lives do seek funding in order to be able to stay afloat, or even to get started; and for you to gain the audience of an investor, lender or boss, your intended business ought to have a workable business plan. Your ability to pitch your business plan to your target audience, be it a lender or an investor would make the difference on whether you would get the funding you seek or not.
With a lot of entrepreneurs constantly churning out business ideas, investors and lenders (banks) are now getting more critical on who to fund, and for your business to get the green light, then you have to bring on your A game because you wouldn’t want a poor pitch to impede your ability to score financing for your business.
When writing your business plan, it is best to keep the audience you want to target for funding in mind, because the different business financiers or investors expect to see different things in your business plan.
How to Adequately Prepare Yourself to Pitch your Business Plan in 8 Quick Steps
1. Prepare yourself first: it is worthy of note that investors invest first in the entrepreneur before the business plan. Investors will want to see that you are fast, thoughtful and efficient, and can sustain the project through its conception and growth.
No matter how good your business plan is, if you lack strong presentation skills, you may not be getting as much attention from the investors as you actually should. So, as a matter of necessity, you should learn how to pitch business plans as a professional.
2. Prepare your pitch: to be able to catch your audience, you need to prepare a brief, compelling presentation that tells your story, describes your business and explains how you will fulfill a customer want, need or desire. Tell them what you have achieved and why it is a good idea to invest with you.
3. Pepper your presentation with facts and figures: while carrying out your presentation, you need to use facts and figures to support every conclusion and claim with research from third-party sources. If you mention trends or evaluate your market potential, make sure you have done the research to back your claims.
4. Be clear and concise: to achieve a good presentation, you need to make sure you outline your facts in a clear and concise format. Your banker or potential investor probably isn’t an expert in your field, so avoid industry jargon, acronyms and technical details.
5. Be realistic: to be effective, your forecasts should clearly show how your business or project will be profitable for both you and your boss or investor. These forecasts must be rational and backed up by solid data. Be careful about making bogus and unsubstantial claims.
6. Do your research: you have to, of necessity show that you have looked at your project from every angle and prepared contingency plans. Discuss how your previous experience and achievements will help you run a better business.
7. Stick to business: to be able to get the funding you need, you need to make your case watertight. You should put on your salesman cap and give it your best. It is good to be passionate about your business, but it is your facts and figures that will get you the money.
8. Practice makes perfect: when preparing to make your pitch to investors and lenders, you should never leave anything to chance. So practice your pitch and presentation in front of family, friends, business associates, etc. and get feedback on how to improve it.
Tips for Presenting your Business Plan to a Bank (Lender) and Get the Money You Need
It is common knowledge that banks are lenders, and anyone seeking to approach a bank for business financing is basically looking for a loan. Lenders are more concerned with risk and the return of their money with interest. For a business plan to ever gain the attention of a bank for it to give it a loan, the entrepreneur has to emphasize certain succinct facts like revenue, expenses, and other cash flow issues in its business plan. In addition, you also have to play by the following rules;
a. Show your experience: we have said it before that banks are lenders and as such they are always careful to make profitable deals. Banks generally believe that you have more credibility if you have had experience in business and in the field you are entering.
As such, they mostly make deals with entrepreneurs with sufficient business experience. In writing a business plan that is targeted to a bank, be sure to carefully outline whatever previous business experiences you have had, and equally outline how each of them would help you in your present business endeavour.
b. Give complete background of the management team: banks also believe that the kind of management team a business has would determine its success or failure. As such, your business plan should describe your management team and short biographies of main managers should equally be included. Note that you need to have an experienced management team in order to up your chances of landing a loan.
c. The business financial projections: bankers expect to see three main statements in your business plan and they include; income, balance, and cash flow. They should be projected monthly for the first year, and annually for a couple of years after that. Cash flow is the most important part of your plan as far as banks are concerned.
d. How real are your financial projections?: as astute financial houses, bankers will compare your financial projections to similar industry reports. If your financial margins way better than industry averages, you will need to explain why and how you are going to accomplish that. For example, if the average boutique store has a 30 percent gross margin, don’t show a banker a plan with a 70 percent margin because you would have to explain it, and your explanations had better be good.
e. Align your financials: you have to make sure that the amount you ask to borrow should match the financials in your plan. For example, don’t try to show that you need less money than you actually do, because you wouldn’t need to be borrowing if you actually need less. On the flipside, don’t show that you need much more money than you can afford to borrow. Your cash flow should be realistic, and it should show how much money you need and why you need it.
f. Present a complete plan: While management team and financials are very important, a good banker will also expect to see a readable plan, from the executive summary through to the end. It should cover what you sell, your market, company background, and specific dates and activities.
Asides all these facts, banks would want to know if your product is priced right for its market niche, if your company management can control expenses, if the company would be able to withstand risks and market fluctuations and if the company would be able to pay back the loan it is asking for. You will have to demonstrate you have the experience, skills, determination and self-confidence to successfully build your company or carry out the project for which you’re borrowing money.
Tips for Presenting your Business Plan to an Investor
Investors are business people, just like the entrepreneur. They are more concerned with your profit projections and they eagerly look into the future to a time when they can cash in, hopefully at a higher multiple to their initial investment.
Therefore, investors are mostly concerned with your businesses’ ability to grow and stabilize. In order to be able to get funding from investors, be it angels, venture capitalists or others, your business plan has to contain the following;
i. Target market: the size of the target market often determines the success of a business, and investors also know this. When writing a business plan to pitch to investors, you have presented a great detail of your target market. You might be surprised to find that the size of the market may not be as large as you had anticipated.
ii. Problems you want to solve: again, investors are also interested in the anticipated problem you want to solve. Would the solution which your startup has come up with actually solve the issues in the target group? What are the benefits that target customers will gain from your innovation? Is the problem worth the business stress?
iii. Revenue: your business plan should be able to explain how your business intends to generate revenue. You need to explicitly outline how your fees would be charged and if the fees you charge would lead to profit for the business, and with what margin.
iv. Competitors: since there are very few businesses that are still undiscovered, investors would like to know how you intend to deal with the competition. You should outline what would make you stand out from them as well as your competitive advantage.
v. Growth strategy: you would have to show that your business has the ability to grow and expand in the future. A business that has no growth strategy is simply not worth investing in because it has no future, and no investor would want to put his or her money in a sinking ship.
vi. Your team: any and every investor would want to know who you are running the business with and their qualifications, so you have to write a brief outline of your management team in your business plan.
vii. Exit strategy: investors are very interested in your exit strategy so you had better include that if you want to attract investors. Many investors tire after about seven years with a company and look around for new opportunities. You have to determine if you are going to sell all your shares to a new entrepreneur, go public with the company or sell to venture capitalists etc.
Tips for Presenting your Business Plan to your Boss
Unlike what most people would think, but yes, a lot of bosses have funded business startups of their employees. This has been made possible because more companies are encouraging entrepreneurial thinking from within–something that is known as intrapreneurship.
In order to succeed in using your employer’s hunger for innovation to support your own business, you have to ensure that your ideas are in line with the company’s business model. Ensure that your business idea can easily be integrated into the company’s objectives, this is an easier way for you to get funded by your boss. You also have to ensure that you state all these while pitching your business plan to your boss.
Remember, pitching your business plan to your boss is like pitching to any other investor; you need to look at the cost-benefit analysis from your boss’ perspective.
For you to present a business plan that can easily get funding from your boss, you have to observe the following rules:
1. Ensure your business idea is in line with the company’s interests: this is perhaps one of the most important points to consider when pitching your business plan to a boss. Bosses are entrepreneurs who are only interested in what would boost their business revenue.
You have to convince them that funding your business would be to their interest before they can even listen to you talk more of giving you the nod. You need to show your employers the ways your ideas would improve the company or contribute to the achievement of the company’s vision and mission.
2. Research: the worst you can do is to present an unresearched business plan. During your pitch, a lot of questions would be asked, and not having answers to such questions would mean that you are not ready. You have to know your market really well and be quite familiar with your target consumers.
3. Offer value: your pitch, of necessity needs to offer information with value. If you are expecting the CEO of your company fund your business idea, then you have to make sure that they would get something out of it. If it is just you who will be benefiting from the proposal, then most likely you will hear a No for the proposal.
4. Thoroughly study your audience: Knowing what you’ll say in your pitch is only half the battle, you also need to know how to say it. You have to know the likes, dislikes and mannerisms of who are presenting to. When pitching to a time-strapped boss, you have to get to the point in the first 60 seconds.
If you are talking to a person who believes in figures, you have to rely heavily on charts and graphics to illustrate your business concept, market and revenue model, rather than plunking a 30- to 50-page business plan on his or her desk. Of course it won’t get touched.
5. Be credible: the fact here is that if your boss doesn’t have faith in your work, judgment or time-management skills, he or she is not going to let you launch a new product, service or company division no matter how good your business plan is. Before you polish your pitch, make sure you are the model staff. You cannot be on the list of worst employee of the month for six consecutive months and then suddenly have ideas and expect your boss to take you serious.
6. Start with the summary: There’s something called an executive summary in business plan writing. Although it is the last part to be written in any business plan, but it is the most important part when pitching to your boss as it contains all information about the project summarized into a page. This executive summary helps anybody reading your business plan to understand what it is all about easily.
You should adopt this strategy too when presenting your ideas to your boss; let them know what you are driving at early into the presentation because most people form opinions and decisions in their minds few minutes into the conversation.
7. Think of costs: you have to make plain all the financial involvements of your business if you are planning to get funding from your boss. If there are any financial or non-financial resources that would have to go into accomplishing the ideas, you should ensure that your employer is aware of it.
8. Time factor: The introduction of any new project obviously means additional demands on your time. So, the first thing you will want to assure your boss of is that it won’t distract you from all of the work already on your plate. So, the best approach is to explain how the new project fits into the cycle of your workload—for example, how it dovetails perfectly with you regular task, and how you are going to manage your time effectively so your regular job would not suffer.
You also need to beware of some key points when you are delivering your presentation. They include;
- Don’t memorize the presentation: you have to know your business plan like the back of your hand, after all you are expected to have put a lot of time into it. You should be able to give your presentation fluidly.
- Avoid PowerPoint failures: the formal business plan pitch is usually accompanied by a presentation, most often a slideshow, which you should also hand out to attendees at the pitch presentation. Ensure your PowerPoint is working effectively so as not to get stuck in the middle of the road.
- Keep your investors in mind: your investors would always be on the lookout for what’s in it for them in your pitch. You need to clearly describe what benefits you would offer to specific investors and how that will make your investors’ money
In conclusion, it is very important to be versatile and to be able to deliver your pitch in a variety of different media. These days, a growing number of businesses take to YouTube to deliver their business pitch and some angel investors have taken to reviewing some of the YouTube pitches before scheduling a face-to-face meeting with an entrepreneur. It helps investors to analyze entrepreneurs and their business ideas from a distance. Being versatile gives you an edge in the quest to get funding.