In my work with new and aspiring entrepreneurs, I find that most struggle with putting together a written business plan, often pointing out that someone they know started a business without anything written down.
My experience is that the discipline of documenting a plan will improve your likelihood of addressing all the right issues, as well as finding the right partner or investor.
It's no secret that the rate of failure of new business startups may be a high as ninety percent, so we all need all the help we can get, validating the opportunity, clearly positioning against competitors, projecting financials, and planning all the necessary marketing and operating activities.
Just talking and waving your arms doesn't do it. Most people will be engaged by a single-page double-sided glossy executive summary, and offer support or the right people to move forward.
Whether you are looking for partners, investors, or future customers, you need to show a level of professionalism and leadership very early that will draw people to your idea. It can pay big dividends as this stage to get help from an experienced business advisor.
Even people who read will be impressed with a video clip these days, as an introduction to you, showing your passion and commitment, and highlighting your business focus and direction.
For details and examples, check out these directions and suggestions. You really need at least a prototype product or customer to make the video come alive. Think of it as an infomercial. You don't need special lighting or equipment; keep it concise and simple.
In my experience as an angel investor, the perfect pitch length is ten slides, outlining the business problem, your solution, opportunity sizing, competition, and financial projections for the next five years.
Remember, investors or interested in acquiring a piece of your company, so keep the focus on the attractiveness of the company, rather than the product. Make sure you can cover all the material in as little as ten minutes - investors are easily bored.
No matter how much you enjoy talking, you don't have time to reach all the people who need to know, with the right level of detail, what you can put in a document.
If you are an entrepreneur who doesn't feel comfortable writing, there are many advisors, investment attorneys, and independent contractors who are available to help, for a fee. Review some examples to assure you have all the proper legal disclosures and content.
I always recommend the creation of a simple Excel spreadsheet with your projections of revenue, cost, and other major financial elements over the first five years of your new business.
While the completion of all of these items entails a lot of work, I assure you from experience that the results are worth it, to minimize the probability of a serious business failure and bitter disappointment on your part, and the confidence of people who believe in you.