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Writing a Business Plan

business plan of investor

While it may be tempting to put off, creating a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. Plans and proposals should be put in a clear format making it easy for potential investors to understand. Because every company has a different goal and product or service to offer, there are business plan templates readily available to help you get on the right track. Many of these templates can be adapted for any company. In general, a business plan writing guide will recommend that the following sections be incorporated into your plan.

Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first section that business plans open with, but is often the last section to actually be written as it’s the most difficult to write. The executive summary is a summary of the overall plan that highlights the key points and gives the reader an idea of what lies ahead in the document. It should include areas such as the business opportunity, target market, marketing and sales strategy, competition, the summary of the financial plan, staff members and a summary of how the plan will be implemented. This section needs to be extremely clear, concise and engaging as you don’t want the reader to push your hard work aside.

Company Description

The company description follows the executive summary and should cover all the details about the company itself. For example, if you are writing a business plan for an internet café, you would want to include the name of the company, where the café would be located, who the main team members involved are and why, how large the company is, who the target market for the internet cafe is, what type of business structure the café is, such as LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, what the internet café business mission and vision statements are, and what the business’s short-term objectives are.

Services and Products

This is the exciting part of the plan where you get to explain what new and improved services or products you are offering. On top of describing the product or service itself, include in the plan what is currently in the market in this area, what problems there are in this area and how your product is the solution. For example, in a business plan for a food truck, perhaps there are numerous other food trucks in the area, but they are all fast –food style and unhealthy so, you want to introduce fast food that serves only organic and fresh ingredients every day. This is where you can also list your price points and future products or services you anticipate.

Market Analysis

The market analysis section will take time to write and research as a lot of effort and research need to go into it. Here is where you have the opportunity to describe what trends are showing up, what the growth rate in this sector looks like, what the current size of this industry is and who your target audience is. A cleaning business plan, for example, may include how this sector has been growing by 10% every year due to an increase in large businesses being built in the city.

Organization and Management

Marketing and sales are the part of the business plan where you explain how you will attract and retain clients. How are you reaching your target customers and what incentives do you offer that will keep them coming back? For a dry cleaner business plan, perhaps if they refer customers, they will get 10% off their next visit. In addition, you may want to explain what needs to be done in order for the business to be profitable. This is a great way of showing that you are conscious about what clear steps need to be taken to make a business successful.

Financial Projections & Appendix

The financial business plan section can be a tricky one to write as it is based on projections. Usually what is included is the short-term projection, which is a year broken down by month and should include start-up permits, equipment, and licenses that are required. This is followed by a three-year projection broken down by year and many often write a five-year projection, but this does not need to be included in the business plan.

The appendix is the last section and contains all the supporting documents and/or required material. This often includes resumes of those involved in the company, letters of reference, product pictures and credit histories. Keep in mind that your business plan is always in development and should be adjusted regularly as your business grows and changes.


business plan of investor

Your Guide to Writing a Business Plan

business plan of investor

If you’re starting a new business, then you need an effective plan. Not only does this enable you to plan your company, but it also gives potential clients an insight into how your business works. A business plan is also vital if you want to attract investors or secure a loan from the bank. Drafting a business plan is a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will ensure you create a definite plan to impress investors and clients. 

When creating your business plan, there are some essential elements you must include. The Executive Summary provides a description of your business, and what you hope to achieve. People usually write at least one page, but leave their Executive Summary until last.

You’ll also need to detail what your business offers and define your target audience. This makes it easier for people to see whether your company has a chance of succeeding. The opportunity section is also an excellent way for you to see what competitors offer and how you can create a USP to stand out from the competition. 

Appealing to Investors

Every business that wants growth and prosperity must ensure they promote themselves to potential investors. Business plans aren’t just about what the business is, but who is part of it too. Detail your current team members and explain what they bring to the company. Investors want to know they’re making a wise investment.

Your current finances and financial forecast are also essential aspects of your business plan. Look at your products, how much you’re selling them for and what kind of profit margin you expect to gain. It’s also vital you detail your outgoings and look at how various economic situations could affect your finances. 

Writing a Winning Executive Summary

There are problems in every market, and a successful business solves that problem. If you can show how you’ll be able to offer solutions in your business plan, you’ll appeal to investors. Choose your target audience based on research and ensure you show your research. There are many ways to conduct market research including defining SOMs, SAMs and TAMs. 

TAM stands for Total Available Market and comprises everyone you want your product to reach. Your Segmented Addressable Market (SAM) is a specific portion of the market you’ll target. This is important because it shows you’re able to direct your product at the right people and not just everyone. Your SOM (Share of the Market) is what you feel you’ll gain with your product.  

How to Determine Pricing

Pricing your product is one of the most challenging things you’ll have to do. There are many things to consider, such as how much it’s worth and making sure you don’t charge unrealistically. Many new businesses believe undercharging is the best way to go, but doing this can undermine your company’s authority and cause fewer people to be interested in investing.

Market-based pricing involves looking at your competitors and evaluating their prices. Which company has the most customers? How does their pricing match others? These are all vital aspects you should consider. Remember, customers expect quality and a fair price, so make sure you combine the two. 

Future Goals

Investors and banks want to know that you’ve considered what the future will hold for your company. When you write your business plan, be sure to take into account how you see the company growing, what you’ll do to ensure it thrives and that you understand the potential risks. Banks and investors want to know that you can build a business and are aware of the obstacles you’ll have to overcome.

Starting your own business doesn’t have to be difficult. If you ensure you produce a robust business plan, it can be an exciting process. Your business is part of your future, so start by outlining your goals and look forward to seeing results. 


business plan of investor


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How to Write a Winning Business Plan

  • Stanley R. Rich
  • David E. Gumpert

The business plan admits the entrepreneur to the investment process. Without a plan furnished in advance, many investor groups won’t even grant an interview. And the plan must be outstanding if it is to win investment funds. Too many entrepreneurs, though, continue to believe that if they build a better mousetrap, the world will beat […]

The Idea in Brief

You’ve got a great idea for a new product or service—how can you persuade investors to support it? Flashy PowerPoint slides aren’t enough; you need a winning business plan. A compelling plan accurately reflects the viewpoints of your three key constituencies: the market , potential investors , and the producer (the entrepreneur or inventor of the new offering).

But too many plans are written solely from the perspective of the producer. The problem is that, unless you’ve got your own capital to finance your venture, the only way you’ll get the funding you need is to satisfy the market’s and investors’ needs.

Here’s how to grab their attention.

The Idea in Practice

Emphasize Market Needs

To make a convincing case that a substantial market exists, establish market interest and document your claims.

Establish market interest. Provide evidence that customers are intrigued by your claims about the benefits of the new product or service:

  • Let some customers use a product prototype; then get written evaluations.
  • Offer the product to a few potential customers at a deep discount if they pay part of the production cost. This lets you determine whether potential buyers even exist.
  • Use “reference installations”—statements from initial users, sales reps, distributors, and would-be customers who have seen the product demonstrated.

Document your claims. You’ve established market interest. Now use data to support your assertions about potential growth rates of sales and profits.

  • Specify the number of potential customers, the size of their businesses, and the size that is most appropriate to your offering. Remember: Bigger isn’t necessarily better; e.g., saving $10,000 per year in chemical use may mean a lot to a modest company but not to a Du Pont.
  • Show the nature of the industry; e.g., franchised weight-loss clinics might grow fast, but they can decline rapidly when competition stiffens. State how you will continually innovate to survive.
  • Project realistic growth rates at which customers will accept—and buy—your offering. From there, assemble a credible sales plan and project plant and staffing needs.

Address Investor Needs

Cashing out. Show when and how investors may liquidate their holdings. Venture capital firms usually want to cash out in three to seven years; professional investors look for a large capital appreciation.

Making sound projections. Give realistic, five-year forecasts of profitability. Don’t skimp on the numbers, get overly optimistic about them, or blanket your plan with a smog of figures covering every possible variation.

The price. To figure out how much to invest in your offering, investors calculate your company’s value on the basis of results expected five years after they invest. They’ll want a 35 to 40% return for mature companies—up to 60% for less mature ventures. To make a convincing case for a rich return, get a product in the hands of representative customers—and demonstrate substantial market interest.

The business plan admits the entrepreneur to the investment process. Without a plan furnished in advance, many investor groups won’t even grant an interview. And the plan must be outstanding if it is to win investment funds.

Too many entrepreneurs, though, continue to believe that if they build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to their door. A good mousetrap is important, but it’s only part of meeting the challenge. Also important is satisfying the needs of marketers and investors. Marketers want to see evidence of customer interest and a viable market. Investors want to know when they can cash out and how good the financial projections are. Drawing on their own experiences and those of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum, the authors show entrepreneurs how to write convincing and winning business plans.

A comprehensive, carefully thought-out business plan is essential to the success of entrepreneurs and corporate managers. Whether you are starting up a new business, seeking additional capital for existing product lines, or proposing a new activity in a corporate division, you will never face a more challenging writing assignment than the preparation of a business plan.

Only a well-conceived and well-packaged plan can win the necessary investment and support for your idea. It must describe the company or proposed project accurately and attractively. Even though its subject is a moving target, the plan must detail the company’s or the project’s present status, current needs, and expected future. You must present and justify ongoing and changing resource requirements, marketing decisions, financial projections, production demands, and personnel needs in logical and convincing fashion.

Because they struggle so hard to assemble, organize, describe, and document so much, it is not surprising that managers sometimes overlook the fundamentals. We have found that the most important one is the accurate reflection of the viewpoints of three constituencies.

1. The market, including both existing and prospective clients, customers, and users of the planned product or service.

2. The investors, whether of financial or other resources.

3. The producer, whether the entrepreneur or the inventor.

Too many business plans are written solely from the viewpoint of the third constituency—the producer. They describe the underlying technology or creativity of the proposed product or service in glowing terms and at great length. They neglect the constituencies that give the venture its financial viability—the market and the investor.

Take the case of five executives seeking financing to establish their own engineering consulting firm. In their business plan, they listed a dozen types of specialized engineering services and estimated their annual sales and profit growth at 20%. But the executives did not determine which of the proposed dozen services their potential clients really needed and which would be most profitable. By neglecting to examine these issues closely, they ignored the possibility that the marketplace might want some services not among the dozen listed.

Moreover, they failed to indicate the price of new shares or the percentage available to investors. Dealing with the investor’s perspective was important because—for a new venture, at least—backers seek a return of 40% to 60% on their capital, compounded annually. The expected sales and profit growth rates of 20% could not provide the necessary return unless the founders gave up a substantial share of the company.

In fact, the executives had only considered their own perspective—including the new company’s services, organization, and projected results. Because they had not convincingly demonstrated why potential customers would buy the services or how investors would make an adequate return (or when and how they could cash out), their business plan lacked the credibility necessary for raising the investment funds needed.

We have had experience in both evaluating business plans and organizing and observing presentations and investor responses at sessions of the MIT Enterprise Forum. We believe that business plans must deal convincingly with marketing and investor considerations. This reading identifies and evaluates those considerations and explains how business plans can be written to satisfy them.

The MIT Enterprise Forum

Organized under the auspices of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni Association in 1978, the MIT Enterprise Forum offers businesses at a critical stage of development an opportunity to obtain counsel from a panel of experts on steps to take to achieve their goals.

In monthly evening sessions the forum evaluates the business plans of companies accepted for presentation during 60- to 90-minute segments in which no holds are barred. The format allows each presenter 20 minutes to summarize a business plan orally. Each panelist reviews the written business plan in advance of the sessions. Then each of four panelists—who are venture capitalists, bankers, marketing specialists, successful entrepreneurs, MIT professors, or other experts—spends five to ten minutes assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the plan and the enterprise and suggesting improvements.

In some cases, the panelists suggest a completely new direction. In others, they advise more effective implementation of existing policies. Their comments range over the spectrum of business issues.

Sessions are open to the public and usually draw about 300 people, most of them financiers, business executives, accountants, lawyers, consultants, and others with special interest in emerging companies. Following the panelists’ evaluations, audience members can ask questions and offer comments.

Presenters have the opportunity to respond to the evaluations and suggestions offered. They also receive written evaluations of the oral presentation from audience members. (The entrepreneur doesn’t make the written plan available to the audience.) These monthly sessions are held primarily for companies that have advanced beyond the start-up stage. They tend to be from one to ten years old and in need of expansion capital.

The MIT Enterprise Forum’s success at its home base in Cambridge, Massachusetts has led MIT alumni to establish forums in New York, Washington, Houston, Chicago, and Amsterdam, among other cities.

Emphasize the Market

Investors want to put their money into market-driven rather than technology-driven or service-driven companies. The potential of the product’s markets, sales, and profit is far more important than its attractiveness or technical features.

You can make a convincing case for the existence of a good market by demonstrating user benefit, identifying marketplace interest, and documenting market claims.

Show the User’s Benefit

It’s easy even for experts to overlook this basic notion. At an MIT Enterprise Forum session an entrepreneur spent the bulk of his 20-minute presentation period extolling the virtues of his company’s product—an instrument to control certain aspects of the production process in the textile industry. He concluded with some financial projections looking five years down the road.

The first panelist to react to the business plan—a partner in a venture capital firm—was completely negative about the company’s prospects for obtaining investment funds because, he stated, its market was in a depressed industry.

Another panelist asked, “How long does it take your product to pay for itself in decreased production costs?” The presenter immediately responded, “Six months.” The second panelist replied, “That’s the most important thing you’ve said tonight.”

The venture capitalist quickly reversed his original opinion. He said he would back a company in almost any industry if it could prove such an important user benefit—and emphasize it in its sales approach. After all, if it paid back the customer’s cost in six months, the product would after that time essentially “print money.”

The venture capitalist knew that instruments, machinery, and services that pay for themselves in less than one year are mandatory purchases for many potential customers. If this payback period is less than two years, it is a probable purchase; beyond three years, they do not back the product.

The MIT panel advised the entrepreneur to recast his business plan so that it emphasized the short payback period and played down the self-serving discussion about product innovation. The executive took the advice and rewrote the plan in easily understandable terms. His company is doing very well and has made the transition from a technology-driven to a market-driven company.

Find out the Market’s Interest

Calculating the user’s benefit is only the first step. An entrepreneur must also give evidence that customers are intrigued with the user’s benefit claims and that they like the product or service. The business plan must reflect clear positive responses of customer prospects to the question “Having heard our pitch, will you buy?” Without them, an investment usually won’t be made.

How can start-up businesses—some of which may have only a prototype product or an idea for a service—appropriately gauge market reaction? One executive of a smaller company had put together a prototype of a device that enables personal computers to handle telephone messages. He needed to demonstrate that customers would buy the product, but the company had exhausted its cash resources and was thus unable to build and sell the item in quantity.

The executives wondered how to get around the problem. The MIT panel offered two possible responses. First, the founders might allow a few customers to use the prototype and obtain written evaluations of the product and the extent of their interest when it became available.

Second, the founders might offer the product to a few potential customers at a substantial price discount if they paid part of the cost—say one-third—up front so that the company could build it. The company could not only find out whether potential buyers existed but also demonstrate the product to potential investors in real-life installations.

In the same way, an entrepreneur might offer a proposed new service at a discount to initial customers as a prototype if the customers agreed to serve as references in marketing the service to others.

For a new product, nothing succeeds as well as letters of support and appreciation from some significant potential customers, along with “reference installations.” You can use such third-party statements—from would-be customers to whom you have demonstrated the product, initial users, sales representatives, or distributors—to show that you have indeed discovered a sound market that needs your product or service.

You can obtain letters from users even if the product is only in prototype form. You can install it experimentally with a potential user to whom you will sell it at or below cost in return for information on its benefits and an agreement to talk to sales prospects or investors. In an appendix to the business plan or in a separate volume, you can include letters attesting to the value of the product from experimental customers.

Document Your Claims

Having established a market interest, you must use carefully analyzed data to support your assertions about the market and the growth rate of sales and profits. Too often, executives think “If we’re smart, we’ll be able to get about 10% of the market” and “Even if we only get 1% of such a huge market, we’ll be in good shape.”

Investors know that there’s no guarantee a new company will get any business, regardless of market size. Even if the company makes such claims based on fact—as borne out, for example, by evidence of customer interest—they can quickly crumble if the company does not carefully gather and analyze supporting data.

One example of this danger surfaced in a business plan that came before the MIT Enterprise Forum. An entrepreneur wanted to sell a service to small businesses. He reasoned that he could have 170,000 customers if he penetrated even 1% of the market of 17 million small enterprises in the United States. The panel pointed out that anywhere from 11 million to 14 million of such so-called small businesses were really sole proprietorships or part-time businesses. The total number of full-time small businesses with employees was actually between 3 million and 6 million and represented a real potential market far beneath the company’s original projections—and prospects.

Similarly, in a business plan relating to the sale of certain equipment to apple growers, you must have U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics to discover the number of growers who could use the equipment. If your equipment is useful only to growers with 50 acres or more, then you need to determine how many growers have farms of that size, that is, how many are minor producers with only an acre or two of apple trees.

A realistic business plan needs to specify the number of potential customers, the size of their businesses, and which size is most appropriate to the offered products or services. Sometimes bigger is not better. For example, a saving of $10,000 per year in chemical use may be significant to a modest company but unimportant to a Du Pont or a Monsanto.

Such marketing research should also show the nature of the industry. Few industries are more conservative than banking and public utilities. The number of potential customers is relatively small, and industry acceptance of new products or services is painfully slow, no matter how good the products and services have proven to be. Even so, most of the customers are well known and while they may act slowly, they have the buying power that makes the wait worthwhile.

At the other end of the industrial spectrum are extremely fast-growing and fast-changing operations such as franchised weight-loss clinics and computer software companies. Here the problem is reversed. While some companies have achieved multi-million-dollar sales in just a few years, they are vulnerable to declines of similar proportions from competitors. These companies must innovate constantly so that potential competitors will be discouraged from entering the marketplace.

You must convincingly project the rate of acceptance for the product or service—and the rate at which it is likely to be sold. From this marketing research data, you can begin assembling a credible sales plan and projecting your plant and staff needs.

Address Investors’ Needs

The marketing issues are tied to the satisfaction of investors. Once executives make a convincing case for their market penetration, they can make the financial projections that help determine whether investors will be interested in evaluating the venture and how much they will commit and at what price.

Before considering investors’ concerns in evaluating business plans, you will find it worth your while to gauge who your potential investors might be. Most of us know that for new and growing private companies, investors may be professional venture capitalists and wealthy individuals. For corporate ventures, they are the corporation itself. When a company offers shares to the public, individuals of all means become investors along with various institutions.

But one part of the investor constituency is often overlooked in the planning process—the founders of new and growing enterprises. By deciding to start and manage a business, they are committed to years of hard work and personal sacrifice. They must try to stand back and evaluate their own businesses in order to decide whether the opportunity for reward some years down the road truly justifies the risk early on.

When an entrepreneur looks at an idea objectively rather than through rose-colored glasses, the decision whether to invest may change. One entrepreneur who believed in the promise of his scientific-instruments company faced difficult marketing problems because the product was highly specialized and had, at best, few customers. Because of the entrepreneur’s heavy debt, the venture’s chance of eventual success and financial return was quite slim.

The panelists concluded that the entrepreneur would earn only as much financial return as he would have had holding a job during the next three to seven years. On the downside, he might wind up with much less in exchange for larger headaches. When he viewed the project in such dispassionate terms, the entrepreneur finally agreed and gave it up.

Investors’ primary considerations are:

Cashing out

Entrepreneurs frequently do not understand why investors have a short attention span. Many who see their ventures in terms of a lifetime commitment expect that anyone else who gets involved will feel the same. When investors evaluate a business plan, they consider not only whether to get in but also how and when to get out.

Because small, fast-growing companies have little cash available for dividends, the main way investors can profit is from the sale of their holdings, either when the company goes public or is sold to another business. (Large corporations that invest in new enterprises may not sell their holdings if they’re committed to integrating the venture into their organizations and realizing long-term gains from income.)

Venture capital firms usually wish to liquidate their investments in small companies in three to seven years so as to pay gains while they generate funds for investment in new ventures. The professional investor wants to cash out with a large capital appreciation.

Investors want to know that entrepreneurs have thought about how to comply with this desire. Do they expect to go public, sell the company, or buy the investors out in three to seven years? Will the proceeds provide investors with a return on invested capital commensurate with the investment risk—in the range of 35% to 60%, compounded and adjusted for inflation?

Business plans often do not show when and how investors may liquidate their holdings. For example, one entrepreneur’s software company sought $1.5 million to expand. But a panelist calculated that, to satisfy their goals, the investors “would need to own the entire company and then some.”

Making Sound Projections

Five-year forecasts of profitability help lay the groundwork for negotiating the amount investors will receive in return for their money. Investors see such financial forecasts as yardsticks against which to judge future performance.

Too often, entrepreneurs go to extremes with their numbers. In some cases, they don’t do enough work on their financials and rely on figures that are so skimpy or overoptimistic that anyone who has read more than a dozen business plans quickly sees through them.

In one MIT Enterprise Forum presentation, a management team proposing to manufacture and market scientific instruments forecast a net income after taxes of 25% of sales during the fourth and fifth years following investment. While a few industries such as computer software average such high profits, the scientific instruments business is so competitive, panelists noted, that expecting such margins is unrealistic.

In fact, the managers had grossly—and carelessly—understated some important costs. The panelists advised them to take their financial estimates back to the drawing board and before approaching investors to consult financial professionals.

Some entrepreneurs think that the financials are the business plan. They may cover the plan with a smog of numbers. Such “spreadsheet merchants,” with their pages of computer printouts covering every business variation possible and analyzing product sensitivity, completely turn off many investors.

Investors are wary even when financial projections are solidly based on realistic marketing data because fledgling companies nearly always fail to achieve their rosy profit forecasts. Officials of five major venture capital firms we surveyed said they are satisfied when new ventures reach 50% of their financial goals. They agreed that the negotiations that determine the percentage of the company purchased by the investment dollars are affected by this “projection discount factor.”

The Development Stage

All investors wish to reduce their risk. In evaluating the risk of a new and growing venture, they assess the status of the product and the management team. The farther along an enterprise is in each area, the lower the risk.

At one extreme is a single entrepreneur with an unproven idea. Unless the founder has a magnificent track record, such a venture has little chance of obtaining investment funds.

At the more desirable extreme is a venture that has an accepted product in a proven market and a competent and fully staffed management team. This business is most likely to win investment funds at the lowest costs.

Entrepreneurs who become aware of their status with investors and think it inadequate can improve it. Take the case of a young MIT engineering graduate who appeared at an MIT Enterprise Forum session with written schematics for the improvement of semiconductor-equipment production. He had documented interest by several producers and was looking for money to complete development and begin production.

The panelists advised him to concentrate first on making a prototype and assembling a management team with marketing and financial know-how to complement his product-development expertise. They explained that because he had never before started a company, he needed to show a great deal of visible progress in building his venture to allay investors’ concern about his inexperience.

Once investors understand a company qualitatively, they can begin to do some quantitative analysis. One customary way is to calculate the company’s value on the basis of the results expected in the fifth year following investment. Because risk and reward are closely related, investors believe companies with fully developed products and proven management teams should yield between 35% and 40% on their investment, while those with incomplete products and management teams are expected to bring in 60% annual compounded returns.

Investors calculate the potential worth of a company after five years to determine what percentage they must own to realize their return. Take the hypothetical case of a well-developed company expected to yield 35% annually. Investors would want to earn 4.5 times their original investment, before inflation, over a five-year period.

After allowing for the projection discount factor, investors may postulate that a company will have $20 million annual revenues after five years and a net profit of $1.5 million. Based on a conventional multiple for acquisitions of ten times earnings, the company would be worth $15 million in five years.

If the company wants $1 million of financing, it should grow to $4.5 million after five years to satisfy investors. To realize that return from a company worth $15 million, the investors would need to own a bit less than one-third. If inflation is expected to average 7.5% a year during the five-year period, however, investors would look for a value of $6.46 million as a reasonable return over five years, or 43% of the company.

For a less mature venture—from which investors would be seeking 60% annually, net of inflation—a $1 million investment would have to bring in close to $15 million in five years, with inflation figured at 7.5% annually. But few businesses can make a convincing case for such a rich return if they do not already have a product in the hands of some representative customers.

The final percentage of the company acquired by the investors is, of course, subject to some negotiation, depending on projected earnings and expected inflation.

Make It Happen

The only way to tend to your needs is to satisfy those of the market and the investors—unless you are wealthy enough to furnish your own capital to finance the venture and test out the pet product or service.

Of course, you must confront other issues before you can convince investors that the enterprise will succeed. For example, what proprietary aspects are there to the product or service? How will you provide quality control? Have you focused the venture toward a particular market segment, or are you trying to do too much? If this is answered in the context of the market and investors, the result will be more effective than if you deal with them in terms of your own wishes.

An example helps illustrate the potential conflicts. An entrepreneur at an MIT Enterprise Forum session projected R&D spending of about half of gross sales revenues for his specialty chemical venture. A panelist who had analyzed comparable organic chemical suppliers asked why the company’s R&D spending was so much higher than the industry average of 5% of gross revenues.

The entrepreneur explained that he wanted to continually develop new products in his field. While admitting his purpose was admirable, the panel unanimously advised him to bring his spending into line with the industry’s. The presenter ignored the advice; he failed to obtain the needed financing and eventually went out of business.

Once you accept the idea that you should satisfy the market and the investors, you face the challenge of organizing your data into a convincing document so that you can sell your venture to investors and customers. We have provided some presentation guidelines in the insert called “Packaging Is Important.”

Packaging Is Important

A business plan gives financiers their first impressions of a company and its principals.

Potential investors expect the plan to look good, but not too good; to be the right length; to clearly and cisely explain early on all aspects of the company’s business; and not to contain bad grammar and typographical or spelling errors.

Investors are looking for evidence that the principals treat their own property with care—and will likewise treat the investment carefully. In other words, form as well as content is important, and investors know that good form reflects good content and vice versa.

Among the format issues we think most important are the following:

The binding and printing must not be sloppy; neither should the presentation be too lavish. A stapled compilation of photocopied pages usually looks amateurish, while bookbinding with typeset pages may arouse concern about excessive and inappropriate spending. A plastic spiral binding holding together a pair of cover sheets of a single color provides both a neat appearance and sufficient strength to withstand the handling of a number of people without damage.

A business plan should be no more than 40 pages long. The first draft will likely exceed that, but editing should produce a final version that fits within the 40-page ideal. Adherence to this length forces entrepreneurs to sharpen their ideas and results in a document likely to hold investors’ attention.

Background details can be included in an additional volume. Entrepreneurs can make this material available to investors during the investigative period after the initial expression of interest.

The Cover and Title Page

The cover should bear the name of the company, its address and phone number, and the month and year in which the plan is issued. Surprisingly, a large number of business plans are submitted to potential investors without return addresses or phone numbers. An interested investor wants to be able to contact a company easily and to request further information or express an interest, either in the company or in some aspect of the plan.

Inside the front cover should be a well-designed title page on which the cover information is repeated and, in an upper or a lower corner, the legend “Copy number______” provided. Besides helping entrepreneurs keep track of plans in circulation, holding down the number of copies outstanding—usually to no more than 20—has a psychological advantage. After all, no investor likes to think that the prospective investment is shopworn.

The Executive Summary

The two pages immediately following the title page should concisely explain the company’s current status, its products or services, the benefits to customers, the financial forecasts, the venture’s objectives in three to seven years, the amount of financing needed, and how investors will benefit.

This is a tall order for a two-page summary, but it will either sell investors on reading the rest of the plan or convince them to forget the whole thing.

The Table of Contents

After the executive summary include a well-designed table of contents. List each of the business plan’s sections and mark the pages for each section.

Even though we might wish it were not so, writing effective business plans is as much an art as it is a science. The idea of a master document whose blanks executives can merely fill in—much in the way lawyers use sample wills or real estate agreements—is appealing but unrealistic.

Businesses differ in key marketing, production, and financial issues. Their plans must reflect such differences and must emphasize appropriate areas and deemphasize minor issues. Remember that investors view a plan as a distillation of the objectives and character of the business and its executives. A cookie-cutter, fill-in-the-blanks plan or, worse yet, a computer-generated package, will turn them off.

Write your business plans by looking outward to your key constituencies rather than by looking inward at what suits you best. You will save valuable time and energy this way and improve your chances of winning investors and customers.

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  • SR Mr. Rich has helped found seven technologically based businesses, the most recent being Advanced Energy Dynamics Inc. of Natick, Massachusetts. He is also a cofounder and has been chairman of the MIT Enterprise forum, which assists emerging growth companies.
  • DG Mr. Gumpert is an associate editor of HBR, where he specializes in small business and marketing. He has written several HBR articles, the most recent of which was “The Heart of Entrepreneurship,” coauthored by Howard. H. Stevenson (March–April 1985). This article is adapted from Business Plans That Win $$$ : Lessons from the MIT Enterprise Forum, by Messrs. Rich and Gumpert (Harper & Row, 1985). The authors are also founders of Venture Resource Associates of Grantham, New Hampshire, which provides planning and strategic services to growing enterprises.

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How to Write a Convincing Business Plan for Investors

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Noah Parsons

9 min. read

Updated May 25, 2023

Raising money for your business is a major effort. You need lists of investors to reach out to and you need to be prepared for your investor meetings to increase your chances of getting funded . You need to practice your pitch and be ready to intelligently answer any number of questions about your business. A key to making this entire process much easier is to invest a little time and write a business plan . It’s true — not all investors will ask to see your business plan. But the process of putting together a business plan will ensure that you’ve thought through every aspect of your business and you’re ready to answer any questions that come up during the fundraising process.

On this page

Why do investors want to see a business plan?

What do investors want to see in a business plan, what documents do investors want to see, what to include in your investor business plan.

The business plan document itself isn’t what’s important to investors. It’s the knowledge that you’ve generated by going through the process that’s important. Having a business plan shows that you’ve done the homework of thinking through how your business will work and what goals you’re trying to achieve.

When you put together a business plan, you have to spend time thinking about things like your target market , your sales, and marketing strategy , the problem you solve for your customers, and who your key competitors are . A business plan provides the structure for thinking through these things and documents your answers so you’re prepared for the inevitable questions investors will ask about your business. 

Even if investors never ask to see your business plan, the work you’ve done to prepare it will ensure that you can intelligently answer the questions you’ll get. And, if an investor does ask for your business plan, then you’re prepared and ready to hand it over. After all, nothing could be worse than arriving at an investor meeting and then getting a request for a business plan and not having one ready.

Beyond understanding your business strategy, investors will also want to understand your financial forecasts. They want to know how your business will function from a financial standpoint — what is typically called your “ business model .” They’ll also want to know what it will take for your business to be profitable and where you anticipate spending money to grow the business. A complete financial plan is part of any business plan, so investing a little time here will serve you well. 

There’s no such thing as a perfect business plan and investors know this. After all, they’ve spent years, and often decades, hearing business pitches, reading business plans, investing in companies, and watching them both succeed and fail. As entrepreneur and investor Steve Blank likes to say, “No business plan survives first contact with a customer.” 

If this is true, then why bother writing a business plan at all? What’s the value of planning and why do investors want them if they know the plan will shortly be outdated?

The secret is that it’s the planning process, not the final plan, that’s valuable. Investors want to know that you’ve thought about your idea, documented your assumptions, and are on track to validate those assumptions so that you can remove risk from your business. 

So what do investors want to see in your business plan? Beyond the typical sections , here are the most important things that investors want to see in your plan.

A vision for the future

Investors, particularly those investing in early-stage startups, want to understand your vision . Where do you see your company going in the future? Who will your customers be and what problems will you solve for them? Your vision may take years to execute — and it’s likely that the vision will change and evolve over time — but investors want to know that you’re thinking beyond tomorrow and into the future.

Product/market fit and traction

Investors want more than just an idea. They want evidence that you are solving a problem for customers. Your customers have to want what you are selling for you to build a successful business and your business plan needs to describe the evidence that you’ve found that proves that you’ll be able to sell your products and services to customers. If you have “traction” in the form of early sales and customers, that’s even better.

Funding needed and use of funds

When you’re pitching investors, you need to know how much you’re asking for. Your financial forecast should help you figure this out. You’ll want to raise enough money to cover planned expenses and cash flow requirements plus some additional funding as a safety net. In addition, you’ll want to specify exactly how you plan on using your investment . In a business plan, this section is often called “sources and uses of investment.”

A strong management team

A good idea is really only a small part of the equation for a successful business. In fact, lots of people have good business ideas — it’s the people that can execute well that generally succeed. Investors will pay a lot of attention to the section of your plan where you talk about your management team because they want to know that you can transform your idea into a successful business. If you have gaps and still need to hire key employees, that’s OK. Communicating that you understand what your needs are is the most important thing.

An exit strategy

When investors give you money to start and grow your business, they are looking to eventually make a return on their investment. This could happen by eventually selling your business to a larger company or even by going public. One way or another, investors will want to know your thoughts about an eventual exit strategy for your business.

Start your plan

Even if investors never ask for a detailed business plan, your business planning process should produce a few key documents that investors will want to see. Here’s what you need to be prepared to pitch investors:

Cover letter

These days, a lot of fundraising outreach is done over email and you’ll need a concise cover letter that sparks investor interest. Your cover letter needs to be very brief, but describe the problem you’re solving for your target market. Great cover letters are sometimes in a “story” format that hooks readers with a real-world, relatable example of the problems your customers face and how our product or service The goal of the cover letter isn’t to explain every aspect of your business. It’s just to spark interest and get a meeting with an investor where you’ll have more time to actually pitch your business. Keep your cover letter brief, engaging, and to the point.

If you get an investor meeting, you’ll almost certainly need a pitch deck to present your idea in more detail and showcase your business idea. Your pitch deck will cover the problem you’re solving, your solution, your target market, and key market trends. Read our detailed guide on what to include in your pitch deck here and for inspiration check out our gallery of more than 50 Industry Pitch Deck Examples .

Executive summary and/or one-page plan

You might not get a meeting right away. Your cover letter may generate a request for additional information and this is where a solid executive summary or one-page business plan comes in handy. This document, while still short, is more detailed than your cover letter and explains a bit more about your business in a page or two. Read more about what goes into a great executive summary and how to build a lean business plan.

Financial forecasts

Investors will inevitably want to see your financial forecasts. You’ll need a sales forecast, expense budget , cash flow forecast , profit and loss, and balance sheet . If you have historical results, you should plan on sharing those too as well as any other key metrics about your business. Investors will always look deep under the hood of your business, so be prepared to share all the details of how your business will work from a financial perspective.

When you put together a detailed business plan for investors, you’ll follow a fairly standard format. Of course, feel free to customize your plan to fit your business needs. Remember: your business plan isn’t about the plan document that you create — it’s about the planning process that helps you think through and develop your business strategy. Here’s what most investor business plans will include:

Executive Summary

Usually written last, your executive summary is an overview of your business. As I mentioned earlier, you might use the executive summary as a stand-alone document to provide investors more detail about your business in a concise form. Read our guide on executive summaries here .


The opportunity section of your plan covers the problem you are solving, what your solution is, and highlights any data you have to prove that people will spend money on what you’re offering. If you have customer validation in any form, this is where you highlight that information.

Market Analysis

Describe what your target market is and key trends that are occurring in this market . Is the market growing? Are buying patterns changing? How is your business positioned to take advantage of these changes? Be sure to spend some time discussing your competition and how your target market solves their problems today and how your solution is superior.

Marketing & Sales Plan 

Most businesses need to figure out how to get the word out and attract customers. Your business plan should include a marketing plan that describes how you’re going to reach your target market and any key marketing initiatives that you’re going to undertake. You should also spend time describing your sales plan, especially if your sales process takes time to close customers.

Milestones / Roadmap

Outline key milestones you hope to achieve and when you plan on achieving them. This section should cover key dates for product development, key partnerships you need to create, and any other important goals you plan on achieving.

Company & Management

Here’s where you describe the nuts and bolts of your business. How is your organization structured? Who is on your team and what are their backgrounds? Are there any important positions that you still need to recruit for?

Financial Plan

As I mentioned, you’ll need to create a profit and loss, cash flow, and balance sheet forecast. Your financial plan should be optimistic, yet realistic. This is a tough balance and your forecast is certain to be wrong, but you need to document your assumptions and plans for the business.

Finally, you can include an appendix for any key additional information you want to share. Product diagrams, additional details on how you deliver your service, or additional research can all be included.

What comes next?

Writing a business plan for investors is really about preparing you to pitch your business . It’s quite likely that you’ll never get asked for the actual business plan document. But, the process will prepare you better than anything else to answer any questions investors may have.

Content Author: Noah Parsons

Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of the online business plan app LivePlan.

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How investors analyse business plans


In order to understand how investors analyse a business plan it is key to get a clear sense of the potential upsides and downsides to which investors are exposed.

The situation is very different depending on whether the investor invest in the debt or the equity (shares) of the company.

Let's have a look to the capital structure of a company to understand the economics attached with each instrument (debt and equity).

Understanding the capital structure of a business and its economics

A business is a pool of assets financed by equity and debt. These assets generate cash flows which are then shared amongst the capital providers.

The key difference between equity and debt is the contractual nature of the loan. A loan is a contract between a company and a lender: the lender lends a sum of money to the company which in exchange commits to pay the lender interests and to repay principal based on an agreed schedule.

Because its cash flows are guaranteed by a contract the only risk the lender is taking in the company is a risk of bankruptcy. Furthermore, in case of bankruptcy the lender benefits from what we call a senior position in the capital structure. This means that his claim has the priority over more junior claims such as equity. In short, in the event of a liquidation the lender gets to be repaid first.

The lender position is relatively comfortable (contracted cash flows, senior position in case of bankruptcy) but offers limited upside (nothing more than the contracted cash flows). The equity investors' position is the entire opposite.

Equity investors benefit from unlimited upside: they get their share of every dividend paid by the company and can make a substantial profit on the sale of their shares in the event of a sale of the company or a listing on a stock exchange.

On the flip side, there is no guarantee that the company will pay dividend nor that the value of the shares in the event of a sale would equal the price the investors paid for them. And in the event of a bankruptcy shareholders are the last one to be repaid with whatever is left after repaying the more senior claim holders.

As you can see there are huge differences in the risk/reward trade-off of both positions. This has a material impact on the how lenders and equity investors tend to form their view on a company, and what they expect to see in a business plan.

How do investors look at a business plan?

Before getting into the specificities of the lender approach vs. the equity investor's approach, let's have a look at the investment process.

There are usually three phases:

Due diligence

During the skimming phase an analyst or a bank manager will look at the Executive Summary of your business plan and decide whether or not it is worth doing additional work on the opportunity. Because this is a snap decision you need to make sure that:

  • your business plan looks professional: the reader most likely has a huge pile of plans he needs to go through and he cannot afford to waste time on something that doesn't look serious enough. So make sure that your plan is nicely formatted and doesn't make a bad first impression.
  • your executive summary is short, accurate and appealing: your executive summary is nothing more than an extended elevator pitch. In 5 minutes, the reader must be able to understand: who you are, what you do, how big it can get, how much money it is going to cost and how much money you need from him. Don't try to cover everything, focus on getting him exited about your business.

If your business plan passes this phase, the investor will start looking into the details of your plan.

The first things the investor will want to check are the market and the competition. Once he has verified that there is a market for your product and that this market is not overcrowded, he will start looking into your strategy: how you plan to attack this market and more importantly what is your unfair advantage that will help you succeed. Then he will look into your numbers, challenge them and run sensitivities on them (for example: what happens if sales are 20% below the plan?).

Here you want to make the life of the investor as easy as possible by citing your sources. If you say that the market is worth x, they will need to check it by seeing where you got the information from. And if the source doesn't appear to be reliable they will challenge you.

If you passes these checks you will probably get a list of points the investor needs clarification on, and if you haven't done so already be summoned for a meeting.

Once and if the investor is happy with the plan, he will write a memorandum and defend the opportunity in front of his investment or credit committee.

I have been both in credit and in investment committees and they are very similar. There are two teams: the deal team which is supporting the investment proposal and the decision making team which job is to make sure that the investment will be worthwhile. Being worthwhile meaning that the loan will get repaid or that the investment will generate a decent return. The decision making team will look at every possibilities why the investment could go wrong and the deal team needs to show that they have looked into this possibility but that this risk is mitigated by x and y elements in the business plan.

If you are applying for a loan they will also assess the commercial opportunity as a whole. Will they earn credit card processing fees? How likely is it that you will transfer your personal bank account? Is the company likely to grow and bring additional business to the bank?

If the deal team manages to convince the decision making team then congratulations you will get funded!

The bottom line here is that the person who will review your plan will take a view on the investment opportunity and, if he judges it worthwhile, fight for you in committee. Therefore you need to play ball with him and give him the bullets that will help him succeed in committee.

One very important point is that the last thing he wants: is to look stupid in committee by having missed something important. Therefore you need to be transparent and disclose every potential risks in advance in your plan because the deal will be off the table the minute he has the impression that you are hiding something.

Now that we have a better understanding of the process, let's have a closer look at the differences between the lender and the equity investor's approach.

Lenders specificities when looking at a business plan

As I said above lenders are worried about one thing: not getting their money back! And this will drive the way they look at your business plan.

On top of challenging the plan and making sure: it is realistic, and that even if sales are x% below plan you will still be in a position to repay the loan. They will also look at the incentives the shareholders have to make the company succeed.

Ideally for lenders, the shareholders are taking a substantial risk in this business. Which means they are either financing a large chunk of the funding requirement with their own money (30% being a rough minimum estimate) or if it is an existing business the company represents a large part of their wealth.

They will also look at your dividend policy. Showing an aggressive dividend policy signals that you don't believe it is worth reinvesting in the business and that only a very limited fraction of the excess cash generated by the business will remain on balance sheet to act as a security buffer in case of unexpected difficulties. This is not a very good signal to send to a bank and it is recommended to show a very moderate dividend policy in the business plan you send to lenders.

There are two ways banks lend money. They either do asset based financing or cash flow based financing. When doing asset based financing the bank will assess the value of an asset and lend you a percentage of the asset value. They will also take a security against this asset, which means that in case of bankruptcy they can get the asset back and sell it themselves to recover part of the loan. When doing cash flow based financing the bank will assess your borrowing capacity based on your estimated future cash flows.

Retail banks tend to focus on asset based financing which means the more assets you have the more likely you are to get a loan. It is therefore important that you list all the assets your business will acquire when doing your business plan. That way the bank manager can go through the list and offer you different types of loan to finance these assets. Some banks also do inventory financing and VAT financing so you also want to isolate these lines in your funding requirements section.

Now let's look at the equity investor's approach.

Equity investors specificities when looking at a business plan

Because of their position in the capital structure equity investors need the company to perform well in order to start making money. And as we seen, they benefit from unlimited returns. This means that bankruptcy and the risk of failure although being part of the analysis are not their main focus. Depending on which stage your business is in, their focus will be either on growth or cash generation.

Early stage businesses need to focus on growth. Being able to breakeven is also very important and you should present a business plan in which you reach profitability. But the key at this stage is more on making the company big than generating cash flows.

The idea is that the bigger you get the more likely you are to become the leader on your market. Once you have achieved a leadership position it should be pretty easy to focus on cash generation: you will benefit from economies of scales and leadership can command a price premium both helping you becoming more profitable than smaller players.

More mature businesses however should focus on profitability and cash generation. Investors know that they cannot count on you doubling size over the next three years to make their returns which means their returns are likely to come from a mix of dividends and improved profitability generating a premium valuation at exit.

When presenting a business plan to an equity investor your plan should be realistic but ambitious. Business angels for example are seeking 10x return on their investments. Your plan should show a bit more so that they reach this number when they discount your assumptions. Always enquire about the target return of an investor before sending him your plan.

Another characteristic of equity investors is that, contrarily to lenders whose loan gets repaid at a defined point in time, equity investors don't know when they will be able to sell their shares. As a result a key consideration will be the exit. You need to have an exit plan and horizon in mind.

Another reason why growth is so important for early stage businesses is exit: it is often easier to find a buyer for large asset than for a small one.

The table below summarise the main objectives of lenders and equity investors:

Also on The Business Plan Shop

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  • Free business plan template
  • Executive summary - the most crucial part of your business plan
  • TAM, SAM, SOM, what it means and why does it matter

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Investment Company Business Plan Template

Written by Dave Lavinsky

investment company business plan

Investment Company Business Plan

Over the past 20+ years, we have helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business owners create business plans to start and grow their investment companies. On this page, we will first give you some background information with regards to the importance of business planning. We will then go through an investment company business plan template step-by-step so you can create your plan today.

Download our Ultimate Business Plan Template here >

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan provides a snapshot of your investment company as it stands today, and lays out your growth plan for the next five years. It explains your business goals and your strategy for reaching them. It also includes market research to support your plans.  

Why You Need a Business Plan

If you’re looking to start an investment company, or grow your existing investment company, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you raise funding, if needed, and plan out the growth of your investment company in order to improve your chances of success. Your business plan is a living document that should be updated annually as your company grows and changes.  

Sources of Funding for Investment Companies

With regards to funding, the main sources of funding for an investment company are bank loans and angel investors. With regards to bank loans, banks will want to review your business plan and gain confidence that you will be able to repay your loan and interest. To acquire this confidence, the loan officer will not only want to confirm that your financials are reasonable, but they will also want to see a professional plan. Such a plan will give them the confidence that you can successfully and professionally operate a business. Investors, grants, personal investments, and bank loans are the most common funding paths for investment companies.

How to Write a Business Plan for an Investment Company

If you want to start an investment company or expand your current one, you need a business plan. Below we detail what you should include in each section of your own business plan:  

Executive Summary

Your executive summary provides an introduction to your business plan, but it is normally the last section you write because it provides a summary of each key section of your plan.

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of investment company you are operating and the status. For example, are you a startup, do you have an investment company that you would like to grow, or are you operating investment companies in multiple markets?

Next, provide an overview of each of the subsequent sections of your business plan. For example, give a brief overview of the investment company industry. Discuss the type of investment company you are operating. Detail your direct competitors. Give an overview of your target customers. Provide a snapshot of your marketing plan. Identify the key members of your team. And offer an overview of your financial plan.  

Company Analysis

In your company analysis, you will detail the type of investment company you are operating.

For example, you might operate one of the following types of investment companies:

  • Closed-End Funds Investment Company : this type of investment company issues a fixed number of shares through a single IPO to raise capital for its initial investments.
  • Mutual Funds (Open-End Funds) Investment Company: this type of investment company is a diversified portfolio of pooled investor money that can issue an unlimited number of shares.
  • Unit Investment Trusts (UITs) Investment Company: this type of investment company offers a fixed portfolio, generally of stocks and bonds, as redeemable units to investors for a specific period of time.

In addition to explaining the type of investment company you will operate, the Company Analysis section of your business plan needs to provide background on the business.

Include answers to question such as:

  • When and why did you start the business?
  • What milestones have you achieved to date? Milestones could include the number of investments made, number of client positive reviews, reaching X amount of clients invested for, etc.
  • Your legal structure. Are you incorporated as an S-Corp? An LLC? A sole proprietorship? Explain your legal structure here.

Industry Analysis

In your industry analysis, you need to provide an overview of the investment industry.

While this may seem unnecessary, it serves multiple purposes.

First, researching the investment industry educates you. It helps you understand the market in which you are operating.

Secondly, market research can improve your strategy, particularly if your research identifies market trends.

The third reason for market research is to prove to readers that you are an expert in your industry. By conducting the research and presenting it in your plan, you achieve just that.

The following questions should be answered in the industry analysis section of your business plan:

  • How big is the investment industry (in dollars)?
  • Is the market declining or increasing?
  • Who are the key competitors in the market?
  • Who are the key suppliers in the market?
  • What trends are affecting the industry?
  • What is the industry’s growth forecast over the next 5 – 10 years?
  • What is the relevant market size? That is, how big is the potential market for your investment company? You can extrapolate such a figure by assessing the size of the market in the entire country and then applying that figure to your local population.

Customer Analysis

The customer analysis section of your business plan must detail the customers you serve and/or expect to serve.

The following are examples of customer segments: companies or employees in specific industries, couples with double income, families with kids, small business owners, etc.

As you can imagine, the customer segment(s) you choose will have a great impact on the type of investment company you operate. Clearly, couples with families and double income would respond to different marketing promotions than corporations, for example.

Try to break out your target customers in terms of their demographic and psychographic profiles. With regards to demographics, include a discussion of the ages, genders, locations and income levels of the customers you seek to serve.

Psychographic profiles explain the wants and needs of your target customers. The more you can understand and define these needs, the better you will do in attracting and retaining your customers.  

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Competitive Analysis

Your competitive analysis should identify the indirect and direct competitors your business faces and then focus on the latter.

Direct competitors are other investment companies.

Indirect competitors are other options that customers have to purchase from that aren’t direct competitors. This includes robo investors and advisors, company 401Ks, etc. You need to mention such competition as well.

With regards to direct competition, you want to describe the other investment companies with which you compete. Most likely, your direct competitors will be investment companies located very close to your location.

investment competition

For each such competitor, provide an overview of their businesses and document their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you once worked at your competitors’ businesses, it will be impossible to know everything about them. But you should be able to find out key things about them such as:

  • What types of clients do they serve?
  • What type of investment company are they and what certifications do they have?
  • What is their pricing (premium, low, etc.)?
  • What are they good at?
  • What are their weaknesses?

With regards to the last two questions, think about your answers from the customers’ perspective. And don’t be afraid to ask your competitors’ customers what they like most and least about them.

The final part of your competitive analysis section is to document your areas of competitive advantage. For example:

  • Will you provide better investment strategies?
  • Will you provide services that your competitors don’t offer?
  • Will you provide better customer service?
  • Will you offer better pricing?

Think about ways you will outperform your competition and document them in this section of your plan.  

Marketing Plan

Traditionally, a marketing plan includes the four P’s: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For an investment company, your marketing plan should include the following:

Product : In the product section, you should reiterate the type of company that you documented in your Company Analysis. Then, detail the specific products you will be offering. For example, in addition to an investment company, will you provide insurance products, website and app accessibility, quarterly or annual investment reviews, and any other services?

Price : Document the prices you will offer and how they compare to your competitors. Essentially in the product and price sub-sections of your marketing plan, you are presenting the services you offer and their prices.

Place : Place refers to the location of your company. Document your location and mention how the location will impact your success. For example, is your investment company located in a busy retail district, a business district, a standalone office, etc. Discuss how your location might be the ideal location for your customers.

Promotions : The final part of your investment company marketing plan is the promotions section. Here you will document how you will drive customers to your location(s). The following are some promotional methods you might consider:

  • Advertising in local papers and magazines
  • Commercials and billboards
  • Reaching out to websites
  • Social media marketing
  • Local radio advertising

Operations Plan

While the earlier sections of your business plan explained your goals, your operations plan describes how you will meet them. Your operations plan should have two distinct sections as follows.

Everyday short-term processes include all of the tasks involved in running your investment company, including researching the stock market, keeping abreast of all investment industry knowledge, updating clients on any new activity, answering client phone calls and emails, networking to attract potential new clients.

Long-term goals are the milestones you hope to achieve. These could include the dates when you expect to land your Xth client, or when you hope to reach $X in revenue. It could also be when you expect to expand your investment business to a new city.  

Management Team

To demonstrate your investment company’s ability to succeed, a strong management team is essential. Highlight your key players’ backgrounds, emphasizing those skills and experiences that prove their ability to grow a company.

Ideally you and/or your team members have direct experience in managing investment companies. If so, highlight this experience and expertise. But also highlight any experience that you think will help your business succeed.

If your team is lacking, consider assembling an advisory board. An advisory board would include 2 to 8 individuals who would act like mentors to your business. They would help answer questions and provide strategic guidance. If needed, look for advisory board members with experience in managing an investment company or successfully advised clients who have achieved a successful net worth.  

Financial Plan

Your financial plan should include your 5-year financial statement broken out both monthly or quarterly for the first year and then annually. Your financial statements include your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statements.

Income Statement : an income statement is more commonly called a Profit and Loss statement or P&L. It shows your revenues and then subtracts your costs to show whether you turned a profit or not.

In developing your income statement, you need to devise assumptions. For example, will you take on one new client at a time or multiple new clients ? And will sales grow by 2% or 10% per year? As you can imagine, your choice of assumptions will greatly impact the financial forecasts for your business. As much as possible, conduct research to try to root your assumptions in reality.

Balance Sheets : Balance sheets show your assets and liabilities. While balance sheets can include much information, try to simplify them to the key items you need to know about. For instance, if you spend $50,000 on building out your investment company, this will not give you immediate profits. Rather it is an asset that will hopefully help you generate profits for years to come. Likewise, if a bank writes you a check for $50,000, you don’t need to pay it back immediately. Rather, that is a liability you will pay back over time.

Cash Flow Statement : Your cash flow statement will help determine how much money you need to start or grow your business, and make sure you never run out of money. What most entrepreneurs and business owners don’t realize is that you can turn a profit but run out of money and go bankrupt.

In developing your Income Statement and Balance Sheets be sure to include several of the key costs needed in starting or growing an investment company:

  • Cost of investor licensing..
  • Cost of equipment and supplies
  • Payroll or salaries paid to staff
  • Business insurance
  • Taxes and permits
  • Legal expenses

business costs

Attach your full financial projections in the appendix of your plan along with any supporting documents that make your plan more compelling. For example, you might include your office location lease or list of clients that you have acquired.  

Putting together a business plan for your investment company is a worthwhile endeavor. If you follow the template above, by the time you are done, you will truly be an expert. You will really understand the investment industry, your competition, and your customers. You will have developed a marketing plan and will really understand what it takes to launch and grow a successful investment company.  

Investment Company Business Plan FAQs

What is the easiest way to complete my investment company business plan.

Growthink's Ultimate Business Plan Template allows you to quickly and easily complete your Investment Company Business Plan.

What is the Goal of a Business Plan's Executive Summary?

The goal of your Executive Summary is to quickly engage the reader. Explain to them the type of investment company you are operating and the status; for example, are you a startup, do you have an investment company that you would like to grow, or are you operating a chain of investment companies?

OR, Let Us Develop Your Plan For You

Since 1999, Growthink has developed business plans for thousands of companies who have gone on to achieve tremendous success.

Other Helpful Business Plan Articles & Templates

Business Plan Template & Guide For Small Businesses


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Business plan for investors.

Business plan for investors. It is a document which entrepreneurs who set up new companies and start-ups present potential investors in order to raise financing that enables the development of the business. The purpose is that the investor knows the essential characteristics of the new business and decides if it is an attractive enough proposal to invest therein and obtain an adequate return. In this document, contingent on an executive summary wherein a project mission statement is made, the names and offices of the entrepreneurs and the description of the new product or service, the sector in which the new company operates, its main competitors as well as marketing and implementation strategies in order to attain the set objectives is analysed; finally, in the Financial Plan section, estimates of sales volume, general expenses and return expectations in order for the investor to have available clear and sufficient information which will serve as an aid for the purposes of making a decision to finance the new business project are furnished. Model of Business Plan for Investors .

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7 Things Investors Are Looking for in a Business Plan

7 Things Investors Are Looking for in a Business Plan

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A business plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a company’s mission, goals, finances, revenue, and market data.

The primary purpose of a business plan is to convince banks and/or investors to loan you money, but there are several other benefits.

Business plans help create accountability within an organization, offer a holistic view of the company, and can repeatedly be used as a frame of reference.

Ultimately, a business plan mitigates risk. It summarizes all business areas and details how those areas ( marketing , operations) impact growth.

And there’s no way around it; if you want to fund from an investor, especially if you’re just starting your business , you need a business plan.

Any entrepreneur would be lucky to meet with an angel investor or venture capitalist. But the initial pitch, meeting, and presentation are all the tip of the iceberg.

What comes next is most important.

The potential investor will want a detailed business plan and will conduct due diligence to ensure you’re a worthy investment. With that in mind, here’s what investors are looking for in a business plan:

Strong Executive Summary

The executive summary is the first portion of your business plan and should be captivating enough to give a solid first impression.

Think of your executive summary as your website landing page. If visitors come to your website and can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the next best thing.

Your executive summary should introduce the company and explain what you do and what makes you unique. It gives investors a complete overview of your business and should summarize key details in other business plan sections. This section is typically one page long and should be written last.

Start your executive summary by introducing yourself; follow up with an explanation of why your business matters and how it fills a gap in the market or solves a particular problem. Take a business plan example for inspiration for writing a practical executive summary.

illustration of entrepreneur evaluating startup ideas

Complete Financial Forecast

Whether you have no sales or are generating revenue in the hundreds of thousands, every investor will scrutinize your financial plan to determine financial feasibility accurately. This section of your plan needs to be fully fleshed out and leave no grey area or room for further questions.

It’s essential to put yourself in the shoes of an investor. Based on your financial outlook, do you see yourself as a risky or promising investment? Your financial forecast should include the following:

Projected profit and loss statement Projects how much revenue you’ll generate and the profit you’ll make on those sales

Break-even analysis A detailed look at how many products you need to sell to cover fixed and variable production costs

Projected balance sheet Estimate of total assets and liabilities

Cash flow statement Details all cash inflows and outflows

Business ratios Calculations that illustrate the relationship between items (i.e., total sales and the number of employees).

To accurately build out your financial forecast, you must assess your market share (your market research section is also crucial to investors). Start from the bottom by highlighting your total addressable market and the percentage you’ll be targeting. Then you can dive a little deeper by outlining your segmented addressable market and share of the market. Investing sites can also help you better perceive the state of the market and other data for a more accurate forecast.

Want free financial templates for your business plan?

You will find a terrific collection of important templates, including a SWOT analysis, sales forecast template, profit and loss template, cash flow template, and balance sheet template, in this comprehensive guide on how to write a business plan.

business plan of investor

Customer Acquisition Costs

Investors want to know how much it will cost to acquire new customers.

Understanding your customer acquisition costs (CAC) helps you grow healthy and scalable and shows investors that you know exactly what it takes to get a customer on board.

Knowing your CAC is more important than ever; the cost of acquiring new customers has increased by 60% over the past five years .

Customer acquisition costs are determined by examining the total cost of sales and marketing necessary to acquire new customers. You can calculate your CAC by dividing the total cost of marketing and sales by the number of customers acquired.

Your CAC can also help simplify your decision-making process, optimize your marketing strategies to focus on customer lifetime value, and paint a complete picture of your payback period (the amount of time it takes to recover the cost of an investment).

Strong Execution

A business plan is like an image. And as the age-old saying goes, “An image is worth a thousand words.”

Similarly, your business plan reveals much about who you are as a business owner. Let’s say that you have strong sales and an optimistic financial forecast. Is your business plan missing the necessary documentation and data points that support this? Is it rife with grammatical errors and improper formatting?

Execution is telling. How you communicate your business is just as important as the details within the plan. A hastily written or ambiguous business plan will result in more questions and hesitance.

If you can’t take the time to write a solid business plan, what else will you take shortcuts on?

The Financial Ask & Answer

The financial ask and answer addresses two crucial questions: How much money are you asking for, and what will you do with it?

The investment you’re seeking should be clear in your business plan (typically mentioned in the executive summary and expounded upon in the financial plan). How you intend to use the money should also be clear and logical.

Investors need to know that you’ll spend their money responsibly and that there’s proof that how you spend the money will result in revenue growth. Every dollar should be allocated to a specific destination for a good reason.

For instance, you cannot ask for a $500,000 investment without explaining how and why you arrived at this number. The business plan in the below example of a functional company called Culina states how much they’re asking for and why. In this case, Culina is raising $15 million to ramp up hardware manufacturing, improve UX and UI, expand marketing efforts, and fulfill pre-orders before the holiday season.

section of business plan

Strong Management

Your business plan should prove that you have a strong management team.

Many investors run their portfolios with a people-first mentality. This means that who you are is just as important as what you offer. Your business plan’s “Management” or “Team” section is great for humanizing your company and highlighting your strengths.

What makes your team especially capable of running and guiding this business toward profitability? What’s your background? Have you won any awards or participated in any incubator programs? Do you have relevant experience (either in running a business or working in the industry)?

Answer these questions to show investors that you’re uniquely qualified to lead.

Thorough Understanding of Your Market

Is there a market for your product or service, how can you reach your market, and what share of the market do you have a stronghold on?

Demonstrating a thorough understanding of your market and target demographic is crucial. Many businesses have failed because they didn’t conduct market research or speak to their customers and clients. Product validation should precede fundraising efforts.

“Market size” is a basic number that every investor looks for. Your competitive analysis , market research, metrics, and customer surveys should all be factored into the equation.

If you’re struggling to understand your market and position, you can start by gathering primary data from the Census and Labor Bureau. Many industries also have formal associations and publish their research online. You can purchase these studies or commission a market research firm to spearhead your research.

An interested investor can make or break your business and should be taken seriously. You wouldn’t rush through an Ivy League college application and shouldn’t submit a hastily written business plan.

Take the time to detail every aspect of your business and consider working with a business plan writer to ensure you communicate your message effectively. If an investor is impressed with your business plan, chances are you’ll score pivotal funding.

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The Undeniable Importance of a Business Plan

We often hear about business plans in the context of early-stage companies; however, constructing excellent business plans is difficult and time-consuming, so many entrepreneurs avoid them. But, is this a mistake?

While most people may be aware of the “soft” arguments for and against writing a business plan, in this article, a Toptal Finance Expert takes a data-driven approach to addressing the debate. In it, he finds strong evidence to support the notion that writing an excellent business plan is time well spent.

The Undeniable Importance of a Business Plan

By Sean Heberling

Sean has analyzed 10,000+ companies, built complex models, and helped facilitate $1+ billion in investment transactions.

Previously At

Morgan Stanley

Executive Summary

  • Individuals who write business plans are 2.5x as likely to start businesses.
  • Business planning improves corporate executive satisfaction with corporate strategy development.
  • Angels and venture capitalists value business plans and their [financial models](
  • Companies who complete business plans are 2.5x as likely to get funded.
  • Even if a small-scale early-stage venture seeking just $250,000 in capital spent almost $40,000 on business planning and another almost $40,000 on capital raising, it should still expect to "break even" on a probability-weighted basis.
  • Larger early-stage ventures enjoy extraordinary probability-weighted returns on investment from business planning. Because the target net capital so greatly exceeds the money spent on business planning, the prospective ROI is huge.
  • Company Overview: An explanation of why your company is relevant and the need you are addressing.
  • Market Overview: A description of the state of your market and its important trends, a detailed description of your customers, and a description of your current competitors and their advantages.
  • Product/Service Overview: A description of your product(s), how they compete with other brands, why they are needed, and why customers will pay a fair economic value for it.
  • Financial Projections: Three thorough financial plans with conservative, moderate, and optimistic assumptions.
  • The process of writing forces the author to ask introspectively how they reached their conclusions and each of the sub-conclusions along the way because they must explain their logic to a cynical reader.
  • The written author needs to support all conclusions with facts and logic to prove that they are not "making it up" or relying upon popular "myths."
  • Outlined reports and outlined business plans are not generally subject to the same level of reader scrutiny.

We often hear about business plans in the context of early-stage companies , but constructing excellent business plans is difficult and time-consuming, so many entrepreneurs avoid them. That’s a mistake, as there is strong evidence demonstrating that business plans generate positive returns on time and money invested .

The business world has long debated the importance of business plans, and most involved understand the “soft” arguments. However, this article delves into the data to conclude that writing an excellent business plan is time well spent. I developed a similar view over my 20+ year financial career , during which I have analyzed well over 10,000 different types of companies. I have noticed that while a business plan may not be required for a venture to become successful, having one does seem to greatly improve the probability of successful outcomes.

Expert Opinions Support the Value of Business Planning

Expert opinions support the four following conclusions:

  • Angels and venture capitalists value business plans and their financial models.

Individuals Who Write Business Plans Are 2.5x More Likely to Become Entrepreneurs

Many people have business ideas over the course of their careers, but often, these ideas never come to fruition, or they get lost amidst our daily obligations. Interestingly, studies support the notion that those who write business plans are far more likely to launch their companies. Data from the Panal Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics in fact suggests that business planners were 2.5x as likely to get into business . The study, which surveyed more than 800 people across the United States who were in the process of starting businesses, therefore concluded that “writing a plan greatly increased the chances that a person would actually go into business.”

Of course, causation of this phenomenon is hard to pin down. There are several different possible reasons why this correlation between writing business plans and actually starting a business may exist. But William Gartner, Clemson University Entrepreneurship Professor and author of the Panal Study, believes that “‘research shows that business plans are all about walking the walk. People who write business plans also do more stuff.’ And doing more stuff, such as researching markets and preparing projections, increases the chances an entrepreneur will follow through.”

Research shows that business plans are all about walking the walk. People who write business plans also do more stuff. And doing more stuff, such as researching markets and preparing projections, increases the chances an entrepreneur will follow through.

William Bygrave, a professor emeritus at Babson College, reached a similar conclusion despite having previously shown “that entrepreneurs who began with formal plans had no greater success than those who started without them.” Bygrave does admit, however, that “40% of Babson students who have taken the college’s business plan writing course go on to start businesses after graduation, twice the rate of those who didn’t study plan writing.”

Business Planning Improves Corporate Executive Satisfaction

Another important way in which business plans can provide tangible help is by aligning everyone in an organization with the vision and strategy going forward. And this, in turn, has important ramifications on corporate executive satisfaction. A study by McKinsey & Company which surveyed nearly 800 corporate executives across a range of industries confirms this conclusion. In it, McKinsey found that “formal strategic-planning processes play an important role in improving overall satisfaction with strategy development. That role can be seen in the responses of the 79 percent of managers who claimed that the formal planning process played a significant role in developing strategies and were satisfied with the approach of their companies, compared with only 21 percent of the respondents who felt that the process did not play a significant role. Looked at another way, 51% of the respondents whose companies had no formal process were dissatisfied with their approach to the development of strategy, against only 20% of those at companies with a formal process.”

A chart of what role the formal planning process plays in a company next to a chart showing the percentage of respondents who are dissatisfied with their company's approach to the development of strategy

Of course, not all planning is equal. Planning just for the sake of planning doesn’t have the desired effects. As McKinsey itself noted in their study, “Just 45% of the respondents said they were satisfied with the strategic planning process. Moreover, only 23% indicated that major strategic decisions were made within its confines. Given these results, managers might well be tempted to jettison the planning process altogether.” As such, entrepreneurs and business managers should take the time and effort required to put together a well-written and well-researched business plan. Later in the article, I outline some of the elements of a well-written plan.

Business Plans and Their Financial Models Are Valuable to Angels and Venture Capitalists

Many entrepreneurs will eventually need to raise outside capital to grow and develop their businesses. In my experience, a business plan is a crucial tool in maximizing the chances of raising money from external investors. A well-written plan not only helps investors understand your business and your vision, but also shows them that you’ve taken the time to carefully assess and think through the issues your business will face, as well as the more detailed questions surrounding the economics and fundamentals of your business model.

Nathan Beckford, CFA, is the CEO of FounderSuite, the funding stack used by startups in Y Combinator, TechStars, 500s, and more to raise over $750 million. Nathan illustrates the above point nicely in an email he wrote to me recently: “Prior to starting, I ran a startup consulting business called For the first few years, our primary business was cranking out bold, bullish, beautifully-written business plans for startups to present to investors. Around the mid-2000s, business plans started to go out of favor as the ‘Lean Startup’ methodology became popular. Instead of a written plan, we saw a huge uptick in demand for detailed financial models. Bottom line, I still see value in taking time to be contemplative and strategic before launching a startup. Does that need to be in the form of a 40-page written document? No. But if that’s the format that best works for you, and it can help you model scenarios and ‘see around the corner’ then that’s valuable.”

Nathan and I have frequently interacted, as I maintain a subscription to FounderSuite, software I use when running capital campaigns for early-stage companies on whose boards I sit, or when raising capital for my own firm’s investment projects. Nathan’s feedback is helpful, as he frequently interacts with thousands of entrepreneurs simultaneously running capital campaigns, providing him with a great perspective on which approaches work and which don’t. Clearly, he sees that financial models and business plans in some form help entrepreneurs raise capital.

Companies Who Complete Business Plans Are 2.5x as Likely to Get Funded

Following the section above, naturally, if business plans are useful to outside investors, these are therefore likely to also increase one’s chances of successfully raising capital. A study by Palo Alto Software confirms this hypothesis. The study showed that although 65% of entrepreneurs had NOT completed business plans, the ones who had were twice as likely to have secured funding for their businesses.

A chart comparing elements of companies with business plans to companies with no business plan

This study surveyed 2,877 entrepreneurs. Of those, 995 had completed business plans, with 297 of them (30%) having secured loans, 280 of them (28%) having secured investment capital, and 499 of them (50%) having grown their businesses. Contrast these percentages with the results for the 1,882 entrepreneurs who had not completed business plans, where just 222 of them (12%) had secured loans, 219 of them (12%) had secured investment capital, and 501 of them (27%) had grown their businesses. (Note that the percentages among the business plan population sum to over 100% because of some overlap between each of the sub-categories.) These results led the study authors to conclude that “Except in a small number of cases, business planning appeared to be positively correlated with business success as measured by our variables. While our analysis cannot say that completing a business plan will lead to success, it does indicate that the type of entrepreneur who completes a business plan is also more likely to run a successful business.”

Calculating the Return on Investment for Business Planning

The data and studies outlined above all serve to prove something that I have come to understand very clearly throughout my career. Nevertheless, I still often find that startups struggle with the idea of having to put together a business plan, and in particular with the option of hiring an outside professional to help them do that. As such, I quantified the ROI of such an activity, using data and numbers based on my many years of business consulting. The results of the exercise are summarized in the table at the end of the section, but there are two overarching conclusions:

  • Even a small-scale early-stage company can “afford” to pay a finance expert $191 per hour both to create a business plan and to guide the capital raising process, at worst “breaking even” on the investment.
  • Larger early-stage companies can expect significant returns on investments in business planning, perhaps as much as 6,700% (67x the amount of money invested).

Diving into the analysis, my inputs included:

  • My professional experience with writing business plans. I have spent 25 - 200 hours apiece creating business plans I feel comfortable sharing with founders, advisors, and investors.
  • Data from the Palo Alto study discussed earlier in this article. This study showed that 30% of early-stage ventures with business plans had secured funding, 2.5x as great as the 12% of early-stage ventures without business plans who managed to secure funding despite the absence of such plans.
  • The hourly rate for a finance expert x (150 to 200 hours) for one round of financing, OR
  • 10% of the amount of capital targeted

My analysis illustrates the following:

  • Early-stage companies should expect to spend $4,000 - $40,000 on business planning, including the financial modeling associated with it.
  • Early-stage companies should expect to spend $30,000 - $200,000 for an initial round of financing between $250,000 and $2 million in size, resulting in net financing of $200,000 - $1.8 million.
  • Even if a small-scale early-stage venture seeking just $250,000 in capital spent almost $40,000 on business planning and another almost $40,000 on capital raising, it should still expect to “break even” on a probability-weighted basis. In other words, because the odds of success with a professional business plan are 2.5x greater than without one, small-scale early-stage ventures can justify such a significant investment. This also assumes NO additional odds for success from engaging a professional to coordinate the fundraising effort. I suspect that doing so may push the odds of success from 12% without a business plan and 30% with a business plan to above 50%. It is also likely that a smaller-scale venture may require significantly fewer hours for business planning and capital raising that what is outlined in the “worst case” below.
  • Larger early-stage ventures enjoy extraordinary probability-weighted returns on investment from business planning. Because the target net capital so greatly exceeds the money spent on business planning, the prospective ROI is huge, and this analysis just assumes ONE round of equity financing. Most successful startups will experience several rounds of financing.

A table showing calculations on return of investment in business planning

Thoughts on Writing an Excellent Business Plan

An extensive overview of how to write an excellent business plan is beyond the scope of this article. However, here are two key thoughts that have emerged from my years of experience with startups.

First, there are four common elements to an excellent business plan. In Alan Hall’s Forbes article, “ How to Build a Billion Dollar Business Plan: 10 Top Points ,” he interviews Thomas Harrison, Chairman of Diversified Agency Services, an Omnicom division that has purchased “a vast number of firms,” to share his views on the key elements of a great business plan. Although each of these ten elements is essential, I reorganized the list into four broad categories:

1. Company Overview

  • An explanation of why your company is relevant and the need are you addressing
  • A description of corporate priorities and the processes to achieve them.
  • An overview of the various resources, including the people that will be needed, to deliver what’s expected by the customer.

2. Market Overview

  • A description of the state of your market and its important trends.
  • A detailed description of your customers.
  • A description of your current competitors and their advantages. Which ones will you displace?

3. Product/Service Overview

  • A description of your products, how they compete with other brands, and why they are needed.
  • An explanation of why customers will pay a fair economic value for your product or service. This element is conspicuously absent from some of today’s most expensive unicorns. Companies such as Uber and Tesla are losing massive amounts of money on rapidly growing sales because these companies may not be selling their services/products for fair economic value. Of course, sales grow rapidly when customers can buy your services/products for far less than their fair economic values!

4. Financial Projections

  • Conservative
  • Each scenario should have realistic and achievable sales, margins, expenses, and profits on monthly, quarterly, and annual bases. Again, these elements appear to be conspicuously absent from some of today’s most expensive unicorns.

A diagram showing four key elements to an excellent business plan

Second, written business plans are superior to those just “outlined.” As an adjunct professor of finance for Villanova University, I require my students to write research reports prior to developing slide decks to present their findings from a full semester of industry research. The process of writing forces the authors to ask themselves how they reached their conclusions and each of the sub-conclusions along the way because they must explain their logic to cynical readers. The written authors need to support their conclusions with facts and logic to prove that they are not “making it up” or relying upon popular “myths.” Outlined reports and outlined business plans are not generally subject to the same level of reader scrutiny. Therefore, written business plans are superior to those just “outlined.” Outlined plans are often kept on 10-12 slide decks, and the slide deck is an important tool in the capital raising process, but the written business plan that stands behind it will differentiate an entrepreneur from their seemingly infinite competition.

Parting Thoughts

Some argue that many public multi-billion-dollar companies such as Apple or Google never had formal business plans before they started, but this argument is flawed because most of these companies likely developed business plans either during the solicitation of venture capital or during the process of going public. Apple and Google were both funded with venture capital, and soliciting venture capital involves business planning. The founders of Apple and Google likely created financial projections and outlined strategic paths.

Moreover, Apple and Google are both public companies, and going public involves business planning. Underwriters employ research analysts creating financial forecasts based on business plans projected by management at the companies going public. Buy-side firms purchasing and holding shares in newly public companies create forecasts based upon the business plans projected by public company management teams.

Admittedly, you don’t need a written business plan to have a successful company. You may not even need a business plan at all to have a successful company. However, the probability of success without a business plan is much lower. Angels and venture capitalists like to know about your business plan, and public companies need to project business plans to persuade underwriters and investors to purchase their securities.

Further Reading on the Toptal Blog:

  • Creating a Narrative from Numbers
  • Business Plan Consultants: Who They Are And How they Create Value
  • Building the Next Big Thing: A Guide to Business Idea Development
  • Mission Statements: How Effectively Used Intangible Assets Create Corporate Value
  • Building a Business Continuity Plan

Understanding the basics

Why it is important to have a business plan.

Expert opinions and numerous studies show that business plans improve corporate satisfaction, are useful for angel investors and venture capitalists, and increase a company’s chances of raising capital by 2.5x.

What are the benefits of a business plan?

Individuals who write business plans are 2.5x as likely to start businesses. Moreover, business planning improves corporate executive satisfaction with corporate strategy development. Finally, investors value business plans, making the chances of raising capital 2.5x greater.

What does an investor look for in a business plan?

The four key sections of a business plan are: the company overview, a market overview, your product/service overview, and the financial projections.

  • BusinessPlan

Sean Heberling's profile image

Located in Bryn Mawr, PA, United States

Member since October 18, 2017

About the author

How to build your startup’s financial model to grab investor interest.

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  1. Business plan first then Funds

  2. What Do Investors NEED To See?

  3. Business as an Investment

  4. Start your own low investment business #business #bussinessideas #shortsfeed #shorts

  5. Writing a Business Plan (Lesson 26): Engaging Investors and Stakeholders

  6. Low Investment High Profit Business Idea #smallbusinessideas #youtubeshorts #businessshorts


  1. The Importance of a Solid Business Plan in Attracting Investors

    When it comes to starting or expanding a business, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is securing the necessary funding. A well-crafted business plan serves as your roadmap for success.

  2. Writing a Business Plan

    While it may be tempting to put off, creating a business plan is an essential part of starting your own business. Plans and proposals should be put in a clear format making it easy for potential investors to understand.

  3. Your Guide to Writing a Business Plan

    If you’re starting a new business, then you need an effective plan. Not only does this enable you to plan your company, but it also gives potential clients an insight into how your business works. A business plan is also vital if you want t...

  4. How to Write a Winning Business Plan

    The business plan admits the entrepreneur to the investment process. Without a plan furnished in advance, many investor groups won't even grant an interview

  5. How to Write a Convincing Business Plan for Investors

    What to include in your investor business plan · Executive Summary · Opportunity · Market Analysis · Marketing & Sales Plan · Milestones / Roadmap · Company &

  6. How to Write a Business Plan For Investors (That They Will Love)

    1. Executive Summary · 2. Investment Opportunity · 3. Team Overview · 4. Market Opportunity · 5. Company Synopsis · 6. Revenue Model · 7. Traction/Company Milestones.

  7. How investors analyse business plans

    Equity investors specificities when looking at a business plan. Because of their position in the capital structure equity investors need the company to perform

  8. Investment Company Business Plan Template

    Investors, grants, personal investments, and bank loans are the most common funding paths for investment companies. If you'd like to quickly and easily complete

  9. What is Business Plan for Investors? Definition and meaning

    Business plan for investors. It is a document which entrepreneurs who set up new companies and start-ups present potential investors in order to raise financing

  10. 7 Things Investors Are Looking for in a Business Plan

    7 Things Investors Are Looking for in a Business Plan · Strong Executive Summary · Complete Financial Forecast · Customer Acquisition Costs · Strong

  11. How to Write a Business Plan in 9 Steps (2023)

    ... business. Start free trial. Often, financial institutions and investors will need to see a business plan before funding any project. But even

  12. 7 steps to create a business plan that will wow investors

    7 steps to create a business plan that will wow investors · Step 1: Description of the business and its objectives · Step 2: Products and pricing.

  13. How to Write a Business Plan That Attracts Investors

    When companies seek investment or financing through traditional methods, making a business plan traditionally goes a long way. It requires much

  14. The Undeniable Importance of a Business Plan

    Larger early-stage ventures enjoy extraordinary probability-weighted returns on investment from business planning. Because the target net capital so greatly