Winning requires the right vehicle. Plans that exaggerate markets overstate sales forecasts, over-hype the business idea or underestimate the competition will not cross the finish line. Investors expect an honest, evenhanded assessment of the opportunity and the risks. Hyperbole will not sell them on you or your business. In fact, it may turn them off entirely. Everyone that you might want to “sell” on your idea, including investors, strategic partners, prospective employees, advisors and board members wants to evaluate your plan on the strength of facts, frank assessments and honest analysis. That is not to say that you should not convey enthusiasm, just don’t overdo it.
An investment grade plan must identify a management team with required core competencies (including as yet unfilled positions). It must engender confidence that management recognizes the predictable business challenges and that it is capable of handling unforeseen contingencies. The marketing section must address thoroughly the target market, analyze relevant trends, set out strategies based on realistic goals for its marketing, advertising and sales and estimate reasonably the cost of customer acquisition. The plan must realistically evaluate the competition (including even quite dissimilar rivals for the target market’s budget line item). It must state clearly how it intends to establish and maintain advantageous market differentiation. A plan must illustrate that the entrepreneur has anticipated competitive reactions that result from own market entry. It must show that management has developed integrated strategies and a comprehensive tactics for staying a step ahead. Management must also show that it can muster all the necessary human and other resources to execute. To pitch professional investors with confidence, plans must include appropriate levels of analysis and detail in a readable, well-organized plan supported by credible financials. If you leave out important parts, your plan will go off the road. If you exaggerate people won’t take you or your plan seriously.
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