Investment Grade Plans

Winning requires the right vehicle. Plans that exaggerate markets, over-sell their business ideas 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. The plan must identify a management team with the required core competencies (including as yet unfilled positions).

Plans must engender confidence that management recognizes the predictable challenges and is capable of handling unforeseen contingencies. The marketing section must address thoroughly the target market, analyze relevant trends, set out marketing, advertising and sales strategies based on realistic goals and anticipate authoritatively the cost of customer acquisition. The plan must realistically evaluate the competition (including even quite disimilar rivals for the target markets budget line item).

A plan must state clearly how it intends to establish and maintain advantageous market differentiation. Indeed, a plan must illustrate that the entrepreneur has anticipated the competitive dynamics spawned by its own market entry and developed an integrated strategy 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.