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Chapter 8

Business Plan

Why Do a Business Plan?
• To embark on a perilous start-up
journey without some serious
planning defies good sense.
Creating a business plan is a
great way for you and your
current and/or prospective
partners to learn about the
business and to gain critical
insights into each other’s style,
strengths and weaknesses, and
A plan does the following:
• It will document the “five anchors” noted
earlier, including key issues such as the
opportunity, the buyer and user, the market
and competition, the economics and
financial characteristics of the business, and
the likely entry strategy.
• It communicates to and helps persuade
stakeholders, financial backers, team
members, key new hires, directors, brain
trust prospects, and strategic partners.
• It will provide a roadmap for accountability
around company performance.
Developing the Business Plan
The business plan itself is the culmination of a usually lengthy, arduous,
creative, and iterative process we explored in Chapters 5 and 6. The plan
will carefully articulate the merits, requirements, risks, and potential
rewards of the opportunity and how it will be seized. The business plan
for a high-potential venture reveals the business’s ability to:

• Create or add significant • Fit well with the

value to a customer or end founder(s) and
management team at
• Solve a significant
the time, in the
problem, or meet a
significant want or need marketplace, and with
for which someone will the risk–reward
pay a premium. balance.
• Have robust market, • Scale with an eye
margin, and moneymaking toward sustainability.
The Plan Is Obsolete at the Printer
• The authors have argued for three
decades that the plan is obsolete the
instant it emerges from the printer. In
today’s fast-paced climate, it is obsolete
before it goes into the printer! The pace
of technological and information-age
change, and the dynamism of the global
marketplace, shorten the already brief
life expectancy of any business plan.
The Plan Is Not the Business
• Developing the business plan is one of the
best ways to define the blueprint, strategy,
and needed resources for a new venture.
This document focuses and communicates
the founder’s vision. The vast majority of
INC. ’s 500 fastest-growing companies had
business plans at the outset. Without a
business plan, it is exceedingly difficult to
raise capital from informal or formal
investors. Too often first-time entrepreneurs
jump to a simplistic conclusion: All that is
needed is a fat, polished, and enticing
business plan and the business will
Some Tips from the Trenches
• The most valuable lessons in
preparing a business plan and
raising venture capital come
from entrepreneurs who have
already succeeded in their own
RE: Venture Capitalists
• There are a lot of • Be vague when
venture capitalists. describing other
Once you meet one you potential venture
could end up meeting capitalists.
all 700-plus of them. • Don’t ever meet with
• Getting a no from an associate or junior
venture capitalists is member twice without
as hard as getting a also meeting with a
yes; qualify your partner in that venture
targets and force capital firm.
others to say no.
Do’s and Don’ts for Preparing a
Business Plan
RE: The Plan
• Stress your business • Prepare very detailed
concept in the executive résumés and reference
summary. lists of key players in the
• The numbers don’t venture.
matter; but the • If you can’t do the
economics of the details, make sure you
business do. hire someone who can.
• Prepare several copies of
published articles,
contracts, market
studies, purchase orders,
and the like.
RE: The Deal
• Make sure your current investors are as desperate
as you are.
• Create a market for your venture.
• Never say no to an offer price.
• Use a lawyer who is experienced at closing venture
• Don’t stop selling until the money is in the bank.
• Make it a challenge.
• Be honest.
RE: The Fund-Raising Process
• It is more difficult than you expect.
• Anticipate the worst and be persistent
through the process despite setbacks.

This is particularly valuable advice for any

entrepreneur seeking outside capital and
planning to deal with investors
How to Determine If Investors Can Add Value

• The right investors add a great deal

of value to the venture through
experience, wisdom, and networks,
and entrepreneurs can use the fund
raising process to both learn about
the kind of value each investor can
add and to make their plan more
attractive to investors.
The Dehydrated Business Plan
• A dehydrated business plan usually runs
from 4 to 10 pages. It covers key points,
such as those suggested for the executive
summary in the business planning guide
that follows. Essentially, such a plan
documents the analysis of and information
about the heart of the business opportunity,
competitive advantages the company will
enjoy, and creative insights that an
entrepreneur often has.
Who Develops the Business Plan?
• Consideration often is given to hiring an outside
professional to prepare the business plan so the
management team can use its time to obtain financing
and start the business. There are two reasons it is not a
good idea to hire outside professionals. First, writing the
business plan allows the founders to understand and
consider their venture on a more intimate and concise
level, while providing opportunities to pinpoint and
consider what they are truly trying to do, and for whom.
Second, by planning and writing out a list of required
resources, both financial and involved parties, the
founders can get a realistic sense of how the venture is
proposed to work and can better anticipate where
problems may occur.
Segmenting and Integrating
• An effective way to organize information is to
segment what you know into sections, such as the
target market, the industry, the competition, the
financial plan, and so on, and then integrate the
information into a business plan. This process
works best if sections are discrete and the
information within them digestible. The order in
which sections are developed can vary, and
different sections can be developed simultaneously.
For example, because the heart and soul of a plan
lie in the analysis of the market opportunity,
competition, and resultant competitive strategy, it
is a good idea to start with these sections and
integrate information along the way.
Establishing Action Steps
• Segmenting information. An • Creating an action calendar.
Tasks on the do list then need
overall plan for the project to be placed on a calendar and
needs to be devised to reevaluated to be sure the
include who is responsible overall schedule works, and
everyone understands due
for each section as well as dates.
important draft deadlines. • Doing the work and writing
the plan. The necessary work
• Creating an overall schedule. needs to be done and the plan
Create a more specific list of written. The plan needs to be
tasks; identify priorities and reviewed by an objective
outsider, such as an
who is responsible for them. entrepreneurially minded
Determine when they will be executive who has significant
started and completed. profit andloss responsibility
or a venture capitalist who
would not be a potential
Preparing a Business Plan
• A Complete Business Plan
It may seem to an entrepreneur who
has completed the exercises in Chapter 6,
and who has spent hours informally
thinking and planning, that jotting down
a few things is all that needs to be done.
However, there s a great difference
between screening an opportunity and
developing a business plan.