Most venture capitalists say that plans over 50 pages tend to end up in the round file, but remember it is the introduction to the VC that counts and if you have their attention before you present your plan, then if you need 100 pages to convey the "Big Picture" it won’t be the kiss of death. It will depend on the nature of your business. If you have a simple concept, you may be able to express it in very few words. if you’re proposing a new kind of business or even a new industry, it may require quite a few more pages.
What type of plan should you use?
The reason that plan selection is so important is that it has a powerful effect on the overall impact of your plan. You want your plan to present you and your business in the best, most accurate light. That’s true no matter what you intend to use your plan for, whether it’s destined for presentation at a venture capital conference, or will never leave your own office or be seen outside internal strategy sessions.
When you select clothing for an important occasion, odds are you try to pick items that will play up your best features. Think about your plan the same way. You want to reveal any positives that your business may have and make sure they receive due consideration.
So viewing your plan as a fund-raising tool is just the beginning of the story. You’ll use the plan for so much more for managing yourself, for operating the business and for recruiting. Before deciding to skip your planning phase, consider all the implications and what they mean for your future success. If you skip the plan you have no hope of obtaining venture capital – period. Clear enough?
Presenting persuasive pro-forma financials
Your pro forma is what gets investors interested. Make sure you do it right.
Investors will be persuaded by the actual numbers (a $100,000-a-year business is a very different investment than a $55 million business), but most sophisticated investors will be even more concerned with the thinking behind the projections.
Your revenue projection should reflect your business assumptions and dynamics. That way, you can play with your assumptions-which correspond to your actual business structure-and see how they impact your revenue.
I highly recommend not inflating your numbers to meet your investors’ needs. Only ask for an investor’s money if you truly believe you can give them a good return. Otherwise, you’ll end up beholden to a group of people you’ve disappointed.
To clearly develop your business plan before you attempt to present to potential investors get my book "How To Prepare and Present A Successful Business Funding Request" at BusinessFinance.com.
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