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A business plan that is clearly made from a template won’t get you any money.

The only way to get banks or investors to give you money is to prove that you don’t need theirs.

When I consider investing in a startup business and I see a plan that will make money, I do everything I can to get more money for that startup.  I’m not worried about them losing money, I become worried about missing the opportunity for them to make me money.

If you use a business plan template just for outline purposes and develop the strategy well, then you will turn some heads with your business plan and attract money when you get in front of loan officers or investors.  (Really, loan officers are investors; they just have lower risk tolerances.)

What factors make a great business plan?

Once you get past the basics, you need a marketing plan that shows your sales pipeline from first contact to customer retention.  You need to know what your ideal customers look like, where you can find them, and how much it should cost to reach them.  You need to know the potential size of your market and what your direct competition and substitutes look like.  You need to know what products and services you compliment so you can market to active customers.

Your marketing plan can then feed your financial plan.

Financial plans need high, low, and most likely revenue estimates. This will include broad market trends that are likely to cause high or low revenues.  When an investor sees that you have considered what to do outside of best-case scenario, it will give them confidence in your abilities.

An important aspect of financial management is cash flow management.  There are companies all over the country who technically run a profit, but go out of business because they run out of cash.  One of the biggest problems is that they are too slow to collect on accounts receivables.

A break-even analysis can tell you how many sales it will take to pay your fixed costs month by month.

Even if you run a one man shop, you need an organizational structure to show how you will accommodate growth.  This needs to show at what revenue points you are ready to hire people and what will happen if you hire someone and the growth doesn’t come.

Hiring plans show that you have considered how to find the right talent to build the culture your business needs.  As Jim Collins says in Good To Great, you need to know how to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats.

Presentation matters, so make sure you have quality printing for handouts and brochures.  (You can get discounts for those things on the link to the right for OvernightPrints.)  You know you need to put your best food forward for customers – it’s even more important for investors you ask for money.

Results will open more doors to money from investors or lenders than any other key.

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3 Responses to Templates Won’t Attract Money

  1. Steve on April 7, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Nice article! I agree with your thoughts about this. Our company found the local SBA office extremely helpful when creating a business plan. There are a lot of very credible resources available to people willing to take the time to look for them.

  2. kyle on April 7, 2010 at 1:35 am

    Tony,

    Great website. I have actually gone and read nearly all your posts and find the information very accurate. In fact, I wish I had been able to read this before I started my own business 5 years ago.

    In this most recent post when referring to borrowing/lending money you said, “I’m not worried about them losing money, I become worried about missing the opportunity for them to make me money.” I have found that to be the case. It didn’t seem that anyone was interested in loaning me money when I was trying to raise capital, but now that we are somewhat successful people come out of the woodwork to be involved in what we are doing.

    Great insight and entrepreneurship advice.

  3. Tony on April 7, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Steve, the SBA is a great resource, but sometimes new entrepreneurs need more help than just being pointed in the right direction. That’s where one-on-one consulting can make a difference. As I have helped business owners take their business plan from a template to a actionable plan, they gain new confidence in where they are headed and in the success they will have.

    Kyle, thanks for the endorsement. Hopefully this isn’t just good info that would have helped a few years ago, but actually makes a difference in your business today as you continue to work on your business plan.

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