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How to create a business plan that wows investors

By Richard Myers, Commercial Director at Transmit Startups

Need to raise money to fund your company? Then you need a business plan that grabs attention and wins over investors. 

Whether you’re approaching a bank, applying for funding through the likes of a Government Start Up Loan or trying to attract an investor, your business plan is the tool you’ll use to secure the money. 

As an entrepreneur of nearly 30 years and a director of a finance business, I’ve been on both sides of the investment proposal. Here I’ve distilled my top tips on how to convince other people that investing in your start-up is worth their while.

Don’t over-complicate things 

Creating a business plan should be a rewarding experience, not a daunting one. You’re not trying to write a bestselling novel! What you are doing is clarifying your business offering, demonstrating that you have considered what your business is, what it will achieve and, crucially, how it will get there.

You know how you’re told to tailor your CV to a prospective employer when applying for a job? The same applies to business plans. Sharing with a potential lender or investor? Make sure you know what they’re looking for, and that your plan focuses enough on those areas.

For example, if you’re approaching an investor who is particularly tech-savvy, then make sure you’ve included all the systems detail they’ll expect, whereas for a bank you’d want something more focused on pure numbers and managing risk.

There are lots of guides and templates out there on what to include in your plan. Guides like ours here that walk you through exactly how to structure your document.

Get your executive summary spot-on

Because bankers and investors receive so many business plans, they frequently rely on the executive summary to get a flavour of your plan. It’s your first impression, so don’t waste it.

Use this section to seize their interest and convince them this is an opportunity they can’t afford to miss. 

But avoid grandiose claims you can’t back up. Your plan should be anchored in fact and evidence. Yes, investors admire ambition but you’ll lose credibility if you can’t back up your claims. You’re the best candy-floss maker in Britain, so your candy-floss café is a guaranteed hit? Prove it. 

We’ve all seen entrepreneurs come unstuck on Dragons’ Den when they’ve been challenged to prove unrealistic claims. Investors need to see evidence if your claims are to be meaningful. They need to see you understand what is real and what is achievable because they’re investing in you as a person, as well as your business, so you need to earn their trust.

Don’t be afraid to have some fun 

There’s no reason why your brand’s personality shouldn’t jump right off the page, like it should in any other piece of communication. 

It should be easy to read and engaging so focus on presentation as well as facts. Aim to have plenty of white space rather than endless dense text, and use tables, graphs and pictures of products. A good plan can be skim-read in about 15 minutes – use bullet points and clear headings to make sure this is possible.

Take something from it

Investors are shrewd, so expect to answer questions you might not have covered in your plan. That doesn’t mean you did it ‘wrong’, though!

These questions are incredibly valuable, because they come from the investor’s experiences in business – they’re essentially free advice, and they’re the reason that you’ll definitely succeed next time, even if you don’t this time.