Business Plan Development

The goal for most of you is to get investor funding for a great business idea. Writing a great business plan is a requirement for getting venture funding. It is not difficult to write a business plan or executive summary that looks good enough to get an initial investor meeting, but most business plans do not have the depth and rigor of real business planning and do not get funded.

Business planning is the process of planning ahead for success and then executing on that plan. This site goes through the elements of both business planning and the business planning documents you need to prepare in order to have a great chance of being funded.

The situation:

  • You are going full speed starting up/running your company…
  • You have an Executive Summary outlining your business idea…
  • Investors are interested, but you haven’t seen any money…
  • You know you need a real business plan so more people can understand and fund your concept, but…

…business planning is hard

A great business plan requires…

  • significant research and strategic thinking about the direction of the business 
  • the entrepreneur to challenge deeply-held beliefs about the product/opportunity/market
  • time commitment away from running the business
  • a level of detail and process that are painful for the typical entrepreneur
  • Strategy is all about making choices…generally tough ones. 
  • The best strategies emerge from making the best choices
  • Exposes your idea/thinking to critique


Business Planning Document Templates 

Click to Get Document Template

The complete set of business planning templates

Executive Summary Text

Business Plan Text

Business Plan Presentation

Financial Forecast Model - 1

Financial Forecast Model -2


Still can't start? Use these business planning workbooks.

Development Presentation
Workbook - 1 Workbook - 1
Workbook - 2 Workbook - 2


Your business plan is more than a hot product or hot market: 

Most entrepreneurs focus on either the market or the product – focus needs to expand beyond typical starting points

  • Investors look for integrated thinking.  
  • They look at the
    • a)       competitive landscape and how it impacts the go-to-market strategy and pricing
    • b)       which impacts the sales and distribution tactics and financial performance           
  • You don’t have to have every detail worked out, but your business plan must present an action plan to get there for every element in order to get past the angel or seed round of financing


Business planning is an iterative process of fact gathering, strategic planning, tactical planning, and review.  The business plan is a document you write at the end of the process, and serves as the roadmap for your business for the next 12 to 18 months.


business plan, business plan template, sample business plan


Sharpening Your Story – Outside Review:  

  • An outside perspective and constant testing revision during the business planning process is critical to sharpening your story it easy be in love with our own idea.
  • Get at least 3-5 outside reviews (not including your mom)
  • Use friends, business leaders, Board members, consultants – anyone who has industry experience
  • Keep confidentiality in front of mind – keep tabs on confidential documents; get non-disclosure agreements signed if possible – though this is tough
  • The outside review process ought to hurt and challenge your thinking or you are not getting the preparation you need for the funding process

    Order of Outside Review: 

    • Test with “friendly” reviewers first – trusted friends with business expertise – those who know you are early in the planning process – but don’t waste your time on those who won’t give hard, frank feedback;
    • Test with friends of friends with relevant business expertise next as “practice” for the investment community
    • Finally take your story to the Investors


    Solid planning produces several documents that describe the business venture and each document serves a different purpose in the funding process.

    Document Type Description Audience Primary Use
    Executive Summary 2-3 page document giving the highlights of your business opportunity and expected results - Investors
    - Management candidates
    - Partner candidates
    - Overview of business concept; designed to get the first meeting
    Investor Presentation 10-15 page PowerPoint overview of business and business strategy - Investors - Overview of business concept, markets, and operational strategy; designed to get to the 2nd meeting
    Business Plan Presentation 30-50 page PowerPoint document describing all elements of the business and business strategy. More user friendly than written business plan. - Company management and employees
    - Investors AFTER first set of meetings
    - Detailed description of idea/product, markets, business and operations strategy, and expected financial results
    Written Business Plan/Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) 40-60 page document describing all elements of the business and business strategy; PPM additionally includes legal/financial introduction and risk factors - Written Plan: Company management and employees
    - PPM: Investors
    - Written plan: Detailed description of idea/product, markets, business and operations strategy, and expected financial results
    - PPM: Fundraising Document - business plan PLUS risk factors


    PLUS, all of the documents above must be backed up by a rigorous financial planning and forecasting model.


    Once you’re done with your plan documents you are ready for the fundraising process:

    • Start making contacts in the investment community before your plan is done
    • Prepare for in-person meetings.  The depth of your planning and knowledge of what is off the page of the summary Investor Presentation slides will make the difference – this is why planning is often more important than the written pitch!
    • Debrief after every investor meeting – think about the questions you were asked and how you can better prepare for the next meeting – don’t schedule your most important meeting first.
    • Once you are on the Investor radar screen, you will likely deliver documents about your opportunity in the following order:
    1. Executive Summary - Sent to VC, preferably not “cold” but with reference from mutual contact
    2. Investor Presentation - 1st in-person meeting material
    3. Business Plan/PPM - Deliver this once VC is interested in more detail
    4. Due Diligence Binder - Research reports, actual financial results, operating details, etc


    Crafting a Business Plan Presentation:

    The following slides present the components of a good business plan (whether written or in slide format)

    • 0-50 slides describing major elements: concept, business strategy, operating plans, and expected financial results. 10-15 page subset can be used as leave-behind investor pitch
    • Graphical in nature to powerfully and simply convey complex ideas; tells the whole story
    • Complete and simple enough to be used by anyone in the startup firm to explain and sell venture opportunity and enough depth that investor can use to sell colleagues


    Templates and Tools Navigation

    Develop Winning Business Plans & Investor Presentations

    Develop Insightful Marketing Plans & Competitive Analyses

    Develop Creative Sales and New Product Launch Plans

    Build Breakout & Game Changing Strategic Plans

    Execute Productive Joint Ventures & Strategic Alliances

    Create Winning Business Asset and Stock Purchase and Joint Venture Agreements

    Build Creative Change Management Plans

    Plan, Manage & Execute Successful Trade Shows

    Investigate Business Funding Sources

    Use Comprehensive Business Valuation Models

    Execute Solid Mergers, Acquisitions, & Divestitures

    Develop Great Term Sheets, MOUs, & Letters of Interest

    Conduct Effective Due Diligence

    Build Effective Results Driven Post Merger Integration Plans

    Develop Creative Budget & Financial Statement Forecasts

    Tackle Complex Project Management Issues

    Use Creative Thinking Guidelines & Models

    Set up Effective Alternate Distribution Channels

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