The following post is a guest contribution by Nina Sharpe. The author’s views may not be the same as our own.
A poorly constructed business plan can result in even the best ideas falling flat. If you haven’t documented your idea properly and backed it up with facts, stats, and a clear roadmap, you’re not ready. And investors will see that.
The key to a successful business plan presentation is to be prepared, but that means a lot of ground needs to be covered.
To give you the best chance of a successful pitch, we’ve pointed out the biggest errors entrepreneurs make. Let’s dive in.
1. Displaying Poor Time Management Skills
You’re asking people to give up a part of their day to listen to your proposal, so use their time wisely. You need to condense your presentation to fit within whatever timeframe has been allocated – with a few minutes to spare.
Nobody wants to be kept longer than anticipated, and not being able to stick to a timeline creates a poor first impression. If you want to keep your audience happy – and interested in your business – keep your presentation short, sweet, and engaging.
Remain mindful of the time throughout, and if you see yourself running over, find a way to remove unnecessary information to stay on track.
2. Providing Excessive Information
The need to provide accurate information plays an important part in any business plan – but within reason. While adding information and attaching annexures may seem like a good idea, it can do more harm than good.
Think of your plan as an elevator pitch; keep only the relevant information and get rid of anything that doesn’t immediately relate to your business.
If you feel that investors may want you to elaborate on certain sections, create a second document that you can distribute, but only if you’re asked for it.
3. Supplying Inaccurate Financials
When it comes to sharing your financials, there’s a lot of information and documents that may seem relevant to setting up and running your business. While financial data is important, supplying the full rundown during a presentation can be time-consuming.
Wherever possible, outline this information in a summarized format, but ensure that you include a synopsis of sales forecasts, profit and loss estimates, a cash flow statement, and a balance sheet.
The financials you’ve listed need to be accurate – from the funding required to get you off the ground to the expected returns. While we would all love to see a significant return in the first year, we need to be realistic with our expectations.
If you tell your potential investors that they can expect a certain return, that’s what they’ll buy into. Rather underestimate ROI than overestimate it.
4. Having an Unclear Objective
Why did you decide to establish your business? Is it something that you recognized will fill a gap in the market or was it just a flash in the pan idea with no real basis?
Businesses built to serve a purpose and solve a problem are more appealing to interested parties than an idea randomly conceived.
If your objective isn’t clear, then you won’t be an attractive investment option. Do your research and ensure your product or service will fulfill a need for a real, proven demand.
5. Focusing On Too Many Ideas
While you may have multiple business ideas, keep your presentation focused on one at a time. Numerous ideas will confuse your audience and appear unprofessional. Pitching too many concepts at once may also dilute the potential of a really good idea, and it may be ignored or overlooked.
Keep your other ideas aside for future endeavors or separate pitches entirely.
6. Not Doing Market Research
Your business needs to be relevant and compete with organizations that are more established in the marketplace. You need a competitive edge to try and secure a customer base. This can only be done by completing an extensive market analysis and product research.
Investors will want to know how you chose your product and how you’ll stay ahead of the competition. If you haven’t done proper market research, this will be evident as your plan won’t cover the relevant information.
7. Losing Your Level Headed Focus
A pitch is very much a formal meeting. You need to conduct yourself professionally and contain your excitement. While being enthusiastic about your prospective business is a positive attribute, being too excited can be off-putting.
Stay focused and calm, and be well-versed enough in your idea to provide accurate, on-point answers at all times. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will benefit you when pitching, but it does take time and practice.
8. Supplying Fictional Information
You need to have factual information available to substantiate your ideas. If you cannot find the relevant information, leave it out. Don’t fabricate data to seem more impressive. All you need is for one person to question your submission, and you’ll be exposed as a fraud – even if you had good intentions.
If you’re cut short by a question during your pitch and cannot supply the factually correct answer, don’t make the mistake of simply saying what you think the investor wants to hear. Your best course of action is to offer to revert with the requested information to ensure that it’s accurate.
9. Oversharing Your Weaknesses
Introspection is necessary when it comes to developing your business. What are you able to do with your resources and skills – and what are you lacking?
Sharing these traits with your investors can assist you in building an open and honest relationship. However, be careful not to over-explain your weaknesses. Instead, briefly mention them and how you plan on working around them.
10. Not Getting a Second Opinion
Even if you use a professional business plan template, asking someone to review your business plan can help identify any errors or highlight gaps in your research. It can also provide a fresh perspective on something that you’ve spent countless hours working on. This ensures your plan is error-free and as comprehensive as possible before you start sharing your idea with the world.
The Wrap Up
These guidelines are designed to help you streamline your presentation and give it the best chance of success. Remember, while you’re familiar with the concept, your investors are still trying to process the idea and may need help fully understanding what you’re looking to achieve.
When properly executed, your business plan proposal will win over your audience and encourage them to find out more. However, if your pitch is poorly executed and full of holes, the opposite may well apply.
About the author: Nina Sharpe is a content champion for various outlets, covering various business topics from finance for startups to small business accounting tips. If you’d like to reach out to her for content collaborations, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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