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Writing a Sustainable Business Plan

If you submit a Powerpoint slide presentation, it should be no longer than 10-15 slides, and include a more in-depth description of the one-page executive summary. Here is an example of what you should include on each slide:

Here is what should be covered:

  • Company Overview
    Be sure to tell us what you do and what business you are in. This is a good place to hit highlights of your presentation, but very quickly (i.e. we have a software company with paying customers, we have met the milestones from our first round of capital, we have a management team with stellar credentials, etc. -- whatever is strongest)

  • Market Need/Opportunity, Customer Pain/Problem Addressed
    What is the market you are addressing, what is the need in this market, and why hasn’t it been addressed by others? Discuss this specifically, quantifiably and succinctly. How painful is the problem in terms of resources (dollars, time, energy, etc) lost? How strong is the need? What is the reasonable time to market window of opportunity?

  • Product/ Solution / Technology
    How will your product address the problem/need? Graphics and/or diagrams are particularly useful here. Provide use cases to clarify how the product will be used. Be sure to include:
    • Description of your product or service
    • State of development and time to market (how much time is needed before the product will be ready to be sold?)
    • Intellectual Property – who owns the technology? Are there patents pending?
    • Development roadmap, potential future products, etc.

  • Market Size & Addressable Market Segment
    How large is the market (in terms of annual estimated revenue), and what portion of that market is your addressable segment/opportunity (for example, you may be focused on a cure for skin cancer within the broad field of biotechnology, or a new battery material for small, portable devices within the much larger energy industry). Be as specific as possible and show the overall potential.

  • Customers
    If you have customers, who are they (logos are good). If you don't have them yet, who will they be and what do they say now (you had better be talking to them). Paying customers establish proof that someone is willing to pay for your product or solution.

  • Competition / Competitive Advantage
    Who are they, and why are you different and better? How will you establish and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage?

  • Management
    Include names and brief credentials and achievements of important members of the team:
    • Founders/Management
    • Board of Directors and Advisors

  • Business Model
    Explain how your company will make money.

  • Financial Projections
    What are your revenue assumptions that will lead to exponential growth? Bottoms up revenue analysis is recommended here, as well as a few words on product pricing. In addition to including 5-year P&L projections, make sure to also include the following historical detail (for the past 5 years) if your company is already in business:
    • P&L
    • Balance sheet
    • Cash flow
    • Capitalization table

  • Execution or Go-to-Market Strategy
    How will you market and sell your product? Will you have a direct sales force, or sell through a distribution channel? Describe.

  • Funding Stages & Milestones
    Milestones are significant value-creating events: product, revenue, customers. Include those you have achieved so far (so we know where you are in your business development) and those you project to achieve with each subsequent funding round (so we see how you get where you want to be). Funding rounds should be based on milestones achieved.

  • Capital Required, Uses of Capital and Exit Strategy
    How much you are looking for now, and how do you plan to use it? What are the potential exits for investors? This is not a venue for discussion of terms. You can discuss amount of capital required to execute your plan, what you will use it for, and whether you will need additional capital in the future.

The items above are presented in one potentially logical order, but the order in which you communicate them will depend on your strong points.

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