A good business plan is the first step to starting your own company, whether you’re looking to start your own business, or looking to get into something new with an existing company. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t know how to put together a business plan that they can be proud of and use effectively in pitching to investors and others who might be able to help them get started on their new venture. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to present a business plan, so you can look like you know what you’re doing even if you don’t have experience with the process yet.
Understanding project costs
The total cost of your project is typically made up of multiple line items. There are three primary categories: fixed costs, direct costs and indirect costs. Fixed costs cover the essential resources required for a project such as payroll, equipment or property fees. Direct costs are linked to specific phases of your project, including labor-intensive activities like design or development.
Indirect costs include things like management time or general office expenses. It’s important to think about all these different types of expenses before you start your project so you can appropriately budget for them throughout and avoid nasty surprises later on. This means understanding what each type of cost includes—and getting clear on how much each will likely be in relation to others—from day one.
Purpose of the Business Plan
The purpose of your business plan is to show others how your idea will be successful. Think of it as an elevator pitch that explains why you want to start your own company, who will buy it and how you’ll make money. Also, consider showing potential investors how they’ll profit by partnering with you. To put together a good pitch, focus on 1) proving that there is a market for your product or service; 2) explaining what makes your solution better than competitors’ offerings; and 3) discussing who can help you bring the project to fruition.
Know your readers
There’s no one right way to present a business plan—it largely depends on who you’re pitching it to and how long they have. Some companies will want (and expect) an in-depth, 80-page document, whereas others may ask for just a two-page executive summary. If it’s your first time presenting, keep it simple and concise—the important thing is that you spend time.
Actually thinking about your idea before you start putting together PowerPoint slides or drafting an executive summary. If possible, find out what format your audience expects. You can even reach out via email with questions about presentation requirements or visit their website for sample documents you can use as templates.
Structure of the Business Plan
Business plans vary in length and format, but most include an executive summary; company overview; market analysis; product description and development plans; marketing, financials, and operations planning; management team information; and competition analysis. The first step is to get organized so you can write your business plan. Before you begin your work, make sure that you have taken all of these steps
Identifying market opportunities
Before you begin writing your business plan, you need to develop market opportunities. This is basically your sense of how much consumers will want whatever it is that you’re planning on selling. If there’s no way anyone will want what you have to offer, it doesn’t matter how great your idea or how brilliant your methods, no one will buy what you’re selling—and then neither will you.
Identifying market opportunities isn’t hard; just make sure that what’s already out there (and where and who are they) isn’t already doing exactly what you’re planning on doing. Are enough people already looking for what you’re going to be looking for?
Knowing how to present a business plan
Before you present your business plan, you need to be prepared. You don’t want to waste your time with clients and businesses who aren’t interested in working with you; that means presenting only when you have concrete ideas on how their needs will be met.
Before any presentation, know what you are going to say and how you will say it. Make sure all of your is are dotted and all of your ts are crossed—this includes technical details, product or service descriptions, timelines for delivery, and even contracts if applicable.
How to overcome resistance to your presentation
There are a variety of reasons that presenters might get cold feet. Maybe they’re worried about public speaking or have an important presentation coming up and don’t know how to overcome their nerves. Whatever it is, there are ways to look at it positively. If you’re preparing for an upcoming meeting where you’ll be presenting your ideas,
check out some tips on how to overcome resistance in order to give your presentation with confidence and poise. When presenting proposals and ideas, remember that body language is just as important as what you say— so make sure your posture and gestures support your words, not detract from them.
Different types of business plans
The presentation is no place for doubts. State your case confidently and clearly, leaving nothing out. The most important thing you can do is be prepared; have answers for everything—no matter how insignificant or obvious it may seem. The only way to make sure you know your stuff is by doing your homework: not just with regard to what you’re presenting but everything else as well.
If there’s anything else that could come up during your meeting (and there’s always something), want to be able to think on your feet and confidently field any potential questions or concerns. In short, if someone asks, Why’d you start working on X? don’t say, Uhh… I dunno, unless of course, that’s actually true in which case, correct yourself immediately.
Presenting your business plan is an opportunity to display your professionalism, knowledge and industry insight. A firm grasp of your idea and its target market will also help you stay on track. When presenting, take time before meeting with potential investors or partners to build confidence by rehearsing various scenarios (sometimes called war gaming) in which they ask specific questions.
For example, if they question one of your assumptions or ideas, be ready with an answer that takes them back to what’s most important in those particular moments: earning their interest and trust. By building up confidence beforehand, you’ll deliver a solid presentation that gives new connections more reason to bring you into their network. This can be life-changing for both you and your idea—don’t take it lightly!