Photo by RDNE Stock project
Crafting Winning Business Plans and Pitch Decks: An In-Depth Guide for Startups
Starting a new business is exhilarating, but securing the funding to get off the ground is tough. Investors see hundreds of business plans and pitches. Yours must stand out.
This abridged guide from Wheat Legal PLLC reveals insider tips to create compelling business plans and presentations. We'll walk you through what investors want to see and how to meet their expectations.
We aim to provide you with some realistic examples and actionable (non legal) advice, and we hope to empower you to show investors your startup's full potential. Let's get started!
The Quintessential Business Plan: Your Roadmap to Success
A strong business plan serves many purposes:
- Outlines goals and strategies for founders to execute
- Attracts potential investors by demonstrating opportunity
- Provides a benchmark to track progress against
While formats vary, most plans include these key sections:
- Official legal name, location, date founded
- Ownership structure and leadership team
- Mission statement and growth objectives
Products and Services
- Description of your core offering(s)
- Unique value proposition and target customers
- Future products or segments you may expand into
- Overview of total addressable market size/segments
- Customer demographics, pain points, and purchase drivers
- Analysis of direct and indirect competitors
- What sets you apart from rivals?
- SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
- Sustainable elements like proprietary tech, exclusive rights, patents
- Pricing models and sales/distribution methods
- Marketing and promotional strategies
- Sales process and pipeline projections
- Internal development roadmap and milestones
- Supply chain, manufacturing, and fulfillment processes
- Key operational metrics to track
- Founders' expertise and accomplishments
- Key hires to fill gaps
- Board of directors and advisors
- Past funding history and key terms
- 3-5 year projections: income statement, balance sheet, cash flow
- Assumptions behind projections
- ROI, breakeven timing, and valuation estimate
- Amount of funding sought and proposed terms
- Specific use of proceeds tied to operations plan
- Future funding needs
This covers major sections, but plans can dive deeper where helpful. Keep it concise but thorough.
Crafting a Compelling Executive Summary
Investors often request an executive summary before reading the full plan. This overview hooks their interest.
We recommend both a 1-page and 2-page version. Include:
- Description of product/service and target market
- Founders' expertise and accomplishments
- Key competitive advantages over rivals
- Financial projections, capital needs, and use of proceeds
- Future growth opportunities beyond current goals
The summary should intrigue investors to learn more. Avoid hyperbole and tell your story confidently.
Preparing a Powerful Investor Pitch Deck
An investor pitch deck visualizes the business plan through impactful slides. Limit text and focus on eye-catching elements.
Outline a Common 15-20 Slide Pitch Deck
- Title Slide - Company name, logo, contact info
- Problem - Customer pain points and needs
- Solution - How you solve the problem
- Market - Target customers, total addressable market size
- Competition - Direct and indirect competitors
- Business Model - Revenue streams, pricing, distribution
- Product - Features, timeline, intellectual property
- Traction - Customers, sales, website metrics
- Team - Founders, key hires, advisors
- Financials - Past funding, projections, valuation ask
- Use of Funds - How investment will be used
- Summary - Recap of top highlights
Customize this template to your business. Emphasize your differentiators and strengths.
Design Captivating Visuals
Great visuals make complex ideas easy to digest. Consider:
- Infographics showing market size and trends
- Charts mapping financial projections
- Photos of products, facilities, team
- Quotes from happy customers
- Color palettes matching your brand
Images should reinforce key points, not distract. Balance text with graphics.
Hook Investors Within 3 Minutes
Practice a concise pitch that covers all key areas within a 3 minute timeframe. Be prepared to expand on any section in Q&A.
Time yourself to ensure your pitch fits allocated meeting slots. Refine until your deck flows smoothly.
Financial Projections to Excite Investors
Convincing financial projections are vital. We recommend projecting 3 years out with:
- Sales Forecast - Monthly first year, quarterly after. Unit volumes, average sales price, total revenue.
- Expense Budget - Fixed costs like rent and variable costs like marketing. Be conservative.
- Capital Expenditures - Assets needed like equipment, facilities, intellectual property.
- Profit and Loss Statement - Monthly first year, annually after. Track net profit/loss.
- Cash Flow Statement - Inflows and outflows. End with net profit/loss per period.
- Balance Sheet - Assets, liabilities, equity accounts. Update annually.
List major assumptions underlying the projections. Tie growth to strategies outlined.
Bringing It All Together
With well-crafted documents and presentations, you can convey your startup's immense potential. Avoid these common mistakes:
- Incomplete or vague sections
- Unrealistic forecasts disconnected from strategy
- Boring walls of text instead of engaging graphics
- Spelling and grammar errors
- Anything confidential or proprietary
Be bold in your vision but transparent about challenges. Tell your story with passion and purpose.
Now you have the tools to build business plans and decks ready to win over investors. Remember - we provide guidance here, not legal advice. For help preparing materials or reviewing your drafts, contact Wheat Legal PLLC at wheatlegal.com. Our business attorneys support your success!