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What to Include in a Business Plan
  1. An executive summary. Your executive summary should be no longer than two pages. Consider it one of your most important fund-raising tools -- investors usually make their decisions about whether to investigate a company further based solely on the executive summary. It should be a well written, quantitative summary of your business plan. Specify how much money you want to raise and by when.
  2. The problem your business solves. Describe the pain that your business will alleviate.
  3. Your solution. Describe both current solutions and your own. Focus on why yours is better. Is your solution a quantum-leap forward rather than a marginal improvement? If so, explain how.
  4. The market opportunity. Show that it’s big and growing. Be specific and quantitative and site your sources.
  5. How you will market your product, service, or site. Show that you can do this without spending a boatload of money.
  6. The competitive landscape. Describe your competition and your unfair competitive advantage. If you have patents, a technical innovation, or something that uniquely sets your business apart, spell it out.
  7. Customer testimonials. Explain who your customers are and how you will acquire them.
  8. Short bios of the founding team, board members, and advisors. Show why you and your team are the best people to start the business. If you have a lawyer and accountant, mention it.
  9. A five-year financial forecast. If you want to raise venture capital, you’ll need to show investors that your business has the potential to return a 10-fold return in three to five years. If your company isn’t high-growth, venture capital isn’t for you. Include a monthly forecast for the first year and a yearly forecast for next four years.
  10. The exit strategy for investors. Include a brief description of the exit strategy for investors. Do you plan to take the company public? Do you plan to sell it? Do you plan to merge it?
  11. Your funding requirements. Say how much money you need, when you need it, and how you will use it. Say which milestones the money will enable you to achieve.

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