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Top tips to writing a business plan

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Having a good business plan can make or break your business. But what is the key to a killer business plan? What do investors look for in a business plan? What should you – and shouldn’t you – include in your business plan?

When you’re preparing your business plan to be presented on slides, VC-guru Guy Kawasaki says the key is adhering to the 10/20/30 rule: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points

“If you must use more than ten slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business,” says Kawasaki.

The basic structure

Pete Hendrick, the entrepreneur who set up Rocket PR in 2007, says before you even start writing your business plan, there are three ingredients you can’t do without: a great product or service, a talented team, and cautious optimism. “These are the three elements needed for a perfect business plan.”

Dave Breith, the founder of the £24m telecoms firm O-Bit Telecom recommends you focus on sales. “Lead with sales in the plan, especially if you’re a startup. Everything is led by this.”

If you want a cheat-sheet of how to organise your business plan presentation, Kawasaki suggests the following ten slides for your business plan:

  1. Problem
  2. Your solution
  3. Business model
  4. Underlying magic/technology
  5. Marketing and sales
  6. Competition
  7. Team
  8. Projections and milestones
  9. Status and timeline
  10. Summary and call to action


But remember, keep the presentation under 20 minutes and to the point: you’re trying to convince people to give you money and invest in your ideas – not to award you a doctoral thesis.

You don’t always have to give a PowerPoint presentation either, as Jos White, co-founder of Notion Capital, suggests. “A CEO who can pitch their business without slides, perhaps with an opening preamble and then some whiteboard sketching supported with a few handouts, such as financials, is very compelling if they can really put it off.”

White says the important thing is to get your message across. “Potential investors hear from lots of people with very similar pitches and are generally busy people with short attention spans. You’ve got to be ruthless with cutting down your pitch to make it stand out. Detail can come later – the first meeting is about hitting hard with your top two or three messages and being remembered.”

Details count… but so do summaries

Rob Wilmot, the serial entrepreneur who co-founded Freeserve – and now a director at BCS Digital – gets a lot of people asking if he can look at opportunities for investment. What does he look for?

Continue reading on page two…

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Pick of the press: Wednesday 9 June 2010
Pick of the press: Thursday 10 June 2010
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