Communicating the plan
What is this?
On many occasions you will have to present your business idea to different audiences (e.g. investor or bank, customer, business plan competition). One these occasions you want to be prepared to present your idea with confidence and poise. If you present well, it can move you closer to obtaining funding, to attract a customer, etc. If you doesn't, it can impede your chances of moving forward and represent a setback in your attempts to get your business off the ground. In this step, you need to transform your ideas into spoken word (e.g. business pitch) or written language (e.g. business plan) to expose it to stakeholders and get feedback. Good communicatin is necesarry to move an idea from its inception to adoption.
The business plan
There are plenty of opinions on business plans resulting in very different business plan outlines. It is key to design your own outline supporting your own business case. Below, you can find some examples of different outlines. Be inspired, don't copy.
- The classic outline by Timmons and Spinelli. Some sections have been covered in the feasibility analyses.
- The outline suggested by Alex Osterwalder in his book Business Model Generation.
- This is Sequoia Capital's (VC) checklist for a business plan: follow this link, short and inspiring (right side of the page).
- Saras D. Sarasvathy is a leading scholar in entrepreneurship with a strong focus on effectuation, these are her tips for the business plan. Download this file.
- INC.com lists "Top 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing a Business Plan" , don't make them!
- There is a trend towards shorter business plans often represented by a pitch deck. Some of the best plans we have seen were written as a pitch desk. Hit the Deck: Create a Business Plan in Half the Time, With Twice the Impact by David Ronick gives you slide by slide recommendations and tips on what to include in a slide deck. You can find an interesting video by David Ronick here.
Here are some examples of good business plans written by Vlerick students in the past:
The business case presentation
Delivering an effective business plan presentation takes a lot of time and effort. Carefully planning and practice pays off here. Even though there are many mistakes that can be made, there are no recipees for success. Below you can find some tips on how to present your business plan.
- Sequoia Capital's outline (sections under "Writing the business" - left column) is a very good order to set up your slides. See following link.
- A book we highly recommend for delivering a presentation is Resonate from Nancy Duarte. Look at this video in which the author explains five rules for presentations. The following excellent TED presentation by Nancy Duarte outlines how to structure a presentation.
- This movie By David S. Rose for TED.com gives you a great outline and tips on how to pitch (present) for VC's or wider audiences.
- Killer Presentation Skills and Power Poses are two great youtube movie on the use of body language during your presentation.
- "15 1/2 Ideas to Make Your Presentation Go From Boring to Bravo" is a great manifesto from changethis.com
There lots of resources explaining you how to deliver a great elevator pitch, we made a selection below:
- Your business pitch should/could include the elements in the following pdf. It's important to keep it short (2-3 minutes) and make it sharp!
- Some great tips on delivering The Elevator Pitch. - from CBC's business reality series, Dragons' Den.
- This is the winning elevator pitch of the European Business Plan Competition 2011 won by a team from Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
- This is a video of a good pitch by an entrepreneur from the Dragon's Den, the business idea however, well, judge yourself!
- Learn from mistakes by watching this "dragon's den - best of the worst pitches series" Part 1 & Part 2.
When pitching to investors, when selling to customers or explaining your venture to others, many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of focusing too heavily on the idea and the technical details of their work. This focus on the details obscures the more fundamental question, which is "Why should I care?" Technical proficiency is important, but creating an emotional connection should take priority. One powerful technique to communicate your venture and to establish a unique identity around your business is story telling. Remembering stories is often much more easy as compared to remembering technical or other details. Babson College in collaboration with the Business Innovation Factory created this wonderful website with backgrounds and videos on a.o. story telling. Check it out! Mark Suster, entrepreneur and venture capital partner, also has an interesting post on the importance of the narrative! You can find it here. Lastly, Stanford Education Corner shows some interesting video's storytelling. You can find it here.
Want to know more?
- Timmons, J.A., Spinelli, S., 2007, New Venture Creation
- Duarte, N., 2010, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, see the following link.
- Also, check out Jim Poss' business plan for Seahorse Power Company. This the pdf.
- Sahlman, W., 1997, How to Write a Great Business Plan, Harvard Business School. See following link