Putting it all together – the case for investment

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This is the last in the series of short blogs about how to explore opportunities to grow your business. The journey so far has asked a series of questions:

  1. Your core purpose – how can that be flexed and delivered?
  2. External analysis – what is the landscape in which you operate?
  3. Customer understanding – who else could want what you have?
  4. Internal analysis – how are you best placed to make the most of market opportunities and grow the business?

This last blog covers a basic outline of a business plan, putting it all together into a case for investment. A business plan should be short, concise, and evidence-based and provide answers to the key questions:

  • Who are you and what do you do?
  • What is your competitive advantage – external and internal analysis
  • How will you make money from what you do?
  • How will you get there?
  • What do you need from an investor? What’s the ask?

(Handy tip – the Executive Summary of the business plan is a one pager answering these questions).

It should provide information in a format that is easy and quick to read, using images and tables rather than long swathes of text – try these headings for starters:

  1. Executive Summary: to be done last and no more than a page
  2. Company overview: Short description; Mission, vision, values, purpose, objectives; Business model and ownership/governance; Current systems to manage HR, data, IT, H&S etc.); Management team and skills strategy; Partners
  3. The external and internal environment (summary of findings from the analysis): Market need; Competitive landscape – Five Forces, PESTLE, SWOT etc; Market opportunities and potential – analysis of the target market; Internal environment – SWOT, VRIO, Theory of Change, BMC, etc; Conclusions – a summary of where the business should go (Handy hint – this is actually one of the most important sections; it shows any investor the evidence of need for what you do)
  4. Delivery – the journey you need to go on to grow the business: Operational Plan – staffing, etc; Financial Plan – P&L; Marketing Plan – how you will reach your customers; Success measures and targets – keep it short and relevant; Activity Plan summary; Risk Management summary
  5. Summary – optional development and investment timeline
  6. Appendices: Full analyses; Financial tables; AOB…

Two final thoughts from me.

  1. We have spent by far the most time on analysis in these short series of blogs. That’s because I’ve seen too many business plans which focus on the product or service without displaying any understanding of where it would sit in the market and therefore how it would make money. That’s not useful for an investor. However, the delivery plan is also important and needs to be robust: if you need help with this, please do get in touch.
  2. It’s OK not to have all the answers. A good investor will want to know that you understand the market and your potential; you understand where your company is; and you know the questions to ask and the tasks to undertake on your growth journey.

This is true of any kind of investment: grant, loan, equity. Take the time to understand your market and who you are: it will make the growth journey so much quicker!

If you need help with any of this and you are a sole trader or a business in the creative sector in the North of Tyne Combined Area, please get in touch Catherine.johns@wearecreative.uk

Webinar 5 – Making the Case – Download Slides