Taking the PlungeMonday, 30 January 2012 15:40
Keeping your business story up-to-date
Raising capital is a necessary evil for many start-ups, and we've ridden all the highs and lows of the roller coaster at Shooii.
We've been fortunate to raise the required funds at each stage of our early development, which has been a minor miracle in this economic climate.
One of the ways we're working towards the next round of funding is to update all our investor facing documentation. This mainly involves a complete redesign of our business plan.
Our current business plan document that is available for investors via the Australian Small Scale Offerings Board (ASSOB) is now over six months old, and doesn't truly reflect our development as a company.
It's something we've wanted to change for awhile, but tends to get pushed down the priority list when there is so much else to focus on, and you've already got a pretty good document in place.
It's now become our top priority, and once we sat down to review all the details we realised that if an investor was to read our available business plan for the first time, they wouldn't really get a true picture of where we are at in our development and all that we've achieved in the last six months.
As a result we've completely overhauled the design, layout, sequence and updated all the sections where we had made significant progress.
Here's a few lessons we're learning as we go through an in-depth review:
Review, review, review
In general we should be reviewing this information more frequently.
It's easy to mark your business plan as “done” and put it to one side as you get on with delivering the points in the plan. The problem is things change rapidly, and if you're not updating your outward facing info, how will people be able to track your progress?
Make sure as you reach key milestones and achievements these are added to your plan.
Too much information versus too little detail
It's a real balancing act to decide on the level of detail to put into each section of your business plan.
Some investors are after the big picture pitch and you need to make sure the key points you are trying to make are easy to find and digest.
On the other hand, there are potential investors who want to see all the detail – this shows you've done your homework and that the model stacks up.
To balance this, we've included clear summaries for each section, repeated and isolated key points, and provided supplementary detailed info towards the back of the document. This allows for both types of investors to get what they need.
We noticed upon review that a lot of our information was broken down into small sections, which jumped from topic to topic, and didn't flow in a logical sequence.
To combat this feeling of having too many things for the reader to get through, we grouped relevant information into larger sections and then provided them in a more logical order. A well laid out plan will make a lot more sense to someone who is not familiar with your business.
Design matters too
It would be easy to think that because you're working on a business plan, that a fairly plain design is all you need to convey the information. We've all seen the standard black and white company reports, and for some businesses these are fine.
For a business like ours, however, the design can communicate almost as much about the business as the content.
Remember that you're effectively advertising your business, so the design should live up to the standard you would set for any other marketing or branding material. Bottom line – get a graphic designer's help, it is worth the investment.
In the end, every day is an opportunity to reach a new potential investor, and it's about making sure that at all times you're putting your best foot forward.
You never know whose hands your business plan will end up in, so make sure it gives the best impression of the business you're building.
Mark Campbell is the director for web strategy at Shooii, a retail start-up that is launching very soon. Mark is passionate about branding, innovation and creating a positive company culture. He shares the highs and lows of planning a new business for StartupSmart.
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