In order to tailor your business plan for raising capital you must understand what your specific audience wants to see and know when looking at your business plan. Follow these guidelines to refine your plan for raising capital:
Bankers want assurance of orderly repayment and they will want to see:
- Amount of loan
- How the funds will be used
- What this will accomplish – how will it make the business stronger?
- Requested repayment terms (number of years to repay). You will probably not have much negotiating room on interest rate but may be able to negotiate a longer repayment term, which will help cash flow.
- Collateral offered, and a list of all existing liens against collateral.
Investors have a different perspective. They are looking for dramatic growth, and they expect to share in the rewards:
- Funds needed short term
- Funds needed in two to five years
- How the company will use the funds, and what this will accomplish for growth
- Estimated return on investment
- Exit strategy for investors (buyback, sale, or IPO)
- Percent of ownership that you will give up to investors
- Milestones or conditions that you will accept
- Financial reporting to be provided
- Involvement of investors on the board or in management
For Type of Business
- Planned production levels
- Anticipated levels of direct production costs and indirect (overhead) costs – how do these compare to industry averages (if available)?
- Prices per product line
- Gross profit margin, overall and for each product line
- Production / capacity limits of planned physical plant
- Production / capacity limits of equipment
- Purchasing and inventory management procedures
- New products under development or anticipated to come online after startup
- Service businesses sell intangible products. They are usually more flexible than other types of businesses, but they also have higher labor costs and generally very little in fixed assets
- What are the key competitive factors in this industry?
- Your prices
- Methods used to set your prices
- System of production management
- Quality control procedures. Standard or accepted industry quality standards.
- How will you measure labor productivity?
- Percent of work subcontracted to other firms. Will you make a profit on subcontracting?
- Credit, payment, and collections policies and procedures.
- Strategy for keeping client base.
High Technology Companies
- Economic outlook for the industry.
- Will the company have information systems in place to manage rapidly changing prices, costs, and markets?
- Will you be on the cutting edge with your products and services?
- What is the status of research and development? And what is required to:
- Bring the product or service to the market?
- Keep the company competitive?
- How does the company:
- Protect intellectual property?
- Avoid technological obsolescence?
- Supply necessary capital?
- Retain key personnel?
High-tech companies sometimes have to operate for a long time without profits and sometimes even without sales. If this fits your situation, a banker will probably not want to lend to you. Venture capitalists may invest, but your story must be very good. You must do longer-term financial forecasts to show when profit take-off is expected to occur. And your assumptions must be well documented and well argued.
- Company image.
- Pricing: Explain markup policies. Prices should be profitable, competitive, and in accordance with company image.
- Inventory: Selection and price should be consistent with company image.
- Inventory level: find industry average numbers for annual inventory turnover rate (available in RMA book). Multiply your initial inventory investment by the average turnover rate. The result should be at least equal to your projected first year’s cost of goods sold. If it is not, you may not have enough budgeted for startup inventory.
- Customer service policies: These should be competitive and in accord with company image.
- Location: does it give the exposure that you need? Is it convenient for customers? Is it consistent with company image?
- Promotion: methods used, cost. Does it project a consistent company image?
- Credit: Do you extend credit to customers? If yes, do you really need to, and do you factor the cost into prices?