10 Business Plan Dos and Don’ts

As someone who has also judged business plan competitions, I thought his observations were interesting and helpful. So I’m passing them on to you.

10 Business Plan Dos and Don’ts

Each year, I help fellow entrepreneurs and investors judge the MBA business plan competition at Harvard Business School. This year, I noted which pitch approaches seemed to work best and which tactics fell flat.

Here are five things that worked in this year’s presentations—and that you should consider including in your next business plan pitch:

1. Bookends
The best pitches started and ended with the same 30-second, crystal clear explanation of what was to come: The customers, their needs, the solution, and the amount of capital sought. That helped the judges process and remember everything in between.

2. Comparables
At some point in most pitches, judges think to themselves, “Will this really work?” The best way to convince them is to show that you’re already getting results. If you are just starting out, another powerful approach is to cite real world comparables. For example, if your exit strategy is to sell your company to P&G, tell us how they recently bought companies similar to the one you are planning, for how much, and why.

3. Emotion
Every student used logic. But the winners built on that logic with an appeal to emotions. Winners brought their arguments to life, using examples, stories, or short demonstrations. Judges could sense their passion, and imagine how their customers would feel.

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About Tiffany C. Wright - The Resourceful CEO

Tiffany C. Wright is the author of “The Funding Is Out There! Access the Cash You Need to Impact Your Business” and “Solving the Capital Equation: Financing Solutions for Small Businesses.” She is the founder of The Resourceful CEO, which helps owners of small/medium-sized businesses prepare their businesses for sale. Tiffany has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, sits on non-profit boards and serves as a business mentor with the Cherie Blair Foundation.
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