The 5 components of a (modern) business plan

Forget the 40+ page term-paper style business plan. Here’s what you’ll need instead:

1. Pitch deck. A Powerpoint presentation with about 15 slides, that takes about 20 minutes to pitch. The deck should be minimalist in nature—clean and simple. The slides in your deck will serve as a roadmap for your presentation, but the most important points will come from your mouth, not from words on slides.

2. Financial model. This is a set of financial projections built in Excel and used as a source of charts for your investor presentation. You’ll have time to provide only an overview of your projections in your pitch, but you may forward the entire model to interested investors. The financial projections will include a statement of profit and loss (P&L) projected for five years. You may or may not want to add a balance sheet and a cash flow projection,[1] but either way you’ll determine and demonstrate how much cash you’ll need and when you’ll need it.

3. Elevator Pitch. As you look for advice, investors, business partners, customers, etc., you’ll be networking a lot—both online and offline. You’ll reach out to your close contacts, of course. But you’ll also want them to reach out to their contacts on your behalf, so you’ll need to explain your story in a way that’s easy for them to grasp and pass along to others. The key to making this work is to have a great elevator pitch. To make it great, you must be able to communicate the essence of your venture in a way that’s clear, fast, and compelling.

4. One-page synopsis. Once you find a contact who has heard / read your elevator pitch and expressed interest in learning more about your new business, it’s time to introduce the one-pager. The one-pager is a brief synopsis of your business plan pitch deck. It’s designed with one very specific purpose: to get someone interested in taking a meeting with you (see warning below—don’t send your pitch ahead of time). Don’t try to jam everything from the pitch deck onto one page. Instead, think of it as a teaser—a sales document to whet the appetite of your audience and leave them wanting more.

5. Due diligence documents. This is material that lets an investor learn more about you, your concept, and your progress to-date. There are no standards for what this contains or how it is presented, but it might include things like market research, customer lists, access to prototypes, profiles of your competitors, your financial model, resumes of team members, contracts with customers or suppliers, etc. Sophisticated investors will often provide a due diligence list for you to follow.


[1] If you your cash cycle is fairly neutral, such as if you get paid immediately upon closing a sale (e.g., by credit card), you may be able to get away with using just a P&L. If on the other hand, you have a gap between when you pay expenses and get paid by customers, you should build a balance sheet and statement of cash flow.

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One Response to The 5 components of a (modern) business plan

  1. […] niche model. | online … Business plan contest directory « global entrepreneurship institute The 5 components of a (modern) business plan « upstart advisors Business plan financial projections: stop worrying about being … Rink business plan – ms word / […]

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