The difference between a good idea and a great idea is that great ideas are more than likely to get the capital injection to make them come to life in the form of a negotiations skills business. But, great ideas can still be stopped in their tracks if you aren't giving your investors the inspiration they need to dig deep into their pockets.
What I mean by inspiration is not the fancy business cards you hand out at networking sessions or the cool corporate identity package with the knock-your-socks-off logo design and award- winning slogan. Investors want to know how your idea is going to make money and the time-frame. Bottom line: they want to see a properly brainstormed financial plan and the right negotiations skills to make it profitable. So let's take a look at the ingredients to a successful plan.
Create a business start-up budget: This may take you some time, as you think through all the angles of your business idea. But the operative word here is "budget." Do you really need to rent an office and hire a few employees or can you save some money and run a home office for the first six months and hire out negotiations skills as you need the help? You may discover, in fact, that the total amount of money you need is more than what you planned for.
Your financial forecast should be on-target: Business consultants in the past have said that investors prefer "conservative" forecasts - your five-year sales and expenses sheet that will show the progress of your business from month to month. I disagree. Don't go above the bar (being optimistic) or below the bar (being conservative). Be as on target as possible. The way to do that is to do your research and be honest with your negotiations skills. If your business may lose money in the first two years, don't be afraid to show it. But also don't forget to show how you plan on getting in the black in years three to five!
Write your business plan with a money focus: Your business plan should have all the required sections, but it's how those sections read that will entice or bore your investors. Business is not about how many pretty negotiations skills you'll be importing in your gift store but how many of them you can sell. Keep the money focus always in perspective because that's what your money lenders want to see.
Have the right people on your management team: This is probably the most overlooked and under-emphasized section in the business plan. The management team consists of the people who are going to help you make the business successful. If you plan to be the only person - the CEO, CFO, VP of Marketing and Sales and Distributor all rolled into one - in the business, you might as well kiss your money goodbye. Investors want to know that there are other experienced people interested in joining negotiations skills with you to make your idea a runaway success.
The management team may or may not be the actual investors in the company. If not, try to find experts in such areas as finance, management, sales and marketing, as well as anyone that knows your business model inside and out.
A motivated, excited founder who wants to succeed: Last, but definitely not least, your investors will see you as their primary investment. So if you want to seal the deal, your excitement and enthusiasm for the business should be contagious. In your investors' eyes, that may not translate directly into short-term dollars, but it can definitely be cash in the bank for long-term profits.