California Investment Network

Business Plan Tips

What Investors Are Looking For In A Plan

Investors, whether angels or VC's, are looking for the same things when reading a business plan. They want to know how big the opportunity is, whether this is the right team to exploit the opportunity, who the competition is, what the risks are, and why they can expect this team to implement successfully. Your job in writing the business plan is to address these questions convincingly and clearly.

Emphasize Your Real Strengths

Highlight what your team brings to the table. If your business hinges on a particular competency (for example, understanding the procurement process), your plan will be more persuasive if one of your team members knows something about it and that is brought out in your plan. Rather than including generic resumes of team members, tailor the resumes to draw out the experience each member has that will make him or her a valuable contributor.

Get To The Point And Make It Clear And Comprehensive

Investors see many business plans. A 20-page plan which clearly lays out your business is far more likely to be read than a 100 page plan. Today, some entrepreneurs are using a 15 slide Powerpoint presentation. If your text is short and punchy, you won't need to repeat yourself, because the reader won't be bogged down keeping ten chapters in their head. Reading the same thing over and over, even if it's in different words, can get really tiring. The more you use brevity and give each concept a single home in your document, the more people will want to read it.

Write In Plain English

If you can't explain your idea in English, either you don't understand what you're talking about (What is a transaction enabled atomic journaling database server, anyway?) or you haven't simplified the idea enough. Think, revise, and try again.

Get Rid Of The Hype

Yes, we know you will be the "premier insert product category here of the Internet, achieving 99% market penetration with 60% customer retention in 3 months". Your product will reach "new heights in customer experience through the use of personalization and one-to-one profiling and customization". It will be "user friendly" because you will be creating a truly "ecstatic customer experience". It is a "quantum leap forward" in the marketplace for product category here. Um, yeah. Believe me, we've read it before. About a dozen times today, in fact. (And by the way, the phrase "quantum leap" really doesn't mean anything.) Stick to a tight, simple explanation of your idea. Convince your reader you'll be the best because your idea is the best, not because you can string a dozen buzzwords together.

Use Quantifiable Information

In each section, back up your assertions with solid facts. Even if you are a new venture and cannot give specific figures on the performance of your business, quote figures for the industry or your competitors. These real figures carry more weight than your assumed projections and give more reality to your plan.

Choose A Huge Market

Especially in the internet world, investors are looking more at the market than at the detailed specifics of your financials. Choose a market that is big enough to be an obvious good opportunity. A business which targets teenage girls who listen to music and has a reasonable chance of capturing 90% of the girls that are online is a huge opportunity. A business which targets net-savvy SAAB mechanics who need prosthetic limbs is not.

Local Investors

United States > California

Just starting to invest. Am a member of an investor networking group in my area. Have been in government for many years. I am a private investor and lender that also belongs to a group.

$100 to $75,000

United States > California

I have bought, operated, and sold 6 businesses in my career. I am now an investor in small businessses because I understand them. I am looking for new opportunities to invest in.

$100,000 to $10,000,000

United States > California

Private Investor who currently is the VP of Mergers and Acquisitions of a successful manufacturing company. Over the past years we have made several acquisitions as add-ons to our company and we are looking to expand our portfolio. Am also an active investor in the stock and bond markets as well as the residential and commercial real estate markets.

$0 to $15,000,000

United States > Missouri

Private investor with additional resources for large investments. I am very interested in new new technology or industry disruptive products or service. Very interested in hospitality and entertainment as well as precious metals and mining and energy.

$30,000,000 to $1,000,000,000


Strong finance and accountig knowledges based in degrees and experience. "A thousand milles travel begins with the first step"

$10,000 to $30,000

United States > California

I am currently working as an analyst for a top management consultancy, with international experience spanning industries and functions. My recent focus involves the retail, alternative energy, and telecom/ mobile industries advising clients on areas such as corporate strategy, sales/marketing effectiveness, cash cycle management, and operations. Prior work experiences include: private wealth management, residential solar energy startup, and launching a new automotive brand in North America. I am currently acting as an individual investor. My investment experience has thus far been limited to publicly traded equity instruments. I graduated with a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship.

$500 to $15,000

United States > California

I am part of a group of investors who are all in the US army. We are currently deployed right now but are looking for future potential investment opportunities.

$10,000 to $25,000

United States > California

Engineer with investment Capitol

$5,000 to $25,000