If your San Diego or California startup is seeking to attract venture capital, you are going to need a good written business plan to pitch to your potential investors. A business plan is the written version of all of the good and dynamic ideas that are in your head – that is, all of the reasons why your startup is going to succeed.

Writing a good business plan may seem like a daunting task, like having to write a term paper in college. Similar to how the term paper is needed for a good grade, a well-written business plan is needed to entice investors. A good San Diego corporate lawyer can help. At minimum, your corporate lawyer can ensure that your startup has a solid corporate foundation and can offer advice and counsel with respect to any investment proposals that your startup receives. Having corporate counsel as part of the “team” is important to many investors. Here is a quick primer on what you need for a good written business plan.

Financing San Diego Startups: What Should be in My Written Business Plan?

In general, a well-crafted business plan will be 20-30 pages (or hundreds of pages if the business is complicated and is deserving of the detail). However, keep in mind that a venture capitalist/investor may well receive hundreds of business plans/proposals. So, there is an art to making a business plan not too long and not too short. In general, a business plan has these components (think of them as chapters in a book):

  • Executive summary: One or two pages; this is often the only thing a business venture capitalist will read, so it is important to make the best presentation in the summary.
  • Your TEAM: Present your team in the best possible light; avoid making this resume-like; unless biography and education matter, skip that; attach resumes in an appendix; highlight how your team will make your startup succeed; why is your team the best; why is your team qualified, experienced, capable, and dedicated; many investors want to see financial and legal counsel as part of the team.
  • Your market: Explain what you are selling (goods or services), the contours and trends of your market, the key “players” in the market (i.e., who is your startup competing against), where your business “fits” in the market (now or expected) and more.
  • Your market niche and/or competitive advantage: Demonstrate how you will seize market share; trumpet your technology, your great design, your system, your cost advantage, your unique expertise or whatever is the key to your startup’s success.
  • History of your business (if applicable): If you are an existing business and there have been substantial growth trends, this is one place to highlight those trends.
  • Plans for market entry/expansion: Sometimes this is included in the discussion of market niche/competitive advantage, but often a stand-alone section is useful.
  • Production and/or service delivery: Detail the how, when, and where of your production and/or delivery of services.
  • Marketing: Again, detail the how, when, and where of your marketing strategies; how will you find your customers? How will you reach them and convince them to buy your product and/or use your services?
  • Financials: You need an accountant here to provide profit and loss statement, balance sheet, inventory, asset valuations (if applicable) and related financial information; often, financials are expected for key members of the management team.
  • Appendix: Various items go here depending on the specifics of the business and the plan; for example, permits, licenses, leases, blueprints or technical specifications for machinery, loan application, tax returns, etc., might be attached in an appendix.

As can be seen, a lot of work goes into a good business plan. Hopefully, the plan attracts an investor or two. Of course, there is no guarantee of success, but writing a business plan has many other advantages. First, it provides an opportunity for you, the owner, to focus on what is working and how you can succeed. Second, having to put “down on paper” the financial information can be enlightening. In the rush of business, it may be difficult to discern if you are really succeeding or just barely succeeding. Maybe changes are in order? Maybe more of the same?

Financing San Diego Startups: Call San Diego Corporate Law Today

If you would like more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard has been named a “Rising Star” for three years running by SuperLawyers.com. Mr. Leonard has the experience to help you form a corporation (or any other corporate entity) and can draft custom bylaws, ownership agreements, and buy-sell agreements. Mr. Leonard’s legal practice focuses on corporate, securities, contract, and intellectual property law for small and medium businesses. Please contact Mr. Leonard by calling (858) 483-9200 or via email.

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