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Build Business Cases, Not Business Plans

In the ancient times before the internet, a business plan was what you wrote to appease the Gods of private equity and venture capital. It was a thick document, full of scientific analysis, market data and of course, a J-curve shaped projection of sales. The problem was that few investors would make it through your epic masterpiece. Instead, they’d skip to the juicy parts. Former CEO of Elance and current founder of Roach Capital Partners, Eric Roach, shares what he’s kept in the business plan to raise $55 million dollars in venture capital in two months.

In a recent blog post, Roach writes, “I would not waste the time building a big bad business plan, at least as described all over the web.  I’ve come to believe this has become a consultant’s dream, unfortunately, not one filled with gold at the end of the rainbow… When looking at the companies I have funded, I cannot think of a single time when I have read one.  Not one.”

I saw the post moving up Hacker News earlier today and I sincerely hope that entrepreneurs continued reading the article beyond the initial “don’t write a business plan” message.

While Roach dismisses the idea of an epic business plan document, he does encourage entrepreneurs to build a business case. The VC suggests omitting excel spreadsheets and keeping it simple. That being said, you need to know your projections, financials and product market as if those spreadsheets were sitting in front of you. In his experience, he’s raised funding with an executive summary, a powerpoint deck of 10-15 slides, clear financials and an elevator pitch. While he suggests you spend less time on constructing an epic document and more on getting your second meeting, he recognizes that you will be required to justify all of your statements. The point is that it’s not about the paper, it’s about your rationale, product and power to persuade.

Photo Credit: Alex de Carvalho

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