Frequently Asked Questions from founders of startups.
Questions About Business Planning
- Do I need a business plan?
- What are the benefits of a business plan?
- What are my options for writing a business plan?
- How do I decide?
- What should I know before hiring a writer?
Questions About Capital Raising
- What do I need to raise capital?
- What do investors look for in a business plan?
- What do I need to accomplish before my investor meeting?
- How much capital do I need?
- How/where do I find investors?
Questions About The Startup Garage
- What does The Startup Garage do?
- What roles does the team play?
- What products does TSG offer?
- What is the process of working with TSG?
- How is TSG better or different than the alternatives?
Answers About Business Planning
Do I need a business plan?
Whether or not you need a business plan depends on the business you’re starting. However, creating one will help to compile all the information needed for informed decision making and provide a roadmap to keep you on course — and hold you accountable.
If you will need to raise capital to launch or grow your startup, you will need a business plan to present to outside investors. Typically in the form of angel investment or crowdfunding, raising capital will require a detailed business plan complete with market research and financial projections.
What are the benefits of a business plan?
The business plan will be your guide and roadmap for the first few years of business. It will provide a means of self-evaluation and way of holding yourself accountable. The research, writing, and financial modeling — in addition to getting credible feedback up front — will benefit you greatly down the road.
The business plan will:
- Develop a cohesive plan that syncs all aspects and strategies of your business.
- Vet the viability of your business model and overcome any otherwise unforeseen hurdles
- Create efficient strategies to prioritize and conserve your most valuable resources — money and time.
- Realistically set and achieve your goals for sales, revenue and profit.
- Develop tools to enroll investors, business partners and employees.
- Satisfy requirements of investors, banks and authorities.
- Support your vision with an evolving guide to evaluate your progress and plan for the future.
What should I know before hiring a writer?
Be wary of consultants claiming to bring on investors. While the business plan is an important tool in the capital raising process, investors ultimately make their investment decision based on the founder, team, product, market opportunity, competition and ultimately profitability. This makes it difficult for any third-party to make such a claim.
Do your due diligence to steer clear of frauds. Ask to see sample work and testimonials. Find out how many companies they’ve worked with and how much capital they’ve helped raise. If you still are not fully convinced, ask to speak with past clients.
It is important that your business plan writer has the expertise to help you get the funding your startup needs. The best business plan writer will evaluate your vision, goals, resources available and personal strengths to develop a strategy custom to your business. They will have experience approaching investors and be able to prepare you for presenting your startup in the most effective format for communicating your potential for profit.
Finally, you get what you pay for in this industry. That doesn’t mean you need to hire the most expensive solution available. However, it is important to align your business with a service provider that can truly help accomplish your goals.
Answers About Capital Raising
What do I need to raise capital?
From friends and family, you might get away with something as little as your plan on a napkin. For most investors, you will want to be prepared with a well-developed and researched plan. The standard presentation is done with a pitch deck, though this varies depending on the stage of capital that you are raising.
There are certain expectations of accomplishments, most often based on a combination of how much money is being raised and the values of the investor. The investors you bring on will be a part of your business, so be thoughtful on who you approach.
The milestones to achieve can be categorized into the following:
- Business Planning
- Team Building
- Market Traction
- Product Development
- Founder Leadership
For every stage of investment, a new set of milestones needs to be achieved. To better understand the milestones at each stage of investment based on these categories, click here.
What do investors look for in a business plan?
A well thought out business plan increases your odds of succeeding. It shows the approached investor that you have taken the time to research, plan and develop a strategy to be successful.
The right business plan does the following:
- Outlines the current problem in the market and the need for your product/service solution
- Demonstrates the current trends in the industry
- Evaluates the market opportunity and why the company is positioned to take advantage of the opportunity
- Portrays the competitive layout and how the company is differentiated from the competitors and poised to acquire a significant market share
- Demonstrates a believable revenue model that is backed by sound assumptions
- Identifies the marketing, personnel, and operating expenses needed to drive this revenue model
- Evaluates the potential return on the investment and a likely exit for the investors
What do I need to accomplish before my investor meeting?
Every investor will be slightly different. However, these are some general guidlines for milestones to achieve in order to attract seed investment from Angel Investors:
You will need a comprehensive plan complete with extensive market research and a detailed financial model.
Depending on the complexity of your product you may or may not be able to complete a working prototype or beta version with just your pre-seed, FFF capital. If not, at the bare minimum you will need an intractable wireframe or mockup that demonstrates the product’s features and functionality.
Founding Team, Key Hires, Advisory Board
The right team in place, means the company can overcome the adversity, fix the issues, and adapt the plan.
Work with a lawyer to ensure that you are setting up the business according to what’s best given your goals and capitalization strategy. Common types of IP rights include copyright, trademarks, patents, design rights, and trade secrets.
Obtain customer feedback and demonstrate that your product is fulfilling a real market need.
How much capital do I need?
Startup funding for high growth businesses is acquired in multiple rounds throughout the business lifecycle. This funding cycle applies for most high growth businesses — including mobile, web, manufacturing and other tech industries, as well as consumer brands. Typically, this lifecycle is different for small businesses that only need enough funding to get the business off the ground.
High-growth startup funding is typically split into three rounds:
- Family, Friends and Founder (FFF) capital – ranging from $10,000 to $100,000
- Seed Capital from Angel Investors – ranging from $100,000 to $1,000,000
- Series A and Series B capital from Venture Capitalists – from $2,000,000+
How/where do I find investors?
Traditional Networking and Events are a great place to start. There are several angel organizations of people looking for a viable investment.
Answers About The Startup Garage
What does The Startup Garage do?
We help founders raise capital by achieving the milestones investors care about. We will thoroughly prepare the business, its executives and investor documents so that you present a solid strategy and an investment-ready startup.
Our services and processes are hands-on and collaborative in nature. We pride ourselves on extensive research, investor-friendly writing, and comprehensive financial modeling. Products include:
- Professional Business Plans
- Investor Pitch Decks
- Custom Financial Modeling
- Brand Print and Logo Design
- Private Placement Memorandums
- Convertible Note Packages and Term Sheets
Our clients are typically in the process of raising capital. We help them reach their goals by analyzing the business, identifying and overcoming the weaknesses and creating materials that are investment-ready.
What roles does the team play?
We are your startup…
- financial strategist
- marketing and sales strategist
- creative/branding director
- logo designer
What products does TSG offer?
The consultations and coaching we provide could arguably be the most valuable part of our service.
Our bread and butter product is the business plan. We also offer solutions for typical investor materials, such as pitch decks and brand prints, as well as capital raising documents. With the vast network of expert counsel on our team, we pride ourselves in our ability to identify and overcome the gaps, red flags and concerns in your business that would keep you from attracting investment.
What is the process of working with TSG?
We have an initial consultation with you to talk about your project and figure out exactly what you need to reach your goals.
We enter an information gather phase where we obtain a complete brain dump from you so that we know exactly where you are in the business planning process. We then schedule a launch meeting to ensure that we fully understand your business — the industry, your target market and your competitive edge. This allows us to conduct the industry, market and competitive research to develop a framework for building your strategy.
We objectively analyze your situation and evaluate your current position in relation to the milestones that investors look for. We then schedule a series of strategy development meetings to identify and overcome gaps, concerns, and red flags. We coach you through current obstacles and in making preparations for the future.
We evaluate the financial position of your company and determine your capital requirements. Then, we do the writing to organize your thoughts, ideas and vision into professional, capital-raising documents.
We complete a draft of your business plan and financial projections and walk you through both the document and assumptions, educating you on how to use the plan to raise capital and serve as an ongoing tool for assessing and growing your business.
We provide ample time for editing and feedback to ensure your story is told as you envision it and you feel able and comfortable to defend the plan.
We then make the edits and re-submit. If materials are to be designed/branded, they then go to creative.
Business plans are delivered in PDF and word formats. Pitch decks are delivered in PDF and PowerPoint formats. If your project is a brand print, you will receive only the PDF — unless the packaged InDesign folder of files is requested.
How is TSG better or different than the alternatives?
We know what it takes to raise capital. And, it is much more than having a professional looking document. While all of our documents are highly professional, the strategies and content laid forth within them are sound. We work with you to overcome the issues that would keep an investor from getting involved. A good business plan is a mix of an art and a science. We are effective at executing both of these in each and every business plan that we write. We know the milestones that you need to achieve in order to attract investment. We know the way investors are used to being pitched to. We know how to make business ideas into fundable business investment opportunities.
Our ultimate goal is to prepare you and your startup for a successful pitch to an investor.