Once you have your fundraising plan and your pitch list together, it’s time to make sure you have all of your key pitch assets in order. Most of these assets are built from the same basic content and are simply reworked to fit different needs and requests.
Once you have the basics down, it’s pretty easy to prepare all of these documents as needed. Here’s a comprehensive list of what you’ll need to prepare when you’re ready to launch your fundraise.
Your elevator pitch is a short, consistent synopsis of your business, usually in just a few sentences. Surprisingly, getting your pitch to be short and consistent is kind of hard to do.
Although the amount of content you need to create is tiny—just a few sentences—the amount of thought that goes into it is extraordinary.
A good elevator pitch conveys a few things quickly: the problem you solve, the solution you provide, and the people you serve. For example, “We allow anyone to easily rent movies from their home computer” would have described what Netflix does.
You will use your elevator pitch often – in introduction emails, in presentations, and yes, in actual elevators during chance meetings. Keep rehearsing it and be sure to keep it short. It can be very useful.
Your pitch deck is your business plan translated into slides, typically in a PowerPoint document.
While a business plan tends to be a long narrative of the business intended for one person to read on their own (which rarely happens), the pitch deck is what you’ll use to present your concept directly to a room of investors.
Unlike an executive summary, which is also a summary of your business plan, the pitch deck tends to be more visual, highlighting a few key points very well. It’s particularly useful when showing off graphs and visual assets that help communicate the value of your idea.
The point of your executive summary, as the name implies, is to briefly summarize your business plan into just a few pages. Make no mistake though, it’s effectively the sales pitch for your business. Not only are you communicating the mechanics of the business, you are selling the value of your idea.
There are two schools of thought on the executive summary. One suggests that you should write your entire business plan and then summarize it in your executive summary. This makes obvious sense; however, it overlooks the fact that many people start companies without writing an entire business plan.
The alternative, then, is to try to summarize the key points of your business clearly in a few pages, using each major section of a standard business plan (Management Team, Marketing Plan, etc.) as a guide.
Whichever path you choose, the executive summary will be helpful to have on hand for those investors that want a slightly more detailed narrative behind your elevator pitch.
Having a business plan handy when you’re out raising money might sound like something everyone would have, but few do.
There are a few reasons for this. First, authoring a 50-page manifesto on how your future business will operate is typically the domain of MBAs and academics, and rarely for most entrepreneurs who just want to get their business launched.
The second is that it’s an incredibly time consuming process if you really want to dig into every step of a business plan from start to finish.
That said, it’s also an invaluable exercise.
The real value of a business plan isn’t in the actual document itself — it’s unlikely anyone will ever read it. The value comes from the planning, brainstorming and research that goes into crafting the plan. The result of this effort makes your assault on your new business idea far more credible.
If you decide to build your entire business plan, you’ll certainly want to have it handy, but make sure if you’re introducing yourself to investors you start with more digestible documents like an executive summary or pitch deck. This is a nice teaser that will prompt a request for a business plan if you’ve piqued their interest.
Not every business absolutely needs to have a website in order to pitch for capital, but it is highly recommended. Your pitch assets tend to be things you’ll either print or attach to an email. What the website provides is a reference point that provides supporting information for people who are interested in learning more after hearing your pitch.
You don’t have to put your company’s financial forecasts or secret sauce on your website. You can save that information for more personal communications.
The website is useful though for providing a “brochure” for your idea. That could include screen shots of your product, a short explanation of what you’re setting out to do, a personal blog discussing your thoughts on the industry, etc.
What is important about the website is that it gives people a professional view of your company, along with a taste of who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. It also happens to be a lot easier to point someone to in an email!
If everything is going well, you’re going to be asked for your financial documents. The financials cover a few aspects of your business from your revenue forecasts to your operational expenses to your cash flow.
The complexity of these documents can range from a single slide in your pitch deck showing some baseline guesses on where revenues will come from, to highly complicated Excel docs that involve macros and formulas changing outcomes based on key assumptions and scenarios.
For general purposes you’ll need to cover at least a few aspects of your financial picture.
You may be asked for additional information such as a balance sheet, pro forma income statement (a fancy word to mean “projected” revenue and expenses) and such. As long as you’re communicating the three main tenets of the business—revenue, expenses and cash flow—you should be in good shape here.
It is possible to start your capital raising without all of these documents in place, but it isn’t advisable. These documents require you to do a lot of homework and preparation, which is exactly the kind of exercise you need to go through in order to become more fundable as a company.