For years, the Bavarian Business Plan Competitions have been characterized by the fact that founders benefit from the expert jury's market-oriented feedback at a very early stage. However, an innovative idea is only the first step in convincing them. As a long-standing member of the expert jury, we at LfA Förderbank Bayern present some of the most important points that the jurors and potential investors pay attention to in the competition.
General information for the business plan
The focus of the jury's assessment is the business plan, often also a read deck. Two things are important here: clarity and objectivity. The former means above all that the readers of the plan receive appropriate answers to their questions quickly and comprehensibly - without any accompanying instructions from the author, just by reading it. Clarity requires simple, precise language. For example, too many technical details unnecessarily complicate a business plan, as these are only discussed later as part of the financing process. The objectivity of the presentation is also highly relevant. It goes without saying that the founders are convinced of their own idea. However, they should also give readers the opportunity to kindle this enthusiasm themselves instead of trying to impose it on them.
The door opener: The Executive Summary
Often misunderstood as merely an introduction to the business plan, the executive summary is much more than that. It is a kind of business card for the company, should arouse interest as a summary and contain a brief outline of all the important aspects of the business plan. This includes information about the product, the service, the customer benefits and the competitive advantage. Particular attention should be paid to the underlying business model, which must clearly show how and with what money is to be earned. The executive summary therefore has the character of an independent document and should be able to speak for itself. It may therefore be advisable to write it at the end, when all other parts of the business plan have already been finalized.
Always in view: Customer, market and competition
In a section on "Market and competition", the founders must convince the readers of the business plan that they have understood the market for their idea in detail. This requires a precise analysis of the competitive situation and, above all, very good knowledge of potential customers and their needs. After all, an innovative idea can only succeed on the market if it meets with demand. The business plan must therefore provide convincing answers to the following questions in particular: Who and where are the potential customers? Does the target group have sufficient purchasing power? What does the competition look like? Are the sales opportunities not jeopardized by technological or legal changes in the foreseeable future? The unique selling propositions or USPs, i.e. the competitive advantages, should be clearly identified. The authors can also demonstrate their knowledge of the market and competition in the explanations on market entry strategy in the "Marketing and sales" chapter.
The backbone of the company: the team
The entrepreneurial team part of the business plan should not be underestimated. Experience has shown that start-ups that are driven by a group often have a better chance of success on the market: the various tasks can be distributed among several people and later growth thresholds are also easier to overcome with a management team. Founders should also not shy away from naming previously lacking personnel resources in the business plan and explaining how these are to be filled.
Finally: Courage for a business plan
Of course, these points are not exhaustive. However, they do provide an initial insight into what is particularly important to the evaluators of business plans. Regardless of whether they are judges in a business plan competition or later investors from the private or public sector, such as us at LfA Förderbank Bayern. As a founder, don't let this dissuade you from attempting a business plan. Because an ambitious, innovative and well-presented idea will find its way onto the market!
Comprehensive advisory services
If you have any questions about financing, the LfA supports start-ups with individual advisory services. Interested parties can contact the LfA funding advisory service directly. The exchange with the funding experts then takes place either in person, by telephone or by video conference. In cooperation with regional partners, such as the local chambers of industry and commerce, LfA also offers regular advisory days throughout Bavaria.
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