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Business plan questionnaire: seven questions to ask yourself

Business Plan Questionnaire: Seven Questions To Ask Yourself

Once you present a business plan to an investor or lender, questions may begin to fly at you. If this happens, do not be alarmed! It is evidence that they are truly interested in your business. You can prepare for these questions by running through potential questions, like these seven, ahead of time.

“Why did you choose to begin with this target market?”

“We have to start somewhere” is not a great answer. Consider why the costs are lower or returns greater with your chosen first target market, or, better yet, how tackling that market first will make entry into additional markets easier later on.

“Why can’t competitors imitate your competitive advantage?”

Know the strengths, weaknesses, and branding of your competitors to understand what will stand in their way from doing what you are doing. It could be that your competitive advantage is contradictory to what they are trying to do or that you have protected intellectual property in your business, for example.

“Why is your team best qualified to launch this company?”

Funders know that there are potential managers in the job market who could be hired to run a startup like yours. Know how your chosen team combines industry, functional, and leadership experience with an understanding of startups.

“What best practices of the industry will your business use?”

Study best practices companies in the industry use to become more efficient and know which will translate into your startup, which can be implemented only as you grow, and which will not be possible because of their conflict with your underlying strategy.

“What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?”

If someone asks what makes your new business unique, you had better have an answer. This should be stated explicitly in the business plan.

“What would it take to reach break even sooner?”

Be prepared to defend the time you estimate it will take for the company to break even and to start making a profit. If funders want to see you break even sooner, know what it would take in terms of different staff, additional resources, or increased investment, but do not be too quick to push your schedule up. This only shows funders that your estimates were based on flimsy assumptions to begin with.

“What are your projections of growth based on?”

Be able to explain the assumptions about the market and your company’s conversion rates (of potential customers to actual customers, for example) which led to your projections of growth. You should know how your projections compare to other success stories in your industry and in other industries so you can be sure there is precedent for the growth you anticipate.

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