I remember writing my first business plan back in 1996. I bought some software that offered templates and spreadsheet models that I could use. I also hired a consultant to help me with the writing. I still have a copy of that original plan which I kept in a 3-ring binder.
I also have a copy of the Powerpoint presentation that we used to raise our first $1.3 million at Ancestry.com. During the bubble, you really didn’t need a complete business plan. Just a good domain name and the right VC connections. Money was really flowing.
But normally you need a business plan and a good financial model to raise outside investment capital. Even if investors don’t really read the whole thing, it’s kind of a hurdle that you have to jump over in order to be considered a legitimate operation.
Over the years I’ve seen hundreds of business plans, including a few great ones. The most interesting of all are from the companies that actually got funded. Anyone can write a plan. Anyone can follow a template from a software application. But I think it is important for entrepreneurs to study plans and powerpoint presentations from companies that actually raised capital. Those are the kinds of plans and presentations that set a standard that entrepreneurs should try to follow.
My team at FundingUniverse is now publishing low-cost collections of actual business plans that actually got funded. I have read a bunch of them and have found them valuable and interesting.
If you check them out, let me know what you think.