Writing a Startup Business Plan

A startup business plan is a written document (generally 20 – 40 pages) that describes the step by step plan of how you will run your business. Writing a business plan is generally recommended when starting a new business or deciding to take your existing business to the next level.

Why should I write one?

The purpose of this document is to get out all your business ideas and future objectives for your startup. If you have this blueprint before you start your business, it will aid greatly in convincing banks, investors, & customers to support your business. This document should contain the financial forecasts of your business + any benchmarks/milestones that you plan to achieve in the future.

Essential Elements

The essential elements for writing a startup business plan are:

  • Executive summary - Give the overall description of your business project.
  • Business description – Give a short description of the industry + explain the new products or services that your business is bringing to the table.
  • Marketing strategies –  How you’ll market. Make sure to include a total market analysis (including TAM, or Total Addressable Market, estimations).
  • Competitive analysis – Various analyses such as strengths & weaknesses of your competitors, and how you can overcome them.
  • Management plan – How operations will be managed.
  • Financial analysis - This part generally comes towards the end of your startup business plan. Describe how you plan to use your funds + how you plan to raise more funds in the future. Detail your revenue streams + future potential revenue streams.

Templates & Software

It’s recommended to use a template when writing your business plan, since it will give you a better idea of what you should include. There are many online templates available in Microsoft Word. These may help you finish your business plan in a very short amount of time.

The other options of course is to take the essential elements I mentioned above, and write your own business plan from scratch. Regardless of the path you take, there will be pros & cons for each.

Advantages to using a business plan template:

  • You will have a overall idea of how to write a start up business plan, including all the necessary sections.
  • You will save alot of time.


  • Some of the more important elements of your business may or may not be included in the general template.

There also may be some software programs that can help you in writing a startup business plan. You can take guidance from those programs, but do not totally depend on them. As mentioned before, every business is different, and what may work for one company, may not work for another.

Writing  a startup business plan isn’t the easiest task, but if you pool all your resources together (such as templates & apps) it will help you complete the task quickly & efficiently. Remember, a perfect business plan plays a key role in the success of a business.

Delivering The Perfect Elevator Pitch – Know Your Purpose and Tell a Story

The elevator pitch has a few different names. Some people call it the elevator speech and some people call it the 30-second pitch. In essence, an elevator pitch is the act of describing a business plan (or something similar) to another person, in a very short amount of time (generally 30 seconds – 2 minutes). Imagine that you’re standing next to somebody very important in an elevator & your only chance to pitch ‘em is then & there, right before they exit the elevator.

Tips for delivering the perfect elevator pitch

We’ve curated some tips that will help you deliver the perfect elevator pitch.  Read below, and make sure to take the time & apply these strategies to your elevator pitch:

  • Pick an interesting hook, and delve deep into a topic that ties into your business. In order to draw ones attention when delivering an elevator pitch, the topic must be very interesting. Try to make your elevator pitch different from all your other pitches. Start with something that makes the listener think “Wow! I wonder where he’s going with this!”  Ensure, that the purpose of your discussion is known correctly, and that the importance of it is also known. Act according to it.
  • Maintain clarity in your speech. Do not rush while delivering your pitch because it will create a type of distraction for the listeners, and possibly embarrass you. Be patient and cool in delivering your speech. Have a clear picture about the people you are targeting. Make sure to speak wisely and concentrate on the person whom you’re talking to. Eye-contact is key!
  • Deliver your pitch like a story. Do not make the people sink into boredom from your speech. People always enjoy listening stories. So give your pitch like a story if you want a good response.
  • After your pitch, expect the listener to ask a question. Make sure that you are in a position to answer any & all questions. Consider studying the topic from all possible sides ahead of time, in order to aid with this.
  • Use proper language, but don’t over-complicate things! Your pitch should be so simple that each and every person listening will understand you, and be able to give comments / ask questions.

Final word

People generally think that giving a pitch is a tough task. However, delivering a perfect elevator pitch is not so difficult. After all, it’s only 30 seconds to a couple minutes (tops). All you really need to do is to concentrate on your slang, the content of your topic, and the way which you hook the listener(s) to your topic and attract them with your presentation. If you possess all these characteristics, then chances are you will definitely end up with positive results.

How to Nail Your Investor Pitch

Got an investor meeting / pitch coming up? Follow these 5 bits of advice to ensure you nail your pitch:

1. Start the party. Show me you know what customers crave before they do. Produce a prototype. Steve Jobs didn’t wait for an evite to launch the iPhone.

2. Flash your unfair competitive advantage. Distill why your product is different and better — in a line or two. Pump that message into your marketing materials. Haven’t figured how you’ll leave competitors reeling? Then don’t expect me to bet on you.

A CEO recently pitched a group of friends on why she was different and better than anyone else in her industry. The problem was that her definition of better was not what mattered to the industry. Keep it relevant.

3. Graduate from the gumball machine. Throw the hoodie in the laundry. Nothing says credibility, authority and certainty better than a suit or a jacket and slacks. And get a good haircut. Recent MIT researchshows that entrepreneurs investors considered attractive had a 36 percent better success rate in pitch competitions than their rivals.

4. Crib the answer. “Ummm…” isn’t the right response if I ask which customers you’ve pitched and how they reacted. Produce some real sales numbers or interview decision-makers to get qualitative data.

One entrepreneur pitching us continued to answer the same question with the same answer, but in a slightly different tone. He didn’t get it.

5. Quit hyping your pie chart. Sure, you’d be golden if you nailed 1 percent of that global market, but why include data that begs for debunking? Show something real in your pitch deck, like how you’re going to grow for the next year or two. That tells me you’re ready to execute — not get executed.

[Courtesy of Entrepreneur]

The Best Way to Come Up With Startup Ideas

If you’re feeling inspired & ready to commit some time to a new business venture, but can’t decide on the “right” idea, then this guide is for you. While some people have trouble finding motivation to follow-through with their ideas, others simply lack ideas.

When brainstorming ideas, you need study the product or type of business you aim to start in your area and ensure that there is demand for that particular product in that area. Timing plays an important role too. Create a checklist of characteristics you’re looking for in a business idea, and run all your potential ideas through the ringer. Remember that earning profits will always be one of your top priorities, since you need to keep your business alive. A good team is essential too. In fact, you can make miracles happen with a good team. I define a good team as a team that has your back all the time, irrespective of the company’s profit or loss.

More things to be considered when brainstorming business ideas:

  • Don’t be overly optimistic. You should always plan to make profit from your business, but every opportunity to lose money should also be considered when planning your business. Of course, during the early stages, huge profits are not expected.
  • Explore new talents & disciplines. Talk to others with unique talents and exceptional communication skills– they can help you realize new industries & markets that you might have never considered before.
  • Study the demand factor of any potential products or businesses in your area because starting a business which has no demand will result in nothing but maximum loss. Also ensure that you live nearby to any important resources you may need (i.e. if you’re manufacturing hardware, go to China, not California).
  • Competitors – There may be many companies around the area in which you are planning to start a business. If the existing companies already offer good quality products/services then you must work hard to overcome them & adopt their customers. It’s always better to choose a business idea with a low amount of nearby/similar competitors, but of course there are always times when that’s not be an option.
  • Investment also plays a major role in the start of a thriving business. There’s no problem if you already have all the necessary funds, but if you don’t, you should probably reconsider several aspects of your business such as initial goals & milestones.

Hope this post helps one of you come up with the next billion dollar idea!

Presentation Tips – Improve Your Presentation Skills

In today’s generation, presentation skills are very important. Usually a presentation is formal information that you use to communicate to others in a meeting or gathering. Many people have stage fright, but by practicing you can avoid any phobia or presentation anxiety. Presenting well is the best way to convey your ideas to others. But to give an effective presentation is not an easy task. A presentation requires many things like self-confidence, research, public speaking skills and organization. Here are some tips to help you with presenting:

How to organize your presentation:

  • First and foremost your presentation structure should include problem and solution.
  • Your content should be divided intuitively.
  • Your conclusion and summary should be clear and effective. Ensure that your audience has a pleasant ending.
  • If you want to invoke a friendly interaction with your audience afterwards, include some questions at the end of your presentation.
  • If you want to end on a pretentious note, close out with a quote you like.
  • End the presentation with a slide which has a thank you note or message with your contact details. Ideally you should have both.
  • Make sure your presentation does not extend the time given!

How to present to the audience:

  • You should avoid jargon & highly-technical language.
  • It’s best to present live examples / demos when possible.
  • Do not deliver your speech too fast, be cool and present clearly.
  • Make sure your speech can be heard by the last row of the hall, but don’t shout (unless you have no choice).
  • Pay attention to your body language because non-verbal communication speaks more than verbal communication. 
  • If you are not using your hands for any explanations/demos, keep them to your sides or on the podium.
  • Make sure you have spontaneous and natural gestures.
  • Never forget to maintain eye contact with the audience during the presentation.
  • Your dress code should be formal and pleasant.

Tips for improving your presentation skills:

  • Know your audience beforehand, in order to give the most effective presentation. Understanding the audience is very important.
  • Presenting should never be a one-way communication; engage the audience in your topic!
  • Don’t be too serious– have some fun with the audience.
  • Your presentation should not contain unnecessary data which is not relevant to the topic.
  • Your slides should be attractive and make sure you are using charts & diagrams for audience members who are visual learners.
  • Prepare your first slide in such a way that it grabs attention.


Presentation skills are necessary for all types of professionals. You can improve your presentation skills by following this list of presentation tips.

How to Write A Great Business Plan Outline

When starting a business, it can be really easy to get bogged down by the thought of writing a business plan outline. Rest assured, it’s not that hard!

I’ve compiled some tips for creating a great business plan outline which will help you grow your business & attract investors/supporters.
Business plans are especially useful if you plan to raise money for your business. Even if that’s not your aim, the business plan outline will still provide direction in achieving your goals. Below are some of the main elements that should be included in the outline of your business plan:


The mission usually states what the business is all about and why it’s being started/run. It should be simple and concise so that anyone can understand it.


The next step is to clearly mention the goals. There could be various goals for a particular business. While some goals are realistic, some could be a little far-fetched too. The goals should be big enough so that they can inspire you but not be large enough that they can never be achieved at all.

Financial Plans:

This is the most important aspect of your business plan. If you’re planning on raising outside funds, you need to make sure your financial plans are proper. It should project what you have and what you wish to have. You’ll need to focus on where you want to spend your money and how much revenue you expect to generate.

Marketing Plan:

This is another very important part. Here you will explain how you plan to market your products or services. What kind of promotional activities will you use and what is the budget that you have? Also, what kind of search engine optimization and newsletters will you use to promote your site?

Organization Chart:

No business can be run and grown single-handedly. For every business, there will be a clear cut requirement of personnel / management team that should be clearly identified and jotted down in the business plan & business plan outline. This will also be useful for the investors as they will know how you plan to grow and expand in terms of your management team.

List of Top Projects:

You need to clearly mention the top projects which will help in moving your business forward. These projects should clearly help you accomplish your business goals.
Also, investors want to know where your priorities lie. Once you have these projects outlined, it will help you determine which actions to take next.

Executive Summary:

Once you’ve finished writing about everything I mentioned above, the executive summary will need to be written. The executive summary explains the what of your business, the why, for whom, how much, by when and where. This section will clearly summarize what you plan to do with your business.

Now that you have all the steps outlined for your business plan, you can go back & review it. Ensure that it sounds consistent in terms of overall vision & goals. A good business plan will never go wrong. It will help you remain focused by defining what is to be done and by taking the necessary actions towards that direction.

Perfect your pitch by allowing your audience to annotate it in real-time

Looking for a way to analyze & improve your pitch? A new app called Feedback Fast allows you to record your pitch while your audience annotates it in real-time. Afterwards, you can watch it back & witness all the parts where your audience felt strongly OR felt “meh.” Additionally, you can read the stream of comments left by individual viewers. The app (previously called Intercourse) used to be $0.99, but is currently in the app store for FREE.

This seems like an extremely useful app for people who are dedicated to perfecting their pitch. It also seems as though small communities, such as those found in startup incubators & hacker spaces, could also greatly benefit from this app.

The Team Slide: Investors don’t want to hear your life story

When drafting your startup’s pitch deck, don’t go overboard on the Team slide. The main goal of the Team slide is to highlight your team’s past accomplishments, but that doesn’t mean list every project you’ve ever worked on. Your key points should be somewhat relevant to the product you’re pitching, plus prove that you’re qualified to drive this startup to success.

Case Studies:

  • Profitably’s pitch deck has lots of good info, yet their Team slide has potential to instill much more confidence. Simplifying your team slide & removing some bullet points may be the most effective way to better your team slide, especially if you have alot of info on it.
  • BrandBoards’ Team slide stays relevant & proves that they’re accomplished…almost to the point of bragging! If you’ve made truly awesome accomplishments in your career (stuff like $1 Billion+ in sales, or working with brands like NFL, MLB, NHL, etc…) then definitely put those in your deck! If you haven’t, then briefly outline the most prestigious accomplishments you have and try to spin them as relevant.
  • Cadee’s minimalist Team slide is visually appealing and doesn’t overload you with details. Sometimes less is more. What’s really cool though is how they list their golf handicaps on the slide. It may seem a little non sequitur…until you remember that they’re pitching a golf startup. Stay relevant.

Other Tips:

  • AngelList founder, Babak Nivi, recommends placing yourself as the last entry on the team slide because it not only makes you appear more humble, but also allows you to easily transition into the next slide (The Problem) by discussing how your travels led you to discovering the problem.
  • Dave McClure‘s pitch deck guide, Startup Viagra, suggests that VCs get “hot & bothered” when you focus on certain attributes of your team. Geeks should try and prove that they have a strong technical background, while Entrepreneurs should highlight the companies they’ve sold. If you’re a Sales/Marketing guy, do your best to prove that you’ve helped a company become profitable or generated immense amounts of revenue (aka “making it rain”).

Failed company, successful pitch deck

Here at Pitchenvy we like to showcase a wide-range of startup pitch decks. Most of the decks that we post are from successful and/or funded companies, but as some of you may have noticed, some of them are from failed companies.

You’re probably asking: Why showcase pitch decks from companies that have gone under? Well why not?

The point of our gallery is to provide examples of good pitch decks. Just because a company crashed doesn’t mean that they had a bad pitch deck. Take for example the 300.mg pitch deck; they have crisp graphics, a straight-forward demo, and measurable metrics. Not a bad mix for an effective pitch deck.

According to a recent TechCrunch article, the founders of 300.mg revealed that they closed their doors because 1) the market was too saturated, and 2) they were beginning to compete with email. Those are pretty good reasons to shift your focus if you ask me!

Sure, they could’ve added a slide or two to their pitch deck to help alleviate any worries investors might have about market saturation- but the problem would still exist! That’s like covering a red wine stain with a rug; you’re hiding the problem instead of fixing it. That’s not what pitch decks are for.

Moral of the story? A pitch deck can only get you so far. It’s up to you to make the right calls and prevent your company from sinking.

Advice for an effective pitch