In the beginning, one may have the urge to delve straight into specific strategies, such as evaluating production methods, studying market segments, and evaluating the competition—but do not do that, at least not yet.
The most common mistake by far is on profits. Startups that grow don`t produce profits. Investors make money on valuation increases, not profits. Real businesses rarely produce more than single-digit profits. Big profit projections are sophomoric. Take all those profits and dump them into marketing expenses and you`ll be better off.
If you say your management team is experienced and qualified to help the business succeed, you have to support that claim with resumes that demonstrate that experience. It`s easy to lose credibility – and investors – if you`re making claims you can`t fully support.
To understand your competitors and the industry, you`ll need to do market research. Invest time and effort and do market research correctly. A business can`t succeed if the owners don`t understand their industry, target customers, or the competition.
And you don`t have to start with the full, detailed business plan that I`m going to describe here. In fact, it can be much easier to start with a simple, one-page business plan—what we call a Lean Plan—and then come back and build a slightly longer, more detailed business plan later.
The vision should include tangible goals such as profits and market share, but more importantly, it should focus on the intangible/unquantifiable long-term goals, such as your willingness to adapt, emerging business-trends, and an ever-present desire to `excel.`