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.
You should know what you want to get out of your business upfront. Are you wanting to turn a side hustle into a full-time business? Trying to expand your team or launch an additional location? Knowing what you`re trying to accomplish, and having questions like these in mind, can help you develop your business plan specifically to reach these goals.
It`s trendy to say investors don`t read business plans, but what actually happens is they only read business plans of the businesses they are interested in. They reject businesses from intro and pitch, without reading the business plan.
Projections are important not for their actual numbers as much as for their presentation of drivers, relationships between growth and spending, key spending priorities, sales aspirations, and assumptions related to cash flow. They have to be solid and integrated, but accuracy is much more a matter of transparent assumptions than accurately predicting the future.
Often the biggest decisions you`ll make for your business are amidst volatile periods of growth, decline, or even external crises. This requires you to make highly consequential decisions far more quickly than you may like. Without up-to-date planning and forecast information, these decisions may be less certain or strategic than they need to be.
Investors, lenders, and others know that a market without competitors is typically a tiny and uninteresting market. And, of course, a healthy, growing market will always attract competition. So, unless you`re creating a new industry or a new market segment, you will have competitors. And, you`ll need to figure out how to beat them or at least to compete with them.