The pitch is a summary of the plan, organized according to highlights for investors, ideally a way to present your business in a structured way. The business plan is the bones of the pitch, like the screenplay, setting strategy, tactics, milestones, market, and essential numbers.
Writing a business plan is about establishing a foundation for your business. You`re not predicting the future, you`re working through the core strategy of your business that will help you grow. This initial document isn`t meant to be perfect but is designed to be reviewed and adjusted to help you identify and reach your goals.
Ideally, the executive summary can act as a stand-alone document that covers the highlights of your detailed plan. In fact, it`s very common for investors to ask for only the executive summary when they are evaluating your business. If they like what they see in the executive summary, they`ll often follow up with a request for a complete plan, a pitch presentation, and more in-depth financials.
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.
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.
Working through your business plan, and starting with a one-page pitch, can help you test the viability of your business idea long before launching. As you work through everything from your branding and mission statement, to your opportunity and execution, the best thing you can do is get feedback and test different elements of your business.