So you have an idea, strong ambition and have combined the two to create a business. But what’s your plan?
Every year at Ignite Capital we look at dozens of business plans in preparation for our pitch-off competition and we’ve noticed some recurring gaps.  There's some information that entrepreneurs can add in order for us to better understand their business plan and for them to step back and reflect on the viability of their business.

Here are five tips for you to consider when building your business plan and to make a winning entry for the Ignite Capital competition and other funding opportunities:

  1. Your “aha” Moment
    The best part about every startup is that moment that gave you the confidence to start your business. Bring your idea to life by telling reviewers how you got to that point where you decided to go for it and start or grow your business. You may have received an unexpected inheritance or identified a big opportunity in the marketplace or were inspired by an entrepreneurial family member and you finally decided to take things into your own hands. The “aha” moment is often the most important drive of your entrepreneurial journey, and sharing that will help us and investors to get to know you better.

  2. Your Competition
    It’s one thing to identify who your competitors are, but do you know how you differentiate yourself? In your business plan include a thorough analysis of your competitors and the marketplace. Tell us how you differ from them and why someone would buy your product or service over theirs. Go a step further and do primary and secondary research. Survey your target market to determine if your product really differs the way you think it does and if they would buy it over your competitors.

  3. Your Backup Plan
    While remaining confident in your business success, you need to be prepared for challenges or an unexpected amount of success. If you don’t reach your target sales goal what will you do to make up for it? Perhaps you should shift the focus of your marketing? Also, plan for normal but be prepared for huge success. You need to have a plan in place if success strikes so that you can keep up with demand and not disappoint your customers.

  4. Finances  
    Outlining your cash flow, start up costs and projected income are a critical part of your plan. This is the “science” behind your business that will convince the reviewers that you have a “saleable” idea. It is also important that you include your assumptions to explain the numbers. How did you come up with your sales projections? Provide the details of your startup or growth costs.  If you can show existing sales, that is a home run

  5. Make it a Compelling Read
    The more details the better, but don’t shy away from graphs, pie charts or photos to keep your plan interesting. Visuals have the ability to put numbers into perspective for readers and can redirect their attention to the most important parts of your plan. Also a video that explains your business idea and your passion can really bring you and your business to life.

If you are seeking funding for your start-up or to grow your business check out and see if you meet the criteria.  You might be eligible to compete for up to $21,000 in funding.