Whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, presenting a business plan can be a daunting task. Yet, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel in these situations, mastering your business plan presentation is essential to your company’s long-term success. An effective business plan presentation could be the key to securing startup financing your company needs to launch, expansion capital to grow, or outside investments you’ve been seeking to accomplish important business milestones. This guide will provide you with important advice on how to present your business plan to others and how to improve your chances of a successful outcome. Business Plan Vs. Business Plan Presentation A business plan is a document you create to describe your company goals, business objectives, and how it intends to achieve these important milestones. It’s a means of thinking through the most important aspects of your business, and there are different types of business plans available, depending on the goal your company is trying to accomplish. A business plan presentation, on the other hand, is a way to communicate your business plan to outsiders in a public setting. (Think of Shark Tank, for a point of reference.) In general, presenting a business plan involves public speaking and often a visual demonstration, such as Powerpoint or other type of slideshow. It’s your chance to explain why your company is a good investment opportunity or a good risk for lenders. Tips For A Successful Business Plan Presentation The goal of a business plan presentation is to sell your idea to others (lenders or investors) to obtain the capital your company needs through financing, investments, or a mixture of both. Below are four tips that may help you prepare a successful business plan presentation. 1. Begin With the Audience In Mind Whether you’re writing a business plan or designing a business presentation, it’s critical to start the process with your audience in mind. If you’re going to be speaking with lenders, for example, you want to focus on why your company is a good credit risk, can satisfy business loan requirements, and has the financial capacity to repay its debts (with interest). When you present to investors, however, they tend to be more interested in the growth potential of your business and the future returns their investment may bring. With investors in particular, it’s also wise to research whom you’ll be targeting with your presentation. News articles, venture capital directories, and various websites can provide details about potential investors you’re meeting with, the available capital they may have to invest, and their areas of expertise and interest, so you can design a presentation that appeals to your audience. 2. Pay Attention to Instructions If you’re applying for certain types of business funding or getting ready for a meeting with a venture capital firm, you might receive specific instructions on how to prepare. These instructions might include details regarding: Your presentation time limit A suggested outline to follow Details to include in your presentation (e.g., financial projections, competitive analysis, market research, etc.) Not all investors or lenders will provide directions or suggestions regarding your business plan presentation. But if you receive such details, it’s critical that you follow them. 3. Include Key Details While you may provide a copy of your full business plan to lenders or investors, a business plan presentation should highlight key points you want your audience to understand about your company and the goals it hopes to achieve. Consider including details such as the following in your presentation. Company overview - Discuss your company’s mission, key information about the business, and provide contact information, and your company logo. Market research - Provide details about the problem(s) your company aims to solve and why there’s a need for your products and services. Demonstrate how your company can solve said problems for its target customers and use data to show how it plans to stand out from the competition. Financial data - Show how your company plans to stay on budget and future financial forecasts backed by reliable facts and figures. Marketing plan - Describe how your business intends to reach its target market and how doing so will help the company reach its financial goals. Management strengths - Review your team’s strengths, previous business experience, and past accomplishments. Timeline - Provide clear explanations that detail when your business will achieve its goals. The more data you can provide to support your estimates, the better. 4. Overcome Objections and Close It’s wise to anticipate potential obstacles you might face in your business plan presentation. If you can’t satisfy a lender’s approval criteria, you might find yourself in a position where you need to consider alternative business financing options. But with investors, you can prepare a list of responses in advance to address potential concerns regarding: Lack of experience in the management team Previous business financials (e.g., cash flow, profit and loss, etc.) Strong competition in market Inaccurate assumptions For example, in a situation where an investor is concerned about your management team’s lack of experience, you could discuss plans to use outside business advisors for added support. Or you might be open to offering an investor a representative board seat in exchange for a sizable investment. Finally, once you feel like you’ve addressed a potential investor’s concerns, don’t forget to ask for the close. The typical goal of a business plan presentation is to secure funding or an investment for your company. And you often won’t know if you’re successful in your attempt to secure business capital unless you ask. Bottom Line Presenting a business plan is like any skill. The more you practice, the better (and more comfortable) you will become. You can practice your business plan presentation on co-workers, friends, and family members. But you’ll typically receive the best learning experiences from talking to real-life lenders and investors. On a positive note, it’s possible to apply for many types of business loans without presenting a business plan. So, while learning how to present your business plan to others can be beneficial to your long-term business success, you might be able to secure some capital in the meantime even before you perfect your pitch process.