50 Questions Your Business Plan Should Answer

Sadly, most investors don't read business plans. However, writing one is the only way you will be able to answer the following 50 questions which an investor will ask you:

1. What is the price of your product or service and why?

2. How much capital is required to execute your business plan?

3. How much is the company is worth?

4. What existing products/services does your company provide?

5. What is the use of the proceeds?

6. On a summary basis, what is the historical financial performance of the company (even if, and perhaps particularly if, you have no revenues)?

7. On a summary basis, what is the projected financial performance of the company?

8. What new products/services are being developed and when will they be ready for market?

9. What is the size of the market for your product in dollars?

10. What is the size of the market in terms of units?

11. How has the market for the product/service changed over the past 5 years and why?

12. How do you anticipate it will change going forward?

13. At what rate is the market for your product growing?

14. Is the competition highly concentrated or highly fragmented?

15. What is your distribution channel and why is it the best one?

16. On a broad level, what are the elements of your marketing strategy?

17. What does it cost to generate a lead, and what is the ratio of leads to sales?

18. What funding is being allocated to new product development from the financing and from ongoing operations?

19. How many potential customers have you talked to?

20. What are the gross and margins on your product/service? Why are they superior or inferior to a competitor?

21. What is your assumptions on the bad debt and collection period for outstanding receivables?

22. What are your working capital needs once sales take off and how will these needs be addressed?

23. What will happen to gross and operating margins as sales rise and why?

24. What percentage of your sales are recurring?

25. Who are your top five executives and what is their professional and educational background?

26. What regulatory or legal threats are present?

27. Are there international markets for this product and is the company positioned to take advantage of them?

28. Who is the largest competitor in your industry?

29. What criteria will be used to choose locations for geographic expansion?

30. How will you get this product into mass market distribution channels?

31. Is the product/service patented?

32. Who are your suppliers and or vendors?

33. Do you have more than one for each supplier/vendor of your basic raw materials or services?

34. What are your payment terms with vendors or suppliers?

35. What will cause gross and operating margins to improve as volume increases or decreases?

36. Where is the company located and how many square feet does it lease or own?

37. What is the length of the sales cycle?

38. How did you estimate returns and allowances?

39. How are sales personnel compensated? Incentivized?

40. What, as a percentage of sales, is the industry norm for R&D expenditures?

41. What is the earnings multiple of public companies like yours?

42. What is your immediate marketing objectives?

43. Does the company have a board of directors or advisors?

44. What is the ownership structure of the company? Who else is an owner?

45. How has the company been financed to date? What other financial transactions have occurred in the past?

46. Has the product generated any publicity? Where?

47. How old are the current liabilities on the balance sheet?

48. Who has prepared the historical financial statements and have they been compiled, reviewed or audited?

49. Is there any cyclically in sales?

50. What are the competitive advantages of your products?

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

David Evanson

David R. Evanson has more than 30 years working in the media, on Wall Street and in media relations. He has worked with investment banks, asset managers, private equity investors and institutional brokers on a variety of marketing and communications challenges. David is also a recognized financial writer, having authored five books on finance and economics, and articles in Barron’s, Forbes, Investment Dealers’ Digest, On Wall Street, Financial Planning and Entrepreneur, among others. David brings to the table a well-developed understanding of the capital markets, investments and corporate finance, and a talent for creating targeted media communications programs for financial services providers.

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