The Business Plan Blueprint

The Business Plan Blueprint


Copyright © 2015 Tallat Mahmood


The right of Tallat Mahmood to be identified as the author of the Work has been asserted him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without written permission from the author.





While every effort has been made to accurately represent how to maximize your chances of raising funding for your business with a business plan, any results cannot be guaranteed.


This publication contains the opinions and ideas of its author. This book is published with the understanding that the author is not engaged in providing legal, tax, investment, insurance, financial, accounting, or other professional advice or services. If the reader requires such advice or services, a qualified professional should be consulted. The strategies outlined in this book may not be suitable for every individual, and are not guaranteed or warranted to produce any particular results.


No warranty is given with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, and to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law the author specifically disclaims any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this book.





FREE VIDEO TRAINING – get the proven step-by-step system I use with clients that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for their businesses.


Through this training you will learn:


p<>{color:#000;}. The step-by-step guide to putting each piece of the business plan together in detail, and how to answer all the questions about your business that funders want answers to

p<>{color:#000;}. Tactics you can start deploying straight-away to ensure your business plan is completed in half the time you think it will take, with no overwhelm

p<>{color:#000;}. How to put together the financials section with ease and without the complexity or confusion using a financial model template that I walk you through, step-by-step

p<>{color:#000;}. How to create warm leads with funders in order to secure meetings even if you don’t have any connections in the finance world

p<>{color:#000;}. The secrets to pitching investors and lenders using your business plan so they cannot resist funding you




I’ll see you on the inside!


Tallat Mahmood







How To Create A Powerful Business Plan That Gets Your Business Funded Quickly





Raising money for your business is something that most business owners need to do at some point during the lifecycle of their company if they want to succeed. External funding can help to accelerate a product launch, increase expenditure on sales and marketing, or hire top-class people for your business.


In short, external funding can help you build a successful business.


However, many business owners fail to secure the funding they need which leads to the very high failure rates of businesses starting out (approximately 90% fail in within the first five years).


But what’s the reason for many business owners failing to secure funding for their business?


Well it’s certainly not a lack of capital. Banks, investors and governments are ready and waiting to fund your business.


Banks and investors are actively seeking businesses like yours to back and, despite what you may think, have substantial funds available to invest. Governments around the world understand the significance of small and medium-sized businesses to the overall economy and have developed initiatives such as grants and government loans specifically for entrepreneurs like you.


The real reason many businesses do not have access to this capital, is because they are unable to present their business to funders in the right way.


This is where the business plan comes in.


The business plan will introduce you to funders. All types of investors want to see a business plan. A business plan is the easiest form in which funders can assess a business opportunity.


The problem is many business owners do not know how to put together a business plan strategically so that it attracts lenders and investors, and convinces them to fund you above other companies. It’s about understanding what funders want as much as it is about providing the right information.


That’s why I wrote The Business Plan Blueprint.


The Business Plan Blueprint helps you create a business plan specifically with funders in mind.


This is a business plan book focused on raising funding.


The Business Plan Blueprint focuses specifically on those questions that lenders and investors will want to know the answers to before funding you. It also tells you how you need to answer those questions with your specific business in order to wow funders.


In effect, it prepares and presents your business in the best possible way for it to secure capital.


Consequently, as The Business Plan Blueprint focuses on raising money, it omits all redundant elements of a business plan that many guides and templates discuss. You end up with a leaner business plan that is easier to write and easier to present to lenders and investors. This is also a methodology that ensures you spend less time creating it, as I appreciate this is a major concern for business owners when it comes to business plans.


You will end up with an extremely focused and succinct business plan.


The methods explained here are all completely free for you to implement – they’ll only cost your time, and that too, much less than if you were to follow a generic guide.


What are you waiting for?






Before becoming a business advisor and investor, Tallat Mahmood was an aerospace engineer and worked on lots of cool futuristic technology like hover boards… and stuff(!)


He subsequently moved to business and business advisory. This was inspired by a desire to help build businesses, something he has done now for 12 years.


Within this time he has helped hundreds of businesses in all sectors raise millions in funding for growth. As such, he has seen the best and worst of business plans. He has first hand experience of what works and what doesn’t work.


Having also worked as a banker and investor, he doesn’t only put himself in the shoes of funders when creating business plans, but also utilises his first hand experience as one.


Tallat is recognised as an expert in business advisory, and in particular raising funding for small and medium-sized businesses with business plans.


His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Bplans, the world’s leading business plans site, where he is also a regular contributing writer.


Tallat is also Managing Director of business advisory firm, SkyPanther Capital where he advises clients worldwide on funding, growth, and exits.











Whether you are looking for funding from a lender, investor, or taking advantage of government initiatives, they will all want to see your business plan in the first instance.


The business plan gets you a seat at the table.


Without it, not only will you struggle to articulate your offering, but funders will move on to others who have well constructed business plans already prepared for their consideration.


So why is the business plan so important for funders?


Well, the key reason is that, constructed correctly, it gives funders all of the relevant information about your business to allow them to decide whether or not they want to continue conversations with you. It’s your opportunity to convince them to invest.


It is the initial litmus test of your ability.


The business plan gives funders a view on whether they want to hear more about your business and if they believe you are a credible business owner. Given they see dozens of business plans every month, and meet many business owners like you on a regular basis, they can very quickly align business plan quality with the strength and credibility of the individual that produces it.


This is why it is extremely important:


a) you have a business plan when you are raising capital

b) you ensure it presents you and your business in the best light as you only get one, brief chance

c) you make sure you create the business plan yourself as opposed to outsourcing this. An external consultant cannot produce it with the passion you have for your business and a funder needs to see this


If you are serious about your business, and about raising capital for your company, a business plan is absolutely critical.


Lenders and investors will not take you seriously if you do not have a business plan.





Assuming you’re convinced of the importance of having a business plan when raising money, the question turns to what funders want to see in your business plan?


There are a number of signs funders will be looking for in your business plan:


• A clear investment proposition

• A uniquely positioned product or service

• Attractive market characteristics

• Some traction (customers or engagement)

• A clear business model (i.e. how you make money)

• An appreciation of funder concerns

• Consistency throughout the plan

• Growth potential

• Mitigated risks

• Credible team

• An organised, and rational way to approach the fundraising process


Some of this will be evident from specific sections of the business plan but what most people omit, and what differentiates business plans that get funded and those that don’t, is some of the more subtle signs that your business plan needs to exhibit.


For example, irrespective of the funding size, it is a large commitment from any type of funder to back you and your company. You will not be known to them. If you think about it, you would not lend money to people you don’t know!


Many business owners take a blasé attitude to raising funding which is unfortunate. It is important you understand that you are asking unknown people for money.


Funders want to see that you appreciate the trust you are asking them to place in you.


And this needs to come across in the business plan. Be clear on how you have gotten to the funding requirement amount and be very specific about what you will spend their money on. Why do you believe you will get the greatest return from investing the money where you intend to in the business? What evidence do you have for this?


Explaining your rationale in this way is one way you can demonstrate that you are taking their money seriously and will be responsible with it.


A business owner who is well-prepared and has thought through how they want to present their business stands out from someone who is just knocking it together thoughtlessly. Poor preparation leads to no focus, waffle, and ambiguity. In short, it leads to no funding.


What kind of business owner do you want to be?


To get off on the right foot, you need to start by articulating the investment proposition for your business.


In other words, why should lenders and investors fund you?











The starting point of a successful fundraise is to understand what funders are thinking about when it comes to investing in businesses.


Your unique value proposition is something you need to think about upfront before you start work on your business plan.


Determining the value proposition is important because it clarifies what you believe to be the main ‘selling’ points of your business that will attract investors.


For funders, this is of interest because it lets them know how you set out your stall and what you are best known for. It gives them a basis on which to make a decision.


The value proposition for funders should not be a long laundry list of separate reasons that you think funders will be interested in.


Your value proposition is a very specific attribute or characteristic of your company that drives value in your business.


Once identified, your value proposition is something that should echo throughout your business plan. Funders should be in no doubt what your business is all about and why you would be a great investment for them.


So what goes into helping you craft your perfect value proposition?


Well, this is what I have found, through my many years of advising and investing in businesses, as being the areas in your business that will make up your value proposition:


1. A loyal customer segment (they love what you make or the service you give)

2. A proven, working business model (i.e. how you make money)

3. Key market differentiation (i.e. you have something, or do something in a particular way that no-one else is doing)


And that’s it!


If you can identify how the above applies to your business, then you are on the way to developing your value proposition. The fact is that if you are in business (or thinking of going into business), then there will definitely be at least one of the three elements above that will exist in your business; it is just a case of finding it.


This value proposition will attract funders’ interest because it gives them a reason to keep on reading.


They can see what is in it for them.





Once your value proposition is set you need to articulate the opportunity you are presenting funders.


All funders are looking for an opportunity.


An opportunity to make money.


An opportunity to make a good investment.


An opportunity to be part of a business that helps change peoples lives.


An opportunity to work with a great team.


The opportunity, like the value proposition, will weave through your business plan and needs to be clear. By articulating your opportunity to funders correctly you should appeal to their logic to make money, as well as to their psychology to believe this is an investment they should make.


Every lender or investor wants to be part of a successful business story. It adds to their credibility as funders and increases their reputation amongst peers.


It is your job to craft the opportunity throughout the business plan in such a way that you convince funders of what can be achieved in partnership with them.


The opportunity for every business will be different, but could include the chance to:


1. Scale up something that is working in your business

2. Market your product or service to new customers segments

3. Take advantage of an opportunity in the market

4. Help bring new products or services to market

5. Introduce new operations in your business that allows you to operate more effectively


All of the above will lead to a more refined and successful business. And success attracts attention.


Once you have identified the opportunity you are offering investors, all other messages in your business plan need to be consistent with that. For example, if the opportunity to funders is to help scale existing operations in your business, the financials will need to show how revenue growth will increase when you have more resources to deliver the same product or service to more people.


An important requirement is that the opportunity needs to be believable. For example, you will only be able to convince funders that the introduction of a new product (supported by money from funders) will result in large growth in the business, if you can demonstrate that there is a real demand for that product from target customers. In this example, a simple survey could help to gather feedback.





In addition to opportunity, the other thing that will be front of mind for funders is risk.


Many business owners do not mention risks in their business plan for fear that it will turn investors off.


You could not be more wrong!


The fact is, those risks remain in your business whether you talk about them or not. Many funders have years of experience investing in all sectors and all types of businesses. They will already be aware of risks that companies in your sector face even before they meet you, or see your business plan.


But they would prefer it if you were honest and highlighted the risks yourself.


The reason a funder wants to know about the risks in your business is obvious; they want to assess the likelihood of them making a return on their investment (or receiving a repayment of their loan).


But there is a way to convince funders of investing in your business, irrespective of its risk profile.




You outline the actions you have taken, or are taking, in order to reduce the risk.


In other words, highlight how you will mitigate against that risk.


I have used this strategy time and time again with clients in order to make them stand out to funders. Instead of being a weaknesses because you have risks (who doesn’t!), in this way, even your weaknesses become a strength.


The positive effects of doing this are plenty:


1. Presents you as a credible, and honest business owner

2. Demonstrates that you are aware of the key risks facing your business

3. Shows you as a leader by identifying problem areas and putting action plans in place to address the problems

4. Highlights that you are aware of funder requirements

5. Shows you know the challenge you face to build a successful business


Mitigating actions will vary depending on the key risks in your business. The key thing is the actions need to be specific and measurable.


So “working harder” is not a mitigating action for a risk that may be “poor pipeline of customers”, because it is not specific and not really measurable. Sorry!


A good example of a risk a business may face could be that the majority of your business is done with one customer (i.e. customer concentration). If that customer disappears, the majority of your business will disappear too. In this example, the mitigating action would be for you to market your product or service to other clients, and to broaden key customers from one to three in 12 months time, say.


That is specific and quantifiable.


Now that you’ve identified the value proposition, the opportunities, and the risks in your business, you are ready to start constructing your business plan.


Let’s get started!











From many business plan templates and guides that are available on the internet, you will see that they are typically very lengthy. Just looking at them makes your eyes water!


Who has the time to build a business plan that takes months and months to write? Not you right?!


Thought so.


That is why my approach to business plans focuses only on those elements that are relevant to investors and lenders.


Excess content is not required!


Not only does this allow you to create a business plan in much quicker time (some of my clients have succeeded in doing it in a matter of weeks, whilst running their business!), but it also allows you to create a business plan that is focused.


And investors and lenders love focus!


What I discussed in earlier sections of this book regarding your value proposition, opportunities, and risks, helps to focus down on just those elements of your business that investors want to know about.


Following this framework (and disciplining yourself from waffling!) will ensure that your business plan is compact and gets to the point. This also plays in your favour with funders because there are many things they would rather be doing than reading a 60 page business plan!


The key approach I use to ensure business plans are completed quickly and aren’t lengthy is asking the right questions. Note: not asking all the questions, but asking the right questions.


This is exactly what we get onto in the next section.





Now that you have the foundations of your business, you are ready to start building your business plan. This considered approach prevents you from committing the number one mistake business owners make; jumping straight into writing their business plan.


The key sections your business needs are summarised below. I have outlined the key questions I would want to know answers to as a funder in your business. Stick to these and you’ll retain focus, and build the plan in an effective manner.



• Why should we invest in you?

• What is special about your business?

• Where is the growth opportunity?

• How have you mitigated risks?

• Why are you the best team to back?

• (Complete at the end, once other sections are complete)



• What is the problem you are solving?

• How are people addressing that problem currently?

• What is your solution?

• How does your solution differ from everything else in the market?

• Who are your competitors and in which areas are they better and worse than you?

• What is your business’ unique service offering?

• What growth opportunities exist for your business in the future?



• Identify as specifically as you can, who you are selling to.

• What is the size of your specific target market?

• What are the trends of your target market (i.e. how quickly / slowly are they growing and how are their needs changing, if at all)?



• How do you position yourself in the market compared to the competition?

• How do you envisage reaching out to, and communicating with, your target market?

• How would you sell to your target market?

• What is your pricing plan and how did you arrive at this?

• What distribution channels do you use to get your products to customers?



• What are the key milestones that you hope to achieve over the course of the next few years?

• Why are these important to the success of your business?

• What specific metrics will you monitor to assess performance (no more than five)?

• How will you monitor these metrics?



• Explain all the major assumptions that underline your plan.

• What is your cash requirement over the course of your business plan (i.e. how much money are you looking to raise)?

• Explain what that funding will be used for.

• What contingency costs have you included to ensure you don’t run out of money?

• What sensitivity analysis have you done to illustrate what low case scenarios could look like (i.e. if things didn’t go to plan, what would happen and how much extra money would you need)?

• (More on this in the next section).



• Why are you the best team to deliver the plan?

• What relevant successes have you had in the past?

• Are you experts in the market you are focusing on?

• What network or connections do you have that you can make use of?

• How have you committed yourself to this business (i.e. how much time or money have you invested in this business)?


Addressing these questions is a good starting point to help you cover some of the important areas that funders will want to know about.


The questions are very specific to lenders and investors and are exactly the questions they will be thinking about or asking when they read your plan. If you can answer these questions with the right supporting information, funders will want you in for a meeting very soon!





When completing the business plan, the financials section is the one that troubles people the most in my experience. However, it is one of the most important section because it is off the back of the numbers that funders get a sense of the opportunity, and your credibility.


The fact that many business owners struggle however, is understandable, especially if you do not have a finance or business background.


With that in mind, I outline below the key rules you need to adhere to when building the financials section of your business plan.



p<>{color:#000;}. Do not over-complicate the financials section. Your Excel financial model should include assumptions that you can justify

p<>{color:#000;}. The Profit and Loss Statement, and the Cash Flow Statement are sufficient to show what a bank or investor need to know

p<>{color:#000;}. The key thing you need to get across is how revenue and profitability grow in your business, and how costs grow to support that growth

p<>{color:#000;}. Projecting your financials out for 3 years is enough – there is no need to project 5 years into the future

p<>{color:#000;}. Give at least 2 years of historics data if you have this, otherwise give whatever you have



p<>{color:#000;}. The financials section needs to be built up gradually, step-by-step

p<>{color:#000;}. First start with revenues and build them based on what you have seen in your business, or are seeing

p<>{color:#000;}. Include growth assumptions, but these should be extrapolated from what the business has achieved (i.e. if your business has being growing revenue at 5% per year, don’t forecast a growth rate of 15% per year, assuming all else is equal in the business)

p<>{color:#000;}. Similarly with costs, they need to be built up based on what you see in the business

p<>{color:#000;}. If your revenues are growing, you cannot forecast your costs to be falling, as it costs money to make money



p<>{color:#000;}. Building your financial plan monthly, and not annually gives greater granularity around the data

p<>{color:#000;}. In particular it will give you a proper view of what the cash need in the business is which cannot be fully appreciated from an annual plan

p<>{color:#000;}. Building your financial plan monthly is not necessarily more work as the equations will all be automated in Excel

p<>{color:#000;}. However, the data is of much more use to banks and investors

p<>{color:#000;}. It also positions you as a pro!



p<>{color:#000;}. One thing most entrepreneurs fail to do is add a line for contingencies in case of unexpected costs….because things don’t always go to plan!

p<>{color:#000;}. The exact number you include for a contingency (usually per month) depends on your gut instinct for what is reasonable based on your costs

p<>{color:#000;}. The important thing is you include something in here to cover unexpected costs



p<>{color:#000;}. When putting your financial plan together it is important not to get lost in all the detail

p<>{color:#000;}. As an entrepreneur you will have to justify your plan

p<>{color:#000;}. So stand back and assess whether the assumptions you have made are reasonable and if they make sense

p<>{color:#000;}. This is the basic test most people ignore which leads them to develop a financial plan that looks good on paper, but doesn’t reflect their business


These guidelines will allow you to think about your financial plan in the right way.


In case you are not familiar with putting financial models together fear not.


You can access my free video training that gives you a fully completed financial model template (with guidance on what numbers to put where for your business). I walk you through it step-by-step so you can complete it for your business.


Visit http://thesmartbusinessplanacademy.com to get access to this and lots of other cool stuff to help you build your business plan.





You have to put in the hard work to secure funding for your business. The fact of the matter is that many business owners are putting lots of hard work in but are not seeing the results. They’re not getting funded.


That’s because they are doing it all wrong.


My approach, as outlined, takes away the overwhelm, takes away the uncertainty, and takes away the doubt to help you build exactly what investors and lenders want to see. This business plan gives your business the best chance of securing funding.


It is a tailor-made business plan for raising capital.


And you will have noticed that the system doesn’t get you to use any fancy software, or expensive tools. I get you to think about your business in the right way – in the same way that funders will think about it. I short-circuit the process to help you get to the answers quickly. It saves you time, and gives funders what they want.


One of the key issues with business plans is that they become redundant very quickly. But because I build business plans with real information and insight, many of my clients are still using their business plans a long time after producing them, only making tweaks and changes where necessary.


And this is a key weakness for many small and medium-sized businesses; frequent monitoring and review of strategy and performance is missing.


Public companies do this very well by having monthly board meetings where all team members review the same business information in order to review overall business strategy and business priorities. In fact, public companies are legally bound to do this.


With many of my clients who have gone on to secure funding for growth, we have built a simple dashboard from their business plans that allows them to manage their business on a day-to-day basis. The dashboard is so simple to use, its crazy! You can share it with your team, and updating it is a breeze.


Once you’ve created your business plan, extracting the right snippets from it to help you manage the business on a day-to-day basis is easy and extremely valuable for the health of your business.


So, you’ve got the first part nailed – but what about the second?


If you’d like to find out more, I’ve put together an email course (step-by-step, including how to answer some of the key questions outlined) that goes into detail about how I helped business owners like yourself raise capital.


The video course not only goes into every detail of building a business plan, but also helps you secure meetings with funders, and explains the in’s and out’s of pitching in order to secure the funding you need.


All my best strategies and tactics are included – and they work!


The course is called “The Smart Business Plan Academy” and enrolment is now officially open.





FREE VIDEO TRAINING – get the proven step-by-step system I use with clients that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for their businesses.


Through this training you will learn:


p<>{color:#000;}. The step-by-step guide to putting each piece of the business plan together in detail, and how to answer all the questions about your business that funders want answers to

p<>{color:#000;}. Tactics you can start deploying straight-away to ensure your business plan is completed in half the time you think it will take, with no overwhelm

p<>{color:#000;}. How to put together the financials section with ease and without the complexity or confusion using a financial model template that I walk you through, step-by-step

p<>{color:#000;}. How to create warm leads with funders in order to secure meetings even if you don’t have any connections in the finance world

p<>{color:#000;}. The secrets to pitching investors and lenders using your business plan so they cannot resist funding you




I’ll see you on the inside!


Tallat Mahmood





Send me an email at:


[email protected]


And I’ll get back to you straight away!





If you’d like to pick up this book in PDF format, you can download it here:


The Business Plan Blueprint – PDF





Here are some relevant resources that I have created or been involved in that will give you more information and guidance on business plans and raising funding for your business:


Blab interview: “Creating An Awesome Business Plan”


Forbes article: “Building Success: Are You Tracking The Right Metrics?”


Bplans article: [+ “How Much Funding Should You Raise?”+]


Entrepreneur Magazine article: “5 Reasons Investors Aren’t Knocking Down Your Door”


Webinar: “How To Develop A Smart Business Plan That Delivers, & Encourages Business Growth”


Blab interview: [+“10 Tips For A Fundable Business Plan” +]



Hey wait!


Don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon!


That’s the only way I can continue to make free books like this for you.


All the best!


Tallat Mahmood

The Business Plan Blueprint

Free video training for business owners – get the step-by-step system I have used with dozens of clients to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their businesses from lenders and investors-> thesmartbusinessplanacademy.com (just copy and paste into your browser). This Business Plan Blueprint highlights relevant information about your business and presents it in a targeted way that will make your business irresistible to funders. Raising money is a necessity for many businesses if they want to grow. But in order to invest in your business, funders want to see your business plan. The problem is unless you’ve had lots of experience of writing business plans for real businesses that are looking for funding, you are not going to know what to include and how to present your business in the best light to succeed with the fundraising process. Many businesses don't even get a first meeting. I have worked as a senior business advisor for hundreds of businesses over 12 years. These businesses were of different sizes and operated in a range of sectors. However, having refined my skills for what lenders and investors want to see in a business plan, I guided these businesses to raise millions in funding. It helps that I’ve worked as a business investor myself where I’ve been deciding which business plans and teams to invest in! Being Invited To Pitch Off The Back Of Your Business Plan A business plan is often the first introduction to funders about your business. First impressions make a huge difference. A powerful business plan informs funders about: - How credible you are as a business owner and if funders want to work with you; - Whether or not you show the right signs of being able to succeed with your business; - How much understanding you have about what a funder wants from a business plan; - The opportunity that exists in your business and if it is worth their while; - The risks that exist in your business and if your business is too risky to invest it. These are key funder questions and they will be looking to the business plan for answers. Created properly, your business plan should be able to answer these questions to ensure lenders and investors are onside and want to know more so they can be a part of your business. Get this right and you’ll be invited to pitch meetings. How? It's all about building up your business plan in a logical and rational way. Being aware of what funders want to see is critical to success. They don't have time to waste on plans that can't answer the pertinent questions quickly. You only get one chance so you need to make the most of it. This is exactly the process I have used with businesses to successfully raise funds for them. And it can work for you too. By adopting my process you are making it easier for lenders and investors to make a decision; the decision to fund your business. Download the ebook to find out how. As well as the ebook edition, you’ll also get: - access to my course “The Smart Business Plan Academy” for free; - a PDF edition of the book (in case your ereader doesn’t handle screenshots well) - access to Blab interviews, and webinars that explain building powerful business plans in more detail. Here’s to your success!

  • Author: Tallat Mahmood
  • Published: 2015-12-01 08:20:13
  • Words: 5379
The Business Plan Blueprint The Business Plan Blueprint