You're Gonna Love It So Much You Want to Give Us Your Money.

When raising capital for their start-up, first-time entrepreneurs frequently make the mistake of dumping a complete business plan into the investor’s lap.  (I made that mistake – that’s how I got to be so darn smart – by making every possible mistake at least once.)   The reasons why this does not work are well documented by Steven Pressfield in his blog “Nobody wants to read your S#*t.”  Well worth reading and we will pause here while you go and read it ……………. ………. man prayingOK, you’re back.  While Steven’s blog directly applies to advertising, there are some important lessons to be gleaned by entrepreneurs.
  1. People are busy – too busy to read your “stuff”
  2. Just because you love your idea, does not mean that they will.
  3. Your message must be simple and easy to understand.
  4. Your message must be interesting or informative.
After all, you are selling an opportunity to invest in your company, right?  Then let’s write something that investors will want to read.  Let’s write —

Your Company’s One-Pager Aka “You’re gonna love it so much you want to give us your money.”

The idea is to develop a message that is compelling and can be delivered verbally face-to-face, in print, with slides, via video or via email in a consistent manner.  The goal is to generate excitement at each and every step First Paragraph – States your vision/mission in a compelling fashion – designed to capture the reader’s interest and whet their appetite – three sentences MAX. HINT:  Many investors never read more than the first two sentences before deciding to reject your plan.  If you don’t hook them here, they are lost forever.  If you can do it in one sentence, even better. HINT 2:  Your mom must “get it” and be excited about it.  This is not the place for jargon or complex concepts. HINT 3:  Paint an exciting picture in their mind.  Make it a “mission” such that people will want to become involved even if they do not choose to invest. Example: “We change the course of young peoples’ lives by enabling their transformation from frustrated, academic underachievers into successful, motivated life-long learners.”  (Not a perfect example) Next Paragraph – (again, one sentence if possible) – Answering “How do you do that???” “We solve the biggest problem in education today – student readiness and willingness to learn – using a new, low-cost approach – applying proven concepts from process and supply-chain management and combining them with proven ways of engaging even the most demotivated of students in a manner that has received enthusiastic support of all stakeholders – teachers and their unions, school administrators, parents and students.” Next Paragraph – Now, expand on the problem and pain points – why the market needs and demands your product. Here you can tell your story about how the education process is messed up and stacked against the teachers and students.  HOWEVER, do it in three – maybe four – sentences. Next Paragraph – How big is the market and how will you deliver your product or service Next Paragraph – Describe your team and why they are the right people to do this Next Paragraph – Briefly describe your business model.  When you expect to become breakeven. Here you are permitted to include a small table showing revenues, costs, etc. for the first few years. Last Paragraph – Ask for the cash and talk about the use of proceeds. Hint:  Don’t ask for the cash “to get to the next stage.”  Tell them how much you will need to get to breakeven and break it into stages — Seed – A – B. Final Hints:
  1. Get it on to one page – MAYBE 2.  THEN develop some slides to go with it.
  2. Remember your target, and be prepared to adjust the document to your audience.   Your ultimate goal is to get someone to stroke a check to help you execute your vision.  That’s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN based upon this document.  Your immediate goal should be to generate enough interest on the part of the reader that they will come to you and say “Tell me more.”
  3. Notice that NOT ONCE did we drop into jargon.  The idea is that your Mom should be able to understand AND BE EXCITED ABOUT each and every stage.  Reserve the jargon for support docs.
  4. Remember, you are an evangelist leading your listeners gently into the fold.  Your best prospects are the skeptics.  This is not a debate.  You will convert them through gentle persuasion.  Don’t dispute their opinions.  Help them to see the light.
Oh, and how will you know when you have this right?  When they start asking “Tell me more.” — Steve Hogan, Tech-Rx

2 responses on “You're Gonna Love It So Much You Want to Give Us Your Money.

  1. Beth

    Great article. Just thinking about writing a business plan makes my head spin. This is a very helpful nudge in the hopeful right direction!
    Thanks for sharing your insight.

    1. Steve Hogan Post author

      Thanks for the kind words. Just hearing that this has “nudged” you in the right direction is very gratifying. Check back and let us know how you fared.