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Tech Startup Business Plan: Your Blueprint for Success
However, as evidenced by the fact that not all of us are millionaires (yet!), as good as an idea might be, there’s much more that factors into success.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs fail because they invest their time and money without having a good business plan first. And as the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” So rather than wishing, why don’t you turn your idea into a successful tech startup by doing your due diligence and writing a good business plan?
In this article:
- What is a tech startup business plan?
- 7 questions to answer before you begin writing your tech startup business plan (according to Peter Thiel)
- 6 sections every business plan should have
What is a tech startup business plan?
A tech startup business plan is a document that presents the idea behind a tech startup, lays out its strategy, and sets its future goals. It provides direction and guidance throughout all phases of launching, operating, and expanding a technology business.
According to CB Insights, the three most common reasons new startups fail are running out of money, being unable to raise new capital, and lacking demand for their product in the market. Those mistakes can be easily avoided if you make sure to begin with a sound and well-researched business plan.
Although selling your idea in a thirty-second elevator pitch makes for a great story, the reality is that serious investors look for a sound business plan backed by meticulous research and in-depth analysis.
Professionally presenting your startup idea will increase your chances of acquiring investors.
They will see that you thoroughly prepared your business strategy, analyzed market needs and niches, and that you know how your startup should evolve going forward.
So how do you write a good business plan for a tech startup? Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution since every idea and startup is unique and requires its own approach, there are some universal cornerstones that every business plan for a tech startup should include.
Crafting a tech startup business plan is not just about filling out a template with generic information. It is also about demonstrating the ability to execute a vision and adapt to changes in the market. We always advise entrepreneurs to take their time to research, analyze, and iterate their business plan until it accurately reflects their vision and goals. CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
7 questions to answer before you begin writing your tech startup business plan (according to Peter Thiel)
In his book Zero to One, acclaimed PayPal founder and inaugural outside investor to Facebook Peter Thiel posed seven fundamental questions that any startup founder should be able to answer.
Thiel argues that most failed tech startup founders had difficulty answering at least one of these. To quote the author:
“Whatever your industry, any great business plan must address every one of [these questions]. If you don’t have good answers to [them], you’ll run into lots of ‘bad luck,’ and your business will fail. If you nail all seven, you’ll master fortune and succeed.”
The 7 questions include:
- The Engineering Question. Is your product just an incremental improvement or an actual technology breakthrough?
- The Timing Question. Is it the right time to start your business?
- The Monopoly Question. How much competition will you have? Will you start with a significant share of the market?
- The People Question. Are your employees the right people for the task?
- The Distribution Question. Can you not only produce but also deliver your product?
- The Durability Question. Is your business viable in the next 10 or 20 years?
- The Secret Question. Have you identified why your technology startup is unique? Will you offer what others do not?
6 sections every business plan should have
There are six important sections that every professional tech startup business plan should have. They are critical to ensuring that your business plan is comprehensive, well-organized, and effective in conveying your startup’s potential to venture capitalists and partners.
Making sure that you include all those sections will help you not only to navigate the competitive waters of the tech industry but also to catch the eye of potential future investors.
#1 Executive summary
The executive summary is the most crucial part of your business plan. The opening pages of your business plan should provide a thorough yet succinct overview of all core aspects of your future company. Most investors will not bother themselves with reading fifty or so pages of your business plan if you fail to capture their attention with your executive summary.
A good executive summary should highlight what makes your startup unique and worth investing in. If you present your strategy and back it with a comprehensive target market analysis, you will show prospective investors that your startup is worth their time and money.
A good executive summary should present your product or service and provide the reader with several key insights into your strategy. We have grouped them into the following sections:
- Description of your product. While this section should not be too detailed, it must capture your readers’ attention. Explain what you’re offering and show why your product or service will stand out from the crowd.
- Your target market. Identifying your target audience is the key to any successful endeavor. Even the best product will fail if no one is willing to buy it.
- Marketing strategy and sales. Once you identify your customer base, show how you plan to access it.
- Competition. Innovation is the name of the game, but chances are that other companies are working on products similar to yours. Identifying your competitors and their offer is crucial to showcasing that your idea is both viable and competitive. Conducting a benchmarking analysis might be a good idea.
- Team structure. How will your startup be organized? You must have a general idea on how you want to structure your startup. Beyond that, think about scalability. Managing just a few people is easy, but you must also know how your organization should be structured when it grows.
- Funding. This is one of the most crucial parts of your business plan and executive summary. Positive cash flow and multiple ideas for acquiring new funds differentiate a successful startup from a failed one.
- Future goals. Having a clear direction and a realistic goal will help convince investors that your startup is viable in the long term beyond its initial launch. Besides, showing that you have your head straight will go a long way.
Do not worry if the executive summary seems overwhelming right now. While it is the first part of your business plan, it is advisable to write it last. Each point listed above should summarize other sections of your document.
- Write it last — after all, it is a summary.
- Keep it concise but highly informative.
- Try to present it in a visually appealing way. You can make your first impression only once.
#2 Company description
This section of your business plan is pretty straightforward. Company description is, simply put, a detailed description of your tech startup. It can be as detailed as you want, but there are some key points that investors will expect to see in your description:
- (Optional) The headline statement. As an experienced pitchman, you should open your company description with a headline statement. This can be your “elevator pitch” or a single sentence that will capture the spirit of your company and your product or service.
- The founder and the team. Let people know who you and your employees are. Here you can share any previous achievements and successful ventures you had, as well as your team’s credentials.
- Core values and mission. People like to know that the brand behind the products and services they buy stands for something. Describe the core values and mission of your startup. What impact will your product have on the market? How will it change the landscape? Go big.
#3 Market analysis
Understandably, most tech startup founders are incredibly passionate about their ideas. However, this can also be a double-edged sword. While such passion can fuel your work and help motivate others around you, it can also leave you oblivious to what people might actually want or need. Even the best product can fail if there is no market need for it.
Market analysis is where you determine whether there is demand for your product, research your future competition, and establish which slice of the market you should target with your marketing campaign.
The specifics of market research you should do before launching your company depend heavily on the type of products and services you will offer. Nonetheless, there are some key market areas that every company should consider before forming their strategy.
Identifying your prospective buyers by their demographic, location, and purchasing behaviors will give you valuable insight into what you can expect when launching your startup. To do so, draft a profile of your future client, pinpoint early adopters, as well as customer bases you can reach after you scale up.
Once you have identified your potential customer, focus on researching their needs and habits. Not only will it help you tailor your products to suit the market, but it will also allow you to prepare a well-targeted marketing campaign. While you conduct your research, be on the lookout for potential market gaps. Any such niches could potentially provide valuable insight for developing your product further.
The last section of market analysis should be the competition. If the market is oversaturated, your tech startup will struggle, especially in the beginning. Look for companies and startups that offer products and services similar to yours. Focus on areas your competition excels at and try to spot their shortcomings. Maybe their products are perfect, but they miss the mark when it comes to the needs of the demographic you identified during your market analysis? These are the gaps that your technology startup should fill in order to rise to the top.
#4 Marketing and sales strategy
Once you have a deeper understanding of the market and your target demographic, it is time to craft a marketing strategy and a sales plan. First, you need to focus on marketing and sales channels. While the former is how people will learn about your tech startup, the latter is how they will actually be able to buy your product.
Your marketing efforts should be aimed at reaching your target audience. There are multiple ways of getting your message across; tech startups often use digital marketing strategies such as targeted ad campaigns.
Because the tech industry is fast-paced and competitive, you need a strong brand identity that will get through to your base. You have to win people over with your core values and show them the ways in which your brand is better than that of your competitors.
Use social media to create brand awareness and help people get familiar with your product.
Lastly, it is a good practice to set key performance indicators (KPIs). They will allow you to quickly verify the efficiency of your marketing campaign and adjust it accordingly.
Sales strategy, on the other hand, focuses on pricing and distribution channels. Having done your market analysis, you should be able to establish the price of your product. Keep in mind that your pricing should be set by taking into account both your financial projections and the amount of money your future clients will be willing to pay for it.
The second key aspect of a sales strategy involves identifying distribution channels. To maximize your profits, you should analyze the habits of your target demographic and determine how to reach them most effectively. While it may be easier for younger people to find your products online, for example, if you target an older demographic, consider other distribution channels.
#5 Team structure
This business plan section should explain how you want to structure your tech startup. After all, it is said that investors put their trust in people, not just ideas.
As a founder, you need employees who can help you bring your idea to life. Think about your future team and its essential components. How many software engineers, marketing specialists, and other employees do you need to get your startup up and running and help it gain momentum? As always, it is good to plan ahead, so you should think long-term and account for the future growth of your team based on financial projections and goals.
If you show that you have a strong software development team with considerable experience, you will catch the attention of investors. Start by presenting your board members and their previous projects; experienced founders will boost your startup’s credibility.
Then, focus on the management team: if you already know who will manage your company’s day-to-day operations, include this information in your business plan. Emphasize their experience in the tech industry and show their achievements.
Lastly, present the profiles of experts and specialists who will be directly involved in developing your product or service. How many designers, coders, and marketing specialists do you want to employ?
#6 Financial projections and future goals
Financial projections are among the most essential parts of your business plan. Prospective investors will want to know the return on investment they can expect from your company.
Try dividing your timeline into short increments – two or three months long. Consider how many units of your products you wish to sell in each increment. How much money do you need to maintain a positive cash flow? By crafting a well-researched sales forecast, you will have a solid benchmark. This tool will help you verify whether you meet your financial goals. Conducting a break-even point analysis is also a good idea.
Future goals are the long-term milestones you want to achieve. The longer the horizon, the more unreliable financial projections become, and they are insufficient to show that you have a realistic vision. This is why setting future goals and showing that you can steer your company in the right direction is vital. Having a bigger picture in mind will help you overcome any temporary setbacks you might experience.
Composing a business plan can be a daunting task, particularly if you’re new to the process. The thought of outlining your business goals, strategies, and financial projections can be overwhelming. But it’s crucial to understand that a well-written business plan can determine the success or failure of your startup.
In the rapidly evolving technology industry, competition is intense, and startups must be prepared to adapt to changes quickly. A sound business plan that considers market trends, customer needs, and potential roadblocks is vital to thriving in this fast-paced environment.
Startups that fail, often do so because they lack a clear plan or have not done their due diligence. On the other hand, successful ones tend to rely on a well-crafted business plan that can later serve as a tech startup guide. By taking the time to write a solid business plan, you’re setting yourself up for success and positioning yourself to stand out among your competitors.
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