Tonight I had the opportunity to judge the business plan competition for the MBA program at GA Tech (the site is powered by Hannon Hill). Personally, I’m against doing business plans as the time and effort required to do a quality one is better spent on a two page executive summary combined with talking to 50 potential customers. There is value in thinking through the different sections but I’ve never seen a business become successful by doing exactly what they set out to do with their original plan. Unfortunately, too many people start believing what they wrote in the plan and not spending time finding out what the market needs.
Here are the common mistakes we saw tonight while judging the business plan competition:
- Not clearly articulating the pain or problem being solved
- Not providing a memorable anecdote or hook for the idea
- Not painting a clear picture as to what they wanted from the presentation (e.g. a second meeting with investors)
- Using slides with too many words and too small of a font (the slides were designed as handouts and not for presenting)
Writing and presenting a comprehensive business plan is difficult. The students did a good job, the event was well done, and I was honored to be invited.
What else? What other problems do you commonly see in business plans?