Making the Leap from Early Stage to Growth Requires Planning and Documentation
High tech companies that are looking to make the leap from start up to growth stage must have a business plan. Business plans are not only important for raising funding, they’re a way to describe and promote your business, critical for getting shareholders and employees on the same page, and represent a reality check against both market and competitive situations.
There is an abundance of information about how to write a business plan and our CPAs and consultants have helped hundreds of companies though the strategic and business planning process. Based upon our experiences, we offer the following checklist that can help you assess your business plan efforts:
A 10 Point Checklist for Your Business Plan.
A short, concise, and clear executive summary
A business rationale based upon your vision of the unsolved problems or needs that the business will address – i.e. – a convincing business case or “reason for being.”
A concise description of your differentiating product or service
A clearly defined target market
A competitive analysis and a SWOT analysis
A statement of goals and objectives for the business over time
A comprehensive marketing plan, including both traditional and digital marketing strategies
Bios of key team members, with particular attention to their responsibilities and key skills and capabilities they bring to the business
A roadmap or implementation plan for reaching goals or objectives
A credible financial plan, including projections
What Else Do You Need?
In addition to a full written business plan, we recommend that you also have available:
- An elevator pitch that delivers your value proposition in 2-3 sentences;
- A handout/executive summary of 1-2 pages that clearly outlines key aspects of your business;
- A PowerPoint presentation of 8-20 sides.
Writing a business plan is a fundamental and necessary step for making the leap – your current and potential investors will require one. But its value goes far beyond financial projections – it’s a roadmap to the future.
Freed Maxick has worked with hundreds of high tech companies and startups. Please call us to talk with one of our business advisors on structuring a business plan that will help you with strategic, financing and operational strategies and tactics. Call us at 716.847.2651, or contact us here.
Tap Your Trusted Advisor for Help in Building a Finance Acquisition Plan
If there’s one common denominator for all high tech companies, it’s that they are always on the search for money to fund their growth. The transition from start up to growth is particularly tough because of the need for the company to balance growth with the need to build infrastructure, but in many cases, that just isn’t possible without financing assistance.
Having a well-conceived and structured business plan is fundamental to securing financing, but it has been our experience that successful firms find, and fight tooth and nail for every available dollar, without sacrificing too much in the way of equity or loss of control.
It’s a good idea to work with your trusted advisors to develop a financing plan that weaves’ several sources of financing together, along with a way to retain as much equity and control over the business as possible. Here are a number of ideas for sources of financing that you might consider:
- Advance payments from customers
- Angel equity
- Bank loans
- Debt: factoring, asset based lending, mortgages
- Federal or state government grants, loans or credit guarantees
- Friends and family members
- Funding out of cash flow
- Local and state economic development organizations
- Maximizing tax deductions
- Small Business Innovation Research Grants
- Smart leases
- Refundable tax credits
- Venture capital
Of course, not all of these are going to be appropriate for helping to finance your company’s leap from start up to growth stage, but likely that some combination of these will be required.
Freed Maxick has worked with hundreds of high tech companies and startups. Please call us to talk with one of our business advisors on structuring a plan that will help you secure financing for your business. Call us at 716.847.2651, or contact us here.
Find Advisors That Marry Integrity with Capability
As your company makes the transition for early stage to growth, it only gets more confusing, complex and fraught with possibilities of missteps that could bring it to a crashing halt. That’s why it’s important for your management team to surround itself with trusted advisors that can help you make the leap.
The type of markets you serve, your business goals, and the skill set of your management team will all help determine what types of advisors are necessary. It’s likely, however, that you’ll need a strong relationship with an accountant, a lawyer, a banker, a marketing consultant, and an insurance broker at a minimum. As your business grows, your cadre of trusted advisors will also grow and include technical experts and other specialized professionals.
The Characteristics of a Trusted Advisor
Trusted advisors need to be able to earn the trust of company management and build relationships. They need to be credible, reliable and always have the interests of your company at heart. But they also have to be honest and challenging when necessary, especially when it comes to separating emotion from business realities.
According to Searl Street Consulting (www.searlstreet.com.au) an effective Trusted Advisor will have the following 10 characteristics:
1. Have a predilection to focus on the client, rather than themselves. They have:
- enough self-confidence to listen without pre-judging
- enough curiosity to inquire without supposing an answer
- willingness to see the clients co-equal in a joint journey
- enough ego strength to subordinate their own ego
2. Focus on the client as an individual, not as a person fulfilling a role
3. Believe that a continued focus on problem definition and resolution is more important than technical or content mastery
4. Show a strong “competitive” drive aimed not at competitors, but with constantly finding new ways to be of greater service to the client
5. Consistently focus on doing the next right thing, rather than on aiming for specific outcomes
6. Are motivated more by an internalized drive to do the right thing than by their own organization’s rewards or dynamics
7. View methodologies, models, techniques and business processes as means to an end. They are useful if they work, and are to be discarded if they don’t, the test as effectiveness for this client
8. Believe that success in client relationships is tied to the accumulation of quality experiences. As a result, they seek out (rather than avoid) client-contact experiences, and take personal risks with clients rather than avoid them
9. Believe that both selling and serving are aspects of professionalism. Both are about providing to clients that you are dedicated to helping them with their issues
10. Believe that there is a distinction between a business life and a private life, but that both lives are very personal. They recognize that refined skills in dealing with people are critical in business and personal life; the two worlds are often work alike that they are different, and for some, they overlap to an extraordinary event
From our experience in working with hundreds of early stage companies looking to make the leap to the growth stage, having the right team of advisors is a critical and fundamental element. Freed Maxick CPAs would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we might be a trusted advisor to your high tech company.
Please call us to talk with one of our CPAs or consultants about our accounting, tax and advisory services. Call us at 716.847.2651, or contact us here.
This spring Freed Maxick will be at SXSW Interactive as well as Internet Week NY. It's all part of the Firm's corporate culture and an effort to stay ahead of the curve and innovative in all that we do.
From emerging media tools, social media platforms and the web, to the rapid growth rate of mobile and even blogs, Freed Maxick recognizes the importance of technology and wants to communicate effectively with our employees, clients and the community. The best way to do that is to stay on top of the trends, and learn all that we can to best serve our clients.
From our Twitter account where we relay the most up to the minute updates concerning taxes, accounting and industries such as manufacturing, healthcare or real estate, to our careers blog featuring insight into the accounting profession, Freed Maxick aims to stay connected.
Attending SXSW Interactive or Internet Week NY? Make sure to look for Freed Maxick on Twitter @FreedMaxickCPAs, using the event hashtags #SXSW and #IWNY. We're there to learn from thought leaders in the industry and apply new knowledge to the way we do business. We'll be sure to communicate helpful info for high tech companies, share best practices learned and take part in the innovative coversation.