Frustrated by not getting the support you need for your business plan…but know your idea has real potential?

Make it easy for banks and investors
to say “yes!”

Being a business owner isn’t easy. We’ve all got more ideas than time available to pursue them. We’ve all got a mental list of “ideas I’d like to develop one day”.

But every now and then an idea comes along that’s so special you’ve just got to follow through. And whether that means setting up a completely new business or making a dramatic change to your existing business, often you need some funding to kick-start your new business venture.

That’s when the challenges start. For some unfathomable reason, banks and investors don’t seem as enthusiastic about the potential for this business as you are…which is weird, right?…after all, it’s “plain as day, I can’t believe nobody has done this before” obvious to you.

Puzzled…? It’s no wonder

Well, if you’re puzzled, you’re not alone. And it’s not your fault. You’ve been sold a common misunderstanding about business plans – that they’re all about finance and spreadsheets.

It’s understandable, of course. After all, you’re presenting to banks, investors and other finance people so you’d expect finance to be the most important thing to them. They’re “numbers people” when all’s said and done, aren’t they?

The numbers have a role to play, don’t get me wrong. But what nobody tells you is that people who have worked in finance for any length of time tend to be very sceptical about numbers. That might sound shocking, but it’s perfectly true – and here’s why…

They have seen ropey numbers thrown together at the last minute way too often.

They’ve lost count of the number of proposals they’ve seen which promise world domination in six months, but make absolutely no business sense.

They’ve seen spreadsheets manipulated to show the result the client wanted so many times…and maybe even done it themselves back in the day…that they take a lot of convincing to believe the numbers in any spreadsheet are “real” and not just the result of someone playing around with Excel formulas until they found the answer they wanted all.

There’s a bit of a Catch-22 in this too.

You can’t fix a problem where numbers are seen as potentially suspect with more numbers. Why would they be any more believable?

It’s like trying to put out a fire using the only liquid you have at hand…unleaded gasoline. You don’t put the fire out, you just make the fire that was already burning even worse than it was before.

That’s why more numbers aren’t the answer. Numbers do a great job of summarising a convincing case, but they do a poor job of persuading any experienced financial professional that the numbers are reliable.

What they need instead is a more compelling business case, backed by tangible evidence they can believe in. And for that they need words, not numbers.

What you really need

For a slam-dunk business plan…one that gets you the backing you need to launch your new business or take your existing business into the stratosphere…your business plan needs to be 45% top-notch marketing proposal and 45% irrefutable evidence like the prosecutors on TV crime dramas show the jury to secure a conviction. Only 10% of it is anything to do with finance or numbers.

In over 25 years as a CFO, CEO, Chairman and Independent Non-Executive Director I’ve developed a rare perspective on what it’s like to compile, review, advise on, present and approve business plans that get the backing they need to succeed.

While my book “How to Build a Better Business Plan” is jam-packed with great advice about how to prepare a business plan that gives banks, investors and other financial backers the confidence they need to say “yes”, I recognise this is written for a general audience and some readers would benefit from some additional tailored support to prepare a slam-dunk business plan of their own.

That’s why I’ve developed two ways of getting you the support you need.

Option 1- “Pay As You Go” support

Firstly, there’s a “pay as you go” model, ideal for when you’ve got things pretty much in place with the aid of my “How to Build a Better Business Plan” book, and just need some specific support on one or two areas of your business plan.

There’s no long-term commitment and no contracts to sign. You get exactly the help you need, when you need it, in the specific areas you need it. Your investment for each 90-minute session is just £395, which is a drop in the ocean if that’s what it takes to get your business plan the green light and unlock the finance you need.

If that sounds like the right solution for you, great! Just visit the One-Off Support page and enter your details. We’ll get you set up for the support you need right away.

Option 2 – Custom Coaching

If you think a more comprehensive support package would suit you better, there’s also our Custom Coaching Package, specially designed to help you build your own slam-dunk business plan.

I’m with you every step of the way, helping you take advantage of every opportunity and giving you the pointers you need to side-step any potential problems long before your business plan goes anywhere near someone who can stop your plan in its tracks.

There are three phases to the Custom Coaching Package:

Phase 1 – The opportunity

Bankers, investors and financial backers have targets to meet. But they also get penalised when their investment decisions go sour, so they’re cautious…if not downright sceptical…when a new business plan lands on their desk. So in this phase we get them excited about the potential for your business by:

  • Making the opportunity feel so real, they can almost taste it…in fact you’re going to make them more anxious about missing out than they will be about any potential downsides…all completely ethically, of course. This is where you let the potential in your business shine in a way that means your bank, investor or financial backer can’t help but get excited about your prospects and want to be part of it.
  • Demonstrating you have a team in place who can be relied on to make your plan happen. You need to reassure your backers they aren’t going to be embarrassed by another “good idea” which fizzled out because the team didn’t have the skills, knowledge and experience it needed. Remember, if your plan goes belly up, the person who signed off your business plan and approved the funding has their judgement called into question. So you need to demonstrate that the risk of anything going badly wrong with your business plan is vanishingly small.
  • Laying out the organisational systems and processes you’ll put in place to deliver the results in your business plan. It starts with the right people, of course. But poor management systems at the very least make your business less efficient than it could be, and in extreme cases can threaten its very existence – ironically, especially when things are going well, because your business is busy and every system is being stretched to the limit. Not every business survives that sort of stress test unless they’ve thought about it as part of their business plan.

Phase 2 – The revenue stream

No matter how good your idea, no business can survive for long if nobody buys what you’re selling. In fact, this is often the biggest problem for business plans – getting your financial backers to believe the revenue numbers. With strong sales revenue, you can make almost anything work. When revenues fall short of expectations, every business quickly goes past the point of no return. So we:

  • Find customers who are willing to pay what you need to cover your costs and make a profit. If you don’t know who they are, you won’t be able to target them effectively and you’ll run out of marketing budget before you start making sales at the run rate you need to deliver the revenues in your business plan. Shortly thereafter, you’ll inevitably run out of the cash flow you need to keep your business afloat.
  • Get really clear about the customers you don’t want and can’t afford to serve. There’s a mentality that every sale is a good sale…it becomes one of those “nice problems to have” that people who don’t need to solve your problems like to talk about. The wrong customers are more likely to scupper your business plan than just about anything else. Demonstrating to banks, investors and other financial backers that you know the people you want to keep out is just as important as demonstrating that you know the people you want to attract.
  • Demonstrate how you’ll take a lead and make it into a sale. The path is not always smooth, but getting clear on how you intend to do that is pivotal to generating the revenue you need in the early stages of a start-up or significant business expansion. Attracting the right leads is a great start, but if they all drop out before you make a sale, you’ll still run out of money before your business becomes self-financing.

Phase 3 – The money

While most of what we do together involves words rather than numbers, we do need to take the decisions you made about the products you sell, the customers you sell them to and the way you intend to organise your business, and translate them into numbers in a financial plan. To get banks, investors and other financial backers to say “yes” you need to:

  • Show a compelling financial plan which converts all the decisions you made in your business plan about your strategy, your operations, your people and your marketing into the numbers banks, investors and other financial backers need to see before they sign off your proposal and give you the cash you need. By now, they should be absolutely convinced you have found an amazing opportunity and have everything in place to deliver on it, so this ought to be a formality, relatively speaking, but an important part of the process nonetheless.
  • Highlight where the risks are in your plan, the potential consequences to your cash flow and bottom line if things went off-course, and the measures you have in place to minimise – and ideally offset entirely – any impact on your financial performance. Putting your financial backers at ease that you can handle any problems which come along is how you give them the confidence to support you.
  • Finally, you need to show your bank, investors and financial backers an overwhelming body of evidence to back up everything you said in your business plan. This section needs to be approached with the mindset of a DA preparing their evidence in a murder trial on a TV detective drama. The more you can prove, the less your financial backers need to take on trust, and the more likely it is your plan will get the financial backing you need on attractive terms.

How it works

The Custom Coaching Package comprises 12 separate 90-minute sessions, which can be tailored to fit your own timescale. The maximum duration is 12 weeks, but it can be delivered in a matter of days if your deadline is more urgent.

The Custom Coaching Package comes at a significantly lower investment than if you booked all 12 sessions as individual one-off sessions. So instead of an investment of £4,740 for 12 one-off sessions, you lock in valuable savings of 36% when you invest in the Custom Coaching Package, taking your investment to just £3,000.

All our Custom Coaching Package sessions are virtual, so there are no extras, no travel costs or accommodation costs to add. Your investment of just £3,000 is all-inclusive.

For that, you get 1:1 step-by-step help, support and guidance through each stage of the business planning process. I’ll make sure you don’t miss any opportunities and I’ll help you spot potential trouble-spots long before you need to present your business plan to a bank, investor or other financial backer.

At the end of the programme, you’ll have business plan which gets your backers excited about the opportunities for your business, gives them total confidence your business can generate the revenues it needs to survive and thrive, and reassures them there’s a robust plan to hit the numbers even if some adverse events come along in the months ahead.

Do that…and add in an overwhelming body of evidence to show they can trust you to deliver what you say you’ll deliver…and you make it easy for banks, investors and other financial backers to say “yes”.

How to make it happen

Acceptance on the Custom Coaching Programme is strictly by way of application and interview.

The level of support you get on the programme means I can only work with a limited number of businesses at any one time, so I want to be clear that you’re serious about the programme and will do the work it takes to get the results. I also want to get clear about your business and your goals to make sure I can deliver value.

Please note I choose not to work with businesses involved in tobacco, vaping or gambling.

So, if you want join our Custom Coaching Programme and benefit from 1:1 step-by-step help, support and guidance to build a robust, compelling, evidence-based business plan that unlocks the financial support you need to launch a new business or take an existing business through a major expansion phase, just complete the application form below and I’ll be in touch right away.

I look forward to working with you.


Alastair Thomson
Author: “How To Build A Better Business Plan”

PS: Remember places are limited. To secure your place on the Custom Coaching Programme, complete the application form today…don’t miss out!

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