16 reasons why your investment proposal won’t get read!
By Marc Kneepkens

Check your investment proposal for the following errors or shortcomings:

1. Can’t open the file: the file is password protected or in a file format that is not universal (PDF) or that uses old versions or formats.

Use universally accepted formats that everyone can open, like PDF’s.

You have no idea how many such investment proposals I have seen in my career, do you really think that your would-be investor will send you an email asking for the password or the right program?

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2. No ‘teaser’. No brief presentation. “What do you need money for?”

It’s called the ‘elevator-pitch when you have only 30 seconds. In the movie world it’s the synopsis. In investment jargon we call it ‘the teaser’. A short text that will inform me what you are all about. "What do you need? Tell me succinctly and purposefully exactly what you are looking for and why". Make it brief.

3. Poor writing and/or spelling in your cover letter/email.

The cover letter with your business plan/investment proposal needs to open the door for you. Otherwise that door will get slammed into your face.

If you can’t write a simple introduction to your business proposals and explain in a few words what you are offering or what you are asking for, forget it! If you can’t do this yourself, ask someone else to do it for you.

4. Typing or Spelling errors on the front page or in the title.

You have no idea how many business plans we have seen over the years with enormous mistakes in titles, subtitles, and even huge mistakes, right on the cover page.

How about having someone evaluate what you have? Seek out family, friends, other business people, or a professional.

5. Failure to specify the amount of business funding required.

Too many business plans do not mention this key piece of information.

I remember wasting my time with excellent business plans, going through them over and over trying to figure out how much money they needed. Finally, I would give up, too much time wasted.

6. No index page in the business plan.

Having the option of a quick overview with a table of contents to assess what’s in your ‘paperwork’ is a requirement that will help the reader decide if they want to go through the task of reading it all.

This is the suit-and-tie approach: the guy who walks into your office knows already that he will get the deal. He has clearly organized the points that he will make in his investment proposal.

7. Outdated contact details in business proposals or business plans, or none at all.

Basic company information with a list of key company management and their contact details is a first requirement. Please do update changes. If someone tries to contact you and gets a disconnected line or a non-existing email address, you’re out.

8. Poor quality images or logos.

The use of images, photos and logos needs to be accurate, timely, well placed, and have a professional look. If you don’t have the right one and it looks bad, don’t use it.

Do your pictures look like they came from your $20.00 printer?

9. The look and feel of your investment proposal is outdated or simply unprofessional.

Business proposals that look like they come straight from a typewriter (in this day and age of high quality computer and print work), will be put aside. The ‘look and feel’ needs to be flawless. Keep the formatting consistent: avoid different fonts throughout the document, bad alignments and margins that change, and are not logical.

If you can’t do it by yourself, yes again, find someone who can. You can’t be an expert in every detail of your business. Business funding is a different world.

10. Timeline in your business plan: the presentation is obviously old and outdated.

Investment proposals or business plans reflect a point in time of a business that supposedly is alive and growing and full of ‘opportunity’. Your documents need to be up-to-date. Don’t use outdated presentations, check them before you send them to your interested parties. Old stuff won’t be read.

When your documents are outdated and are obviously older than six months, no one will look at them anymore.

11. The first paragraphs are unclear and just about incomprehensible, or they are not to the point.

From the first words you have to catch the reader’s attention with accurate and engaging information. If you don’t do that, the ‘buck’ will stop right there.

12. Some investment proposals are obviously written by a non-native English speaking person or organization. Failing to use proper English is unacceptable.

This is the same issue as the formats. If you are going to present to ‘the world’, let’s say to a database of thousands of investors, you have to use proper English. If it is not correct you will not be taken seriously. Find a good translator or someone who speaks correct English, let them help you.

It makes a wonderful impression to present a business plan coming from a non-English speaking country in flawless English. You just scored big.

13. The numbers don’t add up.

You would be surprised to find how many numbers don’t add up in business plans: like numbering of pages or references to pages, but also business projections, don't make sense.

If you can’t add up or be accurate, would you expect to get big money from an investor who can?

14. Excessive length of the business plan.

Investors have no time reading documents of more than thirty pages.

Too much is too much. More details can be added during the due diligence phase.

15. Excessive appendices.

Again, the due diligence process will focus on such information and is not part of a business plan. Information overload will not do the job.

Attaching proof of revenue or contracts signed or pending will.

16. Absence of key content in your business plan.

These include lack of financial projections, market analyses and challenges such as risks, weaknesses, threats, competition.

Sketch a realistic picture. The investor is not stupid and does not believe in fairy tales.

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Conclusion: Professional help or advice.

Just about every point that has been made shows a serious lack of professionalism. Everyone knows how to use a spell checker.

An investment proposal containing obvious mistakes tells me that the paperwork has never been reviewed or updated.

However, in reality, almost every business proposal that we have seen has one or more of the above shortcomings.

A fee for a reviewer would be invaluable.

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Move ahead of the line, not just by a few spots, but cut the line and jump in with the ones that will be put aside for further review. Give yourself a chance.

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Realistic numbers 
Great blog post... just thought I would add another comment. I see many business plans and sometimes the numbers add up, but are just unrealistic in …

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