Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Incorporating Investor Feedback into Your Business Plan

by: Dave Lavinsky

Investors, like the rest of us, have different tastes. One investor may love a concept and/or business plan while the next may hate both. It is important to understand this as business plans are working documents and are always undergoing iterations. Management teams must not rush to incorporate each potential investor’s comments. Instead, have several investors, partners and other business colleagues review the plan and provide feedback. Then incorporate common concerns and probe other comments to determine if they are valid. Always try to understand the rationale behind an investor’s comments. For instance, an investor may poke holes in a business plan if it doesn’t have enough funds to fully fund the opportunity. In this case, the investor’s criticism is solely for them to save face. However, if you are hearing the same feedback from multiple investors, it is probably valid. In such cases, be humble. Tell investors that you appreciate their feedback and modify your strategy and plan appropriately. You may then be able to re-approach these investors with great success. Many investors have significant operating and investing experience and can quickly and expertly find potential flaws in a business plan. Seek out investors who have such experience, and be open to their suggestions. Just don’t take one point of feedback and blindly follow their advice. It is also important to note that even the most successful and largest public companies have Boards that provide similar feedback and advice, so don’t take criticism and feedback as a sign that something is wrong with your venture. Rather, use it as a launching pad for an even stronger business.

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