Creating A Business Plan Timeline: How to Prove Your Progress as a Startup
Blog Post (with free worksheet)
It’s a quandary. You’re pitching your business, and the investors (naturally) want to see your progress, to get a snapshot of where your business is right now. But there’s a problem. The task seems impossible. You haven’t accomplished anything yet….
…or have you?
Finding Day 1 in Your Business Plan Timeline
How do you show you’re making headway before you’re up and running?
The answer might be simpler than you think.
It doesn’t matter if you are a startup.
Or if you are an existing business that is expanding.
Or if you are wanting to buy a business.
You need to be able to prove that your plans are in motion, even if you are in desperate need for funding to make your plans and vision happen.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of obsessing over what they need to do, what they haven’t done yet, and they end up telling investors and lenders loud and clear that “I’m a bad investment because I haven’t done anything yet.”
Let’s fix this mindset right now and get your progress on paper so you can avoid sending the wrong message. First, download this and narrow your focus to the 3 MOST IMPORTANT accomplishments in each section shown. If it’s hard to narrow down to only 3 for any of these sections, then that’s a good sign that the next phase of your business already has great momentum!!!
Figuring Out Your Startup Metrics
It can be hard to see the forest for the trees when it comes to looking objectively at your own company. But there is a way to demonstrate tangible progress to your investors (even if you are in the “pre-revenue” camp).
Start by giving an accurate picture of where your business is right now. Go ahead and give proper credit to your accomplishments. Next, show where you want to go down the road.
You’re already on your way to showing measurable progress in your startup.
Stuck? Reverse Engineer Your Growth
If you’re having trouble identifying milestones, one way to start brainstorming is to work backwards. This helps establish a frame of reference.
- Past: Where were you a month ago? Six months ago? Perhaps you were establishing the core team, or outlining research and development goals. Maybe you simply finalized your decision to create a profitable business and started working on your business plan. List this out.
- Current: Now define where you are right now. Maybe you found out something your competitors are doing that you want to copy or change in your own business model. Maybe you got your business license a few days ago or leased equipment. That’s progress! Each of these are significant, and can be very effective in convincing an investor that your startup is advancing.
- Future: Next, zoom out and give a forecast: What are your goals for the future? Where would you like to be in a month, in a year? Perhaps you envision a lot of traffic for your website or social media buzz as you establish an online presence. Maybe you’d like to be in an office space. Tip: Stay realistic in your strategic planning.
Now, organize your notes into chronological milestones. Show which steps have already been completed by checking them off, and how many are left to complete.
Congratulations – You now have a physical demonstration of how your startup is scaling. And with your business plan timeline shown in black and white, you’re substantiating that the business is moving forward and gaining traction!