Force yourself to summarize your idea on the back of a cocktail napkin. Don’t submit your plan until you have this level of clarity.
Who will occupy the leadership roles in your company, why are they the best players for the task at hand, and how will they go about building an agile, customer-focused culture?
If you believe that an advisory board or governing board will help you grow your dream team, we may be able to help you find the right people.
What problem are you trying to solve? Prove that the problem exists through testing or valid anecdotal evidence. Of course, solving larger problems, for larger markets, is generally far more attractive than taking on small challenges.
Why is your solution superior to competitors, who are the key competitors, what differentiator will propel your solution to break through and achieve broad adoption?
Too many early stage businesses fail to fully explain their methods and costs of acquiring customers. Be thorough and clear with your explanation.
Show us the near and long-term value of a customer, how you earn revenue, and your growth projections over at least a three-year period.
Early stage ideas are baptized in uncertainties. Your spending needs to be measured against clear milestones; will we be able to rest easy knowing you’ll spend our money as if it were your own?
We expect to see P/L, cash flow, and a balance sheet over at least a three-year period.
All businesses are not alike. What else should we know (e.g., timing, disruption in your market, change in competitive landscape, and unexpected availability of talent, etc.)
Fewer words are better; a crisp presentation is a sign of clear thinking.
Take a look at these samples of early stage funding documents from reputable sources. They may help you as you think through your need for capital.
TechStars Model Seed Funding Documents
Y Combinator Series AA Equity Financing Documents
Founder Institute Plain Preferred Term Sheet
Series Seed Financing Documents