E-Commerce · Business Development

How do I put my Business idea to paper and make it interesting for investors?

Kenneth Omirigbe Social Media Manager for Dunamis World Class Youth Church

October 12th, 2015

I've got this great business idea on starting an eCommerce website in Nigeria. I've even conducted surveys, done research on the current eCommerce market in Nigeria, designed the platform. The problem is I find it difficult to come up with a business plan or model for the business. 

Is there anyway I can learn how to write a business plan or model? I would really want to attract investors.

Peter Johnston Businesses are composed of pixels, bytes & atoms. All 3 change constantly. I make that change +ve.

October 13th, 2015

There are a few inconsistencies here.
Firstly you don't set up an e-commerce site in one country - the whole point of e-commerce is it transcends national borders.
Secondly e-commerce is an online thing, so why are you producing a business plan on paper?
Thirdly how can you design the platform if you don't know what the business is?Platforms are based around process - very tightly annotated and designed process - which requires detailed knowledge of customer habits (which differ in different markets), product specifics (colour, fit etc.). Cart is definitely in front of horse, if you've designed the platform without these.
Finally there is confusion between Business Plan, Model and Pitch.

Let's talk about the business plan...

"If you can show me the business case, it is already too late" Bill Gates

"No Business Plan survives first contact with the customers" Steven Blank

Banks insist you do a business plan, to make you prove you have thought things through. When you sit there and do a cashflow and a Profit and Loss, you suddenly discover just how hard you have to run to stand still. You expose your burn rate, your exposure to debt and how if just one supplier insists on money up front or one big client defaults, your position becomes precarious.

But that Business Plan is not for Investors.

"Investors are not solely evaluating your company's story.They are also evaluating your ability to convey that story." Bill Gurley of Benchmark

Investors want to see what is in it for them. That involves...

Showing them how it will catch on and that you have the skills to make it do so (an e-commerce site with no visitors, or with a flawed engagement system is worthless).

How you handle the orders generated - who your suppliers are, how you undercut traditional retailers (or attract a niche), how you deliver and what customer support is required.

Where the money is. After subtracting the cost of sale and the services needed to make it happen, how much is left. How quickly can capital be repaid. How sustainable is the business model. And how the net value of the business grows to become a bankable asset (which they have a share of).

The team. Are there people involved who can do what the business promises and make it happen, or is it a pipedream from someone who doesn't understand the complexity and the issues.

This is normally done, not on paper in long reams of third party prose, but in a short, snappy pitch deck like the one Jerome has just shown us.

And how does this differ from a Business Model?
Well that's the idea that an e-commerce site is the way to do this. That will change.

CEO/Consultant at The CED Doctor, LLC

October 13th, 2015

Hello Kenneth Here is a template. I hope this helps you organize your thoughts. Dr. Dwanda

Martin Karlsson Creator of multiple projects. Specialized in opportunity and value creation.

October 13th, 2020

Hello Mr Omirigbe,

I do agree with many of the people who made their point in this thread. Me personally are not structured in the same way that Mr Johnston suggest that you should be (However he is not wrong). In entrepreneureal research it can be described as two ways of dealing with the entrepreneurial process. The typical rational way of thinking where all these steps are carefully planned and executed. You get total prodictability from this process. The effectual reasoning is more of a unstructured way of processing the oppertunity. You leave more flexability in the business plan, and are more suited for a dynamic market. We accept that the future is not controllable but we are faster att reacting to changes in our environment.

I think it is imperative to point out that cultural differances is important here. In some countries where traditions are more strict, the rational way with all processes are probably the best way. In more "casual" markets investors are more responsive to the "open ended" version of the business planning.

For my start-ups and businesses I have always pitched ideas based on a Business model canvas. Usually a three layered canvas that are in depth. Then from there I work together with investors to go through the processes and into a more rational planning.

I must give the Business model canvas some credit! It is a great tool to map out the business and "play" around with to come up with more and more innovative ways to tackle the different areas of it. Print out a large one and get alot of post-it notes to stick on it and move around. Then summerize it to the pitch.

Great to see ideas for those emerging markets! I really do believe that it is good timing to establish you ecommerce now. Of course e-commerce is global, but I run a e-commerce site specifically for Sweden. It is just to limit shipping to a region and no one outside can place an order (If they don't want to drive to Sweden to pick it up). So don't really see why that would be an issue.

Best of luck!

Burke Franklin

October 12th, 2015

Hi Kenneth,
I recommend BizPlanBuilder to write a business plan:

Mustafa Ahmed CEO of Ascend E-Ventures, Digital Transformation, E-Commerce Lecturer @ KFUPM, Startup Mentor & Board member

October 12th, 2015

Great to see that you are looking into E-Commerce in Nigeria. Big things are happening in that space in Nigeria. 

The Business Model Canvas is another fantastic tool you can use to start getting your idea onto paper.

I would highly recommend Steve Blank's Lean Canvas. I have taught this class and I have seen students create very good businesses. 

Check out the FREE course on Udacity.com


Best of luck!

RAJENDRA HALEMANE •22 years in Switch gears, Instruments Installation, Testing, Commissioning, Management, and Production.

October 13th, 2015

*"Beware of this thread"*

Aaron Baker Managing Director at Baker & Associates

October 13th, 2015

Kenneth, I work with entrepreneurs to create the strategy, the plan documents for starting a business. Reach out let's talk. Aaron www.BakerAssociatesRIA.com 510-325-0676

Jerome Pineau Chief Digital Officer

October 13th, 2015

Little secret: this is the _only_ thing you really need to know about this:

Don't overcomplicate it!

Gray Holland founder / director at UX-FLO

October 12th, 2015


This is a great way to outline your business plan and goal on one page. 
There are several discussions around business plans and whether startups need them (you should check them out). The point is you need a business hypothesis that you are going to test, and you need the thinking behind that, but a traditional business plan is not the right form for the agile needs of a startup. I highly recommend you stand with the Lean Canvus and go from there. 

Rocky Arnold Entrepreneur/Author: The Smart Entrepreneur & The 90-Minute Entrepreneur

October 12th, 2015

I wrote a book for entrepreneurs such as yourself.  Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/pv248qq.  Developing a BP can be broken down into process steps making the effort seem not so overwhelming.  Good luck.