One crucial aspect of any business plan is the management team slide, which outlines the key employees in the organization. Here are some things to keep in mind when putting together your all-star lineup.
Put yourself first
Don’t be modest. If you’re the head of the business, you should feature yourself first. After all, you are the entrepreneur behind the business venture, and you will have to put your neck on the line, answer the hard questions, and take the criticism— as well as the praise and acclaim, should there be some.
If you want to impress people with your management team, it’s essential to let your readers know who is at the helm and who is selecting the management team. Explain your background, including your vision, your credentials, and why you chose the management team you did.
A business follows the lead of the founder, and as such, you need to briefly explain what is expected of this management team and the role you see it, as a group, playing in the future of this business.
Key characteristics to highlight
Identifying your managers is about presenting what they bring to the table. You can provide this by describing them in terms of the following characteristics:
Education Impressive educational credentials among company managers provide strong reasons for an investor or other plan reader to feel good about your company. Use your judgment in deciding what educational background to include and how to emphasize it. If you’re starting a fine restaurant, for example, and your chef graduated at the top of her class from the Culinary Institute of America, play that front and center. If you’re starting a courier service and your partner has an anthropology degree from a little-known school, mention it, but don’t make a big deal out of it.
Employment Prior work experience in a related field is something many investors look for. If you’ve spent ten years in management in the retail men’s apparel business before opening a tuxedo outlet, an investor can feel confident that you know what you’re doing. Likewise, you’ll want to explain your team members’ key, appropriate positions. Describe any relevant jobs in terms of job title, years of experience, names of employers, and so on. But remember, this isn’t a resume. You can feel free to skim over or omit any irrelevant experience. You do not have to provide exact dates of employment.
Skills A title is one thing, but what you learn while holding it is another. In addition to pointing out that you were a district sales manager for a stereo equipment wholesaler, you should describe your responsibilities and the skills you honed while fulfilling them. Again, list your management team’s skills that pertain to this business. A great cook may have incredible accounting skills, but that doesn’t matter in the new restaurant’s kitchen.
Each time you mention skills that you or a management team member has spent years acquiring at another company, it will be another reason for an investor to believe you can do it at your own company.
Accomplishments Dust off your plaques and trot out your calculator for this one. If you or one of your team members has been awarded patents, achieved record sales gains, or once opened an unbelievable number of new stores in the space of a year, now’s the time to talk about it. Don’t brag. Just be factual and remember to quantify. If, for example, you have twelve patents, your sales manager had five years of thirty percent annual sales gains, and you oversaw the grand openings of forty-two stores in eleven months, this is the stuff investors and others reading your business plan will want to see. Investors are looking to back impressive winners, and quantifiable results speak strongly to businesspeople of all stripes.
Personal information Investors want to know with whom they’re dealing in terms of the personal side. Personal information on each member of your management team may include age, city of residence, notable charitable or community activities, and, last but not least, personal motivation for joining the company. Investors like to see vigorous, committed, and involved people in the companies they back. Mentioning one or two of the relevant personal details of your key managers may help investors feel they know what they’re getting into, especially in today’s increasingly transparent business climate.
Who to include in your plan
Should you mention everyone in your organization down to shop foremen or stop with the people on your executive committee? The answer is probably neither. Instead, think about your managers in terms of the crucial functions of your business.
In deciding the scope of the management section of your plan, consider the following business functions, and make sure you’ve explained who will handle those that are important to your enterprise:
- Human Resources
- Technical Operations
What does each person do?
There’s more to a job than a title. A director in one organization is a high and mighty individual, whereas a director is practically nobody in another company. Many industries have unique job titles, such as managing editor, creative director, and junior accountant level II, with no counterparts in other industries.
In a longer plan, when you give your management team’s background and describe their titles, don’t stop there. Go on and tell the reader exactly what each management team member will be expected to do in the company. This may be especially important in a startup, where not every position is filled. If the CFO will handle your marketing work until you get further down the road, let readers know this upfront. You certainly can’t expect them to figure that out on their own.
In a shorter business plan, or mini-plan, choose those people most vital to your business. If you are opening a martial arts studio, the instructors, or lead instructors, are significant, as is the software developer in a new software company. While you have room to describe these people in more detail in a longer plan, in the shorter miniplans, use one defining sentence for your top five people.
If you do have significant holes in your management team, you’ll want to describe your plans for filling them. You may say, for example, “Marketing duties are being handled temporarily by the vice president for finance. Once sales have reached the $500,000 per month level, approximately six months after startup, a dedicated vice president of marketing will be retained to fulfill that function.”
In some cases, particularly if you’re in a really shaky startup and need solid talent, you may have to describe in some detail your plans for luring a hotshot industry expert to your fledgling enterprise. Then, briefly describe your ideal candidate. For a mini-plan, you may write, “We plan to hire a marketing VP who excels in reaching our 20–29 target market.”