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Write Your Business Plan

The Best Ways to Follow Up on a Buisiness Plan 'No' doesn't have to mean the door is closed forever.

By Eric Butow

Key Takeaways

  • Your business plan may be rejected or get no response at all, but don't give up
  • A gentle inquiry may help you figure out if there is a specific problem with the plan
  • A total refusal could still result in a referral

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This is part 1 / 8 of Write Your Business Plan: Section 6: Getting Your Business Plan to Investors series.

Once your business plan is out in the world, there is a chance you may not get a response right away—or at all. But that shouldn't stop you.

Gently inquire

If there is a problem with your plan, you want to know about it. For example, say the projected return to investors is so low that nobody takes you seriously. Now's the time to find out, not after you've presented it unsuccessfully dozens of times.

So gently probe, asking questions focusing on your plan to determine whether you've made a mistake or just hit an unreceptive audience. If you identify a failure, fix it before submitting your plan to another party.

Related: 6 Steps to Getting Your Business Plan Seen

Also, be ready to compromise. Perhaps they will give you 50 percent of what you seek in funding until they see some results. Consider the offer. You can always go for more funding elsewhere or scale down the size of your endeavor for the time being.

Get a referral

Even a total refusal to consider your plan is helpful if the person suggests another place where you might be successful. You should always ask for a referral from anyone who turns your proposal down. It can't hurt— you've already been nixed. And a referral from a knowledgeable, respected investor can carry a lot of weight when you use it as an introduction (even if they are just trying to get rid of you).

Related: Why You Shouldn't Send Your Business Plan to Investors

Venture investing is very much a network-driven business. Venture capitalists are always asking for referrals and are usually willing to give them. Often, they know someone else who might be interested. The same goes for angel investors.

Don't burn bridges

If an investor doesn't respond to your plan, brushes you off, or even rudely tells you to get lost, your response should still be unfailingly courteous and professional. It could cost you plenty if you let your frustration, disappointment, hurt feelings, and anger show. That investor may be having a bad day and change her mind tomorrow. They may recall your name and how you behaved so well under pressure and mention it to a more open-minded associate the next week. Or perhaps next year, when you're promoting a more exciting concept, they'll be willing to back the improved idea.

Related: How to Assess the Potential of Your Business Idea

None of these scenarios is certain or even probable in any individual instance. But considering the aggregate potential to help or hurt you that all the people you'll present your plan to will possess, any of these scenarios are pretty likely. And they're only possible if you keep the door open for the future.

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