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.

Dwanda PhD 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

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.

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!

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.

Jackson Powell UI/UX Designer & Front End Developer

October 12th, 2015

Kenneth, it sounds like you could benefit from some personalized guidance. Someone like Lonnie Sciambi, an advisor. 

Apart from being tried and tested as an investor and entrepreneur like I'm sure the other suggestions are, the benefit of Lonnie is he's accessible to help you on-demand.

He's got a service where you can ask him your toughest question and he'll reply directly with a custom response. Give him a try, it costs you nothing.



October 12th, 2015

Kenneth: I wrote a template for a one-page business plan. It's used by many incubators and startups. Free copy at http://andreas.com/faq-execsummary.html

Paul Lukaszewicz

October 12th, 2015

If it is a simple e-commerce site to sell others' goods, then one method might be a listing fee as a percentage of the purchase price, or have a listing fee in of its self. E-bay could be a good working model and serve as a starting point. Personally, I would suggest getting your business model hammered out, then work on a full version of a business plan. Anyone that thinks that they can skip having a full plan is mistaken imho. Creating the full plan lets you peer into the future and see what challenges might arise. There are so many variables to consider that it serves as an idea refinement tool as well. A full plan also gives you a little more stick-with-it-ness through tougher times, you may avoid false "pivots" (if you follow lean methodologies).

With all that said, the best way to attract investors is action. Try running a preliminary test on a basic website. Have something to show them more than just your idea. As an entrepreneur who leads, your job is execution and driving tangible results. 

Ian Homer Coach To Executives and Business Owners

October 12th, 2015

Hi Kenneth,
Whatever template you choose to produce a plan I'd pay particular attention to one word: 'demand'. Today Kenneth, (thanks to huge investments in supply-chain-related technologies) supply now outstrips demand. There are too many suppliers of, well, everything! However, we can still win if we take particular note of the emotional, practical and economic demands of our target niche today and make our best guess at how those demands will change. Often we state our target customer as a demographic. That wont work any more. We have to think in terms of specific, pent-up demands that are going unmet with current offerings and how yours can satisfy them.
Best wishes Kenneth.