Whether you’re a first-time business owner, a hopeful start-up or a seasoned entrepreneur - you may have wondered what the difference is between a pitch deck and a business plan. Which one comes first? And why would you use a pitch deck over a business plan?

I’m going to start with a quick explanation of each, and then we’ll dive into them in more detail.

The best way to find out whether you do or don’t is to do your research and write a business plan. This quick exercise will allow you to develop an in-depth strategy for your business and find out if it’s feasible.

If your business idea is feasible and you are looking for equity, you move on to a pitch deck.

A pitch deck is a brief presentation that you would use to present to your investor as a concise overview of your business idea. You would draw the information from your business plan into your pitch deck. You would mainly use your pitch deck to gain the initial interest of an investor. If an investor were impressed, they would ask for your business plan for more detail.

In short, write your business plan first and then develop your pitch deck.

Let’s start by looking at each in more detail and see if you agree with me or watch the video to find out more.

Your first stop is a business plan

A business plan is a formal document that includes your business goals, the methods on how you will accomplish those goals and the time frame in which you will achieve those goals. Creating a business plan clarifies your business vision and can also add structure around how you manage your business.

A business plan will contain in-depth information about your business. As a business owner, you’ll refer back to your business plan from time to time to reference how you are tracking and to ensure you’re staying focussed. 

If you are going to a bank for finance, they’ll require a business plan for loan applications. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll also need to have your business plan ready if investors want more detail about your business when you are out there pitching.

A corporate business plan for a large organisation can be hundreds of pages long. However, for a small business, it’s best to keep your business plan short and cap it at 30 pages. It can be longer if you need to include photos, details of equipment or site plans. Do your best to keep your content lean and easy to read.

Banks and investors will want to see solid research and not long, wordy descriptions that use marketing jargon and industry acronyms. 

Referring back to your business plan throughout the life of your business is a great idea. Making that plan too long may mean it ends up gathering dust in a bottom drawer.

There are plenty of great business plan templates to be found online, and they provide excellent instructions on how to put one together.

Be realistic with your business plan. It’s supposed to be all about getting to the heart of whether your business is feasible. So, the only person you would be lying to yourself if you got it wrong. Ask the hard questions and be 100% certain with your answers.

  • Can you achieve everything you’ve outlined in the business plan? 
  • Have you researched your competitors and what marketing initiatives you need to make your goals come true? 

No matter the size of your business, a business plan is a great way to ensure you’ve thought of everything before you spend a dime.

Pitch Decks

Now, on the other hand, your pitch deck is a highly visual presentation of your business idea. If you started with your business plan, you would have all the essential content you need to populate your pitch deck. However, many can't find a way to shorten their message to no more than 30 words on a slide.  

It's challenging to be concise but crucial that you are in a pitch deck. Especially with your financial figures and graphs, you need to make sure they can be easily understood. Don't forget; a pitch deck is meant to be short and sweet.

WHEN will you need them?

Because a pitch deck is as approximately 20 slides, it's a quick snapshot of your business and is highly visual. Usually, pitch decks are presented face-to-face to get investors to ask for more information.

I like to think of pitch decks as the child of your business plan. You'll probably use and send your pitch deck to more people - but it doesn't mean it's more important than your business plan. 

A business plan is an in-depth document and is often very heavily text-based. You won't need to present or send this to investors as often - they won't have time for that unless they are serious about you and your business idea. So if they ask for your business plan, that’s a really good indication.

get your free pitch deck content guide

If you haven't already, jump onto your business plan then when you are ready, download my guide on the key points investors are looking for in your pitch deck. It has some tips on how to expand on those points and will make developing your pitch deck a breeze. You'll find that link in the description. 

need some help designing your pitch deck?

Whether you go with a pitch deck or a business plan, it is vital to make sure they look on brand, professional and visually appealing. A business plan is generally a Word document, but it's essential that it also 'looks good'. Don't overlook matching it to your overall brand. 

If you are having trouble making the transition from business plan to pitch deck successfully; get me to do it for you. Having an objective person outside the business can be a great way to bring perspective to your business message. 

On my website, you'll find four solutions designed to suit most business needs. Upload it to me, and I'll have you out pitching with a powerful pitch deck in no time. 

Whether you go with a pitch deck or a business plan, it is vital to make sure they look on brand, professional and visually appealing. A business plan is generally a Word document, but it's essential that it also 'looks good'. Don't overlook matching it to your overall brand.

​Growing a business and finding finance isn’t easy, but don’t forget, you are following your dream, so keep on pitching with passion! You are just one pitch away from success!

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