The panellists, including Mike Soutar of Shortlist Media, Rainbow Hart from Splats, Alan Gleeson from Business Plan Pro and Octopus Investments' Luke Hakes, were generous in sharing their own experiences with the interested audience.
Smarta founder Shaa Wasmund interviewed each member of the panel before inviting the audience to ask questions and join in the discussion. Among the many bits of advice that surfaced during the evening three main points emerged as key.
Our panel advised that you shouldn't overstate your projections in the your business plan, especially when it comes to numbers. Being over confident can come across as naïve and unrealistic.
"I see 1,500 business plans every year but only invest in about 30," said investor Hakes. "One of the main problems is too much hyperbole and outrageous claims. I'll put those ones straight in the bin."
When running a business it's impossible for you to do everything. So it's important you hire a great team, trust them to make decisions and show them off in your business plan.
Mike Soutar summed this up perfectly when he told the audience, "Investors do back ideas but they back people first."
Hakes added that a well-rounded team is crucial. "A fantastic CEO doesn't necessarily make a fantastic business, " he said. "People who believe they can do it on their own tend not to be successful".
Once you have a business plan it's vital you update and adapt it as the market and your business changes. Soutar said he had three different business plans while launching Shortlist Media and previous Smarta 100 winner Hart confessed that her business plan is totally different from her original.
"Our business plan is constantly changing, it started more like a fairy-tale story because we had no idea what the numbers would be like in that first year," she said. If your plan is always changing that means you are doing well because the business is evolving."
Alan Gleeson agreed that your business plan needs to be ever changing adding, "There is a difference between a business plan, the physical document, and business planning. The document is the start but once you get started it is a vehicle to track your business."
After the speakers had given their advice, the room became a hive of newtorking activity with tons of small businesses swapping contacts, suggestions and ideas for business.
For more information on the Smarta100 Academy events and to register for the next one on 23rd July which is focused on how to navigate the world of funding, click here.