Deciding between a pitch deck and a business plan for your next fundraiser? In reality, both documents play an important part in your fight for the next round. 

  • Research shows that a clear, concise pitch deck can increase the chances of securing an initial meeting with investors by up to 72%.
  • A business plan reduces internal confusion by 25% by clearly outlining the goals, strategies, and financial projections, leading to a 30% increase in team collaboration.

Both documents require heavy research and are designed to convince investors to back your venture. However, they accomplish it in different ways.

Having raised over $505M in 2023 for startups with our pitch decks and business plans, we’ll walk you through a detailed Pitch deck vs. Business plan comparison and their role in the fundraising game.

What is the pitch deck?

A pitch deck is a 10-20-slide presentation showcasing the potential of your business idea and startup to investors. Briefly and compellingly, it introduces your company, product, market, business model and overall strategy. 

An effective must showcase your market research, traction to date, and a roadmap to where you want to get. No one-sized pitch deck exists, so you can even pitch someone in the elevator.

Think of it as an introductory sales document designed to pique investor interest and encourage further dialogue.

Components of a pitch deck:

  • Introduction: Brief overview of your company and its purpose.
  • Problem Statement: Clearly define the problem your product or service solves.
  • Solution: Describe your product or service and how it addresses the problem.
  • Market Opportunity: Showcase the potential market size and target audience.
  • Business Model: Explain how your company plans to generate revenue.
  • Traction: Highlight any milestones, achievements, or user statistics.
  • Market Strategies: Outline your marketing and sales approaches.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify and analyze your competitors.
  • Team: Introduce key team members and their roles.
  • Financial Projections: Present forecasts for revenue, expenses, and profitability.
  • Ask/Investment: Clearly state what you’re seeking from potential investors.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a 30-100-page document showcasing an in-depth analysis of your business idea to potential investors to convince them to invest. It elaborates on things like:

  • Your sales, marketing, and operational plans for growth
  • Where your company will be in the next 1,3 or 5 years
  • A step-by-step plan of how you’ll get there.

The business plan is the first part of the investor’s due diligence process before finalizing the deal. It lays out more detailed research on your industry and competitors, contains many charts, graphs, and pictures, and is very text-heavy. 

Think of it as a comprehensive blueprint of your venture designed to persuade interested investors to pull the trigger and invest.

Components of a business plan:

  • Executive Summary: A brief business overview, goals, and plans.
  • Company Description: Details about your business, mission, vision, and structure.
  • Market Analysis: Research your industry, market, and competitors.
  • Organization and Management: Information about your team, structure, and key personnel.
  • Product or Service Line: Description of your offer and its benefits.
  • Marketing and Sales: Your strategies for promoting and selling your product or service.
  • Funding Request: If you seek funding, outline your financial needs.
  • Financial Projections: Projected financial statements, like income statements and balance sheets.
  • Appendix: Additional supporting documents, charts, graphs, etc.

What are the differences between a pitch deck and a business plan?

While the business plan and pitch deck give a view of your venture, they serve different goals, reach different audiences, and build the story differently. These distinctions manifest in the length, format, target audiences, and funding stages. 

Length and Format

  • Pitch Deck:

Brief and eye-catching 10-20 slides with engaging visuals, like images, charts, and minimal text. Generally highlights critical points, like product or service, target market, business model, and future potential.

  • Business Plan: 

Detailed 30-100 page text-heavy document armed with visuals like charts and graphs. It typically emphasizes projected revenue, expenses, and profitability through financial statements and forecasts. The document details strategies for sales, marketing, operations, and human resources, along with a description of team members’ expertise, experience, contributions to the company’s success, etc.

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Targeted Audience

  • Pitch Deck: Investors (initial stages)
  • Business Plan: Investors (due diligence), internal team

Stages and Objectives

  • Pitch Deck:
    1. Shines in early stages: Pre-seed, seed, Series A.
    2. Captivates investors: Concisely delivers the problem, solution, market, and team.
  • Business Plan:
    1. Dominates later stages: Series B and beyond.
    2. Secures substantial funding: Demonstrates viability and potential return on investment (ROI).

Frequency of use

  • Pitch Deck:
    1. High Frequency: Used frequently and repeatedly throughout the fundraising process. You might prepare several variations tailored to different investors or stages of funding.

    Examples: Initial investor meetings, pitch competitions, and conferences seeking investment opportunities.
  • Business Plan:
    1. Lower Frequency: Typically used once during the later fundraising stages, specifically during due diligence.
    2. Focus: Providing detailed information for investors to thoroughly assess your business’s viability.
Differences Between a Pitch Deck and a Business Plan

Pros and cons: Pitch Deck vs. Business Plan

Business Plan

Advantages:

  • Comprehensive: This thoroughness is crucial for investors, lenders, and internal stakeholders.
  • Strategically complete: Aids decision-making, resource allocation, and risk management.
  • Supportive fundraising: Studies suggest that companies with a well-crafted business plan are 18% more likely to secure funding than those without one.

Disadvantages:

  • Time-consuming: Requires potential expertise in areas like financial modelling and market research.
  • Outdated quickly: Market dynamics and business strategies can evolve rapidly, necessitating regular updates to the plan to maintain its accuracy and relevance.
  • It may not be read: Lack of time and poorly structured info can push away the potential investor.

Pitch Deck

Advantages:

  • Concise and engaging: Studies reveal that audiences lose focus after 10-20 minutes of presentations. Pitch delivers a clear and quick message.
  • Easy to adapt and share: Adapting the pitch deck for various audiences and situations is simpler due to its brevity.
  • This can lead to meetings: Engaging presentations foster positive connections with potential partners and lay the groundwork for long-lasting collaborations.

Disadvantages:

  • Sometimes limited information: By definition, it does not provide the in-depth financial analysis, operational details, and market research needed for comprehensive due diligence.
  • Less suitable for later stages: As funding requirements and investor expectations increase, a pitch deck alone may not be sufficient for securing more significant investments.

Which is more important, the pitch deck or the business plan?

There is no one-size answer; in most cases, you need both. The importance of each depends on your industry and fundraising stage. The pitch deck is crucial early on, but investors scrutinise the business plan for details as you progress

The pitch deck is vital for visibility. Without it, you may miss opportunities with investors and hinder connections with mentors and partners essential for your startup’s success.

On the other hand, the business plan is crucial to validate everything you’ve outlined in your pitch deck. Investors can quickly spot unprepared founders or unrealistic propositions. While a compelling pitch may secure a meeting, a thorough plan will convince investors to back your venture.

Important: A well-crafted pitch deck often stems from a strong business plan.

When to use a business plan and not a pitch deck

  1. If you seek debt financing: Banks rely on business plans, emphasizing their importance for loan applications.
  2. If you fundraise above $500k: Careful planning is crucial for substantial fundraising. Investors will scrutinize your venture, so be thoroughly prepared.
  3. If you have cooperative ownership planning: A written plan is essential for co-owners to navigate challenges together, staying true to the initial vision while embracing necessary changes.

When to use a pitch deck and not a business plan

  1. When attracting equity investment: A concise pitch deck is essential to secure funds from venture capitalists, angel investors, or knowledgeable friends and family.
  2. When looking for networking with potential investors: Crafting a positive initial impression is paramount.
  3. For pitching opportunities for founders: Explore pitch competitions in the startup community, seizing opportunities for exposure and honing your pitching abilities with a solid pitch deck.
  4. When seeking co-founders: If you’re looking for cofounders, there is no better way to convey your concept and the value you can bring to the table than through a pitch deck.
  5. When applying to accelerator programs: A well-crafted pitch deck is typically required. It is a critical asset in the assessment process for entry into the accelerator’s next cohort.

You need both 

Need to grab attention and lock connections? Use a pitch deck. Need to showcase in-depth details and long-term potential? Use a business plan. Both tools are paramount in navigating your fundraising journey effectively.

Want to know how to craft pitch decks that secure investor interest? Check our pitch deck hub to learn all about it straight from the trenches.

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Anastasiia

CONTENT WRITER

Hey there! I'm Anastasiia, a Content Writer at Waveup. With my marketing expertise and storytelling magic, I turn complex data and industry insights into your startup playbook, making the business world a breeze for you! At Waveup, I work with brilliant folks who make insights a never-ending flow. So, join, read, and enjoy!