A business plan is in essence a creative writing project. You want the business plan to be an interesting read, not a long boring discussion. You have to put on your marketing hat and make your company's future sound exciting. How to write a business plan is a challenge for any entrepreneur. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Write your plan in a style that fits your industry and your management team.
The plan for a sports bar company would sound much different than a plan for a bank. Make your plan sound like you; put some of your personality and philosophy in the plan, so after reading the plan an investor or lender would feel as though he/she knows you.
When you talk to entrepreneurs about their company, they usually get so enthusiastic that they almost wear you out. Then you get their business plan and it reads like the operations manual that came with your VCR. The purpose of the plan is to create excitement in the minds of the investors, in other words to activate the area of their brains devoted to greed.
Avoid getting mired in technical jargon.
Internet companies, medical companies and computer companies all tend to dwell on minute details about their technology and don't adequately develop the business reasons why they are going to make money for themselves and the investors.
A CD-ROM can't replace a mind.
More and more entrepreneurs are relying on business plan writing software. These products are sometimes helpful in formatting the plan and creating the financial schedules, but they can't formulate your strategies for you. The heart of the is explaining how you are going to sell more of your product or service than your competitors, and operate your business at high enough profit margins to generate a superior rate of return for investors.
The CD-ROM you might purchase has no idea how to do any of this. It's spent nearly all of its life on a shelf, in a box.
A Solid Presentation Is Key
Does the plan include a title page with your company name, a person's name and the address and phone numbers? Don't just clip a business card to the front page, it could get separated.
Has your plan been proofed and spell checked? And by a real person, not just your word processor?
Did you check all abbreviations or acronyms to make sure the first time they're used they're explained, ie., World Wide Web (www)?
Have you gone through the plan to make sure all technical terms are explained?
Are the pages numbered?
Do the page numbers for the index match the actual page numbers?
Have you edited the plan to see what you can include in the Appendix rather than in the body of the business plan?
Has someone unfamiliar with your company read the plan and understood it?
Is your executive summary limited to no more than 3 pages?
Have you had someone unfamiliar with your company read just the executive summary and understand your company?
Are your margins at least one inch wide on each side, top and bottom?
Is your font size at least 11, preferably 12?
If you are using a word processing system which allows color graphics, have you changed the color graphics to grayscale for printing? Or will you be printing the business plan in color?
Have you checked to make sure you didn't use too many fonts and font sizes?
Have you taken advantage of bullet points, shading, indents, and borders to add visual interest to your business plan? (Just don't go overboard.)
Is the use of your page titles and headings consistent in format throughout the business plan?
You can print your business plan on both sides of the paper, just make sure it's printed on quality paper so that the printing doesn't bleed through to the other side.
If you are using duplicating or copying services to print your business plans, is the quality nearly perfect?
Dee Power has written several nonfiction books including "58 Ways to Find Money for Your Business, "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital" and "Attracting Capital From Angels," Reach her through her website