A business plan is like a road map for your business. This very important document will pretty much make bankers or investors choose to go with you and your business or run for the hills. Writing a business plan will take time and will not be super easy, but with these 12 tips, you can be sure your business plan will stand out from the rest.
1. Don’t Be Intimidated
I know I just said that writing a business plan will take time and not be easy, that does not mean you give up! You do not have to be someone with a business degree or MBA to write this thing. You can do it. A lot of business owners or entrepreneurs are not people who have studied business. Just make sure you do your homework and you will knock this out of the park.
2. Ask for advice
Feel free to ask for advice when writing a business plan. Talk to people who work in finance, marketing, business law, or production. Their advice will be invaluable to you. You can bet if you follow their advice your business plan will stand out from all the others.
3. Don’t ignore the customer
Do not just assume that people will pay what you think they will for a product or service. Again, do your homework! Conduct research, surveys, and focus groups. Do anything and everything you must to get an accurate picture of what people will pay for your services or product.
The more research you do, the better you will be able to have your pricing right. You will be able to figure out how much people will pay and how much of a profit you can make before even opening your doors.
Please, please look over your writing! Do not assume that it is perfect after the first draft. Even if you think you are a very good writer have someone else review it. There is nothing more embarrassing than having someone you are presenting your business plan to find even one typo. It will completely undermine your professional image.
5. Know Your Competition
Know who your competitors are. Name them in your business plan. Go through and list how your company and your competitors are alike. But be sure to show how you are different from them as well. Show that you will shine above the rest and attract people to you.
Even if your business plan is a killer one, it will not matter much if your business is too much like the rest.
6. Be Realistic
It does not hurt to shoot for the moon. Having an upbeat, optimistic attitude and approach will always work in your favor. However, when writing a business plan you need to be realistic with your numbers and timelines.
The more realistic your information is the better you and others can conceptualize your business. Being realistic will also help those you submit your business plan to take you seriously.
7. Support Your Plan With Numbers
You may be getting tired of this, but once again, do your homework. Do not pull numbers and information out of thin air. Support your business plan with real numbers. Show those numbers in graphs and tables that the person you are showing this business plan to will understand.
8. Be Clear and Concise
Do not ramble, use filler language, or fluff. Do not try and butter up the person you are giving this business plan to. Be clear and concise. Your business plan should not be more than 20 pages long. A good part of those pages should be taken up with your graphs and tables.
You have no idea how many business plans the person you are giving your plan to reads in a day. Be the one he or she can read in a day and finish it with a clear picture as to what you want to do and what you need.
9. Pay Attention to Language
You can be someone who grew up with English as your first language or even as your second language. No matter how familiar you are with English you need to pay attention to what type of language you use. You need to be professional and clear.
It would also be a good idea to have someone else read it over. You can use a family member, friend, associate, or even hire a professional editor. A bonus would be if you could get someone to look at it who works in the same field of people you are submitting your business plan to. A second pair of eyes will catch mistakes that you cannot see and may find questions that you did not answer very well.
10. Tailor Your Plan
Know the audience you are writing for. Are you writing for a banker to get a loan? Or are you writing for a possible investor? You will write your business plan differently depending on who you are writing it for.
11. Be Creative
Do not just download a template and fill in the blanks. Downloading a template is not bad, but make it your own. Maybe add a pop of color on the first page. Not a lot, mind you, but just a little. Something to make the person who reads your business plan remember it.
12. Cover All Relevant Information
Be sure that you have covered all the pertinent information. The last thing you want to do is leave something really important out. Have a checklist of what you need to include. This is also where having someone who works in the same field as the person you are giving your business plan to would be a good idea. He or she can give you tips on what to include.
Writing a business plan will always take some time and planning. This is not a document that you will whip up in one day. But if you follow these tips your business plan will stand out for all the right reasons.