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Realism vs. Optimism in Your Business Plan

The most important function of a business plan is to create interest among investors so that they write a check. In achieving this goal, business plan writers are often challenged by determining the proper level of optimism in their plan. That is, they must create a compelling story to investors while maintaining credibility.

Optimism shows investors that a company is confident about the market opportunity, its ability to execute on the opportunity, etc. Over-optimism, however, leads investors to believe that the management team does not fully understand the opportunity or the tough road ahead. As such, business plans must be sure to limit over-optimism and show investors they are realistic and credible.

Realism, the opposite of over-optimism, should be used in business plans to portray sobriety and credibility to investors. Realism should manifest itself in management team bios that tell the actual accomplishments of managers, rather than fluff. It should manifest itself in credible market forecasts and sober assumptions of the company's growth.

While business plans must excite investors so they take action, if they are too optimistic, investors will discount their merit. Conversely, if they are too sober, investors may not feel they will get an adequate return on their investment. As such, business plan consultants will need to present a compelling, optimistic picture, but continuously refer to hard facts and realistic assumptions to build credibility and genuine excitement.

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