Writing a Business Plan:
5 Keys to a Professional Plan
Concise and Complete Executive Summary
The executive summary is the first section of your business plan after the cover page and table of contents, and it may be the only part many investors read. If they don't like what they see in the executive summary they are unlikely to read further. The summary must be both concise, sticking within 1 or 2 pages, and complete, covering the main points of the plan in its entirety.
Simple Graphic Design
A business plan is not a place to be creative with fonts, borders, and decorative elements. It is a document which should have a clean look. The words, numbers, and ideas of the plan should speak for themselves, and an attempt to add "pizzazz" through graphical bells and whistles will be written off as an amateur move by funders reading the plan.
Sources of research, whether it is quoted or paraphrased, should be noted in the plan with enough detail so that a reader could locate them. This builds the case that you are a well-read entrepreneur who knows where to look for industry information and shows that you have nothing to hide about the sources you used. During their due diligence process, serious investors will be interested in doing their own research, starting with these sources you cited.
Financial Assumptions Explained
Financial projections are only as reasonable as the assumptions they are based on. For that reason, you must spell out what those assumptions are so that readers have a clear understanding of how you projected costs and revenues over your first five years. Whether they agree with them or not, explaining these assumptions allows there to be a conversation with funders. Omitting them will cause readers to believe your financials are baseless and their consideration will end there.
Proofread and Proofread Again
Finally, a business plan should be clear of any spelling or grammar mistakes, redundant or odd wording, and information which changed over the time you prepared the plan. Proofread by reading the plan aloud and then have another trusted party read the plan as well with pen in hand. Although investors do nott require you to be an expert writer, they will expect that you take the business seriously enough to put in the time to make sure the plan's language is perfect.
If you're looking for more tips on how to write a perfect business plan be sure to check out all the articles we have in our help center.
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