Every nonprofit needs a business plan to show its goals, strategies, and how it will achieve them. Here are ten tips to make your business plan stand out from the start.
- Get Clear on Your Purpose & Strategic Direction – Every part of your business plan should support your organization’s purpose and strategic direction. Ask yourself: what does success look like for this plan? How will it help the organization reach its goals?
- Start with Data – This is one of the best ways to make your business plan stand out. Show how similar organizations are successfully pursuing their goals or addressing a challenge. That way, you can set realistic expectations and avoid creating lofty goals that will never be met.
- Prioritize Data – What are the most important points in your plan? Which data points can you support with research or statistics? Make this section of your business plan stand out by identifying three to five critical goals that will make the biggest impact on the organization.
- Write Like You’re Speaking – Your business plan should be easy to understand and should tell a story. Avoid small words and long sentences – instead, use language that is conversational. Also, avoid complicated business jargon whenever possible.
- Create an Executive Summary – This is one of the best ways to make your business plan stand out from other organizations that are pursuing similar goals or tackling similar challenges. The executive summary should be one page long and summarize the entire plan. It’s also a great tool for your board members who may not have time to read the full plan.
- Use Visual Aids – This is another way to make your business plan stand out from other organizations by using visuals like graphs, charts, or infographics. Charts and graphs can help your audience understand complex information quickly. Importantly, visuals make it easier for people to share what you’ve written with others.
- Make Your Plan Accessible – You want as many people as possible to read and support your business plan. That’s why you need to make sure that your plan is accessible and easy to read. Don’t use a lot of industry jargon or long sentences and paragraphs. Break up reports into small chunks of text instead, and make sure it’s completely free from typos or spelling errors.
- Ask Others to Review Your Plan – One way to make your business plan stand out is by asking people in your network for advice before you publish it. For example, you might ask peers in your industry, board members, or even volunteers to review the plan and make suggestions for improvement. This will help you avoid mistakes before you publish because other people can spot them first.
- Edit It Twice – When you’ve written a draft of your business plan, make sure that you review it carefully and completely edit it twice. The first time through, look for larger issues like typos or bad grammar that can make the plan harder to understand. The second time through, review your business plan with a critical eye to find smaller mistakes like errors in dates, dollar amounts, percentages, etc.
- Ask for Feedback – Last but not least, ask for feedback! This is another way to make your business plan stand out because it will help you find any mistakes that might have been made by the previous steps. You can send your business plan to board members, peers in the industry who might be experts on the topic, or even potential sponsors/donors before you publish it.
The 10 tips above are just a few of the many ways you can make your business plan stand out. If you’re struggling to create or edit one, use our free nonprofit business plan template to help you get started.
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