We all make mistakes. But, there are some doozies that you can’t take back when you have already put your business plan out there. Once your business plan is out there, you can’t take it back. You can revise a new plan in the future when you need to ask for more money in the distant future, but your new plan isn’t very helpful if the old plan had a huge mistake that you had to overcome.
So, here are some Dos and Don’ts when it comes to creating your Business Plan:
- Always be professional. If you stick with the facts when describing your competitors, you’ll avoid coming across as overly critical. When describing your business venture’s potential for growth, stay factual and discuss real traction and successes that you’ve had so far.
- State your business. Don’t take a page to write about it when you can put it into a paragraph. Keep away from extraneous information that doesn’t impact the bottom line. If you’ve got a lot of detail that you want to include, stick that information in an exhibit.
- Use spell check, but also read it through, and have others read it. Some editors read it backwards to find spelling errors. You really just need to go through your business plan very carefully.
- Check your sources. If the sources are faulty, your business loses credibility. Cite your sources using title, author, recent publication date (don’t use anything more than five years ago) and where to find it on the internet.
- Keep it simple, but brief. Many times, we’ve seen hopefuls go into exhaustive detail about their process and the technical terms in their field. If someone out of high school can’t understand your business plan, then you need to simplify your words. If necessary, use a long, drawn-out name for something, but find a catchy acronym for your highly technical term to make it easier to read if it needs to be used often.
- Always make your timeline and exit strategy known. Investors want to know when they are going to see returns on their investment, so set a deadline. Map out your course by identifying your growth strategy and highlighting the critical path.
- Be thorough in your research for all key decisions: defining your target market, identifying which products you’ll offer first, etc. You won’t be able to change the rules of the game after you start.
- Even though you may have thought of a catchy name for your product or service, use a different name for your Company. This will allow you to add more products and services and websites to your business venture and save you some headaches later with branding.
- If you are a scientist into new discoveries or applications, you need to keep your business plan focused on a product or a service, not asking for funding for product research and development. Research and development is ongoing and never-ending, but investors desire that date when you will produce revenues and cash flows.
- To embellish or not to embellish, that is the question! And it is definitely the best question you can ask, because embellishment doesn’t belong in a business plan. Facts that convince investors that you are the genuine article will get you farther than any embellishments. An occasional, well-placed adjective that is supported by facts is fine.
- Use at least two ways to support each area of your business plan. When you cite other sources, get quotes from respected forerunners in your field to support your point of view. If a particular part of your business plan is longer than others because you need to prove that you have covered all the bases to make your plan successful, so be it.
- Above all, don’t put down your competition, or anyone, because you can’t win an investor by trying to suppress what is out there. Show your confidence in your business plan by honestly telling about others, but pointing out where you will be able to do better. Here is where you shine through your innovative design or unique insight.