First time business plan writers often have a long trial and error experience that may or may not eventually lead to creating a business plan that works for them. A business plan is not a simple thing to put together, which explains why most entrepreneurs opt for professional services. Still, it is not altogether impossible to do on your own, if you follow a set of pretty straightforward guidelines.
Even if you are working with expert business plan writers, it is good to know those things, because once the plan is written, it will take understanding and skill to present, and later implement, it successfully. For those main two reasons, we give you this list.
10 Best Practice Tips for Business Plan Writing
1. Research your Competition. Make sure you acknowledge them and point to those things that makes you different and better than them.
2. Address your Audience. Addressing a bank is different than addressing a venture capital company or individual investor. Preparing several versions of your business plan for different institutions is important, as different lenders will need to hear different things from you.
3. Back every Claim with Proof. Collect data and present numbers that show how you intend to reach the needed levels of success. Financial forecasts should be rooted in hard facts.
4. Be Ambitious yet Cautious. If you are sure that your company is capable to take over 50% of the market, you can hint on it but it is better, for the sake of credibility, to have your forecast project an expansion of 10% at first.
5. Keep your Feet on the Ground. Be realistic with resources and understand that liftoff takes time. Once you start your business, there will be lots to do and it will not be easy. Unexpected setbacks happen and unplanned expenses have to be made. Plan for it all by leaving some slack in your projections. Assume that things will take 15% longer and cost 10% more than you think they will.
6. Assure Clarity in the Presentation. Avoid complicated, bombastic charts. They do not impress, they confuse and fluster. Write, think and talk like a banker. Keep things simple and understandable.
7. Present a Solid Management Team. If you are on your own, you seem week no matter what your numbers say. Back it up with a management team that has strong credentials in the field or in similar positions. If your management has a track record of success, it will shine on your operation.
8. Show How and Why your Idea will Succeed. Have you or others attempted a similar enterprise and it worked? Do you have a working prototype and market research that shows that people are ready for the product? Validate it further by showing where dangers lie and how you intend to work around them. This will show competence and confidence.
9. Describe the Operation in Detail. The facilities, the marketing plan, the day-to-day workflow and the sales. Make sure it is streamlined and produces a believable mental picture.
10. Discuss Payout Options. Take the initiative for the next step and offer options for the investors to choose from. Some investors will want to be involved in the operation or decision making, others will want to be represented on the directorial board and every one of them wants to know when they are going to see their return on investment. Offer a brief description of those things so that they have an easy way to start working with you.