6 Secrets for a Better Business Plan
1. Choose a flexible format. Package your plan in a loose-leaf binder that allows you to easily add, subtract and revise individual pages as new facts emerge.
2. Be thorough but concise. Tell your story clearly and concisely; use hard facts; avoid flowery language.
3. Do your homework. Prove your worth to potential investors by identifying your target market; describing how your product or service is unique; and detailing your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses and estimated market share.
4. Make it personal. Introduce your management team; describe their previous accomplishments and show how they will bring their talents to this new venture.
5. Turn features into benefits. Use concrete facts to back up claims. Instead of “ABC product is priced significantly less than its closest competitor, XYZ,” say: “By pricing ABC product 20% below XYZ, we’ll turn a quicker profit and recoup our costs within six months.”
6. Own up to your weaknesses. Don’t give potential investors a reason to deny funding by pretending obstacles don’t exist; point them out, then present a detailed plan for how you will address each problem.
You don’t have to go it alone.
Writing a business plan is not as difficult as it sounds, and there is no need for you to reinvent the wheel. The following agencies offer many resources and services for both new and experienced entrepreneurs, most of which are available at no-cost or, in the case of some seminars and workshops, for a minimal fee:
U.S. Small Business Administration Access the complete list of business plan components and individual articles describing what to cover within each topic at www.sba.gov/starting-business/write-your-business-plan.
SCORE Senior volunteers, once themselves fledgling entrepreneurs, freely share their expertise by mentoring small business owners, one-on-one, in person and online, through more than 20 Florida-based chapters; also available: workshops, webinars, free tools and templates. www.SCORE.org
Florida SBDC Network The state’s principal provider of business assistance offers personalized consulting, plus training opportunities and a wealth of tools and data, at more than 40 offices throughout the state. www.floridasbdc.org
National Entrepreneur Center Founded in 2003, this Orlando-based “shared facility” is open to anyone seeking business advice and information; features include: one-on-one business coaching, low-cost seminars, networking events and an onsite business lab. www.nationalec.org.