Work the Plan
Business Plan Basics | Components | Secrets
7 Secrets for a Better Business Plan
1. Choose a flexible format. Business plans should be easy to change as new facts emerge and early ideas are rejected in favor of better ones. Use 8.5" x 11" paper and package your plan in a binder that allows you to add, subtract and revise as needed.
2. Be thorough but concise. Tell your business story clearly and concisely. Potential investors want hard facts not flowery language.
3. Do your homework. Business plans are primarily used to entice investors, so prove that you’re worthy of their consideration: identify your target market; tell how your product or service is unique; and provide details about your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses and estimated market share.
4. Own up to your weaknesses. Savvy investors are adept at spotting weak points in business planning. Don’t give them a reason to deny funding by pretending that obstacles don’t exist. Point them out instead. Then present a detailed plan for how you would address each problem.
5. Turn features into benefits. Potential investors want to know “What’s in it for me?” So focus on benefits rather than features, and use facts to back up your claims. Instead of “ABC product is priced significantly less than its closest competitor, XYZ,” try this: “By pricing ABC product 20% below XYZ, we’ll turn a quicker profit and you’ll recoup your investment within six months.”
6. Make it personal. Introduce your management team. Describe their previous accomplishments and show how they will bring their talent to this new venture.
7. Focus, focus, focus. It’s natural to be so excited about your product or service that you want to sell it to everyone, everywhere. Beware! Attempting to reach multiple markets right out of the gate may actually hurt more than help your sales. Focus instead on one primary market — your main strength — and give it all you’ve got. You can broaden your reach later.