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A business plan is very much like a bid, whether it is pitching for equity investment or for a bank loan and it’s vital to make a clear business case: why invest in your business?
Do you know the people who are going to be reading the plan: your audience? Your plan must resonate with them and convince them that you are someone they can do business with. If you don’t know them, try and find out all you can before starting out.
Another tip is to first map out the ‘shape’ of the story you are going to tell your audience, using headings and supporting points. Collect together pictures and diagrams that show what you do – far easier for people to take in than a wordy description. For example, if you want to explain your supply chain, put together flow diagrams illustrating the process from raw material through production to delivery. Try and include a photo of the all people who are working on the project: this is more likely to give the feel of a strong and cohesive team.
Keep to the point
The briefer and easier your proposal is to read and understand the better people will like it: avoid overcomplicating or using technical language. If you’re not adept at writing persuasive words, find someone to write it for you, using your outline and proof of concept to underpin your arguments. Remember not to splash your logo and colours all over the pages. Your audience needs it to feel familiar – make it look like them.
Up to date research helps too – it’s not the best idea to insult your readers with old economic data cut and pasted from the internet that doesn’t reflect current conditions. They will hardly believe you have your finger on the beating pulse of commerce if you are using old news quotes to back up your case.
Build your case
Bullet points should be used sparingly. Be creative, not lazy and weave elements of the budget projections and your knowledge of the market around the solid evidence you include that promises certain growth. This will nail each element of your plan.
Let other people review your story once it is close to final so you can gauge their honest reaction. Your reader is interested specifically in what you will do with their investment so be clear about what you’re asking for and why. An engaging, well reasoned and confident business plan will prove just too tempting a prospect to pass up.
© Isabel Moritz February 2012