There are different paths that might lead you to entrepreneurship. For example, you might work for a company for years before deciding to use your expertise to strike out on your own. Or you may come up with a phenomenal idea that has mass appeal. Either way, there are steps you’ll have to go through in order to take your business from concept to concrete. And it really starts with your business plan, the document that spells out your strategy for starting and running your business, including market research, practical operations information, and financial planning. You’re going to need this essential document to secure loans, find investors and partners, and launch your business. So it has to be as good as you can make it. Here are just a few helpful tips that should ensure your business plan brings the success you expect.
- Be concise. This is not a high-school essay, so you can leave the embellishments at home. When potential investors read your business plan, they want to get to the heart of it quickly. They want to know what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, what you want from them, and what they’ll get out of the process. The faster and more efficiently you can deliver that information, the less chance you’ll have of losing them in unnecessary language. And they’re likely to appreciate a succinct and informative approach better than banter. Don’t forget: time is money.
- Break up the text. You’ll have to crunch plenty of numbers, do demographic research, and provide information that could be presented in a visual format. So why not use charts and graphs to break up the monotony on the page? There are times when presenting data in a visual medium can make your point better than lines of text. So although you don’t want your business plan to look like a science project, there is a time and place to use graphics.
- Do your homework. Before anyone will give you what you need to launch your enterprise, you have to present a compelling argument that your business is worth investing in. This means providing some measure of proof that there is a market for your goods or services, that you can and will make sales, and that you’ll return borrowed funds within a set time frame, with interest. So make sure your calculations are spot on.
- Prioritize. There’s a lot of information that should go into your business plan, and you not only need to pare it down, you need to put it in order so that a reader only has to get through a few pages (or a few lines) to get the gist of it. Rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae of daily operations right off the bat, lead with an overview and get into the details later.
- Be honest. If you fudge the facts or focus on the positives while excluding any potential negatives, you’re either going to come across as naïve or a liar. You obviously don’t need to reveal every potential hardship you could face when you open your business, but you do need to address possible hurdles and your plans for overcoming them. Whether you plan to hire an outsourced CFO or accountant on a part-time basis rather than paying for a full-time employee, or you’re trying to figure out how to get the best deals from vendors, facing potential problems head-on and spelling out solutions could help to make your business plan more convincing and successful.
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