Outstanding Business Plans: Writing Your Way To Success

Outstanding Business Plans: Writing Your Way To SuccessWhether you’re launching a new business or starting a new program within an existing company, creating a business plan is a necessary step. A business plan will help guide you by setting benchmarks, program deadlines, and a structured budget. At the same time, however, creating a business plan can seem like a huge undertaking – all encompassing, the kind of gargantuan task we endlessly put off.

Luckily, writing a great business plan doesn’t have to be a source of stress. Here’s what you need to know if you want to write a polished, professional business plan.

1. Limit Length

While a business plan needs to be complete, it’s important to remember that length is not a measure of quality. In the majority of cases, anything over 50 pages in length is unnecessary. Keep your business plan brief– strong writing will lend itself to brevity anyway.

2. Adopt An Established Model

Every business doesn’t need an entirely unique business model. Rather, it’s completely acceptable to adopt an established model from other businesses. FedEx contractors need to make a business plan, but they don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Other contractors for the same or similar companies have already done that work. If there’s a particular business model that speaks to you, consider adapting it to your needs.

3. Know Your Audience

A business plan has several targeted readers, including those who will carry out the plan, management, and investors. Before writing your plan, consider what each group wants and needs to know and find a way to include those key points. Even if your business plan is brief, most readers will simply skim for the content that matters to them.

While you need to speak to several different audiences, pay special attention to investors. These are the people who will make your business plan happen because they’re the ones financing it. Ideally, the majority of the information investors need will be found in your executive summary. Review that section carefully.

4. Consider Presentation

When creating a business plan, it’s important to think about how you’ll be presenting this information. Will you simply hand off a copy of the plan to your boss and wait for feedback? Will you be meeting with a group of investors in a conference room? Different contexts require different structures.

If you have the opportunity to present your business plan, consider using a different format. A PowerPoint presentation, for example, is a great way to actively engage an audience in discussion, allows you to display important charts and figures, and overall produces a presentation that is more focused, powered by the brevity of slides. While you might still need a traditional report, presentations are a great supplement.

5. Make It Look Good

A great business plan doesn’t just describe what you intend to do, but really presents itself as the work of a professional. Make sure your report is well edited and has a good polish to it. Make a cover and table of contents to go with it. These features reinforce your appearance as a capable and organized business leader.

About Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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