You Only Get One Chance for a First Impression: Keys to Writing a Great Business Plan

Business Plan on BlackboardIt’s a tired old phrase you’ve heard a million times, but it’s hard to deny the truth of the fact that you really only do get one first impression. In a world of countless entrepreneurs looking to court a limited amount of investors.

You have to be on top of your game from start to finish if you want any realistic chance of seeing your business idea grow into a reality, having a great business plan is essential. Otherwise, don’t expect to get any further than all the rest who didn’t put time and effort into making a strong first impression.

Cut out the Fluff

To get you off on the right foot, start with the biggest offender found throughout this document, from the cover letter of your business plan to the thank you email – fluff.

As Fox’s Small Business Center explains, there’s nothing wrong with a well thought out plan that skips all the excess and gets right to the point. While showing off your vocabulary or adding in extra information might seem like a good idea – especially if it sounds great when you read it – you’re actually doing more harm than good.

Think of it this way; if you had to read through dozens of business plans in a week, would you really want to have to sift through a bunch of fluff? Neither does the investor or lender who’s got your plan on his or her desk.

Instead, let your idea stand on its own and only include the facts, figures, and thoughts that help sell your new business.

Do Your Homework with Smart and Effective Research

Going hand in hand with cutting out the fluff is having the right stuff in your business plan. Of course, if you were relying on fluff in the first place, then you might be in a little bit of a pickle.

Thankfully, the Guardian newspaper offers some top tier suggestions for what you should include in the body of your business plan. At the top of their list is market research that provides concrete evidence for what your future business can do. Market research is a pretty broad term though, so a little clarity is in order.

Everything from data representing a potential profit center to anecdotal evidence from shoppers who fit your target audience can fall into the market research category.

While statistics and any signs of potentially underserved demand are great, they’ll need to relate to your target audience in a tangible and clearly presentable manner. Never forget that the people you’re pitching this idea to are the experts, so don’t try to pull a fast one on them.

If there’s an obvious gap in your plan, dig a little deeper and find out why it’s there and what you can do about it. This way you’ll have an airtight plan that shows off your strategy in the best light possible.

Visuals Can Drive Home the Point

Forbes magazine explains that people love pictures when it comes to learning about something new. While this might seem a little elementary, the basic idea that visuals help drive home your point does hold some serious value.

With infographics, charts, diagrams, and other graphic aids, you can bring the aforementioned research to life and add extra incentive to get your business plan into the hands of the people who pull the strings.

From an entertainment standpoint, these visuals can spice up an otherwise mundane and routine plan, giving you a little extra advantage over the run of the mill alternatives.

Making a Plan for Your Plan

Yes, you read that right. Now that you’ve got everything primed and ready from your cover letter for business plan to the conclusion, it’s all about the pitch. Entrepreneur.com helps outline how important it is that you showcase your plan in just the right way.

Depending on what your end goal is, this can include a variety of things. If you’re using this plan to attract investors to help get the funds you need to take off, then the pitch better have a major focus on solvency, viability, and sustained growth.

For those looking to use the business plan to attract employees or bridge initial deals with suppliers, then adding in notes on the expected work environment and business setting is vital to your success.

Final Thoughts…

No two business plans are the same, so having a smart approach is the only way you can give your online business or brick and mortar store a fair chance to hit the ground running.

After you’ve cut the fluff, nailed down your tone with great content and research, added some engaging visuals, and planned your final pitch, you’ll be ready to hit investors, suppliers, and potential employees with a strong business plan that can move your company idea from dream to reality.

What Are You Doing To Create an Effective Business Plan?

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