It's tough raising funding for your business plan at whatever level. You are up against hundreds of other businesses with polished business plans and you need to ensure that yours shines through. You may not have great experience of business plan writing but you can improve your chances of securing funds but making sure you cover off the basics. We have put together a checklist for anyone writing a business plan and in this first part cover a checklist of "How" to write the business plan.
How you write your plan conveys a lot about you. It shows your ability to organise and present information in such a way that is is relevant & coherent and gives an investor a window on how you approach your business. A professional business plan gives an indication of a professional approach. The opposite can equally be true. So here are a few basics to follow:
1) Write about a "Plan" not an "Idea"
Ideas are not enough. Ideas drain time and money and give investors the sweats. An investor or bank want to see a business plan that is ready to be actioned. If you get your funding tomorrow, do you have a time-table of what needs to be done? You need to explain in detail, exactly how you are going to reach your target audience / make your product / deliver your service / operate the business etc. Detail doesn't mean lengthy. Be concise and ensure your business plan is not too long.
2) Avoid Hype
Avoid extreme statements ("un-parallelled opportunity", "we have no competition", "will be outselling [insert any leading organisation of your choice] within 3 years" etc. .. ). Investors have seen all the hyperbole they can stomach and it won't improve your chances to try and think up some new word for "world beating". Show enthusiasm but stick to the facts. Build the case for the business proposition logically. Tell it how it is and you have a better chance of gaining an investors' respect, attention and funds.
3) Editing and Presentation
There is nothing worse than a poorly presented, repetitive, in-coherent business plan that is missing key information, and has obvious spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure your business plan has all the right sections, and don't get bogged down in tech speak or jargon. First impressions count, so ensure the Executive Summary is well structured and the document itself is presented in a professional way. If you are not the best at this then run the document past someone who is. If you decide that you need business plan help make sure you select a good business plan consultant to develop a professional business plan.
Ground your plan in the real world and avoid over-optimistic objectives and financials. Anyone funding a business plan wants to know they are not going to have to deal with a Walter Mitty character who lives permanently in the clouds, and who generally over-promises and under-delivers. Sanitise your business plan by looking at other businesses in your industry, their financial results, their cost base and their growth rates. You can be sure an investor will. If your business plan diverges significantly ask yourself whether you can justify your claims.
In Part 2 we will will look at "What" specific points you need to cover in your business plan that will improve your chances of securing funds.
The Business Plan Team
The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and guide internal management. It provides a range of services from early feasibility studies through professional business plan development, to introductions to sources of funding. It is based in just outside Oxford, UK.
- Jon Hunt is the Lead Consultant for The Business Plan Team which works with growing businesses, entrepreneurs & start-ups that need help developing a professional business plan to secure funding and guide internal management. It has developed business plans for a wide range of businesses and corporate clients looking to raise funding of between £250,000 and £200million in many different industry sectors including Social Media, Retail, Construction, Mining, Renewable Energy, Technology, Healthcare, Interior Design, Sport & Leisure, Investment Banking, Wealth Management and Trading. Testimonials from these clients illustrate the high levels of service TBPT provides.