A well-crafted business plan gives investors more confidence in your vision than any elevator pitch and doubles your shot at getting that loan or investment, Tim Berry reports. But creating a stellar business plan requires market research, careful thought and clear, precise writing. Before your next pitch, perfect your business plan with the help of industry best practices.
Organizing your business plan for success
Entrepreneur notes that spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, vagueness and even too much attention to detail can derail a business plan. Before you approach investors, read and reread your plan, correcting any spelling or grammar mistakes that could give an investor pause. Have friends or family members read your plan and inform you of anything that was vague or unclear. A potential investor may only spend 10 minutes looking at your business plan, and you want to ensure everything is clear on the first read.
Also determine where the holes are in your presentation. Are you downplaying or minimizing enterprise risks, or assuming that your business won’t absorb those risks? Make sure you are always explaining the stakes and the context when talking about your business. Taking the time to do this shows demonstrates you have clear thinking, which can give investors a needed vote of confidence in your ideas and will also help you become a stronger advocate for your plan.
Next, ensure that the business plan is well-formatted for a clear read. Organize your plan using a table of contents and an appendix for any supporting information. Make sure your document has page numbers that are reflected in the table of contents. Headings can introduce new topics and organize your information so an investor can clearly see your environmental scan, growth plan and other important business plan elements. Forbes contributor Patrick Hull recommends using graphics to illustrate elements of your plan. Charts and graphs break up the text and often convey information easier than a lengthy text paragraph.
According to SBA.gov, once you have a strong business plan, it may be helpful to reach out to mentors or business counselors, who can help you make that next step. SBA.gov can connect you to mentors in the SCORE program, Small Business Development Center or other resources.
Preparing for a successful investor pitch
Brand your business plan to show professionalism. If you do not already have a business logo, develop one now. With the Logo Garden free logo maker, you can develop a free professional logo using online tools in as little as eight minutes. You can then use your logo on your business plan, business cards and other marketing materials, creating a strong visual impression that lends your new business authenticity. Place your plan in a folder that matches the logo colors.
As a last step, practice your pitch before you present your plan to investors. Prepare to answer questions about your business plan, products and experience in full detail. When you are comfortable with your plan, your confidence will shine though and you stand a better chance of getting investors to contribute funds to your business.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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