The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Business Plan


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Whether it’s to attract investment or help align teams, a business plan is a critical document. A business advisor at your local CIBC branch can help you write a strong plan and assemble the right team to ensure it’s effective.

A well-prepared business plan can mean the difference between success and failure for a new or growing company. Here are eight dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you prepare your own business plan.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Appendices

The business plan is a key document for businesses seeking to raise capital or attract customers. It should be designed to be a complete and accurate depiction of the business. This means that all relevant information should be included, including appendices. Appendices are a crucial tool for adding more depth to your business plan while still keeping it relatively short.

Often, it is difficult to include all of the necessary information in your business plan without making it too long or overwhelming for potential readers. Appendices are an ideal place to include any additional charts, tables, or other information that you have not referenced in the main body of your business plan. This can include graphs, charts, photos, diagrams, resumes, analyses, legal documents and other material that support the claims and strategies outlined in the business plan’s main body.

It is important to note that the information in your business plan’s appendices should be directly related to the main content and purpose of the plan. For example, if you have an extensive list of references that you did not use in your plan but feel is essential to its overall credibility, you should include it in the appendix so that potential investors can see that you have taken the time to verify and validate your information.

Similarly, if you have detailed product or service documentation such as user manuals, patents, or technical specifications, you should include it in your plan’s appendix to help potential investors understand how your company has uniquely innovated its products or services. This will provide further validation that your product or service is viable, marketable, and profitable.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the appearance and presentation of the information in your business plan’s appendices is just as important as the actual content. Your appendices should match the general look and feel of your business plan to convey a sense of professionalism, meticulousness, and thoroughness. This will enhance the overall impression of your business plan and make it more appealing to prospective investors. Read here the review of Pro Business Plans, a service company ready to help companies and entrepreneurs formulate their own business plans.

Don’t Forget About the Financials

The financials are one of the most important parts of any business plan. If you are looking to attract investors or bankers, it is critical to have a well-organized and detailed section that shows a clear picture of your company’s profitability. This should include income statements, cash flow projections and balance sheets. It is often a time-consuming part of writing the business plan, but you must make sure that the numbers are accurate and not overly optimistic. Seasoned investors and bankers can quickly tell if your numbers are realistic or based on pie in the sky assumptions.

You should also include a thorough description of your management team. Many investors put more emphasis on the people running the business than they do the actual business idea itself. This means that you should include short bios of the key management members (including yourself) that highlight their relevant experience, along with any notable accomplishments and industry recognition. You may also want to include headshots for the management team.

A table of contents is a good way to provide easy access to the different sections of the business plan. This can be particularly helpful for those who are unfamiliar with the layout and structure of a business plan. It is also a good idea to avoid using any technical jargon or slang, as this can cause confusion for readers.

Lastly, it is crucial to include a brief executive summary that summarizes the overall plan. This is the first thing that any investor or banker will see, and it should capture their attention. It is also a good idea to include an appendix that includes any additional documentation, such as copies of local permits or licenses; professional certifications and memberships; business plans for past companies; media clips; patents and other intellectual property; and other relevant documents. This can give the reader a more complete picture of your company and help them make a decision about whether to invest in it. This is especially true if you are looking for venture capital. They will be expecting to receive returns on their investment, and you will need to provide them with the information they need to make that happen.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal

Whether you’re seeking investors or simply planning for your business, writing a business plan is a crucial step in achieving success. However, a comprehensive business plan can seem daunting, especially for entrepreneurs or corporate managers with little experience in writing. A good business plan must be well-organized and tailored to its audience. It must be clear and concise, free of industry jargon that people outside your field will not understand.

It’s also important to remember who you are writing for. Is your business plan to attract investment, align a team, or provide direction? This will help you customize your plan for the needs of your audience and decide what information is most important to include.

For example, if you are writing a plan for investors, start with an executive summary that describes your business and its value proposition to customers. Then, provide a more detailed description of the product or service you are offering to your customers and describe how your business will benefit them. Also include a section that discusses your marketing strategy, such as how you will reach your target audience and the competition for your product or service.

The management and organization section of your business plan is a good place to showcase your leadership and team members. Add short bios that highlight their backgrounds, qualifications and any relevant industry recognition. In addition, you should also specify the legal structure of your business (whether it’s a sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership or corporation) and where your business is located.

You should also include a section that discusses your partnerships with other businesses, both existing and potential. Describe how these partnerships will allow you to gain a competitive advantage and explain how they will benefit your business.

A well-written business plan can be a powerful tool for attracting investors, aligning teams and providing direction. With the right amount of time and effort, anyone can prepare a business plan that will be effective in reaching their goals. To get started, download our business plan template to see how you can make the most of this essential document.

Don’t Overcomplicate Things

The business plan is a critical document for entrepreneurs and corporate managers alike. It’s often the first document that potential investors look at when deciding whether or not to invest in a new business venture, so it’s important to make sure it’s clear, concise, and easy to understand. In addition to being a key planning tool, the business plan can also be used to help secure investment funding and track progress within a company.

While it’s important to be clear and concise when writing a business plan, it’s also a good idea not to overcomplicate things. Business plan readers will not be interested in reading a novel-length document, so it’s important to keep the content as concise as possible. This can be achieved by avoiding technical jargon and using simple terminology that is easy to understand.

Another way to simplify your business plan is by including a “Summary of Key Sections” at the beginning of the document. This will give the reader an overview of the plan’s contents and allow them to quickly find the sections that are most relevant to them. Having this information at their fingertips can make the business plan easier to read and more understandable, which is essential for potential investors.

Lastly, it’s important not to forget that a business plan is primarily intended for investors and financiers. As such, it’s important to highlight any potential sources of revenue. This can include any plans to protect intellectual property through patent or copyright filings, current contracts with customers, future development projects, and more. These details can help potential investors see that your business is a sound investment and can provide a return on their money.

Writing a business plan is a challenging task for many entrepreneurs, but it’s necessary to ensure that your company succeeds. A well-written business plan can serve as a roadmap to success, so it’s important to take the time to create a document that is both informative and professional. By following these tips, you can be confident that your business plan will be a successful tool for achieving your goals.