Writing a winning business plan is about more than just putting together a plan that is coherent. Whilst this is obviously important, there are several other “secret” factors that affect how well your plan works that you should keep in mind during the process of writing in order to ensure the best chance of achieving your goals.
One thing that is very important to keep in mind when you are writing your business plan is your audience. Your audience will determine which sections of the plan are most important to you and which ones you should spend the most amount of time on. Are you writing your plan in order to secure outside investment? Or are you writing your plan for yourself in order to increase your chances of success? In the former situation to would spend more time on the financial planning stage; in the second scenario, you can remove some of these and instead spend time researching your competitors in order to isolate commercial weaknesses that could be exploited.
Another important factor of your business plan is the presentation of it. Whether you would like to admit it or not, first impressions count. If your plan is poorly designed and presented, what does that say about your business? A business that is worth investing in is a business that has a lot of inherent value; you should communicate that value through your business plan, not just in the contents of the document but in the appearance and layout as well. You must consider things like your color choice, bindings, paper size etc. All of these factors add up to give an impression (accurate or otherwise) of how credible you and your business is.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the language used when you write your business plan. To many people write in terms of goals when really they should be writing about their strategies. It is their strategies that will make their business plan actionable and will convince others that you know how to make it into a success…Not the vague desires that are represented by goals. When writing your strategies you should try to be as detailed as possible and cover everything that a person could ask you. If you make any assumptions you must always back them up with research.
When you are writing a strategic business plan, you should also consider including ‘Plan B’s, especially if you are writing for investment. By including a second strategy to achieve your goals, you are communicating a very valuable trait to your audience – you are telling them that you can adapt to change and that you accept the unpredictability of the world. These traits, more than any other, will let your investors know that you can cope with the trials of business and that you are a person worth investing in.
When writing a business plan there are many things to consider besides the actual plan itself – the audience, its appearance and how strategic it is will all play their part in determining the effect your business plan has on its readers. Make sure you take all of these factors into account when you write your plan in order to maximize your chances of success.