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5 Tips to Create, Conquer a Business Plan

Posted on 1.01.2014

There comes a time in every entrepreneur's life when it's time to write a business plan -- at least it should.

A business plan is integral to a budding company's success for many reasons. Many new businesses use this plan to secure funding, while others use it to simply define who they are, where they are going and how exactly they plan on getting there.

Much literature has been published on how to create a business plan. The Small Business Administration has countless articles and resources that are a terrific starting point. As to not reinvent the wheel, Website Magazine has put together five tips to create and conquer a business plan that you (or the SBA) may have overlooked.

1. Structure

We are a society of "scanners." We scan articles/papers/proposals/social feeds for what is important and easy to consume. It's up to the author to show a reader what is important with design choices like color, size, etc. It's important to remember that a business plan is, well, a business item, so all choices should reflect professionalism, but they can be used to show a hierarchy for our "scanning" friends.

Similarly, readers are used to seeing content in list formats. As such, bullet points are a popular way to present lists. Entrepreneurs should remember that lists offset by bullet points must have some "meat" to them, meaning readers need some explanation to listed items. Not doing so, would be like including a subtitle without a paragraph beneath it. Sure it grabbed your attention but what do I need to know about it?

2. Calls to Action

The popular expression, "You'll never know unless you ask," couldn't ring more true than in business plans. If the point of the material is to get funding, for example, then the future business owner needs to ask for it and, of course, be specific and include future financial plans (like how are they going to repay the loan).

3. Avoid Buzzwords

New media is an industry brimming with buzzwords and each one of us feeds into it. If the person reading a business plan reviews dozens of them each month, then they likely roll their eyes (or worse toss the business plan to the side) when they see buzzwords misused. If you can't get around using them, make sure you know what they mean. Similarly, there's a difference between buzzwords like "omnichannel" or "social-SEO" that can help define a business strategy and "game changer" or "disruptive," which are used as describer words.

4. Show Your Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister

Some aspiring business owners would rather ___(insert whatever here) than have a relative pour through their business plans and ask countless questions about it. Having people outside of your industry review your plan, however, can bring new perspectives and even show you what needs improving (e.g. "Honey, I don't know what DPR is." "Good point, it's digital public relations mom, I should probably explain that."). Once you've had all the family time you can take, show your business plan to someone who knows the buzzwords, acronyms, etc. and can give you an insider's take. If your business plan includes ideas that someone can take and pass on as their own, however, make sure proper patents, trademarks, letters of intent, etc. are in place before sharing your ideas with anyone.

5. Wait a Week

Time may not be a luxury for some future business men/women but try to allot yourself enough time to put away your business plan for a week (or even a couple days) and look at it again with fresh eyes. You'll not only be amazed by how many mistakes you notice, but you will also be able to make small changes to really improve it for the whole.

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