Writing a Business Plan
As a freelance writer, I get more requests for business plan writing than for any other kind of project. This makes sense because the money is the lifeblood of any business and most companies need capital to get started or grow.
I am able to help some of the people who need business plans, but there are many that I can’t help. A business plan is a tool for raising money. It is a sales pitch on paper made by somebody who needs money to somebody who has some to invest. If you have a sound business idea or a legitimate need for capital, a good business plan will make it easier for you to raise money. If you don’t, no business plan on earth will help.
Your business plan needs to answer these questions
Business plans come in all shapes and sizes. They range from comprehensive documents developed by financial specialists to be submitted to venture capitalists, to simple documents aimed at family members or friends. Business plans vary widely depending upon the type of opportunity they represent. For example, take a look at this website sponsored by the Small Business Administration:
To write a business plan that works for you, it is important that you communicate the following to your audience:
Describe the business
- Is it an operating business or a start up?
- If it is operating, how is it doing.
- What are you going to do with the money you raise?
- Why do you think this business will be successful?
- How successful do you think it will be? (Projections)
- Show proof: monthly expenses, sales
- Describe your competition
- Who will be running the business?
- What kind of business experienced do they have?
- What kind of return on investment can an investor expect?
- How long will it take to make money?
This list is not complete, but it indicates the kind of information a potential investor needs to know. Put the shoe on the other foot, if somebody were asking you for money, what questions would you ask?
The power of a good business plan
The hard work in creating a good business plan takes place long before the writing. The foundation of the business plan is built by the hard work of the business person who develops the expertise and does the research and planning to create or expand his/her business. But once that work is done a good business plan can make a difference by presenting the opportunity in a way that is clear and honest, but also credible and exciting. A good business plan looks into the future and reports what it will look like. In other words, a good business plan is a good marketing document. It presents your deal in a way that makes it appear most appealing.
The power of logic and simplicity
Many business plans are technical and stuffed with charts and graphs and MBA language. Many business plan writers think it is important to put as much business detail into their document as possible. But for most readers, there is an advantage to writing a document that is simple, clear and easy to follow. At the time you sit down to write your business plan, you are the expert. You know more about your venture than anybody else. All you have to do is tell others about it as simply and concisely as possible. Remember, you have to back up everything you say with facts but you can still let your vision and enthusiasm shine through.
Business Plan Tip
Think about it this way. Asking somebody for money to start or build your business is a big deal. If you were doing it face to face you would make sure that your presentation was factual and compelling. You would make sure that your potential investor understood the opportunity you were offering and had confidence in your honesty and abilities. A good business plan does the same but puts it on paper.