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There are many valid reasons to write a business plan — they aren’t necessarily to attract capital.

Multiple reasons to write a business plan range from sharing comprehensive goals with employees to determining when to hire new employees.

Whatever your reasons, you need a quality business plan not a mediocre document. To ensure success, there are key essentials.

It’s important to have the right content and to be expert in making your presentation. Although they might not be obvious, there are the dos and don’ts if you top want results.

Here are the don’ts:

1. Don’t overestimate your projected income

That’s probably the first thing investors discern. They know you want to impress them. So resist the temptation to insert financial puffery. If anything, they want you to be conservative and professional in your presentation.

2. Don’t be too optimistic in timelines

Forecast delays. Then double your estimates. New entrepreneurs are well-known over not being realistic.

3. Don’t focus too much on style

Remember financial backers and banks want facts, and they ignore slick-looking business plans.

Even if your goal in writing a business plan is not for attracting capital, focuse on substance.

4. Don’t make false statements

This means you should document every assertion – whether you need to supply data or testimonials from a trusted, authoritative source.

5. Don’t be careless in mentioning your competitors

Be factual and statesmanlike when mentioning your competition.

6. Don’t be ostentatious

The best way to turn off people reading your business plan is to use questionable language. You will not be taken seriously if you use unrealistic adjectives and superlatives such as amazing, best, fabulous, great, or incredible.

Avoid all gimmicks. Keep it mainstream, conservative and professional.

7. Don’t be verbose

If you’re too effusive or long-winded, your readers’ eyes will glaze over. If your readers are intrigued, they’ll be assertive in requesting more information.

Multiple reasons to write a business plan range from sharing comprehensive goals with employees to determining when to hire new employees.

Here are the dos:

1. Do know who your competitors are

Identify them. Differentiate your business idea from theirs. Be thoughtful and don’t put them down.

2. Do know to whom you’re talking

Thoroughly research your audience. Understand your audience preferences and track record. Know that bankers think differently than angel investors or venture capitalists.

3. Do substantiate your claims

Whatever assertions you make, provide proof. In mentioning your management team and you tout them, explain why their backgrounds matter.

Very few ideas nowadays are unique. You’ll likely have a business that’s similar to others. Differentiate you from them and why you’ll fare better. That includes your facilities and where the work will be performed.

4. Do be conservative

Your audience will zero in on your financials. Your projections should be tested and realistic. When in doubt, err on the side of being conservative.

5. Do be pragmatic

You must be thoroughly realistic in your statements about timelines and resources. Think logically. Make sure your plan is actionable.

Always allow for unexpected delays. As in financials, be conservative in your approach. Then add it to it. Be as conservative as feasible.

6. Do assess your management

Does your management team have the strongest-possible credentials? If your team doesn’t, add to this section a strong advisory board with documentation and resumes.

7. Do include information on how your audience will get an ROI

Depending on whom you’ll be approaching, include vital details on how they’ll get a timely return on their investment. Some will also want to be intimately involved in your operation while others want to be on your board of directors.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more strategies on planning:

Finance Checklist for Strategic Planning, Growth — Strategic planning in finance for growth means avoiding trendy fads. Instead, it requires an ongoing down-to-earth approach in order to create value. Here are seven steps.

Budget Planning Tips for a Micro Business — For entrepreneurs, often the most difficult part of launching a business is preparing financial projections. It may not be the most enjoyable task, but budgeting is imperative for maximizing performance. “Eight out of 10 companies fail in the first two years due to insufficient cash,” warns esteemed financial consultant Roni Fischer.

To Realize Your Business Vision, 8 Best Practices for Setting Goals — Whatever your situation, to realize your vision, focusing on the right details is a skill conducive for strategically setting goals. Here are eight best practices.

Critical HR Recruiting Strategies for Business Profit — By developing strategic recruiting plans, human resources professionals will make significant contributions to the bottom-line profit goals of their employers. So, it’s imperative to innovate in your recruiting processes and market your strategies to senior management and hiring managers.

Best Practices to Protect Yourself in a Business Partnership — Business partnerships often end in catastrophes because they’re not based on solid legal foundations. Here are five best practices in due diligence for your protection.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

-Alan Lakein


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.