Take a Critical Look
Consider the following when evaluating your business plan:
Trusted advisers should review your completed business plan. Their feedback can be immensely valuable in determining the strengths and weaknesses of your plan. If possible, someone familiar with the industry, technology, and investment community should review your plan as well. Make sure your reviewers check for the following:
Technology. Does the technology work? Is it protectable? Is it likely to be attacked as infringing upon already protected technology? Is it likely to be resisted by the targeted market or attacked by powerful stakeholders?
Market. Does the marketing plan accurately describe the potential of the market? Is the market of sufficient size to support high growth? Is the market penetration plan reasonable and affordable?
Financial. Are the revenues and expenses accurately portrayed? Is there an identified exit strategy?
Grammar and Proofing Review
It’s important to have a qualified proofreader provide specific feedback about grammar, spelling, and other errors that might still exist in a completed plan. Even if you typically have a good sense of these issues, a set of fresh eyes is invaluable. Someone other than the entrepreneur should review the plan to eliminate the following:
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. If there are errors, readers will have less confidence in the writer as an entrepreneur. Your plan is a reflection of your ability to start and operate a business. Some investors believe that a lack of attention to detail in the writing of the plan may be an indicator that the entrepreneur does not pay attention to details while operating the business.
Illogical flow of information. Information that is presented in an illogical order makes the business concept very difficult for readers to understand. Keep in mind that readers of the plan do not have the deep understanding of the business that you do. Entrepreneurs should explain the business to readers, taking care to cover the topics in a logical sequence and using language which does not require specialized knowledge peculiar to the business.
Use of “I,” “we,” or other personal pronouns. If entrepreneurs talk too much about “I,” “we,” and “me,” in the plan, it can take the focus away from the business. Most statements that start with “I” can be rephrased. For example, the statement “I really want to start a business that meets the needs of the customers,” can easily be changed to, “This business will be started as a direct response to the needs of customers.” Therefore, the focus is off of you and onto the business. When referring to themselves, entrepreneurs should write in the third-person, using their name, rather than first-person, “I” and “we.”
Unsubstantiated facts. Include the sources of facts. Neglecting to include the sources reflects negatively upon the writer of the plan. Facts should drive decisions in the business planning process. If the facts are not substantiated, the business plan lacks the foundation it needs to be a sound planning document.
Negative words or phrases. Your business plan should be a positive plan of action for a business. Whenever possible, avoid using negative words such as “however,” “but,” and “can’t.” These words can set the wrong tone. Consider how language is used.
Tip: A well-written, grammatically correct, and properly organized plan is far more likely to be well received than a handsomely bound, well-illustrated plan that contains spelling errors, is poorly organized, or includes unsupported assumptions.
|This…||Can be framed in a positive way as this…|
|The service is easily marketed. However, a subcontractor has not yet been found to provide the technical services.||Marketing will begin as soon as a contract is signed with a subcontractor that will provide the technical services.|
|The break-even point is 5,000 units. But, the company has not been able to produce more than 3,000.||With current production personnel and facilities, 3,000 units are produced monthly. The break-even point is 5,000 units per month.|
|Customers demand a combination of products and services. Our business can’t do this.||Currently the company is offering a single service. Based on customer demand, opportunities exist to expand this service to include products.|