A startup plan is a truly wonderful document – it’s filled with your aspirations, the research you’ve done, the reasons why investors should be interested, and your plans for the future. Startup plans are dreams put to paper. You can find a number of guides telling you how to write a business plan, but these guides can often lack guidance to help you get around certain pitfalls. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
You have a lot of ideas about how your business will succeed, data to back those ideas up, and a full-fledged path forward to make it all happen. You have numbers, you have charts, you have a SWOT analysis, but you might not have thought about style. A business plan is a persuasive document, after all; you want to know what kinds of investors you’re interested in attracting and how your business plan will affect their emotions. Some investors are all business and will prefer a traditional, formal business plan. Other investors are interested in your personality and will want a unique document that lets your idiosyncrasies shine. Know your audience and tailor the layout and word choices accordingly. There’s no excuse for sloppy spelling, sentence structure, or grammar, though.
There are few things more irritating than seeing a business plan with a ton of data, none of which is properly linked to the claims in the plan. The reverse can be true, too; a lot of exciting claims about the market and the potential of the business without enough data to back it up. Towing the line between these two things can be challenging, so ask yourself – is this data supporting an argument, and is this argument supported by data? If the answer to either question is no, you need to re-evaluate.
Business plans are meant to persuade, so it can feel foolish to list all of the reasons why your business might fail. When you tell investors that your business has no risks, however, you’ll look the most foolish of all – every investment has risks. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses and let potential investors know. This will give them a better idea about how much they should invest, and they may be able to guide you around some of those weaknesses. You might, for example, not be well-versed in finance; admitting to this weakness and getting a professional accounting team for your startup could be a good idea.
Things happen, parts of your plan don’t come to fruition, and you need to re-evaluate. A truly great business plan will have contingency plans – best case, expected case, and worst case scenarios. This allows you to be flexible with how you use your money; these aren’t hard business rules, they’re business guidelines.
Businesses aren’t just profit-generating machines; they can create real social change. More and more, consumers are demanding that businesses take a holistic approach – trying to remain cognizant of how their presence affects the environment, their communities, their clients, and other stakeholders. A business plan that includes environmental and community impacts will be seen as one that has gone above and beyond to take all factors into account.