Three Important Points about Your Business Plan
If you are seriously contemplating making a foray into eCommerce, then you’re going to need a business plan. Now, you may not think you need it because all you will need to do is to create a site, put up some products, and advertise like crazy. But if you are looking for investors or even a loan, you will need something to show that you’ve put some thought into the business you are hoping to create. While SBA.gov has some great outlines and tips for starting a new business, you need to plan it first if you are aiming for success.
Be Clear and Straightforward
A sound plan always starts with the basics. Depending on how deeply you have to research, you will wind up with charts, summaries, predictions and theories. But in the middle of the business lingo, remember that simple and easy to understand go a long way with your reader. Adequate research about your market and business is needed but overdoing or overcomplicating your business plan will distract it from its purpose. A business plan is not a thesis nor is it “War and Peace.” You will need to make your plan easy to skim, which means reining in your prose. Avoid using acronyms because chances are you will meet someone who does not understand the meaning of KISS (keep it simple, stupid) or WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). So, avoid jargon from your field. Provide definitions to terminology when necessary.
Make sure you explain your bullet points, as leaving them naked can be frustrating. If you give your plan to someone and they still have a lot of questions that is a clear indication that you need to break it down even further. Consider what need or service your business is addressing and make that your focal point. Referring to guides such as the Ultimate Guide to Business Plans prior to jotting it down on paper gives you the know-how to Clearly communicate how your business will solve a real problem or provide a needed service will give potential supporters the confidence they need to believe in your ideas.
Use Charts Appropriately
If you have important numbers to convey, you can do so easily with charts because they are a great way to break up a lot of text and tell the story in a more compelling way. On the other side of this point is that a chart that is not well utilized can do more harm than good. If you are misrepresenting data or do not properly reference your source, your charts will be ineffective. Also, make sure you use the right type of chart for the data you are presenting. There are times when a bar chart works better than a pie chart. For example, if you are talking about market segments, a pie chart would be more effective for presenting your data. But, if you were showing what each segment spends, a bar chart is more appropriate to present this information effectively and with more impact. Other charts, such as Gantt charts, demonstrate milestones such as profit goals or customer reach. Demonstrating milestones is very beneficial because they show your business is progressing, which is something that investors and loan officers like to see. When presenting milestones, stick with the major ones as they are easier to read and understand to make a lasting impact.
Polish Your Presentation
If you have ever read a document that has a lot of misspellings or too many words used incorrectly, it can be very frustrating. While you may not be an English aficionado, proofreading and spell-checking are invaluable skills to apply when writing your business plan. Read your plan once, put it away, and then read it again. For those who have visual challenges, reading anything that’s below 11 point font will not work. Stick with standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial and make sure the size is at least 11 or 12 points, to accommodate most, if not all, of your audience. Even with a good sized font, crammed text is uncomfortable to read. Keep your text spacing at about 1.5. Do not let what you are trying to say be muddled by misspellings or grammar issues. You want to leave your reader with confidence in your business ideas and not distracted by the look of your page.
Finally, there are some plans that will be 20-25 pages long, which may be considered an ideal length, according to Resource Nation; some are more than 30, including your charts, graphs, website mockups, and more. For those that are more than 40 pages, those additions need to add real value to the plan. You can easily say what you need to in less than 40 pages without dragging it out. Readers need to digest the information you present easily. Make sure you give them what you know they will need and they can take it from here.