They say planning eliminates a multitude of potential pitfalls down the road. But what if your planning is flawed in the first place? When it comes to small business plans, you can’t afford to make mistakes up front. Here’s a look at several amateur mistakes to avoid if you want to see your plan come to fruition.
A business plan is for lenders, financiers and potential investors. So, it’s important to write your plan with them in mind. Be sure your plan answers questions like projected costs, ramp-up times, profits and anything else you think might appeal to them. While it’s tempting to go on about your vision and products, without the financial facts your plan is facing an uphill battle.
Is it possible your new venture could take off like a rocket? Sure. However, is it probable? If you’re not sure, the last thing you want to do is overestimate your success potential. First, most plan readers are born skeptics who will likely see this as bluster. Worse, it might indicate to them that you really aren’t grasping what it takes to be successful, prompting them to dismiss you on the spot.
Providing detailed information about your business and products is essential to any plan, however, stopping short of the competition can undermine even the strongest case. If you’re not acknowledging competitive forces in your plan, you’re telling the reader that you haven’t done your homework or, worse yet, that you don’t know what you’re up against.
At some point while you’re developing your business plan, you’ll want to have someone in the industry review your proposal. At a minimum, it may help you eliminate silly errors, like typos. However, a second set of trained eyes can easily spot lapses in logic, unclear thinking and other issues that might prevent your plan from resonating with its intended audience.
While you don’t want to appear uninformed in your business plan, trying too hard to sound intelligent can also be detrimental. Using big words and industry jargon will not score points with the reviewers. In fact, it may have an opposite effect if it appears you’re using them to cover up things you may not understand yourself. A rule of thumb is to write like you speak. At a minimum, it sounds natural and a lot more sincere.
The last thing you want your business plan to do is put the reader to sleep. If you’re a natural writer who has a way with words, you shouldn’t have problems writing a lively piece that keeps the reader engaged. Unfortunately, not everyone has this skill set, so if it’s a weak spot of yours, enlist a professional to write – or at least edit – your plan for you. You may even want to go so far as to have a graphic designer critique your layout to ensure it’s appealing but not overbearing.
Business planning can be difficult at best. So the last thing you need is a plan that undermines your effort. By avoiding these common mistakes you can get your planning off on the right foot.