The following is a guest post by Tim Eyre.
5 Elements of an Effective Business Plan That Will Leave Them Begging for More
At one time standard protocol called for a lengthy, very detailed business plan that would permit the reader, be it an investor or potential client, to get a complete understanding of a proposed business idea, product of service right off the bat. But unfortunately for those poor souls who slaved away writing 20, 30 ñ even 50 page business plans, the end result was often rejection. That meant that weeks or months of work may have been wasted, leaving the author with a sense of discouragement.
Fortunately, today, a one page proposal has become expected by many in the business world. Just as employers expect job applicants to summarize their personal information on a single page resume, entrepreneurs pitching an idea are often expected to reduce the details of a business plan to a handful of highlights on one page. So, whether you’re a sole proprietor trying to lure investors so you can launch your new idea, or whether you’re an employee in an established company trying to increase your market share with an innovative new concept, you may be called upon to embrace the one-pager. If so, consider the following advice in order to help you make a good first impression.
If you want to get your foot in the door, as mentioned above, you need to accept the idea that every coherent business proposal should be capable of being summarized in one page. There’s good news and bad news as a result of the advent of the one page business plan. On the positive side, reducing your idea, plan or concept to a single page increases the chance that your intended reader will actually review it. After all, if someone receives numerous 30 page business plans, chances are slim that he’ll be able to give his undivided attention to the details of any of them. On the other hand, summarizing a complex business plan on a single piece of paper can be overwhelming. Authors of these one-pagers must strive to balance thoroughness, so the reader can get a complete understanding of the idea, with brevity, because our attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter. And because of short attention spans, readers expect these one page pitches to captivate their
Resisting the urge to include everything about your concept or get bogged down in the details can be difficult if you’ve been living with your idea for a long time. Therefore, get some objective advice from friends or colleagues who aren’t as attached to your proposal, and definitely get people you trust to proofread your one-pager before you distribute it.
Make It Easy to Understand
The purpose of reducing your proposal to writing is to clearly communicate your idea, as opposed to impressing readers with how smart you are. As a result, resist the temptation to use unnecessarily complicated vocabulary and extremely technical explanations. Busy executives reading your plan should be able to peruse it once and gain a pretty clear understanding of your vision. If they have to reread it over and over to comprehend your points, you may lose them.
In the interest of clarity, make sure you consider your audience as you draft the one-pager. If your reader will likely be a stuffy executive, you may want to keep it completely professional. On the other hand, if your market is more youth-driven, then you may want the tone of your business plan to demonstrate that you’re in tune with that demographic. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to prepare multiple versions of the business plan to distribute to the different classes of readers you intend to target.
Mention Your Target Customers or Clients
A great idea is worthless if you haven’t honed in on your target clientele. Therefore, your business plan should make it apparent that you’ve researched the market and have a plan for attracting customers.
Explain Your Competitive Advantage
A savvy reader will expect you to convey why your idea serves a need in the market and why opportunity exists in that industry. Therefore, make sure you’ve researched the competitive landscape in the market you’re targeting and explain why your idea is unique and will likely fare well against the competition.
Don’t Overlook Logistics
If you want to be taken seriously, even the best, high-concept ideas must be grounded in economic reality. Readers expect your business plan to project your estimated costs and likely income with adequate supporting data. And if you’re looking for investors, for example, the reader of your business plan should come away with a clear understanding of how long it’ll take you to get your idea off the ground. As your concept evolves and you make progress, edit your one-pager to make it clear that your dream is closer to becoming a reality.
Working with self storage users all over the United States, Tim Eyre helps customers store their stuff in places like Philadelphia self storage and North Fort Myers self storage. In his spare time, Tim likes to get outside for a game of basketball or a round of golf.
Photo by Chris J Bowley.
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