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It takes time to nurture your nugget of a business idea into a more fleshed-out, potentially successful business model. And whether you’re writing a business plan for investors or just to serve as an internal blueprint, one of the most important steps of the process is finalizing your business plan.
There are many essential ingredients to a typical business plan. In fact, a quick online search can introduce you to dozens of worthwhile templates to use. But if you want to truly impress your prospective investors and maximize the chances of receiving funding from them, it’s important to figure out how to make your business plan stand out.
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The Plan vs. the Presentation
First, be aware that there’s a difference between writing a business plan that instructs your business creation and writing one that’s appealing to investors. If you want to be successful, you need to write with your investors in mind.
Investors typically aren’t interested in your emotional journey or your personal attachment to this business. They’re more interested in objective data and calculable probabilities for success. Make sure you prepare your plan with this in mind.
How to Make Your Business Plan More Impressive for Investors
So how do you make your business plan more impressive for the investors who will be reviewing it?
Do Your Research
This should go without saying, but you need to do your research. Writing up a business plan based on your gut feelings and intuitions is going to result in an inability to attract funding, and quite likely, the failure of your business. Instead, if you have a gut feeling, research it to see if that feeling is accurate or leading you in a positive direction.
Focus on Objective Data
Similarly, it’s important to focus on objective data whenever possible—and quantify those data. Instead of saying something like “lots of people like to eat cheese,” say something like “80 percent of the adult population enjoys cheese on a regular basis.” If your arguments are based on sound logic and verifiable facts, even the most skeptical investors won’t be able to refute your points.
Include All Relevant Sections of Your Business Plan
You’ll have some flexibility in how you build and write your plan, but it’s important to include all sections that are relevant for your investors. You should have an executive summary, sections on your market research and competitive research, explorations of your operational model, and financial projections.
When writing a business plan, it’s tempting to resort to clichés and buzzwords. These turns of phrase are so convenient and in some cases, they sound so impressive. But keep in mind that investors probably review many business plans every day and they’ve rejected hundreds to thousands of entrepreneurs in the past. If your plan sounds like a low-effort regurgitation of unimpressive business plans they’ve read in the past, they’re going to skip over you.
Prioritize the Bottom Line (Financially)
While investors do have many considerations, they tend to prioritize the bottom line. They want to make sure your business can make money and that it can scale successfully. Otherwise, there’s no reason for them to invest. Accordingly, you should build your business plan around the bottom line. Emphasize how you’re going to reliably make money and how your business is going to grow.
Admit Weaknesses and Flaws in Your Business Plan
Intuitively, you might tweak your business plan to emphasize strengths and minimize weaknesses. But it’s a show of strength to admit the weaknesses and flaws of your business idea. It shows that you’re a critical thinker and that you’re aware of the key challenges that you’re going to face. Instead of trying to ignore or downplay them, lean into them—and explain exactly how you’re going to overcome them.
Demonstrate Your Expertise and Leadership
The person running the business is often just as important as the business idea itself. You’ll need to demonstrate your competence as an expert and a leader within this organization if you want investors to fund the business. Accordingly, you should explain why you’re in a good position to make your plan a reality. What experience do you have with other businesses? How are you going to lead this organization? Why are you adeptly qualified?
Adjust Your Business Plan for Your Audience (When Possible)
Not all investors think alike. If you’ve had the opportunity to get to know your investors personally, consider tweaking your business plan to suit their specific preferences and viewpoints. For example, if you know these investors are risk-averse and conservative, make sure your financial projections are grounded in reality and conservative in nature.
(Bonus) Be Prepared to Answer Tough Questions When Your Present Your Business Plan
If you’re presenting your plan with a Q&A afterward, be prepared to answer tough questions. Imagine the worst-case scenario and plan for it.
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Follow These Strategies to Make an Impression on Investors
If you follow these strategies, you should be in a much better position to write a business plan that your investors admire. You may or may not attract funding from them, but you’ll certainly make a better impression and set yourself up for better chances of success.
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