There are plenty of guides about how to structure your business plan and what headings to use. And plenty of templates to download off the internet. But what will make your business plan better than the next? Let’s assume you have a great product or service and you want to take your business to the next level. What will set your business plan apart from all the others? What will make your plan more likely to succeed?

However impressive your plan looks it will mean nothing if what is in your plan lacks real content! A business plan is not simply a well written and presented document. It is the content that really counts. If you haven’t done your homework don’t start writing! Without facts and figures all you will end up with will be pure fiction. To give you the best chance of success your plan will need to be well researched, have a well-argued commercial case (market opportunity + relevant product), and be supported by set of grounded financial forecasts.

And be realistic! However creative and innovative your business idea your plan needs to be rooted in reality – in the here and now.  You may want to roll-out your service globally but you will need to prove your business first on a smaller scale. Excite your readers by highlighting the global potential, BUT focus on the immediate deliverables and milestones to get your business to the next stage. Have a clear road-map that you can realistically implement. As well as being realistic about the opportunities, be honest (with yourself and others) about the risks. Show you have thought through how to address these.

Communication & Accessibility
However good the content, there is nothing worse that sitting down to 20 – 30 pages of close printed script in a font size you can barely read, with jargon you don’t understand. Don’t alienate your audience. Make it readable! Use short sentences and plenty of diagrams, charts and images to help communicate your plan (don’t overdo it – garish colours and images will detract from your core message). And whatever business you are in, avoid using lots of technical jargon – keep it simple. If you need to refer to technical aspects of your product or service use terms that anyone can understand. If really necessary, use a glossary of terms at the front of your plan.

You don’t need 60 pages to communicate your plan! If you write more than 30 pages you will probably lose the interest of your target audience. If you can do it in less, then great. Yes, add the detail, but put it in the appendices. Use the written commentary to communicate the essential message, not the granular detail. And make sure your Executive Summary makes them want to read more…..

Good Luck!

Jon Hunt
The Business Plan Team

JH AlternativeJon has 25+ years of commercial experience in Start-ups, SMEs & large Corporations that include Clear Channel UK and Shandwick plc. He has been involved in business plan consultancy across multiple sectors and brings first-hand experience of creating commercial propositions from a business idea through to a market ready proposition, building management teams and structures, financial forecasting, investment proposals, product development and fund-raising. The Business Plan Team specialises in helping entrepreneurs, start-ups and growing businesses translate their vision into a coherent and executable business plan that can help secure funding and drive business growth. It is based in just outside Oxford, UK.


What Makes a Great Business Plan?