After writing your business plan, the next step is to start presenting it. You might be presenting it to prospective investors as a way to attract more funding. You might be using it to get approved for a loan, if your bank needs to learn more about how your business will work. You may also need to present it to partners, or prospective clients, to win them over if the business hasn’t yet been established.
Obviously, the best way to make a good impression with your business plan is to write a comprehensively researched one. You’ll need to cover major areas including the logistics of your business, your market opportunities, your potential competitors, and your financial growth over time. But beyond that, you should be using secondary tactics to make sure your information hits investors and interested parties the right way.
Get Your Plan Professionally Bound
Before your recipient starts reviewing your business plan, they’re going to judge it based on how it looks. If it seems like you printed it out this morning in a hurry, with a crooked staple haphazardly in the corner, they’re going to assume you didn’t put much work in it. But if you have a high-quality paper stock, good ink, and a professional binding (like perfect binding), your investors will think more highly of your efforts. It costs a little bit extra, but it’s worth it to make sure you’re taken seriously before your business plan is even cracked open.
Present Data With Visuals
Your business plan should be stacked with data. You should be thoroughly analyzing current market conditions, breaking down the interest and numbers of different demographics, and of course, you should be covering the financials in extreme detail. The problem is, even math nerds find it hard to pay attention to raw numbers for too long. On some level, they don’t make sense unless they’re presented in an intuitive, digestible format—and that’s where data visuals come into play. Presenting your financial analyses with graphs and charts makes them more interesting and easier to understand—plus you’ll have the opportunity to present them in a format that slightly skews perceptions in your favor.
Include Both High-Level and Detailed Sections
Because some investors will want to dig into the gritty details of your business plan, it’s important to have dense sections filled with those details. However, most professionals won’t have time to wade through every last word of your writing. Accordingly, it’s also important to have high-level recaps of those detailed sections, so people can get the gist of your writing, or remind themselves of the main point of each section when flipping back through it.
The easiest way to do this is to write each section in detail, then go back and write a 2-3 sentence summary above each section.
Deliver With Confidence
People will be more likely to believe in your business plan if you deliver it personally with confidence. You won’t always have the opportunity to walk your readers through the document; sometimes, they’ll be left to read it on their own. But if you get the chance to present your key information, it’s important to speak assertively, and with poise. Familiarize yourself with the details of your plan, and rehearse your explanations before you go into the meeting. While you’re at it, make sure your posture and body language are in line with your confident persona.
Proactively Address Key Questions
Investors aren’t impressed by business plans that suggest the business has no weaknesses; in fact, it’s usually a sign that the entrepreneur hasn’t done enough research since all businesses have weaknesses. Instead, prepare for some of the toughest questions your audience will be asking, and proactively address them. For example, you could include a section in your business plan covering your biggest challenges or most significant unresolved points, or you could take notes in preparation for a live Q&A with your audience.
Play to Your Audience
Finally, consider creating different versions of your business plan for each audience you present to. For example, if you’re trying to get a loan for your business, the financial data will probably be the most important, but if you’re pitching to a prospective client, you’ll want to play up the problems your business intends to solve. These separate versions will help you win greater favor within each respective group. If you follow these strategies, you can ensure your business plan will have the highest likelihood of making a good impression with your intended audience. You don’t need to follow all of these strategies, necessarily, but they can give a massive boost to almost any plan—so long as your core content is strong.