Writing a business plan is as wide a field as establishing the business itself. It is interesting to note that despite its criticality in the larger picture, it is often neglected by most entrepreneurs and this has a serious impact on how their plans actually take off in the long run. Writing a high-quality business plan includes planning for almost all of the integrities like web content, sales letters, reports, memos and press releases. While there are numerous detailed guides on how to write a business plan, in terms of structure, very few articles provide insight on what creates the content more acceptable for reviewers of the business plan. In this article, we will consider the basic principles of writing for business plans, and explaining their relevance to different contexts.
These are important sequential step which need to be followed while writing a formal communication because official communication is not like a novel or a news report that can be mulled over and enjoyed for layer upon layer of meaning. It has to be understood at the first pass so that a valuable proposal doesn’t get wavered because of the inability of the writer to communicate the benefits or implications of the idea to the reader of the document or the message. It has to convey both the interest and the urgency immediately after the first read to the intended audience. It has to be relevant to the reader’s objectives to the extent that they will act on it straight away, not file it for future reference.
If your punctuation is not up to the mark that is expected from professional writers, the words may convey an alternative meaning to the though you may have intended to propose through the communication. You may use a wrong word or construction. If simple grammatical errors, or duplication, make the document seem slovenly and second rate, you will be judged accordingly, and your communication will have failed. Remember, the way you are presenting your business plan is the first step of marketing your offering to a potential major stakeholder.
These aspects need to be considered at the outset:
- Achievement of purpose: Focus on the key objective in hand. Many issues expressed will distract your reader, if you let it, like personal opinions, antagonisms, office history and politics, jockeying for position, trying to impress someone. All this digresses the focus of the business plan and its value proposition and makes the presenter look weak and easily influenced. Think of your writing as standing alone, away from your tastes and personality. Be ruthless on this point and you will soon win admirers. They will see you as storm-proof from the vicissitudes of business life; able to withstand the pull of personal ambition, while possessing a steely concentration on the job in hand. Definitely promotion material.
- Clarity: Each part of a document has a part to play in the whole and needs its own level of clarity. The overall document should carry the message like an arrow hitting a target. Each section should contain a segment of the argument, locally arrayed in terms of all the others. The paragraphs should follow on from each other in a recognizable sequence. Sentences should not be superfluous, nor repetitive. They should speak plainly and directly.
- Engage attention: Don’t become verbose and wandering so that you lose your audience. Keep it on track. The KISS principle (Keep it Short and Simple) often is the best solution. Remember, the reviewers of your business plan would have lots of other important activities in their schedule and they do not want to waste time indulging in pleasure reading, in this context.
- Pleasant to read: This is really about style. Matthew Arnold wrote: “Have something to say and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.” Write with sinewy English that drives its point home and don’t lose face by making linguistic errors. Check your work before sending it, and, finally, remember that your reader who is the reviewer of your work actually cares less about it than you do!
If time is money, as it undoubtedly is, consider how much money is wasted over botched business plans which fail to take off, due to a bad presentation and editing. Presentation quality is just as high as the content being presented. The low quality of communication actually costs money because it costs time and that is a valuable opportunity cost. It also costs the goodwill of your potential customer, which may result in a lost business opportunity. While there are numerous articles on how to prepare a high-quality business plan, in terms of contents, most articles fail to look into the aspect of quality editing and business writing for communicating the idea concretely and effectively, which again is a critical factor for acceptance of the same by the reviewers.