When you are ready to sit down and write, just do it. Choose a method that works for you and a time when you will be left alone without distractions.
The business plan is arranged into a number of small, manageable writing tasks. The following suggestions apply to any of the many steps that include written outputs as well as to the entire business plan.
With any text element of your business plan, the first step is to write your rough draft, concentrating on your ideas and all the information you need to include. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling or any form of editing in the rough draft, you can polish and refine during the revision process. This first draft is not the place to be concerned with perfection.
Read the following list of suggestions prior to writing your business plan. You might also consider copying this list and hanging it in a visible location wherever you will do your writing.
- Write in the third person
Write about your business and yourself as though they are separate entities. Rather than stating “I / we expect to bring in $24,000 in sales…” you might write “The business will achieve $24,000 in sales.”
- Lead your reader from general to specific
Make it easy for your reader to understand what you wish to communicate. This general to specific suggestion applies to paragraphs, elements, sections.
- Be thorough
You want to make sure that you have included all the necessary information. Check your notes to ensure you have covered all of the important points. Provide answers for obvious questions. Be sure to cover all of the relevant elements of the business plan and the key points indicated in each element. In the Appendices, provide any complex or detailed backup information to support the statements in the body of your business plan.
- Maintain accuracy
Can you back up your statements with facts? When you quote text or statistics, ensure that you record them accurately. Look for contradictions that may leave your reader wondering. Accuracy is the foundation that enables your reader to build trust in you and your plan; contradictions and inconsistencies are the seeds that grow into doubt.
- Be consistent with names and terminology
To achieve clear meaning in your writing, choose and use your terms carefully. If you wish to make your writing more interesting by varying your terminology, be sure to provide explanations where it makes sense to do so.
- Use an active voice
Always use the active voice unless there is a good reason to use the passive. Active voice is more direct, more forceful, and often easier for the reader to understand. For example, “The owner will contact the customers” is active voice. “The customers will be contacted by the owner” is passive voice.
- Write positively
Wherever possible, avoid writing negative statements, unless the negative aspect of the statement needs to be emphasized. It is advisable to extol the benefits of your products and services in your business plan but highly distasteful to make negative comments about your competitors.
- Minimize jargon
Jargon is language that fails to communicate because it is full of long or fancy words. Most often jargon takes the form of technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group. If you use too many words and expressions unique to your industry or business, you might confuse the reader of your business plan. If you need to use jargon, provide an explanation for your reader.
- Be concise
Make all the words, sentences, and paragraphs count by eliminating unnecessary words and phrases. Avoid repeating the same idea using different wording – this tends to tell the reader you are unsure of what you are trying to say. Be careful to remove every word, phrase, clause or sentence you can without sacrificing clarity.
- Avoid clichés
Clichés are timeworn expressions or ideas, such as “the price is right.” At best, clichés are obviously borrowed phrases that can be confusing to readers from other cultures. They tend to irritate readers when used repeatedly.
Happy business plan writing entrepreneurs! Next week I’ll give you my Writing Tips for Wide-Eyed Business Planners numbers 11-20.