If you’re finishing up your business plan and starting to think about presenting it to potential investors and lenders, you MUST spend quality time and energy preparing your presentation. Format your presentation properly, and you’ll impress your readers – banks, venture capital leaders and other potential funders – before they even take the time to read it!
The business plan represents you and your company; it doesn’t have to be in a gold embossed leather binder with four color photographs but it does have to look professional. So after you have written the final edit of your plan, ask yourself these questions:
- Does it include a title page with your company name, a person’s name and the address and phone numbers? Don’t just clip a business card to the front page, it could get separated.
- Has your plan been proofed and spell checked? And by a real person, not just your word processor?
- Did you check all abbreviations or acronyms to make sure the first time they’re used they’re explained, ie., World Wide Web (www)?
- Have you gone through the plan to make sure all technical terms are explained?
- Are the pages numbered?
- Do the page numbers for the index match the actual page numbers?
- Have you edited the plan to see what you can include in the Appendix rather than in the body of the business plan?
- Has someone unfamiliar with your company read the business plan and understood it?
- Is your executive summary limited to no more than 3 pages?
- Have you had someone unfamiliar with your company read just the executive summary and understand your company?
- Are your margins at least one inch wide on each side, top, and bottom?
- Is your font size at least 11, preferably 12?
- If you are using a word processing system which allows color graphics, have you changed the color graphics to grayscale for printing? Or will you be printing the business plan in color?
- Will you produce it in PDF format for easy emailing if needed?
- Have you checked to make sure you didn’t use too many fonts and font sizes?
- Have you taken advantage of bullet points, shading, indents, and borders to add visual interest to your business plan? (Just don’t go overboard.)
- Do you make judicious use of graphs, charts, and graphics to make your points? If not, consider making the extra time to add these in – if you need help, get a staff person to research or create the graphics you will need. And make them color, if possible, for better effect.
- Is the use of your page titles and headings consistent in format throughout the business plan?
You can print your business plan on both sides of the paper, just make sure it’s printed on quality paper so that the printing doesn’t bleed through to the other side. If you are using duplicating or copying services to print your business plans, is the quality nearly perfect?
Two final question to ask yourself:
- When my prospective funder picks up this booklet, will they be drawn in?
- Will it be pleasing to the eye and engaging of the mind?
Follow these steps, and you’ll be taken seriously.