Style features to make your Business Plan stand out!
How can you make your business plan as engaging as possible for the reader? Few entrepreneurs unfortunately are skilled at creating a written document that simultaneously:
- makes the best case for the business
- avoids burying the exciting opportunity under a mountain of data
- is engaging to read and
- gives prospective funders the info they need to make a decision.
If you are unable to hire an expert in business plan writing then follow these rules of good writing:
1. Use words sparingly
In the business world less is more, if it communicates the right information. Do not use unnecessary words. Your key messages will stand out and economy of words saves your readers valuable time.
2. Keep sentences simple
The sentence is the basic unit of written expression. Most sentences make a statement. A statement can be simple or complex. Sentence spare and to the point is more likely to register with the reader. It should not contain all information. If the details are important, it should be provided in a separate sentence. Complex sentences make the reader work harder and may create confusion, even though they are grammatically correct. As a writer, your challenge is to know when a sentence has reached its optimal carrying capacity.
3. Make the most of design
Readers of your business plan are busy people who have learned to skim; they drill down only to relevant details. Facilitate their skimming through the use of design elements e.g. Headings, subheads, white space and short blocks of text. Used judiciously they can:
- make your document more inviting to the reader
- improve reader comprehension
- help speed the reader through the material
Headings and subheadings give your work greater eye appeal and ‘skimability’. They signal that a new or related topic is about to begin. You can also use headings and subheadings to impart key ideas.
Break up long blocks of text into identifiable small bites. To do this use:
- headings or subheading
- short paragraphs some experts recommend that paragraphs average is no more than 200 words
- number lists so you can summarise key points or get across your ideas quickly
- bullets to get information across clearly and succinctly
4. Use graphics
Transmit numerical data quickly with bar charts and pie charts. Telling the story with a graph does not necessarily save space, but it gives your audience a break from reading text and it generally has more impact.
As you develop your business plan, always keep the interests of your readers in mind. Pay attention to style. Use as few words as necessary to get your points across. Avoid long, complex sentences when possible. Make your document easy to skim by using headings, subheadings, white space, and numbered and bulleted lists to break up blocks of text.
Post originally published via ICAEW Business Advice Service – click here