Keep Your Business Plan Simple

Keep Your Business Plan Simple

Just twenty to thirty years ago, the average business plan was much longer and complex than what it is today. This may be due to the fact that they are more common than they used to be, it could just be a trend, or it could be because people are used to gathering information faster than in the past. Either way, a shorter business plan is what is expected in today’s busy world.

The trend now a days is to go back to the fundamentals, with solid projections and great analysis. An “easy to read” format is extremely important. If you want people to read your plan, you need to keep it simple. Don’t confuse your business plan for something more than it is. Keep it simple and straightforward. Don’t confuse simple wording for simple thinking though. The reason you’re keeping your plan simple and concise is that you want to get your point across quickly and easily to whoever is reading it.

With that in mind, let’s get down to some specifics when it comes to simplifying your plan.

Business Writing. Effective business writing is easy to read. People will skim through your plan, they will try to read it while talking on the phone, reading their email, texting, and a variety of other distractions. Save the long complex words for something else. They serve no useful purpose in a business plan. When you’re crafting your plan, remember these tips:

  • Don’t use complicated words or sentences unless you have to. Short sentences are fine and they are easier to read.
  • Avoid industry specific jargon and acronyms. You may know what FUL (follow up later) means but don’t assume everyone else does.
  • Remove unneeded explanations. Only go into detail on explaining items when it is truly needed.
  • Use simple, straight forward language like “use” instead of “utilize”.
  • Bullet points are good for lists. They help readers digest information more easily.

Keep it short. The average length of a business plan is around twenty to thirty pages of text with another five to ten pages of appendices. This is much shorter than in the past. If your business plan is over 40 pages, you’re probably not effectively summarizing your material.

There are always exceptions to this rule though. Some people add a good amount of graphics such as photos of locations, mock-ups of logos and floor plans, and much more. Although this is more information, these can add great value to your business plan.

Don’t forget about the the overall look and feel of your plan. Aside from the wording, you also want the physical look of your text to be simple and inviting. This is true in many aspects of your business, such as it’s website or menu, and it’s true with business plans. Here are some tips:

  • Stick to two fonts for your text. The font you use for headings should be a simple sans-serif font like Arial. For the body text, you should probably use a standard text font, like Times Roman.
  • Avoid small fonts. Most fonts should be at least a 11 or 12 point size.
  • Use page breaks to separate sections and to highlight tables and charts. Nobody is worried about turning to the next page.
  • Use white space liberally. Words crammed together into small spaces are daunting to many readers.
  • Always use your spell-checker and proofread your material rigorously.

By Eric Rothmuller
Chief Strategist
Sky Marketing

Check out our other articles on Business Plans

What is a Business Plan | Why You Need a Business Plan | Starting Your Plan