IStock_000003693267Small Several people have asked me how to make their business plan more competitive so that it stands out to a reviewer.  It's crucial to make sure you make a good first impression.  Similar to dressing up for a job interview, you want to present your best at the first glance.  Here are some quick tips to make sure your business plan rises to the top:

  1. Make sure you proofread your document carefully!  Get an editor friend to review it with you if you don't feel your writing skills are strong.
  2. Make the Executive Summary shine!  This is the very first thing that business plan reviewers see.  It's no more than two pages and you should write this when your entire document is complete.  It's a quick way for the reviewer to know what is in the entire document.  Make sure you polish this document and that the references are aligned with what is in the rest of the business plan. 
  3. Make the Financial Plan solid.  After the reader reviews the Executive Summary, the financials are typically the next section that is read.  If the financials make sense and the business is feasible, then congratulations, your business plan has made the first cut of the review process! 
  4. Make sure the entire document flows well.  Before submitting your document, make sure the other portions of the business plan flow well.  Does the marketing section align with how you will address your competitors? Are the goals you've set for your organization reasonable and feasible?  Is your business model compelling enough that the reviewer will want to meet you to discuss this further? 
  5. Give yourself plenty of time to write the document.  I recommend to my customers they give themselves a full month to write a proposal.  Don't expect to write a compelling document in the span of a couple days.  It takes time to craft your message and to fine-tune it.  Give yourself the luxury of enjoying the process rather than dreading it. 

Follow these simple guidelines, and you'll be ahead of the pack!   The time you spend pulling the pieces together will be well worth the effort. 

How much time are you spending on your business plan? 

What are you doing to present the best document to the reviewer? 

What results are you expecting when you submit your proposal?