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How to Write Clearly

How to Write Clearly

ADVICE TO HELP YOU WRITE CLEARLY AND CONCISELY

BLOG BY NICK WRIGHT of EDITORSOFTWARE.COM

 

Need help with your business plan? Try StyleWriter 4

Monday, June 20, 2011 - Page 3 of 5

How to write a good business plan

Keep to the Essential Specific Information

Your readers want the key, specific information to understand your business plan. Imagine your reader going over your plan with a highlight pen. Typically, the reader would only highlight the essential information. Write keeping to the key information you expect the reader to highlight and you will avoid straying into general or irrelevant information.

For example, if you are raising finance to fund a $8 million marketing campaign where 90% will go on magazine advertising, you must give specific details. As this is central to any investment decision, readers will want to know for each publication:

  • Cost of advertising and audited circulation.
  • Timetable for placing advertisements.
  • Expected sales generated from each publication.
  • Alternative strategy if sales do not happen.
EXAMPLE OF NON-SPECIFIC WRITING

The sports shoe market has grown significantly over the past few years and so offers opportunities to companies that are prepared to advertise heavily in the industry trade press and life-style magazines. By utilizing these opportunities of direct advertising, there’s a unique marketing potential to expand our company’s current market position.


EXAMPLE OF SPECIFIC WRITING

By spending $1.1 million in single-page advertisements in the monthly trade publications in Shoe Supplier and Footwear Trader over the next two years will build up our retailer base by 10% and lead to an extra $2.2 million in revenue.

We plan to spend another $3.1 million over three years advertising our direct Internet sales service in three lifestyle magazines:

Fitness Today (circulation 800,000) and

Health and Fitness (circulation 920,000) and

Workout Now (circulation 450,000).

Based on two months’ trial advertisements in March and April this year, we can expect to increase our yearly $8.1 million Internet sales to $10.9 million in the first year and to $12.3 million in the second year. With another $500,000 advertising budget in following years paid out of increased revenue, we expect keep revenue growing at 6% a year.

Use a Clear Writing Style and Good Presentation

No one will bother with your plan if it’s hard work to read or work through because it’s poorly written or badly presented.

Writing Your Business Plan in Plain English
Write in plain English. Make sure you avoid technical jargon, abbreviations and acronyms. Explain any industry-specific terms. Use short sentences, active verbs and a conversational style. Keep your adjectives under control. Avoid generalizations and write up specific and quantifiable facts. Use bullets and lists. Cut wordy phrases and hopeful wishes and platitudes. Use your spell-checker and watch out for grammatical and punctuation slips.
Presenting Your Business Plan

Decide what information you are going to use. Place data in tables and use charts to show the key information you want to stress. Make sure everything you present, words, tables, charts, photographs and so on is easy to understand at a glance. Use plenty of white space, with generous margins. Bind the business plan with a strong and attractive cover.

Sample Business Plan Template

There’s no one outline for all business plans. They depend on your aim, your audience, your industry and so on. However, think of the business plan as a clear expression of your industry, your business and your future and it will help you draw together and order the essential information.

  1. Cover sheet
  2. Executive Summary
  3. Table of contents
  4. Business Idea and Description
    • Description of business
    • Marketing and Competition
    • Personnel
  5. Market Analysis
    • Financial Position and Forecast
    • Historical Performance
    • Existing Finance and loan applications
    • Capital equipment and stock
    • Balance sheet Break-even analysis
    • Business Income projections
      • One-year, three-year and five-year summaries
      • Detail by quarters, second and third years
      • Assumptions used.
    • Business Profit-and-Loss Statement
      • One-year, three-year and five-year summaries
    • Business Cash-flow summary
      • Current position
      • One-year, three-year and five-year summary projections
      • Detail by month, first year
      • Detail by quarters, second and third years
      • Assumptions used
    • Business Funding Needs
      • Current funds available
      • One-year, three-year and five-year summary projections
      • Other sources of finance
      • Assumptions used
  6. Management Team
    • Management Team
    • Other Support Staff
  7. Attachments
    • Articles, brochures
    • Copies of contracts, franchise agreements, leases, letters of intent, patents
    • Financial charts and breakdowns
    • Personal financial statement
    • Tax return

 

     

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