Chapter 7 – Finishing the Business Plan
After completing this chapter, you will be able to
- Develop the final draft of the business plan
The previous stages of business plan development focused on helping the business plan writer (1) start on the plan, (2) develop a reasonably complete and comprehensive first draft of the plan by focusing on developing the initial story without obsessing about its realism, (3) convert that into a second draft by adding realism, and (4) develop a third draft by preserving the realism and making needed changes designed to make the plan appealing to the entrepreneur and desirable to targeted investors. This stage is where the business plan writer puts the finishing touches on the plan to prepare it for use.
Figure 12 – Finishing the Business Plan (Illustration by Lee A. Swanson)
First Things Last
Finalize Major Goals
As contradictory as it might sound, it is only after the business plan is almost finished that the Major Goals section near the start of the plan should be completed. Replace the preliminary goals you have in that section with a limited set of goals, perhaps five to ten, which perfectly describe the outcomes you projected in certain sections of your plan. Write goals that will further improve the appeal of your plan for targeted investors and other important potential readers.
Your major goals should be substantive and relevant. They should also be written using a format designed to maximize their impact for targeted readers. The RUMBA formula (realistic, understandable, measurable, believable, and achievable) provides a useful guideline for developing major goals. The following is an example of a relevant major goal that follows that formula:
We will secure a $56,050 short-term loan in September, 2020, to finance inventory purchases needed to satisfy our projected increase in Christmas sales that year.
Write your Executive Summary
The last part of your business plan that you should write is the Executive Summary. Unlike most other types of documents, the executive summary at the start of a business plan can be up to about three pages in length.
As the executive summary might be the first section that targeted readers go through, it must be written to appeal to them. It should provide those readers with information that will encourage them to seriously consider taking the desired action, like investing in the venture. If they are not interested by the contents of the executive summary, they will not likely read any other part of the plan, and they won’t act—usually by investing in the business—as the business plan writer hopes they will.
Polish it Up!
Thoroughly proofread the completed business plan and fix all errors before submitting it to anyone. It is usually best to have other people proofread your work as they will catch errors that you will miss.
Never underestimate the negative consequences that can occur from distributing poor quality work.
Write A Letter of Transmittal
A letter of transmittal is to a business plan what a cover letter is to a resume. A letter of transmittal should briefly introduce the business plan accompanying it to the intended recipient and persuasively, but briefly, communicate the reasons why they should read it.
After all of the hard work involved with developing a high-power business plan, it must be finished properly to have the intended impact with its targeted readers. Before distributing it to targeted investors and other recipients, a limited number of major goals should be included in the Major Goals section near the start of the plan. Those goals should be carefully crafted to appeal to intended readers. The final writing task is to develop an executive summary that will entice targeted readers to examine the rest of the plan in detail for the purpose of deciding whether to potentially take the action—usually to invest in the venture—desired by the business plan writer. After that, the plan should be thoroughly proofread and revised to ensure that all errors are eliminated before the plan is used. After writing a customizedletter of transmittal to introduce the plan, it can be put to use.