Top Five Mistakes Found on Business Plans That Investors Hate

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I read a lot of business plans. I may be one of the few people who read them for business as well as pleasure. Having read a ton of business plans over the years I have seen my share of truly well crafted, edited and delivered business plans. I have also seen my share of business plans that I considered an embarrassing display of business thought.

Business PlansMistake #5 - If you're bored writing it, guess how much more bored someone else will be reading it?
If you're not enjoying writing your businesses plan then what makes you think someone else is going to enjoy reading it? When I look at a business plan, the person who is buying a business or starting the business usually writes it. This person more than anyone should be the most passionate about the business or the idea they are pitching.

"Make it your own and own it"
When I get a business plan and its boring or lacks any passion the first thing that comes to my mind is to wonder if this person isn't passionate about their business why should I be passionate about it?

There are a lot of business plans on the Internet, books and software. Most of them use a very specific formula and approach. Many authors of business plans believe that the outline or the piece of software that spits out a business plan, or the way its written in a book is the way a business plan has to look, sound and feel. Nothing could be further from the truth!

TIP: Use and outline so you don't miss any relevant parts of the business plan, but use your own voice and style. Make it your own and not another software rehash.

MISTAKE #4 - Bigger is better -
You know what? If you have a 200-page business plan for a coffee shop with 3 employees then your plan is too big. Most lenders or investors are looking for very specific information in your business plan. Usually, they are looking at your assumptions, your management team, your exit strategy, etc. Adding more words will not make your business plan more true. Most investors will not be fooled by a thick business plan, especially if they have to dig through a bunch of pages to get to one or two paragraphs.

TIP: If a word, sentence or paragraph doesn't add value to what you're trying to convey in your business plan take it out. A well-written 5-page business plan is worth a lot more than a 15-page mess. "Let Every Word, Sentence and Paragraph add value to your plan"

Investors and lenders are usually very busy people. Show them that you appreciate their time and intelligence by writing in a clear, concise manner that is crisp and to the point.

MISTAKE #3 - Making a presentation that doesn't match the plan
I have once had a guy come in to give a presentation for a start up business. In his presentation he said he needed $50,000 in seed capital. He then went on to give a great presentation about this new product and how profitable it would be to the investors and for the company. It was very impressive.

"Know your business and know your plan"
A few hours later I was reading through the plan and what he actually needed was $375,000 to get he plan off the ground. The number was so different that it couldn't have been a mistake. I don't know what he was thinking but it totally ruined his credibility with all of us.

TIP: Know what's in your plan and make sure what you are saying matches what are in your plan.

MISTAKE #2 - Leaving out information that is damaging about yourself, your company or your market.
If you're attempting to obtain capital from outside investors then you can expect them to do, at a minimum, a background check on you, your company and do some comparative analysis of your market. There are always going to be additional questions about your assumptions, your market or questions about you, but the worse thing you can do is purposely fail to disclose something that is potentially damaging.

"Be totally open and honest about everything"
Hiding bad credit, a bankruptcy, a criminal record or anything is just as bad as being caught in a lie because it destroys your credibility more than if you would be honest about it up front.

TIP: If you have something damaging to disclose make it a part of your presentation and get the facts out the way and how you have handled it. Make it a non-issue.

MISTAKE #1 - Editing If three people haven't seen your business plan and presentation before you give it to a lender or investor then you are asking for trouble. I am very careful about the plans I write for others and myself. Even after I have spent hours or days checking and rechecking a plan, I ask a couple of people who I trust to look at it and check it for spelling errors, tone and making sure everything matches.

"There are no second chances to make a first impression"
Once an investor gets your plan it's too late to go back and say that "too" was suppose to be "to" or the $123.00 was suppose to be $1230.00. One mistake might not hurt you too much, but if you have enough of them the investor will probably think you lack an attention to detail.

TIP: Pay to have a professional proofreader or editor look at your plan. If you're applying for any amount of money it will be money well spent.

There are of course many more mistakes that a business plan writer can and do make when creating a business plan. But at lease you can make sure your plans do not have these mistakes.