There are many ways of creating bad business plans that stand little chance of serving their intended purpose. But, while there are also many different ways of getting it right, there are certainly a few things that every good business plan really ought to be.

1 – Focussed

Anyone reading your business plan is likely to be someone for whom time is a precious commodity and so getting to the point as swiftly as possible is generally a good approach to take. That isn’t to recommend rushing or leaving your plan lacking in detail, but rather to suggest that finding your focus and sticking to it will play firmly in your favour.

2 – Targeted at a specific audience

You might not always know precisely who will be reading your business plan at any given moment but you should be able to make an educated guess as the kind of people who you hope it will impress. Generally this will be financial experts and decision-makers in different business contexts. In short, we’re talking about the kind of people who want to see specific language and supporting evidence for every claim or estimate they come across.

3 – Based in the real world

There may always be a temptation to embellish or to exaggerate the facts relating to certain dynamics as you come to craft a business plan. While this might be expected and overlooked to a certain extent, it is vital to your chances of impressing investors that your plan should be rooted firmly in the real world and what is really going on in your intended target markets.

4 – Placed in a clear competitive context

Every company does or will have competitors to contend with as it looks to progress. To claim otherwise will inevitably smack of naivety on the part of anyone authoring a new business plan. Therefore, a really robust business plan will take account of a full range of competitive considerations and offer a considerable amount of detail on the strengths and weakness of rival operators.

5 – Informative on downside risks

What you don’t want as you present your business plan to potential investors or creditors is to leave the reader feeling as if you are unaware of any downside risks relating to your business. This again can be taken as an indication of naivety but perhaps even a certain degree or recklessness and abandon that is never likely to appeal to investors of any sort.

It’s about the business not the plan

Ultimately, what’s easy to overlook in the context of creating a business plan and using it to drum up support for new enterprise endeavours, is that it is ultimately all about the business and not the plan. If you really have the makings of a viable business then your plan should come together and showcase that without too much trouble but even the best plan ever written won’t be enough to sell the merits of an operation riddled with fundamental flaws.