What can a business plan do?

A Business Plan cannot get you funding.  The quality of your company or your idea will do that.  The Business Plan should bring out the highlights of your company in a responsible-seeming manner so that it is believable.  The only thing a Business Plan can do for you is either get you through the door of opportunity or into the circular file of rejection.  Oh, if it is ridiculous enough, it can be passed around from one snotty critic to another with a note attached saying “Hey!  Take a look at this idiot!  What a hoot!”   I am sorry to say it has been done in far crueler ways.  You don’t want that to happen to your Business Plan.

How To Save Your Biz Plan From The Circular File

Don’t over-design your document. It doesn’t need to look like a magazine — it must look serious. Don’t add graphics and photos that have nothing much to do with the business idea you are pitching.

Don’t add graphics and photos that have nothing much to do with the business idea you are pitching.

Don’t use hyperbole. No matter how brilliant your idea, it is not poised to become the next Unicorn — particularly if you haven’t launched it yet. Never use words like “the best” or “the leading” or “will become outstandingly profitable” or “soon to be a key player in the industry” or “creating a lot of buzz in the Venture Capital community.” You get it. Stick to the basic facts. Hyperbole never achieves what you think it will. Professional investors see it as amateurish.

Do insert a disclaimer right after the title page. It doesn’t need to be very exciting. It can be a simple paragraph stating that the document is a confidential description of your business idea and it is for information purposes only. It is not an offer to buy or sell securities. The information included in the document is based on the research, planning, and assumptions of Management. Even if all assumptions prove to be correct, there are many things that could negatively affect this business in real-life operation. Google “business plan disclaimers” and find one you like. Keep it simple.

Don’t expect an investor or banker to sign an extensive Non-Disclosure Agreement. They ordinarily aren’t looking to copy your idea and will feel it necessary to run the NDA past their attornies. This usually means they will refuse to accept your business plan.

Putting the word “CONFIDENTIAL” in the header or footer probably provides as much protection as an NDA under most circumstances. The value of an NDA is to demonstrate in court that you have informed the recipient of your document that it is confidential and should not be circulated irresponsibly.

If you have a business plan promoting a medical or technical breakthrough of importance, file a preliminary patent to protect it and have your attorney involved in presenting your business plan to potential investors.

My own disclaimer is that everything I say is based on my research and experience and should be taken with a grain of salt and its truth and value verified by your own attorney.