People often ask, “What makes a good business plan, or how can I make my plan attractive to lenders and investors?” ..
The simple answer is that lenders and investors (I refer to them as “foot readers”) are looking for “good deals”. A “good deal” is to give the buyer a fair return rate for the assumed risk. The complete answer is that you need to write a plan that you want the reader to read, and then make it available to stakeholders looking for your project type and risk and benefit level. This article discusses the first part of the equation – how to write a business plan that readers want to read.
The footnote requires plans that clearly, accurately and wholly allow for a preliminary decision on the project. Here are the steps to write that plan:
Research, research and research are the three most important aspects of a business plan when it comes to interpreting a real estate statement. Other things are important (though critical), and ultimately your plan lives on the quality and completeness of your information. To do that, you are ready to risk your time and financial future for a project – how much information do you need? first step:
1. Be an expert in your project. Learn everything you can:
The customers you sell (your market).
The actual cost of running your business (get the price).
True results of similar projects.
The physical location (s) and impact (if any) of the project to the project.
People who lead the project.
If you have followed the above, you now have a mountain of research – sticky notes, web pages, reports, quotes, etc. But, what does all of that mean? Step Two:
When you first got the idea for your project, there was a sense of “this is a permanent winner.” Now is the time to see if your feelings are well established. With a critical eye, make a “SWOT” analysis of your project (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Determine what you can do to benefit from S and O, and minimize W and T.
Step one and two have slightly altered your “permanent winner” feelings – and that’s fine. (If not, you have either hit the next “sliced bread” or need to repeat the previous steps). Your research and analysis will show you the valuable benefit of your time and money (and your readers’) going to step three:
“Rubber found road”. Using your research and analysis, you will now tell your readers, “This is what happens to money.” You will do that with accounting forecasts known as “pro forma” statements. Give three to five years of statements, usually the first year of the month, the second and third quarterly, and (if included) the last two years of the year. In all cases, include:
Statement of operations.
Cash Flow Forecast.
Different Rates (Debt to Value, Debt Service Coverage etc.)
In addition to the above, you should generally include a “source and use of funds” that shows the sources of start-up capital and what it costs.
By this time you are sure you have a winner (in contrast to the “permanent winner” you are ready to identify and overcome obstacles) or you will go back to the drawing board to rethink your project. If you have a winner, the fourth step is:
4. Write the plan.
Obviously, you should be able to use good grammar and spelling. You need to be clear, concise and complete. Fill out your plan with compelling facts from your research. Avoid W and T in your SWOT analysis, instead, explain in detail how you deal with them. Avoid ideas and your own – Everyone knows that you like the idea, and readers need to decide what they like. Try to keep your answers as short as possible while providing complete information. Aside from the executive summary, keep your answers fairly dry and truthful – “short, sweet and pointy.”
Executive Summary, on the other hand, is where you “sell sizzle”. It is here to declare that what you have is a dynamic project that deserves full attention. You should force the reader to read your plan and tell them why you are interested in the project.
There are many ways to compose a business plan, and there are authors out there. A sample outline is available at
You have now done the lion’s share of the work, leaving only the fifth step:
5. Review and revise.
The review should be first by the author (s) and then by the trusted advisors – you will be able to review your plan before you find a partner who will help you find a problem.