What Does a Business Plan Look Like?

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 Beyond guidance about how to write a business plan and its development process, you need guidance on the physical aspects of a business plan. Follow these tips on how your plan should be physically presented.

Functional, But Not Flowery

The business plan simply does not need to differentiate itself through its outward physical appearance. The appearance must be functional and that function is to make it easy for funders to read the plan. For that reason, use simple binding with a transparent plastic cover and dark, opaque backing. This lets the cover sheet be seen through the front, but protects the plan from spills, accidental marks, and bending of pages. It does not add excessive weight to the plan like a hardcover binder would. Imagine the funder you submit to taking a dozen plans to read at home over the weekend. If yours is the one in a hardcover binder they might choose to leave it at the office for the very reason of weight.  

Paper Choice

The choice of paper should also be functional and not distracting. Paper must be strong enough to be handled repeatedly and flipped between by readers, but cannot be hard card stock which would be difficult to turn the pages of. It should not be glossy and you should leave normal margins to allow readers to write notes on the plan itself if they see fit. If they mark up your plan it is a good thing as it shows they are engaged and, at the very least, may offer feedback on how to move forward or adapt the plan. Paper should be white and draw no attention to its color choice. Also, white paper allows for color graphics, logos, and charts to be used to better tell the story of the business plan. This is a functional use of color, and not flowery or distracting. 

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