If you have a great business idea and the figures work on paper you're half way there. However, you'll never realise that potential of a great business plan unless it's presented in the correct way.
Before presenting your business plan double check to make sure that the document looks professional. No typing, grammar or spelling mistakes. Use graphs and charts where appropriate and titles and subtitles to divide different subject matters. While the aim is to make it look good, you should avoid expensive documentation, as this might suggest unnecessary waste and extravagance.
The length of a business plan depends on individual circumstances. It should be long enough to cover the subject adequately and short enough to maintain interest. Unless your business requires several-million pounds of investment and is highly complex, the business plan should be no longer than 15 pages.
Pitching the plan
Practice your presentation. If you are using a business angel network, which match young businesses with private investors, there should be plenty of advice on offer. Remember that business angel networks see many companies a year and they will know exactly what a business angel is looking for.
There are local agencies, such as Business Links, which can provide advice on how to structure and present your plan. Try to run through the plan with any business contacts that you have. Perhaps they can see something that you won't. Asking friends and family to help can also be useful.
When the business plan has been prepared and it has received input from a financial advisor, the next step is to put it in front of investors. At this point, it is worth considering only sending a copy of the executive summary. This has the advantage of saving costs and increasing the chances of receiving attention.
Response times to the business plan will vary but can take as little as a week. If the answer is no, you should find out the reasons why and then consider incorporating those ideas into a revised business plan, changing/strengthening the management team or carrying out further market research before approaching other potential investors.
And remember, the business plan is a living document. Don't think of it as a fixed route and be prepared to adapt it to suit your audience. Even if you are in an established business, you must be prepared to adapt the plan as your market or customer base changes or if disaster strikes