Trouble Getting a Loan? Polish Your Business Plan
Whether you’re just getting started or have been in business for years, your success in financing your company depends on many factors. Some you can control, others, not so much. One that is totally in your hands is your business plan. Weaknesses here can limit your ability to get needed funding.
Before submitting your next loan application or approaching a potential investor, take another look at your current plan’s documents and spreadsheets with an eye toward punching them up. Here are some suggestions.
- Consider the content and aesthetics. Every business plan tells a story. How well your story is told plays a major role in its effectiveness. It must be concise, clear and free from spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Unless you’re a skilled writer, consider hiring a professional to polish it (yes, it’s that important). You can search online for business plan writing services, but be sure to read their reviews. State-of-the-art business plan software does a terrific job of formatting the document for maximum impact.
- Update financial information. Make sure that your financial data, charts and projections are current and reflect the true state of your company (your accounting professional should be a part of this preparation). Lenders see past performance and growth as key information. Check your personal credit scores, too, and work to correct any errors in your credit reports. As a business owner, your own credit history may be an important factor.
- Review your market analysis information. The more accurately you identify who your customers are, the better your plan looks. Lenders are skeptical of overly-broad demographic targets. The better you demonstrate that you understand your customer base, the more effective your plan will be. Also, demonstrate thorough knowledge of the competition and explain how you can successfully compete.
- Toot your own horn. Focus on why you expect to succeed. For existing businesses, describe your growth and the reasons for that growth, including positive reviews and marketing successes. If your business is new, focus on your past achievements in other ventures. Avoid exaggeration, but show your business in the best possible light.
- Sweat your marketing strategy. Explain your strategy clearly and demonstrate how you have attracted or plan to attract customers. Link to your marketing website and social media marketing venues. Make sure your internet marketing looks great and is up-to-date, because lenders will visit these sites and evaluate your potential. The better your content looks, the more likely the outcome will be positive.
Increase Your Chances
In any market conditions, getting funding is a challenge. One way to improve the likelihood of your success is to show lenders a business plan that demonstrates clearly that your company is viable, well-managed and ready to go.