The key here is consistency. Above all else maintain the same format for each section change. Setting up a style sheet will make it easier to maintain consistent spacing before and after headers, maintain consistent font face and size, etc. Your word processing program probably has these capabilities, so if you're not familiar with style sheets check your software user's guide. Also check for pre-set templates that your software may have come with. There may be a format that will work nicely for your business plan and has all of the styles pre-set. (Or wing it and just try to keep up with the text styles as you go along!) See HSW Business Plan Template.
- Make your headers large enough that they stand out as major category changes. It also helps to have your major categories begin a new page unless your plan is very short and these sections are all less than one page in length.
- Set up your sub-heads so that they are obviously a part of the same category and easily identify topic changes.
- Use bullet points wherever you can. They are usually easier to read than a paragraph of text.
- Include charts and graphs anywhere that they will make it easier to understand the information. Include color for your charts and graphs if you can.
- Make sure your plan is bound in a way that will withstand handling. The last thing you want is your plan to fall apart in a potential investor's hands! (Would that be a reflection of the chances your business will have in holding together! Nah!) Spiral binding makes it easier to flip pages and lay the document down flat on a desk.
- Make sure all of your claims are documented and include reference information.
- Proof, proof, proof! Read it over several times yourself, but also have a friend or business associate proof it. When you've written something yourself, your eyes will often skip over mistakes because you already know what you're reading. It's easy to miss mistakes in your own work!
- Do whatever you have to do to make it easier on the reader!