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Why you must quality check the readability of your business plan

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by Startacus Admin

business plan readability
Business plans
are part and parcel of... well, business life. Without a business plan, you don’t have a roadmap of where you want to go.

If you’re seeking funding, a business plan becomes even more critical. Investors and VCs need to quickly see the potential of your company. If you make them work to understand your business idea, they will quickly disengage.

So the pressure is on to make your business plan as engaging a document as possible. How do you do this?

What is readability? 

Readability is defined as being easy or enjoyable to read. Most business plans fall far short.

 Entrepreneur magazine claims that the number one mistake entrepreneurs make with business plans is that they are poorly written.

“Spelling, punctuation, grammar and style are all important when it comes to getting your business plan down on paper,” states the article.

All four of these elements are important, but grammar and style have a very large influence on how readable your article is. 

Lots of jargon, frequent use of passive voice, long sentences, and excessive use of adverbs reduces the readability of your business plan. 

And a business plan that isn’t readable loses the attention of the reader. If the reader is an investor, they’ll move on to another business plan quickly.

Using plain language to convey your business idea imparts confidence. Investors will respond to the simplicity of what you’re saying and feel reassured that your business may be a sound investment.

An overly complicated and poorly written business plan won’t get this result. It sends a powerful negative message to a potential investor. They’re thinking; “if she runs this business like she writes, there’s no way I’m investing”.

business plan readability

People read differently, with limited attention spans

Reading patterns have changed over the years.

As more content has become available online, people have learned to scan documents to pick out the relevant nuggets of information.

A business plan with high readability ensures that important pieces of information ‘pop’ for the reader. 

Secondly, people have lower attention spans than you expect. Your business is your primary focus. But for investors, yours will be one of hundreds of plans they’ll review. And they will be skimming, so you must write in a clear, understandable style. 

Thirdly, various people will read your business plan, and they’ll all have a different personal characteristics. 

One person may be educated to a higher degree than another. Another person may be more visually orientated person.

Communicating your business plan in clear English is the best way to cater to these different considerations.

Fergal McGovern, CEO of VisibleThread, a platform that lets you analyse & improve your RFPs, proposals, solicitations and other documents, said, “Most people throw in the kitchen sink when they create content for their business. And they do not ‘prune’ the words. Their intentions are good, but this is the fastest way to lose the audience they are writing for. Keep things simple, and your reader will stay engaged.”
business plan

How do you ensure the readability of your business plan?

You don’t need to be an English graduate to write a strong business plan.

Focus on the following when you start writing:

  • Use active voice as much as possible
  • Do not use jargon
  • Beware of superlatives - if you find yourself saying ‘unique opportunity’, you’re in trouble
  • Use long sentences sparingly
  • Adverbs seldom contribute to your content
  • Explain concepts in simple terms; people are suspicious of marketing language
  • Keep editing & prune your content, fine tune your plan

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Published on: 20th October 2017

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