The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Business Plan Biography
A business plan biography is a critical element. of any business plan. It’s the first opportunity for your audience to meet the brains behind the business idea and get to know the people behind the plan.
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of diving right into this section with pure enthusiasm. However, instead of focusing on your excitement about the business idea you’re presenting, you should consider taking an educational approach, not an emotional or sales-driven approach.
Innovative-minded business owners can treat this section like a casual conversation with a friend instead of a formal description of the owner. Over-doing language like “I’ve dreamt of opening this business for so many years” or “I’m so excited and passionate about launching this” or “I just know this will work and make a ton of money” are not appropriate to hyper-emphasize in your biography. Remember, it’s fine to include some thoughts about how you’ve had an intention to open this since 2010 and put things in motion to make it happen, and that you’re excited and ready for the next phase. Enthusiasm is a good thing. However, these sorts of thoughts and feelings should not make up any more than 10% of your bio.
Seeing as this is a business plan, you want to avoid sounding like you’re just another dreamer who doesn’t have the business acumen to execute the plan. Instead, you want your biography to share concrete things you’ve learned and experienced that have brought you closer to making these dreams a reality.
So what DO you include?
Let’s look at some ideas on what you should incorporate and what you’ll want to avoid when writing your business plan biography.
Do: Include Your Accomplishments
The business plan biography should include every major accomplishment you’ve made that speaks to why you’re now ready for running a business. If you have any degrees, go ahead and list the degree title and school name, but try to avoid an abundance of detail on things like GPA, classes you took, or anything that is “extra.”
Your bio should be very brief and concentrated on what directly correlates with your character and your skills.
Do: Highlight Your Experience and Character Traits
Seeing as this is a business plan, ANY experience starting or running a business is always your most important thing to highlight — even over your education or awards. Of course, this includes failures, too, even if the idea makes you uncomfortable. Failed businesses are still “started” businesses, so write about it as a growth experience, and don’t get hung up on any business closures or a business that wasn’t successful over the long-term.
You also want to include baseline character traits in your language. For instance, “Sally will be an ideal business owner as she’s known for her ability to persevere and lead in circumstances when most people panic or falter.”
Other great words you could use include:
These words show your best features as an entrepreneur. If you feel self-conscious about bragging, ask someone close to you for 10 words they would use to describe you and run with those. Now isn’t the time to be modest, so don’t be afraid to be bold and proud of who you are as it will shine through your words when writing your bio.
Don’t: Share Personal Details
Try to avoid listing anything that will date you in your bio. Ageism is a real bias, for entrepreneurs of all ages, and you can bet people will try to reverse engineer how old you are based on when you went to college and such. For this reason, it is best to leave specific dates out of it. That way, without dates, instead of trying to calculate your age, they’ll simply revert to trying to guess whether you are experienced or not — which is all they should care about.
Also, do not get specific about your family and personal life. Again, subconscious bias can creep in as people can try to gauge whether you’ll have time to run a business if you’re a parent of four kids or if you have a ton of personal hobbies. The furthest you should go is stating you’re a mother/father or husband/wife, but don’t mention how many kids or their ages or how long you’ve been married.
Once the investor or business banker reads your business plan and likes the business concept, then you can get chummy and talk personal stuff, but it should be all business for now.
Don’t: Make It Like a Resume
A business plan biography is a narrative, so it should be written in a story format. If your investor or banker or potential partner wants to also see your resume, they’ll ask for it.
Instead of creating a resume-like listing of your job history, talk about what you’ve done in both life and in work. ention when you had the pivot point for starting the business, and share your character traits as a last sentence or paragraph.
Most importantly, the investors want to get to know YOU — not just where you worked and went to school — so you want to inject more personality into your biography than you normally would with a resume.
A Few Final Thoughts
Your photo should be in your business plan biography. Period.
Many entrepreneurs feel exposed when doing this because they don’t want to turn people away based on their age, race, attractiveness, gender, etc. The reality is that putting a face to a business is important, and you should know going in that they’ll look you up online anyway. So, what’s better: a pro pic you add to your plan or a random Facebook image they find on their own?
The investor wants to know who they’re investing in. Having a human element to the business plan creates an INSTANT connection, so they’ll already start to develop a personal feel for you even before they have met you to talk details.
If the idea of having to include a picture makes you nervous, try the following to make yourself more comfortable:
- Spend ten minutes putting on a nice shirt and making sure your hair is presentable.
- Have someone take a picture of you in a place where there’s lots of natural light (a cell phone camera is fine).
- The shot should be your head and shoulders with a cut off just below your collarbone.
- Avoid covering up your neck in any way. By exposing your neck, you’re signaling that you’re trustworthy and honest (more subconscious stuff), and it sends the message that you’re confident.
A great headshot can make a positive impact on the overall presentation of your business plan and is 100% free, so now is not the time to feel camera shy . You are about to start a business, so get your head(shot) in the game!
Remember, your business plan biography is a snippet of information to show potential lenders or investors who you are and what you bring to the table with your experience and expertise. A short, well-written biography helps show everyone that you’re the exact right person to bring your business plan to life.