How Long Should a Business Plan Be?
The Magic Word Count for Your Business Plan (with free checklist)
Blog Post (with free checklist)
I get asked this all the time: How Long Should a Business Plan Be?
Stop thinking about length. It’s not important. It’s time to talk word count. In other posts, we’ve covered the technical aspects of what goes in to your business plan. So now let’s look at the high level overview. The primary question to ask is: How well does your business plan present itself?
In this article, I’ll discuss how to improve your business plan’s readability and the importance of captivating the reader. First, let’s take a look at the problems associated with going over or under my recommended word count.
The Danger of Too Many Words
Investors and bankers are busy. Want to know how they typically approach reading a business plan? They skim. They’re skimming for the content they want to see. The key is to harness that, and help them, directing their attention to the essential elements. There are several ways to do this, ranging from eliminating extraneous information to strategic formatting. Let’s dive in deeper.
Too many words are unnecessary, boring, and overwhelming. Remember, a business plan is not the whole story of your business, but rather the most important details. Go ahead and cut to the chase.
The moral? Editing is invaluable. Cut, trim, polish, and then cut some more. Be especially on the lookout for redundancy, wordy sentences, and unnecessary jargon. The most concise, readable business writing has been edited many times over.
The Problem with Too Few Words
When your word count falls below the healthy range, it’s not enough info to give your audience a clear view of your idea. It gives the impression that your idea hasn’t been properly thought out, that you’re still in the draft stage. Your business plan should answer your readers’ most important questions and provide key details about your company.
The Magic Range
So what’s the magic word count? I recommend entrepreneurs keep their business plan word count within a range, between four thousand and five thousand words.
Tip for cutting excess: If something seems essential, but hits over that 5K word mark, put it in the appendix. You may need to consult with a professional to distinguish between what’s important and what’s not.
What to Focus On
In addition to quantity, be sure to focus on quality – on readability. Excite your readers, and keep them focused on your idea. Also, remember to speak to your audience. Sounds simple enough, but some entrepreneurs write as if to a brick wall.
A quick word on formatting. Don’t let your formatting distract from your idea. Organize text into digestible chunks with headers. Use appropriate spacing (including adequate white space), readable fonts, and useful charts or graphics to convey your message.
Finally, get a second set of eyes on it. The more you have your hands in your business plan, the harder it becomes to see the big picture. Another reader comes in with a fresh perspective and can check to ensure your idea is being conveyed clearly, and can even spot grammatical errors. The most ideal proofreaders would be: another team member, a trusted individual who understands your idea, or a professional business plan consultant.
So, How Long Should a Business Plan Be? As long as it takes to show the right view of your business.
Need an easy checklist to follow to help you develop great business plan content?