Important Tips on Designing Your Business Plan
In this article, we'd like to address some simple layout tips that can increase your chance at getting funded by making a professional, stand-out, memorable plan.
The first thing you have to remember is that bankers are human beings too. What appeals to them are some of the same things that would appeal to you if you were sitting in their chair. Many bankers you are going to approach have never played laser tag and they may have a hard time understanding the business concept. Your goal will have to be educating them while sharing your vision of a successful business. The best tip I can give you in this area: Be the banker.
In the business plan world, size matters. You should try to keep the business plan as short as possible. If your plan is pushing 50 pages for a stand alone laser tag facility, you'll need to do some revising. The plan should be able to hold the bankers interest and be completed in one sitting.
Occasionally, someone will come along with a 100 page business plan. Usually the writer is trying to convey too much technical information or breakdowns in revenue, products, or services that can be left out. You should always go through your plan and ask yourself if there's anything irrelivant or less important that can be taken out.
Business Plan Cover and Themes
Getting to the plan itself, the first thing your banker is going to see is your cover page. When designing your cover page, you should always include your business name, your name, contact address, phone number, email address, website (if you have one), and a possible logo you've designed for your business.
This is also a good place to introduce your theme that can carry throughout your plan. Laser tag is very technology oriented but many facilities go with a jungle, excavation, or even underwater look! Using simple images placed on your pages can help to bring your banker into your exciting entertainment world. Below are some examples of what I'm talking about.
Example 1: Standard Boring Plan Cover
Example 2: Exciting Business Plan Covers
Carrying the borders or faded background into your plan can help maintain the style of your plan. Your banker will probably remember you as 'the laser alien business' or 'laser jungle guy' the next time you meet them.
Colored text plays a big role in grabbing attention. Using colored font for your headers can help show where your sections separate. When using colors it is helpful to remember that yellow is very hard to see on white paper and red text usually signifies alarm or bad exceptions. Red should only be used to point out notable extreme variations or losses in revenue.
If you'd like to add or use fonts that have a great look for your plan or business, you can find many free fonts online. You should always use fonts that are easy to read. For example, too much bold font can make your words hard to read for any extended period of time.
Inside the Plan
Once inside your plan, your font style and size should remain consistent. Also, running a spelling and grammar check can help make your plan look more professional. Having someone else go through your plan can help to catch any misspellings or inconsistencies.
Another tip to help avoid confusing your banker is to have page numbers and a table of contents in the front of your plan. It can be frustrating to flip through your plan several times trying to find one industry statistic.
Next is your Executive Summary. This should be no more than 2 pages. The Executive summary is the area where your banker has to get excited about your project or you get stuck in the rejection pile. This section should include the description of your business and the industry as well as how much you are looking to borrow and the dollar amount you are bringing to the table.
To secure the loan, you should have talked to your banker by this point to find out how much money they expect you to have. It is not unheard of for this figure to vary between 20 - 35%. The other question you have to ask before submitting your plan is whether or not they even fund entertainment businesses.
Another way to grab the interest of your banker is to include pictures. Having images of graphs, laser tag equipment, players, arenas, arcade games, cooking equipment, etc. is a great way to show the banker what you are trying to sell them on. Your equipment providers you've chosen should be able to provide images that you can place in your plan.
When describing your facility, it helps to have pictures here as well. These pictures could be an areal map of the location or pictures of the location itself. You should always note the strategic advantages your location has like traffic count, sign placement, visibility, and other entertainment venues in the area. Competition in the area shows that your location is a place where people are used to going for entertainment.
Lastly, your plan should contain index pages containing additional photos, agreements and contracts, letters of intent, certificates of completed education seminar courses, your last 3 years tax returns, credit reports, and a personal finance statement. All of these items will show that you've been serious about getting your project started. Industry experience is another major reason business plans get turned down. Showing proof that you've done your homework and gone the extra mile getting valuable information carries a lot of weight with the bankers.
Applying these simple tips can make your plan more organized and interesting to read. Often times, you only get one chance to submit your plan and it helps to make the best impression possible. Why not make it the best?