woman giving presentation to other professionals
Your business plan, and your presentation, should be error-free, credible and clear. — Getty Images/Peopleimages

For entrepreneurs who plan to apply for funding or raise investor capital, it's essential to write a solid business plan before launching a business. This document outlines the most important details about your new venture — including your mission, your founding team, your market research and, most importantly, your financial projections.

Once your business plan is written, you may be asked to present it in a variety of circumstances. Much like a professional resume, your plan will need to be tailored and tweaked to appeal to the specific audience you're trying to reach.

Whether you're preparing to write your first plan or refining your existing one, here are some expert-recommended tips for successfully presenting it to anyone who's evaluating your business.

When will you need to present your business plan?

A business plan should contain in-depth details about your business's market, revenue strategy and company structure to communicate the big picture, said Gerald Padilla, vice president of sales and marketing at Joorney Business Plans. The most common circumstances where you'll need to present your plan include:

  • Applying for a business loan, especially through a bank or the Small Business Administration.
  • Pitching investors and board members.
  • Renting a commercial space.

Matthew Wolf, head of advisory and senior consultant for Joorney Business Plans, said that even if your business plan is just an internal document for now, writing one forces you to think critically about how your business will achieve success, while also keeping you accountable.

[Read: 5 Business Plan Templates to Help You Plan for Success.]

You should be able to clearly state who you are, what you do and why you are relevant.

David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks

Crafting the right business plan for your audience

If you want your business plan to be effective, you should customize and tailor it to the audience you're pitching, said Padilla.

"It's impossible to be everything to everyone," added David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks. "You should be able to clearly state who you are, what you do and why you are relevant."

Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

  • Lenders. Banks and the SBA require specific information in their business plan in order to approve a loan, said Padilla. It's important to understand those requirements and address each one within your business plan. "Debt providers are interested in your cash flow being sufficient to cover the principal and interest of the loan for the term," added Wolf.
  • Investors. In general, said Wolf, equity investors are interested in returns on investment, as well as debt coverage, which affects free cash flow and returns on investment. However, some investors may also be attracted to different aspects of your business. "Some may be endeared to the product or service concept, while others may invest in the team or CEO because they see the value in their qualities," Padilla told CO—. "Be sure to understand the investors you may be presenting to and their interests."
  • Landlords. Padilla noted that the potential landlord of a commercial space may ask for a business plan to understand the type of venture the business owner is proposing for use within the lease space. "They want to get clear details of the applicant's business activity before they accept the potential tenant's lease application," he said.

How to present your business plan

Regardless of your audience, there are a few key things to keep in mind when preparing to present your business plan.

First and foremost, you should ensure that all information included is credible and error-free.

"You want the business plan to reflect your professionalism and add to your credibility," said Padilla. "When using statistics, facts or figures, always cite the source of the data to support your ideas."

[Read: How to Write a Great Business Plan.]

Reiling noted that you'll want to keep your plan simple so you can present it easily. Consulting resources like the SBA and SCORE can help you strike the right balance between simplicity and providing enough relevant information, he said.

"Bigger isn't necessarily better," Reiling added. "It's the content that matters."

On that note, Wolf advised making your plan as engaging as possible so you can capture the attention of the audience from the beginning.

"Be sure to have a clear go-to-market strategy and think deeply on your business's true competitive advantages," he said.

Finally, be sure to review your plan before each presentation to ensure you're providing the most accurate, up-to-date information on your business and its progress.

"Business plans should be living documents that are revisited and changed to reflect where a business is versus where it projected it would be," said Reiling. "It's the roadmap for a business."

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published August 01, 2019