Do You Need Alternate Versions of Your Business Plan? - dummies

Do You Need Alternate Versions of Your Business Plan?

By Steven D. Peterson, Peter E. Jaret, Barbara Findlay Schenck

You may find that a single written business plan can’t cover all the bases — especially if you need to communicate specific information to a number of different audiences. Don’t worry; no law limits you to just one version of your business plan. In fact, many companies write versions specifically targeted to different audiences — one aimed at employees, another toward potential lenders or investors, and a third for more general interests.

Developing several versions of your business plan is basically an assembly job. Follow these steps down the line:

  1. Create a complete and comprehensive master plan — one that includes everything that’s likely to be important to all your stakeholders.

  2. Zero in on which special audiences you want to address.

  3. Decide which parts of your master plan are important and which ones aren’t relevant to each specific target audience.

After you know your audience and its requirements, putting together an alternate version is as simple as cutting and pasting the relevant parts of the master plan together.

If you or your staff makes business presentations, consider creating a set of slides using PowerPoint or another commercial presentation software program to highlight key parts of your business plan. Make sure each slide zeros in on a single point — too many words and ideas on a slide are a turn-off.

Choose a graphic style that remains consistent throughout the presentation. Use charts, graphs, and other images to help convey key ideas whenever possible. Make sure that your presentation is consistent with your business plan. And if you significantly revise parts of your business plan, make sure everyone involved is alerted to avoid using out-of-date information in presentations.

When creating alternate versions of your plan, make sure that they all mesh with each another. For example, don’t write one mission statement for one audience and another for a second group of readers. And whatever you do, don’t create different sets of goals and objectives for different stakeholders.

At the very least, you’ll confuse everyone — yourself included. At worst, you’ll anger audiences if they discover that you’re saying one thing to one group and something different to another.

The job of creating a targeted version of your business plan is really one of deciding which parts of the master plan to include and which to leave out. The wording should remain the same in all versions.