Top 5 Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid


Have you made any of these common business plan mistakes?

Going back to your business plan to cross reference your projections is a good idea but what if your business plan is wrong?  As the blueprint for your company the business plan is as important as any other part of your business.

Check out the list of common business plan mistakes below to make sure your plan is both accurate and actionable.



Top 5 Business Plan Mistakes

#1  The Plan is Poorly Written

You don’t need to be an English major to know that your plan is poorly written. Investors are looking for professional and clearly-written plans. Misspellings, typographical errors and basic grammatical errors should be avoided. If writing is not your strength, don’t do it on your own. It’s best to hire someone to help you review and edit your business plan.

#2  Bad Visuals

Great content always comes with well laid out visual components. You don’t need to have stellar graphic design to go with your plan. Just make sure that you avoid these things:

  • Unlabeled charts
  • Missing page numbers from the table of contents
  • Tables without headers

#3  The Business Plan is Incomplete

If you want your plan to cover all the bases, then it should have:

  • Detail on product or service features, including strengths and weaknesses.
  • What competitors are doing right and what are they doing wrong.
  • Overview of operations and how will it support the financial goals.
  • Sales and marketing plan to give investors and employees a sense of direction, whether it’s long term or short term campaigns.
  • Sales and financial goals should also be present. If you’re operating for three years, then an annual balance sheet will help show cash flow and the ability to reach projections.

#4  The Vague Business Plan

All plans need to be clear whether these are financial plans or marketing plans. Setting realistic and measurable goals will help your investors and team understand your intentions. Make sure it’s backed by research to make it more credible.

#5  Claiming There’s No Risk or No Competition

Plans are based on research and intelligent assumptions. When you set your goals, you always want to succeed. However, claiming that there is no risk involved is unrealistic. Investors see it as too good to be true.  Products or services without competition will sound too “scammy” or leave the impression you are hiding a major flaw.  Be honest about any obstacles or competition and how you plan to address those challenges.

Some entrepreneurs often make mistakes in planning for their business. However, the best advice every entrepreneur can get is to consult the experts. If marketing is not your strength, then look for a consultant or partner who can help you with this aspect. Or, if you find financial projections difficult, hire an accountant to do it for you or use a business plan package that has everything you need and can be modified to fit your business needs.

The most successful businessmen are usually the ones who delegate and work to avoid the common business plan mistakes that can prevent success.


Grab Top Search Engine Rankings Using Google Authorship for Business

Trying to get your business found online can feel a lot like buying a lottery ticket week after week just praying to get lucky with the search engines,

but now the odds are stacked in your favor and it is surprising how many businesses still aren’t taking advantage.
What I am talking about is Google authorship for business (maybe you have seen the little thumbnail image of an article author next to a search result) and here is why you need to grab a Google+ account as soon as you finish reading this post….

Google wants to know that REAL people are behind the content that appears on its search results and linking your business site to your Google+ account is like walking up behind big brother Google and giving him a wet willie! It literally forces Google to pay attention to you, your content and your business.

Let me prove it… Here is a screenshot of the Google results for my main keyword in the business plan niche. This was shortly after I posted a link from my website page to my Google+ profile. I didn’t even have to wait days or weeks for this to hit the Google search results – it happened within MINUTES!

Now this search result was personalized for me which is why the little social icon is next to my search position. Meaning my little G+ post didn’t show up for the rest of the world, but Google does show personalized search results to people within my social network making it even more important as a social sharing and networking platform.

The real power of this strategy though is that Google almost immediately indexed a post of mine that contained a direct link back to my website. It is clear that Google is prepared to reward the content that is verifiable with the authors in the network.

This isn’t a loophole or some kind of trick to fool the search engines into indexing your content…this is what Google has established as an avenue for how it will find quality search results in the future. Google wants to know that the content it ranks highly on its search engine was created by real people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the subject matter being shared.

By linking your authored content and or business website to your Google+ account you are verifying to Google that you are a real person. Not just that, you can invite Google to take a look at what you discuss on social media, who follows you and who you follow on Twitter, how many friends you have on Facebook, what you discuss and who you interact with all become data points for Google to establish your relevancy to the content you produce. This gives you credibility you can’t buy.

You may not be active on social media either personally or professionally, but if you have a business and you don’t set up a profile on the Google+ platform you are CRAZY! Any serious businessperson with a website cannot ignore the powerful impact social sharing has on search engine rankings. It is officially time to get on board.

The best article I have read on how to set your website up with Google Authorship is below. This is a step by step guide to make it simple for anyone to start benefiting from the new Google search results.

The Definitive Guide to Google Authorship Markup

In another article I will tell you how to make the most of your Google+ profile so that you will be seen as an expert in your field and your posts and articles will maximize the attention and rankings from Google. In the meantime connect with me on Google+ – I would love to hear from you!

If you have questions or feedback please leave them in the comments section and I will be happy to respond. Have a happy business!

Business Plan Market Summary Example

The Market Summary is a key element within the business plan but many people are confused about what to include when it comes to actually writing it.

The purpose of the Market Summary section is to describe the current state of the industry specific to your particular location and how your product or service will have relevance due to current or upcoming trends.  Unlike the Executive Summary or Company Summary sections – this is the point in the business plan where you can pull in some data points to convince the reader that your plan is solid and your business meets a legitimate need in the marketplace.

Below is an actual Market Summary section from a coffee shop business plan I wrote that you can use as a reference, or Save Time and Grab The Full Business Plan including the editable Word version and financial templates that you can use to just plug in your data.

Business Plan Market Summary:  Coffee Shop

According to a nation-wide survey conducted by the National Coffee Association, among all beverages consumed in the U.S., coffee ranked third in daily consumption.  Only two beverages, water and soft drinks are consumed more on a daily basis.  Coffee is no longer considered a drink for older generations who “like it black.”  Now, over half of the adult population drinks coffee everyday.  One in ten 17- and 18-year-olds rated coffee as their top beverage of choice.  As a result, several major coffee companies reported first-quarter earnings well over $100 million.

“The industry trade group Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) reports that the industry is not even set to peak until the year 2015.” 

Starbucks, a leader in the coffee industry, reported a net income earning of $xxx.x million in its first quarter for 20xx.  To ensure year-round success, the company provides holiday specials and flavors, gift cards, and desserts.  Our coffee shop will follow trends and employ many of these same proven business strategies.

The traditional cup of coffee is still popular with many, but the consumption of gourmet, or specialty coffee, drinks is on the rise.  Specialty coffee sales are increasing by around 20% per year, and make up nearly 8% of the 18 billion dollar U.S. coffee market.  The NCA reported that as many as 127 million members of the adult population 62% said that they drank gourmet coffee occasionally.  With specialty coffee drinks ranging in price from $x.xx to over $x.xx in some cases, one can see that this is an extremely profitable industry.  The average Starbucks’ customer, visiting the store between 15 and 18 times a month, is said to spend at least $x to $x per visit, according to CEO Orin Smith.

The coffee industry is still growing nationwide as more and more people are beginning to try gourmet coffee and tea.  ABC City is poised for growth in the coffee industry, and should continue to experience growth through preferred demographic shift, increased exposure in town, and increased premium coffee drinking in nearby XYZ City.

According to demographic information provided by DemographicsNow SRC, LLC., the numbers of households in ABC City zip code xxxxx total 14,963.  The average household income in this area is $52,063 with 19.6% in the range of $50,000 – $74,999 which is the highest category by percentage.  Projections over the next five years indicate growth in this category by 7.8%, as well as growth in the $75,000 – $99,999 category by 27.2%.  Wealth categories above $100,000 are projected to grow over 30% in the next five years.

Population for xxxxx is 33,783 with the largest category 14.5% of those between the ages of 25-34.  35-44 and 45-54 comprise the next two largest segments of the population at 13.8% and 13.5% respectively.

Educational attainment for households in the immediate area include 20.6% with some college, and 28.2% of the population with some form of higher education degree (Associates, Bachelors, or Graduate Degree).  Another 24.8% have a high school diploma.

According to the SCAA, educational attainment has a direct bearing on coffee consumption.  Individuals who finished college bought 49% more gourmet coffee on average, and those finishing with a post-graduate degree bought 71% more.  The SCAA describes their typical customer as “an educated urban resident with disposable income to spend on fine coffee.”

This information about the neighboring community shows favorable trends for expendable income and growth within the immediate area, especially over the next five years.

Exposure for the premium coffee market is already starting in ABC City, as demand for a fresh cup of coffee is now being filled at ABC Mall.  At least 5 other coffee shops in ABC City have been sustaining business as more people continue to find a way to satisfy their coffee craving here in town.  Increased exposure and competition has a positive effect on sales because most coffee shops do not compete on price, but rather on coffee quality, atmosphere, and customer service.

With the exposure created by some of the larger national chains, consumers generally expect to pay a premium for a cup of specialty coffee.  By leveraging the current exposure from nearby XYZ City, ABC City will soon expand the premium coffee drinking base, and growth in the market will continue.  With over 40 coffee shop establishments in XYZ City, the number of coffee drinkers in the area continues to rise.

Part of this is due to the fact that the coffee business or more accurately the espresso business can be very profitable.  Espresso is the “base” used in most specialty coffee drinks like a “latte” or “mocha”, in fact the cost of the ingredients in a 12 oz. latte is around .xx cents, according to Acorto coffee and equipment supplier.  With customers already accustomed to paying $x.xx on average for a specialty coffee drink, profits can be substantial, for the dozens of espresso based drinks.

With more and more businesses and restaurants finding their way into ABC City, a relaxing coffee shop in which customers can unwind and finish off a night out of the house is inevitably in demand.  However, in our area, there are relatively few coffee shops in existence.  With such favorable trends and lack of market penetration, a coffee shop will create the perfect blend of business opportunities.

Our coffee shop will provide a relaxing, eclectic environment that will attract consumers of all ages.  To maintain a loyal customer base, our coffee shop will sell an assortment of specialty drinks and coffee while differentiating itself from all competition by serving fresh baked pies and desserts.  National trends are showing a long-term pattern of consumers purchasing decadent desserts, especially those containing chocolate, according to the U.S. Foodservice Market.  By incorporating this niche into our coffee shop and providing high quality desserts, our shop will not only be a relaxing retreat from a hectic day, but it will also provide a boost to the bottom line, and remain a must-have staple for one’s sweet tooth.

Adam Hoeksema

Craig Frazier

About the Author

Craig is a small business marketer, author and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in business management and marketing.

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