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Fatal Mistakes To Avoid When Writing A Business Plan

Too Much Information

When is a 25-page business plan better than a

200-page business plan. The answer is - always.

Most investors have a mental checklist of half dozen or so specific points that they look
for in a business plan. Everything else just gets in the way and the last thing they want
to do is wade through pages and pages of tedious and often extraneous narrative. Long
complex paragraphs that fill up half a page are about as welcome as Mike Wallace
knocking on your door.

The purpose of your plan is not to impress the reader with the depth and extent of your
knowledge. Your objective is to focus on the key elements of the plan and make your
case as succinct and as straight forward as possible. If you have pages of information
that you just can't bear to part with, put them in the back of the plan under an addendum
and reference the inform-ation in the body of the plan. The reader then has the option of
reviewing this information if they think it's important.

Hiding Weaknesses

One of the more difficult aspects of writing a good business plan is effectively dealing
with problems or weaknesses - and every business has them. Here are some of the
more common theories offered by unsuccessful plan writers.

Why draw unnecessary attention to a negative

If we ignore the weaknesses, they may go away
Once we get funding, then we can deal with the problems
What the investors don't know won't hurt them
It works for Tony Robins

Clearly you want to put your best foot forward but ignoring or glossing over a negative
issue simply because it doesn't help your cause is potentially very damaging and is very
often fatal. Like a heat-seeking missile, if there is a weakness in your product, service or
strategy, the savvy investor will find it and probably within the first few minutes. Once
this subterfuge is uncovered and it is obvious to everyone that you haven't been
completely forthright, the next logical question is "what else haven't you told me." When
you've lost this element of trust, you've lost the opportunity.

The best way and really the only way of properly handling problems and weaknesses is
to get then out in the open and to have a detailed and well thought out action plan that
effectively addresses each problem.

Distribution Channels

The portion of your plan that deals with channel strategies is fraught with potential
landmines especially if you don't have a thorough understanding of distribution. How
your product reaches the market is unquestionably one of the most important aspects of
your business plan and your ability to effectively articulate this strategy is critical. At all
costs, resist the temptation to cover all bases by listing every imaginable channel

"We will market our widgets via Internet, catalogs, distributors, value added resellers,
infomercials, wholesalers, direct mail, agents, direct field sales, telemarketing, retail
outlets and - oh yes smoke signals in selected areas."

What this tells the investor is that you don't have a channel strategy.

Competitive Analysis

The operative word here is "analysis." Listing the name and address of your competitors
is NOT
a competitive analysis. The investor is interested in knowing what you know and expect
to see from your competitors near term and longer term. What is their strategic
direction, their core competencies and what makes them tick. Why do customers buy
from them. Is there a possibility that they might enter into strategic relationship or an
acquisition (or be acquired) and by whom. How good is their sales and support
organization. What is their funding position. What are their weaknesses and can they be

Knowing little or nothing about your competition is evidence that you haven't done your
homework. While it may not be fatal blow, it certainly doesn't help your cause.

Legal Entanglements

Investors today are very conscious of potential legal problems that may be lurking
around the
corner. If they have any interest in your plan and business proposal, they will conduct
their own due diligence. The time to address any potential legal problems, however, is
during the plan review. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you're not sure of
potential legal issues:

Was your product developed while you were employed somewhere else
Are there potential employment contracts or non-compete conflicts
Is there any possible patent infringement issues
Are there any disgruntled former employee(s) who could sue your company
Is there clear ownership of your product or service

If you have doubts about any of the above questions, it's probably a good idea to have
an attorney review and resolve the issue before you meet with an investor. A good rule
of thumb is that you want to avoid surprises at all costs.
Assessment of Risks

Risks are different than weaknesses in that they deal with the future and are normally
outside the realm of your business. Are there market forces that could prevent your plan
from being successful and if so, what are they. Some common sense should lead you
through this exercise. I would, for example, leave out world wars or Armageddon but I
would consider the possible impact of new technology, e-commerce, changes in
consumer demand and a variety of other issues that could negatively impact your

Financial Projections

You're sitting across the conference room table from your prospective investor. He's
read through your plan, asked a lot of tough questions but things have gone reasonably
well - so far. Then he turns to the financials.

There is a long pause and then he looks at you and asks, "what data do you have to
support these projections?"

Dead silence. Sweat is starting to accumulate on your upper lip. You glance over at
your finance guy who avoids eye contact but still manages to shrugs his shoulders as if
to say "hey, I'm just the messenger."

"Well, ah - ah - our projections were based on our analysis of the market, competition
and what we feel are the advantages of our product line."

"Okay, show me your analysis..." Point - set - match.

Here's a tip. First, be prepared for this question because it will come up. The likelihood
that anyone will invest in your business based solely on you "best guess" of revenues
and net income are pretty remote - even if you're dot-com. There is a very strong
correlation between the amount of research data that you have to support your
projections and the likelihood of success in securing funding. This doesn't necessarily
mean that you need to spend months and thousands of dollars on focus groups,
surveys and market research. What it does mean, however, is that you should have and
be able to provide convincing rationale for how your projections were put together
How Honest Are You?
Honesty in business is talked about in many businesses and at
all levels of business, from the mom-and-pop neighborhood store
to large corporations. It sounds good: "We conduct an honest
and ethical business."

It's a great PR statement and one that we hear constantly from

all types of businesses. What many of them are really saying is
that we should do business with them because they are honest and
we can trust what they are telling us in their sales materials
and advertising. All too often, this statement of honesty is
merely part of the business' marketing strategy used in an
attempt to create credibility with the largest number of
potential customers.

At the root of the problem is the fact that civil and legislative
authorities, which govern the conduct of business in our society,
establish the codes, regulations and laws. These rules of law
are based on practical economic and legal ethical standards and
have nothing to do with the application of Christian or moral
standards. You can operate completely within the law and still
cheat, mislead and otherwise perform dishonest acts.

But what does this really mean? For example a Christian views
honesty and ethical behavior as a foundation of the Christian
life. In other words, Christians try to live the example
through observing and applying God's Commandments. This means
complete truth in all things. It also incorporates the idea of
treating others as you want them to treat you.

For Christian business people, these truths are not just some
nice sounding words, but are to be lived out in our daily
behavior and actions. Do all Christians set this example in
their business life? Sadly, many do not. They become lost in
the lure of achieving success in their business while losing
sight of the true meaning of honesty in business dealings.
Honesty is more than something we talk about on Sunday when
we are in church but is a reality that must be lived out in
our daily life regardless of where we are.

Most have good intentions; they do not set out to cheat or lie
in order to gain an economic advantage. As long as they stay
within the bounds of the legal limits, many feel they are being
honest. It is okay to exaggerate or mislead if you do not
actually lie. It is ok to hide consumer information in fine
print that no one reads.
But this is the standard set by the world and our society. Honesty
in business dealings means exactly that. When a person reads
sales materials, the expectation should be that the claims are
truthful, not exaggerated and that the business will provide the
promised product or service just as described. A Christian
businessperson aspires to higher standards. He knows that he has
a responsibility to his customers to treat them fairly and as he
himself would expect to be treated. Anything less is dishonesty
by Christ's standards.

A Christian's word is his bond. As a Christian businessperson,

your word is your bond. Sales materials and all advertising
claims are a direct and concrete form of your word. As an honest
businessperson, you cannot ignore true honest behavior in any
aspect of your daily and business life. There is no substitute
for the truth, and there is never a justification for bending the
truth or for "little white lies." Remember that hiding the truth
through omission is the same as a direct lie. Little white lies
do not stay "little" very long and can lead to disaster in your
personal or business life.

Honest dealings in business include many things such as offering

a good product or service at a fair price. You must strive to
offer value to the customer for their hard earned money. You have
an obligation beyond what the law requires to care for and pay
your employees in a fair manner. You must always put the customer

Is this always easy, or the least expensive way to conduct

business? No, but as a Christian, this is the "only" way to
do business.

As Paul wrote in his letter to the churches in Galatia:

Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or
am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please
men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

So what is the honest way to conduct business? It is really quite


* Apply sound and proven Christian principles in your

relationships with customers and your employees.
* Give value for money spent
* Meet all promised warranties and guarantees
* Be truthful in advertising and promotions
* Always tell the truth
* Treat others as you would like to be treated

Will this assure business success and earning a fortune? No, not
by themselves. But being a Christian and living as a Christian
is the true path to success in life or business, As a true
Christian, this is your only option

How To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

A healthy diet and regular exercise program not only will improve
your appearance, but it also can improve your health and
decrease your risk of developing certain diseases. Recent
studies by Harvard researchers have concluded that moderate
exercise and a healthy diet can prevent most cases of type 2
diabetes - the most common form of diabetes. The study
overwhelmingly indicated that by making the appropriate
lifestyle changes, diabetes can be prevented over 90% of the
time. The study also concluded that lifestyle changes
significantly reduced the risk of getting the disease by 58%
among people who already showed signs of developing diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for over 90% of all diabetes cases. It

occurs when your body can not properly utilize insulin in
getting nutrients to your cells. This results in high levels of
sugar in your blood. The number of cases of diabetes has been
growing rapidly. Studies indicate that over 16 million
Americans have some form of diabetes! Type 2 diabetes used to be
considered a disease of the old, but not anymore. It is becoming
much more prevalent in younger people and has recently been
showing an alarming increase among young people.

Diabetes is a disease where your underlying genetic background is

critical. If you have these genes and are at risk of developing
diabetes, your lifestyle decisions very well may determine
whether these genes become active or remain dormant.

What is most interesting is that Harvard researchers determined

that 91% of cases among the people they studied could have been
prevented by watching their weight, eating a healthy diet,
moderate exercise, and not drinking and smoking. Being
overweight is the number one reason people contract diabetes -61%
of all cases are attributed to obesity and weight problems.
Some other interesting facts: Overweight women cut their risk by
24% simply by walking regularly. There is a direct correlation
between the amount of exercise and instances of diabetes. The
more exercise, the less instances. Those who did 7 or more
hours a week of exercise had a 29% lower risk than those who did
not exercise or exercised less than 30 minutes per week. Eating
a diet that is high in fiber, low in fat and low in partially
hydrogenated oils (french fries, commercial baked goods) also
significantly decreases your risk. If you already do not do so,
become a label reader!

Pepper may not just be for seasoning. Capsaicin is a protein

compound found in pepper and peppers significantly lowers blood
sugar levels and increases insulin levels. Researchers have not
concluded if the pepper compound acts by increasing the release
of insulin, or by slowing it's breakdown. Large doses of aspirin
also lower your blood sugar and is an effective treatment of
diabetes, but researchers warn that that the large doses required
have detrimental side effects (intestinal bleeding, dizziness,
nausea) that outweigh the benefits.

There are many diseases and illnesses you have no control over,
but type 2 diabetes is highly preventable by watching your
weight, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking or

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