Common Mistakes To Avoid When Presenting Your Business Plan 

23, Nov 2020
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Presenting Your Business Plan 

When looking for an investor or a loan, your business plan is one of the most important documents you can bring to the table. It’s also essential for attracting business partners or clients to your startup. 

A lot is riding on it. 

Your plan needs to be well conceived, properly researched, and put together thoughtfully if you want your business to succeed. 

But that’s only half the battle. 

You then have to be able to present your business plan. Your idea could be solid, your research excellent, and your forecasts well-reasoned, but the presentation could let you down. 

Unfortunately, too many people make the same mistakes over and over again as they don’t know better.
You don’t have to be one of them.

Let’s look at the most common errors and how you can combat them to create a presentation that gets all the right attention.

1.    Not Tailoring Your Presentation To Your Audience 
Your business plan doesn’t have to change for every pitch. However, your presentation and speech should be adapted to the person or group you’re addressing. 

It’s all about tailoring your presentation to a specific audience and customizing it according to what you want to get out of it.

When presenting to potential investors or lenders, be very specific in what you say. These people are looking to make money, not to make a new friend, or learn about your life story. 

It’s good to show them how passionate you are about your idea, or relate relevant anecdotes about your life that led you to this moment. However, it’s more important to highlight what’s going to make your business successful.

Sticking to your allocated time limit is also part of tailoring your presentation, and you mustn’t run over. You don’t want to waste people’s time, and it shows a lack of respect if you’re booked for 30 minutes, and you go on for an hour. 

2.    Being Vague With Your Goals
When you present your business plan, you’re illustrating how you see your business starting, and how you’ll grow. 

You need to actively answer the question about where you want to be in one year, five years and 10. This means that you need to set out what these goals mean in numbers, finances, and other quantifiable areas. 
It’s no good saying you want to be the best barbershop in the city and leave it at that.
You must quantify what that means. 

You need to set your goals of how many customers you’ll see in a month, how many people will be cutting hair and cleaning, and whether you want to open a second shop or move to bigger premises after a predetermined number of years. 

These are goals you can actively work towards, and you need to explain how you’ll reach them.

3.    Not Quantifying Your Research
The key to any business plan is research.

You need to look at your competitors, target market, startup costs, how long it’ll take you to become operational and then profitable, industry benchmarks, and market behavior. From here, you can make projections, estimates, and assumptions about how your business will fare when you get started.

When it comes time to present your business plan, many people show their conclusions without the research. 

You might think it looks impressive to say there’s no competition, and that your idea is truly original. However, this is typically not the case, every business has competitors.

If you take this route, savvy investors or lenders will immediately see red flags. You need to present facts that back up your claims, and outline how you’ll deal with challenges.

4.    Failing To Focus On Slides And Supporting Documents
Putting on a PowerPoint presentation that doesn’t look professional and handing out supporting documentation full of typos is like arriving at the presentation in your pajamas. It immediately shows your audience you don’t have an eye for detail, and that you aren’t careful or precise.

Make sure that when you are getting ready to present your business plan, every document and slide is polished and professional. Your writing should be of a good standard, clear, concise, and error-free, and your slides well compiled and cleverly laid out. You can use your slides as benchmarks in your presentation, and they’ll help you keep focus and stay on topic. 

If this means hiring an expert to design the slides, and another to proofread beforehand, then do so. Typos and a sloppy presentation will create an extremely poor impression.

5.    Not Practicing Your Presentation
Your business plan may be on point, and your slides designed with the perfect blend of flair and professionalism. However, if you aren’t prepared when you stand up and start speaking, no one is going to be impressed.

Investors, especially, put a lot of stock in that first impression. If they offer you funding, they’ll be investing in you as the personality behind the business, and in the business itself. 

Practice your pitch and ensure that what you’re saying relates to your slides. If you can run through your presentation in front of others beforehand, that’s even better than talking to an empty room. 

Ask your family or friends to sit and listen to you. They don’t have to know anything about being an investor, or starting a business. They just need to be real people who can respond to the way you’re speaking. 

With practicing comes a level of confidence. This will allow you to speak freely about your business concept, knowing that you will hit the right points, and cover the necessary topics concisely. 

If you speak to the people in the room, rather than reading from notes or the slides, you’ll show them your personality, and your passion for the concept.

Keep A Clear Focus All The Way
A successful business plan presentation is about finding the balance between showing you’ve done your research, you know what you’re talking about, and that you’re passionate about your idea. 

As long as you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a presentation that can take you from start-up to success.


This post was contributed by MENACatalyst guest writer Nina Sharpe.