How to prepare business plans and presentations for SMEs
Posted in The virtual assistant blog
Creating high quality business plans and presentations can be a challenge at the best of times but when you’re a small-to-medium sized enterprise (SME) with limited resources the task only gets harder. Businesses are often required to create a business proposal to obtain a loan, deal with other businesses or attract investment but writing a business proposal can be a challenging task. After all, if your business proposal presentation doesn’t go well, you could miss out on a significant opportunity for your business. To help you nail your next business plan, meeting or presentation, here are some business proposal tips.
Preparing Your Business Proposal Presentation
There is a simple procedure that you can follow to ensure your business proposal presentation contains useful information and engages your audience.
Step One — Summarise the key talking points of your presentation
The first step is to make a simple summary of the content that will be going into the presentation. This can be done using separate sheets of paper that represent each stage of the presentation.
Alternatively, you can use computer presentation software like PowerPoint to organise your presentation. Each slide will have a heading and a list of the talking points that you would like to mention.
Step Two — Start with a general overview of your business
The initial few slides should describe who you are, what your business is and what it does. If the intention of your proposal is to gain funding from investors or to establish a new business partnership, you need to create a business proposal that really delves into the specific details of the business. That may include its history, the products or services it sells and financial data. It’s always a good idea to talk about your business in the early stages of the presentation as it helps to establish some authority and informs the audience of your background.
Step Three — Talk about the projected growth of your business
Once you have talked about your business and what you have already achieved, you can discuss what you expect to achieve in the future. Now is the time to explain how you intend to increase sales in the future, describe new markets for your products and so on.
Step Four — Highlight the strengths of your business
Once you have dazzled your audience with predictions of growth, highlight some of the competitive advantages that your business has. These competitive advantages help to convince the audience that your assertions about projected growth are correct. If you are writing a business proposal for potential investors, this section of the presentation is particularly important. Communicate what you are best at and why you are the best at it.
Step Five — Talk marketing
Describe how you intend to reach new customers and promote your products and/or services. This section of the presentation can describe how you intend to advertise, what types of media you will use, what demographic you are targeting and so on. Your SME must demonstrate that it knows how to reach potential customers and convince them of the value of your product and/or services.
Step Six — Convince them about the strength of your personnel
If you are writing a business proposal for potential investors or business partners, you should also mention how strong your management team is. This section of the presentation should be brief, but it should convince the audience that you have the experience and skills in your management team to follow through on your SME’s marketing plan, growth strategy and sales forecasts.
Step Seven — Tell them what you need!
One of the most important business proposal tips is to be very specific and clear about what you want from your audience. If you are looking for finance from a group of investors, show them precisely how much you need and how you came to that figure. This will demonstrate that you have a genuine understanding of how much money you need to be successful.
Step Eight — Review your completed presentation
Now that you have completed these steps, review the talking points that you have listed on each page or PowerPoint slide. Do a very rough estimation of the time it will take you to present this information by performing a quick read through. Is it close to how much time you have available in the meeting? You might need to remove some of the less important aspects if it feels a bit long or wordy. Keeping your audience’s attention is key, so generally speaking, less is more.
Step Nine — Practice and review!
After you have reviewed and polished your presentation, practice delivering it a few times, then rehearse it with your friends, colleagues and family members. Getting their feedback will help you improve the content and the delivery. The more you rehearse the presentation, the smoother your delivery will be.
You should then “walk away” from your presentation for a few days and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. This will help you notice any inconsistencies and mistakes in the data. It will also help you determine if the pacing of the presentation is ideal and if all of the information presented is valuable.
The Written Component of Your Business Plan
It is important to create a business proposal that has a carefully prepared written component. If you have mistakes in your written proposal, it reflects very poorly on your business and creates a bad first impression. In the worst case scenario, an audience member may point out a mistake with your written component during the actual presentation, which can be humiliating and cause you to lose confidence.
All aspects of the written component should be carefully managed including the layout, the types of data you use and the validity of that data. In some cases, it helps to hire a professional to spruce up the appearance of your written business plan.
Always use a third-party to review your written proposal and identify any mistakes that it contains. You should also consider hiring a professional to proofread your written component and correct any grammatical or spelling errors. A well-written business plan will concentrate on expressing important information in a clear and concise manner — get to the point and make sure your audience understands the most important concepts.
Make sure the structure of the written component is easy to follow by including title pages, a table of content and an appendix if necessary. All graphs and tables should be clearly labeled and easy to find via the index. It is also a good idea to include a cover letter which introduces your business and describes the intention of the business plan.
Consider the audience that you are presenting this plan to. Do they have a technical background or a strong interest in the data the proposal contains? In this case, in the introduction, highlight some key graphs and tables containing the most important datasets. You can also use the appendix to highlight the most important information like revenue and expenditure forecasts.
The Presentation Component of Your Business Plan
Of all of the business proposal tips offered in this article, the most important tip relating to the presentation of your business plan is — “practice makes perfect”! Practice your presentation until you can perform it confidently, efficiently and without mistakes.
Don’t bother memorising a pre-determined speech, simply memorise the main talking points from your presentation. A fully memorised speech can sound robotic and stale. By memorising the talking points, you can talk naturally about the contents of your presentation.
Don’t be afraid to bring other members of staff to the meeting. If your presentation has some complex financial data that needs explaining, bring your businesses financial officer with you.
Maintain a positive attitude, stay calm and speak clearly. If you are well-prepared, your hard work will pay off and the meeting will be a success!
We hope you enjoyed “How to prepare business plans and presentations for SMEs”! If you are preparing for a presentation, why not consider getting some help from a proposal virtual assistant by calling 0800 994 9016 or click here to request a free consultation
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