?Business plan writers must adhere to a basic format. While covering the important sections of a business plan, pay attention to these additional rules which contribute to a more successful plan. Make the Executive Summary Stand On Its Own Some funders reading your business plan will only get as far as the executive summary. Some may request that you send only an executive summary with your initial application. For these reasons, make sure that the executive summary hits all of the major points of the business plan and is compelling even as a separate document. While it cannot go into the detail that the rest of the plan will, it should also not be vague or incomplete. Make sure that the executive summary leaves readers wanting more not because it does not answer key questions about the business, but because the strength of the idea itself is contagious. Make the Plan Easy To Navigate A table of contents, page numbering, and section headings and subheadings go a long way to making the plan easy to read. A reader should be able to flip between the different sections. For example, some funders may be most concerned with sections covering their specialties, such as strategy, operations, marketing, or finance, and may want to go straight to the relevant section after reading the executive summary. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words The maxim that a picture is worth a thousand words is certainly true in a business plan. Graphics, such as graphs, product photos, and logos can go beyond description to convey more than paragraphs of text can. If numbers are a primary part of what you are trying to explain, or when comparing competitors or customers, a chart can summarize the data simply. Make sure that photos or logos are of high enough resolution to appear clear and not pixelated on the business plan. Also be sure that each graphic is relevant, contributes to supporting the business plan, and is not a distraction from the purpose of the plan. Eric Powers is associated with Growthink, a business plan consulting firm. Since 1999, Growthink business plan writers have developed more than 2,000 business plans. Call 800-506-5728 today for a free consultation. If you're writing your own business plan, you can access a proven template, here: /products/business-plan-template.