The Problem of Redundancy in Business Plan Documents 0

I’m in my business plan marathon season again. This happens every April as I read business plans for my angel investment group in Oregon and for business plan competitions held this month by University of Oregon, Rice University, University of Texas, and the University of Notre Dame.

I want to make it clear, first, that I don’t confuse these business plan documents with the “real” business plans I recommend for every business. Real business plans are just big enough to manage the company, they aren’t usually even printed, and they are reviewed and revised often. These formal business plans, in contrast, are documents. They describe a business to an investor — or a judge in a business plan contest. They are meant to be read.

And most of these documents have the problem of built-in redundancy. The key paragraphs appear first in the executive summary. Then again in the company description. And again in the product description. And again in the strategy.

I don’t have a solution to this problem. The nature of this specialty-use kind of business plan document assumes that some people will read only the summary. So the key points have to be in the summary. And some people — me included — will jump around looking for specific detail. So the key points are there too.

I do like reading these formal business plans. But damn, I wish they didn’t repeat so much.

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

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