During 2009 we saw the attack and counter-attack of Internet platforms as [a mainstream media consortium] decided to take on the blogosphere, and bloggers’ frequent quotations from the [mmc]’s posted stories. There were demands for the take-down of various blog pages, and attempts to collect fees-per-word of quotes, as well as rapier-like witty ripostes. You can read about this on the TechCrunch blog, Post 1, and Post 2.

While this issue seems, on the surface, to be about copyright, fair use, and possibly expansion of new revenue streams, it also deals with attribution and citing of sources. This is not just for journalists. It is just as important to entrepreneurs.

When you write your business plan, especially if you are using the plan to secure funding, you must cite your sources. Your plan will have topics and statistics covering your target market, population demographics, spending habits, market trends, market growth, and the like. The banks or investors or VCs are savvy business people. They know how to double check your assumptions, and will have no qualms about calling your bluff…and quashing your funding if they don’t credit your stats.

If your business is going to provide day care services, you’d better be able to show an increase in young, dual-income families in your area. Investors are unlikely to support the construction of high-end mansions in a community that has been losing all of its businesses and employeers. If you forecast skyrocketing sales, you’d better be able to document how a similar product or service did the same, and why yours will follow suit, and not crash and burn in a saturated market niche.

In other words you can’t pull your projections out of your … that is, out of thin air! Do your research! Develop your forecasts using that information. Document your sources in your plan. Take a look at this blog post by Alan Gleeson, Managing Director of Palo Alto Software Ltd, in the UK. The post quotes several people, businesses and news sources, and includes links and footnotes. Your business plan should do the same, giving the proper attribution to your sources.

As a raconteur I can make it up as I go along. As a business owner you don’t have that luxury.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.