Use Headlines To Prevent Key Information In Your Business Plan From Going Unnoticed


If you're reluctant to use headlines in your business plan for fear of turning potential investors off, think again. By not using them in your business plan, you run the risk of potential investors scanning over materials that warrant their attention and interest.

Every copywriter knows that headlines are great attention grabbers and time savers. They help the reader to make decisions—decisions as to what’s important and what’s not. Like most readers, investors too will appreciate seeing clear, descriptive headlines in your business plan.

Take yourself for example. As you read through a newsletter, book, magazine, newspaper, brochure, web site or any other document, you'll probably find a headline or two that appeals to you and pulls you in. The same applies to investors reading hundreds of business plans. Certain investors will find certain captions appealing. Those are the ones that draw them in to reading your plan.

More importantly, without headlines or sub-headings, potential investors reading your plan won't be able to quickly find the relevant sections and information in your plan to help them determine whether or not your plan meets their initial investment criteria.

Well written headlines offer concise summaries of each section in your business plan. They not only engage your readers, but actually provide them valuable information to help them quickly determine whether to read on or move on.

Consider these examples a manufacturer of interior aircraft cabin products used to highlight investment considerations for potential bond investors.

  • Commercial Aerospace Aftermarket Points to a Recovery
  • Leading Market Position with Diversified Customer Base
  • Backlog Appears to Have Stabilized
  • Strong Liquidity Position and No Significant Near-Term Debt Maturities
Do you see how much more engaging and informative these are compare to captions like Market, Customers, Backlog, or Financial Position? I call these captions “signposts.” When you use signposts rather than headlines, you're acting like the realtor who tells people: “This is the kitchen...” as he or she shows intelligent people through a home. These “signposts” add nothing to convey the message of your business plan. In fact, they waste the most visible and valuable real estate in your business plan.

Now don't misunderstand me. It’s okay to use short, attention-getting or news-worthy captions as long they reveal the gist of each section of your business plan. However, don't try to be cute. Whatever you say in your headline has to reflect the point you most want to make to your potential investor. Then, follow it up with supporting evidence and facts to avoid losing those investors you've worked so hard to pull in.

Set your headline in large type for it to clearly stand out and actually direct potential investors’ attention. Use the most concentrated and potent collection of power words in your entire document. When you do, you'll deliver your message faster and with greater impact. Let that critical information immediately jump out at your readers.

Review your business plan. Are you using succinct headlines to reveal the main ideas of your business plan that are most important to your investor audience? Do your captions signal that the topic is of crucial importance? When your investors read your plan will they understand “what’s in it for them”? Will they be able to access the risks involved if they invested in your business venture?

If the answers to these questions are no, go back through your plan. Like the light under a bushel basket, when place on top of the basket lights the way for all to see, take the major points within you business plan and place them atop each section within your plan to paint a picture for potential investors of what investing in your plan can do for them.

Mike Elia is a chief financial officer and an advisor to venture capitalists and leverage buyout specialists. His business plan ebook "Business Plan Secrets Revealed” shows how to make your business the most appealing investment choice to venture capitalist, bankers, and other business investors. Click here to learn more about using headlines in your business plan.

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