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For whatever reason, the trend in business plans these days is to go back to the fundamentals, with good projections and solid analysis. An "easy to read quickly" format is more important than ever. If you want people to read the business plan you develop--and most people do--then my best advice to you is keep it simple. Don't confuse your business plan with a doctoral thesis or a lifetime task. Keep the wording and formatting straightforward, and keep the plan short.
Use bar charts to show, at a minimum, sales, gross margin, net profits, cash flow and net worth by year. Three-dimensional bars look slicker, but two-dimensional bars are usually easier to read. Make sure the numbers are obvious. Stacked bars make totals easier to visualize. If your sales divide into segments, stack the bars to show the total. Use pie charts for market share and market segments. Show tasks and milestones as horizontal bars with labels on the left and dates along the top or bottom. Most people call this a Gantt chart. Show only the major tasks and milestones, because too many details make these charts hard to read. Always put the source numbers close to the charts in a summary table so readers can reference them quickly and recognize the numbers in the charts. And never leave a business plan reader unable to find the source numbers of a chart. That's frustrating. Don't use a chart without referencing it in the text. If source numbers aren't completely obvious in the summary tables, make sure you specify which appendices contain the detailed numbers.