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What does your writing say about you?

I was once asked to critique a 100 page business plan for a client that needed to apply for financing to start a multi-million dollar pharmaceutical company. Most bankers would have turned down the applicant for financing because the business plan was full of jargon, written in highly technical language and therefore hard to understand. The first 40 pages of the plan were vague and spoke in general terms. They did not clearly convey what the loan applicant was trying to sell or how they planned to generate revenue to pay back the loan. There was no clearly defined business strategy or marketing plan. There was just a lot of information about the medical/homeopathic results of very technical research. To say the least the business plan didn't even have an opening abstract to inform the reader of the key points of the document.

Well into the second half of the business plan I realized that all the key information a banker needs to make an informed decision about approving financing was buried deep within. But would the banker have made it to this point of the document? Probably not. Banks are inundated with loan applications every day and to ask someone to go through a document that doesn't even have an outline is a lot to ask of anybody.

The author of this above-mentioned business plan had only one opportunity to make a favourable first impression and to get the funds necessary to start his business. If the reader (the loan's officer) did not respond well to the document, the author would likely never be invited to personally communicate the message he had been trying to convey on paper. Even though he was highly qualified in his field, his business plan did not give that impression. It didn't show that he had the business savvy or management skills required to successfully run a multi-million dollar company.

In order to succeed in business you need to make sure that your written materials reflect your business in the best possible way. Often times it is the first and only means of communication between yourself and your clients. If your writing is not clear, concise and to the point or has errors and is disorganized, what does that say about you?

Remember your writing reflects who you are, your knowledge, work style and professionalism Don't let grammatical errors, inconsistent spelling and faulty formatting be the first thing that colleagues and clients see.

Maja Rehou is a consultant, writer, editor and founder of WordForce Communications. Her firm helps professionals generate revenue through strategic communications. Whether it is web content, a direct mail letter, business plan, brochure or trade article she helps you create content that counts. For a free copy of our 105 Commonly Misspelled Words A to Z please contact us at (416) 534-9881 or info@wordforce.ca.

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