A business plan falls on the desk of an investor. They pick up the document and begin to read. A few pages in it has become crystal clear that this is the same plan they read earlier in the week, sometime last month, or dozens of times over the past year. While it may be written on different paper by a different management team, the business plan is obviously a “me too” document.

What is a “Me Too” business plan? It is a document that outlines a business model or strategy that closely mimics that of competitors in the market without bringing anything new or original to the table. It outlines a path that is already heavily traveled by competitors. It does not clearly identify why you will do it better than your competitors, or why you are taking a different approach from those that have already tried and failed. It jumps upon the latest “it” business model without directly addressing the issue of how you will differ from the hundreds of thousands of other on that same bandwagon.

In the hyper competitive and crowded business environment in which we all operate, it is critical to create a plan for your company that clearly, concisely and compelling demonstrates how you will succeed by taking a road that is all your own. Is it the composition, quality, or pricing of your products and services? Is it your ability to provide better value and service to your customers? Is it your ability to address a segment of the market which is either not served or under-served by your competitors? Is it the depth and experience of your team (be realistic here)?

Why is it so important to avoid a “Me Too” business plan? Because most investors review hundreds of business plans each year and if they can not quickly recognize in your document what makes you better and different than other similar concepts, you are doomed for the NO pile.