10 Essentials Of Business Writing You Need To Know as an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs, it’s time for a painful truth: your business writing skills are lacking.
Yes, even if you aced every English paper in high school you may still have room for improvement.
The good news is that you can fix the problem. Keep reading for our ten best tips to tighten your writing in a professional setting.
1. Brevity = Wit
You have an idea, but you also have an ideal word count. So you stretch your idea to fit the word count with word-cramming and unnecessary detours.
For business writing, this is a terrible plan.
Your readers don’t care about the 15 things that might be related to your topic. They care about why you’re writing–the sole reason why you’re writing.
Focus on that, and delete everything extra.
2. Don’t Write An Essay
The point of business writing isn’t to flaunt all the words you learned to amaze your teachers. The point is to get down to business.
So don’t use complicated words when you could use simple words instead.
Think of it this way: you’re not trying to take someone down a long flowery garden path to point out a single daisy.
You’re trying to show them a daisy. You can achieve that by directly pointing out the daisy.
Use your words the same way.
3. Don’t Bury the Lede
Your professional writing is not a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
If your reader has to spend five pages digging to get to the point of your writing, they’re going to stop reading sometime around the first paragraph.
Every time you sit down to write as an entrepreneur, you should know exactly what you want to say and have an idea of how you want to say it. This will help you stay focused, state your point early and deliver your points.
4. Having Your Cake and Eating It Too
As in, writing that rewards closer inspection while appealing to the reader at first glance.
Think of it this way. You have a slice of cake. It’s a pretty slice of cake, and it makes you happy to have that pretty slice of cake.
But it makes you even happier to eat the cake and realize it tastes as good as it looks. So your experience of eating the cake is richer for having eaten the cake instead of just looking at it.
Basically, your writing should be having your cake and eating it too–pleasing on a first read, but even more pleasing on a second read.
You know you’re intelligent. Your reader assumes you’re intelligent.
You don’t need to impress them with an intellectual runaround. Nor do you need $15 words. These will annoy your reader.
Instead, get in, say what you mean, and carry on.
6. Lose the Prepositions (and Passive Voice)
For those who struggle with grammar, a preposition is a word like after, to, in, on, and with. They’re placed in front of a noun or pronoun to show the relationship of the noun or pronoun to other words in the sentence.
For example, in the sentence, “Her bag was under the chair,” the preposition is under.
Coincidentally, weeding out your prepositions can also help you cut passive voice. Passive voice generally crops up in forms of the verb “to be”, like is, was, am, are, were, being, and been.
So, “there are three things you can do to improve your business writing,” is passive voice, while, “three things can improve your business writing,” is active.
7. Make Your Point and Move On
This point is related to clarity. You shouldn’t send your reader through a maze to get to the point, and you shouldn’t spend two paragraphs running them in circles when you get to the point either.
Listen. We get it. You have important wisdom to impart. It’s just that no one has time to read a book about it.
Say what you mean in exactly the words you need. Short, declarative sentences. Then call it a day. Your reader will be grateful.
8. Curb Your Enthusiasm
To borrow a statement from Elmore Leonard, you are allowed no more than two or three exclamation points per 100,000 words.
For those who struggle with math, that’s about one exclamation point every book and a half.
9. Check Your Pronouns
Remember: business writing is not textspeak. On the other hand, don’t use certain pronouns (like “myself”) just because you think they sound more formal.
The easiest way to check your pronouns is to think about how you would write the sentence if you didn’t mention other people.
So, “send the report to me,” still makes sense if it becomes, “send the report to Steve and me”.
And while you’re watching your pronouns, watch out for common grammatical errors. A common culprit is subject-verb agreement (the number of the subject must agree with the number of the verb).
10. Proper Use of “That” and “Which”
While we’re nitpicking your grammar, make sure you know the difference between “that” and “which”, and what constitutes correct usage.
Basically, it’s the difference between a restrictive and a nonrestrictive clause.
“That” introduces essential information in a restrictive clause. “Which” introduces extra information in a nonrestrictive clause.
For example, “Sneakers are the only shoes that we sell,” versus, “I’m interested in speaking with you about our new line of sneakers, which has the potential to increase sales.”
In simpler terms, if you can remove the clause from the sentence and the sentence still makes sense, “which” is correct. If the sentence doesn’t mean the same thing without the clause, “that” is correct.
Growing Your Business Beyond Business Writing
Your business demands good writing, but you need a lot more tools to get there.
That’s where we come in.
For example, if your business is just getting started, you can check out our free NUANS preliminary search to find out if another business is already using the name you wanted. And if you need business registration, we can help with that too.