Now don’t get scared, I promise this will be easy and I won’t go spewing financial jargon at you; this is just one Mom’s (with a degree in Business and a fabulous small business) opinion and insight on the importance of writing a Business Plan!
So what is a Business Plan, why is everyone always talking about it, do I really need it, and is it going to take me forever to write...these are the three topics that I’m going to tackle here!
What is a Business Plan: Well, the definition is; a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons why they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. It may also contain background information about the organization or team attempting to reach those goals...blah, blah, blah, right?! What a Business Plan really does is help you think about your business…and I mean REALLY think about your business. What you want to do, how you want to do it, how you’re going to get there, and what the heck you do once you get there. As excited as you are about starting your business or growing your business you probably have a million ideas swirling around in your head daily, you are thinking what do “I” need a Business Plan for; I have an idea/product, and I’m going to bring it to market..enough said! Well, you’re right...but one of the many awesome things that a Business Plan does is makes you think about things that you might not think about until a year down the road, or even five years down the road. It forces you to examine so many different aspects of your business, and many of which that you wouldn’t normally think about daily (or even monthly). And once you start thinking along those lines, you start REALLY thinking about your business goals and you REALLY start those creative juices flowing! So think of your Business Plan as a map (yeah, I’m going old school here, forget the GPS/Navigation Systems) on a cross-country road trip. Don’t you feel great plotting where gas stations are along the way, and especially nice clean hotels, and what about all the sites you want to see, it’s a GREAT idea to think about what you want to do on your trip, what you want to see, and WHERE you want to go. And by planning your trip you have a wonderful experience with limited roadblocks! And a Business Plan offers you those benefits and more! Not only are you able to see the road ahead, but you’re now primed to handle any detours (delays), roadblocks (competition) and dead-ends (shit happens) but since you thought about all these things when you wrote your Business Plan you’re already ahead of the game. Okay...no more map metaphors, I promise!
Why is Everyone Talking About It: Well, one BIG reason is you HAVE to have a Business Plan (of some sort) if you are trying to borrow money, whether it be from a financial institution or investors. Because let’s be honest, no one is going to just give you money because you have a great concept. They want to make sure you’ve done the due diligence and thought not only about tomorrow but 5 years down the road to make sure they’re going to get their money back! And of course there’s always talk of Business Plans from groups and forums and the such which cater to the “Start Up” crowd, and sometimes they make it seem more daunting and scary that is actually is (maybe, just maybe because they want you to pay them to draft one for you..humm) But I promise you, it’s not hard, it’s actually VERY gratifying...we’ll get to that soon!
Do I Really Need It? Um, YES! And you can pick any of these reasons that pertain to you, but writing a Business Plan pertains to ALL businesses, whether you are a business of 1 or 1 million. Whether you’re writing it to persuade a bank or investor to lend you money, whether you’ve been scared into writing one because everyone else is doing it and telling you, you need to, or maybe you’re using it to introduce and explain your idea to others or maybe, just maybe you’re writing your Business Plan to get all those ideas that are swirling around in your head onto paper so you don’t forget that brilliant thought you had at 3AM when your 4 year old woke up! You will NEVER regret writing it and it will ONLY help you and your business succeed!
Is it Going to Take Me Forever to Write: Now, I’m not gonna lie, a Business Plan takes time, but for all the right reasons. Once you start getting all those ideas on paper, and thinking about aspects of your business that never came up before, your fingers will just keep typing away. I think you’ll surprise yourself at how much you can actually write in your Business Plan, and that’s a good thing. And the beautiful thing about a Business Plan is it’s never really done. So don’t feel confined to writing it and filing it away; it can be added to, updated and revised as often as you want or need. And also don’t feel the necessity to write it in one sitting, cause then you’ll just end up getting burned out and won’t want to finish. So just work on it as your fits of brilliance strike you! A Business Plan is structured, so it’s really easy to go to specific areas to write.
Okay, so now to the good stuff, hopefully you’re all fired up to start writing that Business Plan! Here are several resources to help you start your Business Plan; the SBA (Small Business Association) has a template wizard to get you started: http://web.sba.gov/busplantemplate/BizPlanStart.cfm and here is a site with some great templates for new as well as established businesses: http://www.score.org/template_gallery.html And keep in mind, not everything in the template is going to pertain to you, no biggie, it’s just a template after all. It WILL get you thinking though!
I hope I’ve shed a little light, and taken away some of the pomp and circumstance surrounding Business Plans, they are just a simple, awesome way to help you see, really see where you’re business is going and to help you manage the journey! I wrote my business plan for Hot Mama Gowns while I was a sleep deprived new mother back in 2006, and wouldn’t you know I STILL reference things in my Business Plan that I wrote back then because they are still relevant. I work on my Business Plan throughout the year as my business changes and grows, as the industry changes, and as the economy changes. Just remember there are no “rules” about writing it, just a general flow that is recommended. So be you, and uncover the possibilities that your business has!
you can follow Deidrea on Twitter: @hotmamagowns on facebook: Facebook/hotmamagowns
and of course her site: http://www.hotmamagowns.com/