It’s time to remind you to write a business plan! I know, I know – you’ve seen this movie before. But if you’re still one of the many business owners or “wanna be” business owners who have not written one – this is your friendly reminder to do so!
For some, this task is a welcome one – for others it creates as much stress as a final exam in math class or a root canal. Let me put your mind a tease and tell you that as is true on in those examples – it’s never as bad as you think it will be and you‘ll feel so much better after it‘s done!
A business plan is a written document describing your start-up or expansion. According Tom Gallant, a business counselor with the Maine Small Business Development Centers – it focuses on three areas - operations, sales/marketing and financials. In other words – what have you got, who will buy it and will you make a profit. Easy breezy. Here’s more good news – it doesn’t have to be a novel – it can be 4 to 6 pages and there are places and people that can help you. You can find business templates on line and tutorials at www.mainesbdc.org. The financials are often the part that challenges us most. How do we project our sales by the month? There are no easy answers to this but you can narrow it down and make the best guest possible. Start with figuring out the most you can sell in a day, week, month and the least and arrive at a number somewhere in the middle that makes the most sense.
So why bother with a business plan? If you are seeking financing for your business – the lender will require that you have a plan. Unfortunately that is the sole reason many people write their plans when the best reason to write one is for you! The process of putting a plan together will help you determine if your business idea will work, the parts of your business you have a good understanding of and the and the areas where you will need more help. Further, getting your ideas out of your head and onto “paper” helps you really think things through and see things more clearly. I know because I’ve done this time and time again and helped other businesses do the same. No one has ever complained to me that writing their business plan was a waste of time – even after they initially resisted the idea.
I find the most value in a business plan when it’s used as a document to manage your business on a daily business. When it’s your business – you are the boss. There isn’t anyone else telling you what needs to be done or what the big picture goals are for the business. You have to manage the day to day operations while keeping an eye to the big picture. Been there – done that and it’s not easy! Having a business plan as a reference and a tool for making decisions is critical to keeping your business from running you! Just do it!