2. A Closer Look at the Dreaded Business Plan

The Closet Entrepreneur by Kendra Leah Fuller

By , @Writing2Day

The Closet Entrepreneur has been on hiatus for a year while I completed my manuscript for Images of America: Grand Teton National Park. I apologize for the interruption – now back to business.

As I thought about writing this post, I came to the realization that not only do I dread writing a business plan – I dread writing about writing a business plan. I probably shouldn’t admit that, but it is what it is. Nevertheless, it is a necessary evil and one that you should put your best foot forward on for reasons I discussed in my first post, “Writing the Dreaded Business Plan.”

I’ve uploaded the business plan I created several years ago for purposes of this blog. Feel free to use it as a template for your own plan.

Before we get started, you may want to download my Sample Business Plan. It will open in a new window as I will be referencing it in my post.

 

Download Your FREE Business Plan

Now that you’ve got your plan in front of you, let’s get started. I included a cover page because appearances and presentation are important. Once you’ve completed your business plan, purchase an inexpensive report cover to present it in. This will give the first impression of “polished & professional.” If you don’t have a business logo yet, create one.

The Table of Contents follows your cover page. This is an important reference for a potential lender so they don’t have to thumb through your plan looking for something. Also, although I did not include the actual loan application, statements of personal history, and other Exhibits listed in the Table of Contents for personal security reasons, I left them listed so you would know what you may need to include with your plan if you are seeking a business loan.

When I wrote this business plan, we were looking to expand our business and trying to obtain a loan from the Small Business Administration. If you actually read through it, you will see that it is definitely geared towards obtaining financing. Even if you are not seeking financing for your business, if you really think about the different sections in the plan and write your own, it may help you pinpoint potential problems and identify new strategies for success.

I am not going to go through the plan with you step by step, rather I am going to highlight a few things. If you are seeking financing, look at the “Request for Financing” page. Be sure you provide detailed information even though this is a summary page. The next section is the “Executive Summary.” This is not a job application. You want to list all of your relevant skills and experience here. Remember, you are not only selling your business, you are selling yourself.

Next up is your company Mission Statement. Your mission statement should be short, followed by a more in depth explanation. The sections describe your current business and give a history of the business. Be sure to include your successes here. Maybe you had a failure that you were able to learn from and follow with success, be sure to include this, too. If relevant, look for graphics and charts from outside industry sources that can be included here to back up claims you are making about growth, etc. If you have been collecting sales data that shows your business growth, put it into Excel and create a chart like the one on page 7 of the sample business plan. Be sure to include your market demographics. If you are seeking financing, next up will be your detailed “Financing Request” and cost break down to justify to the loan amount. Again, include graphics where applicable. It makes for much more interesting reading.

Now you get to talk about why your business is going to succeed. Think about your competitive strengths and the strength you bring as the owner of the business. Even if this plan is just for your use, write these things down. It is good to see our strengths and successes to continue moving forward in a positive manner. You’d be amazed what happens when you change your thinking from “if we…” to “when we…” You really do start projecting your own future and living up to that.

One of the most important sections to me is “Significant Challenges the Company Faces, Now and in the Future.” You probably know what your challenges are right at this moment (write them down anyway). You may not have thought about challenges you might face in the future. As small business owners we are usually wearing more than one hat and are functioning in reaction mode because we are stretched too thin. Better to slow down and really think about what challenges may arise. This way you can start acting on your plan of action now to possibly avoid these challenges in the future.

“Long-Term Plans & Goals” are always fun to think about. While you’re at it, think about the baby steps you need to accomplish first to get you to these goals. Goals are fantastic, but without a plan to get there, it can be hard to make them happen. Isn’t that what taking the time to write your business plan is all about? Plan out your course of action to succeed at reaching your goals.

The last section, before loan applications and exhibits, is all about the products you sell if you are a retail business. Why did you choose to carry the brands you carry? Do you just see something you like and decide to sell it? Or have you thought through your break-even point so you know what your pricing criteria is. Hopefully you have thought about your business image and what types of products and price points fit into this image and the market demographics for your customers. You may find these posts helpful with this section: Choosing Products for Your Business and How to Research the Products You are Going to Sell.

The last section of your business plan for financing purposes will include your loan application, business financial statements, personal financial statements, and anything else you deem relevant. In preparation for seeking an SBA loan, we visited with our state’s Small Business Development Center and they prepared projections for our business that we included as an Exhibit. Small Business Development Centers provide services free of charge and can be tremendously helpful in pointing you in the right direction.

I hope this helps and motivates you to write your own business plan. Here’s to your business success!

See Related Posts:  #businessplan #businessfinancing #businessstartup #newbusiness

 

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