Do You Really Need a Business Plan?

A lot of business experts advise drafting a business plan, a road map to articulate where you are, what you want, and how you're going to get there. The reality is that business plans can slow you down or even be the excuse you need never to get started.  

Entrepreneurs do need a plan, but don't overthink it.

If you need to access financing, your lenders will want to see a plan, even require one, and it needs to be good both in form and substance. But if you have an idea that you intend to finance yourself, read through a few business plan formats to ensure you've thought through all the pertinent issues. Thousands are available for free on line, or you can use the one here.

 

I've used this format successfully to secure funding for a coffee shop in Northern California, and going through the process as a beginning entreprenueur was a good exercise.  The prompts will help you think carefully about your strengths and weaknesses.

 

My only caution is that I've seen clients talk themselves out of pursuing solid business ideas, never getting farther than a draft of a plan.  Maybe these people like the idea of being entreprenuers more than actually being one, but getting a plan on paper can be a real stumbling block. 

 

Our dreams have enough obsticals thrown in their paths.  Don't let developing a business plan be one of them.  Make it a help, not a hinderance, and if you find that the process is shutting you down, get the help you need, scratch it off your list, and move on to the next phase.

 

Executive Summary:
One sentence to one paragraph describing your business.  Why is your business uniquely qualified to succeed?

General Business Description:
Describe th nature of the business, your unique market, your competition in general terms, and your competitive advantages.

Competition:
List specific competitors. What are their strengths and weaknesses?

How will your business generate revenue?

Llist all sources

Physical Location:
Describe what your physical location will look like including equipment and facilities you need. Include square footage and targeted potential locations.

Target Market:
List individuals and groups your business will serve

Marketing Plan:
Describe how will you reach your target market and establish your brand

Business Organization:
Describe your organization.  Include a chart if appropriate

Products & Services:
List all you will offer along with pricing and profit margin

Financials:
List start up costs along with projected monthly costs and income

 

Get your ideas on paper and move on to the next step.  Your plan will evolve as your ideas become reality.

Business Plan Format