“When plans are laid in advance, it is surprising how often the circumstances fit in with them.” — Sir William Osler
Do you have your Small Business Adviser yet? I would highly recommend making an appointment with an adviser through your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center, if you are a woman-owned business. Check the “Are You Ready?” post to find the nearest center, along with other resources. If there are no centers near you or if there are simply not enough hours in the day, go to this SBA site where you will find step-by-step instructions for writing a business plan, online tutorials and more.
The Business Plan template that my SB Advisor handed me was 12 pages long. Twelve pages! But I thought of the $2,000 grant that I was applying for, which required a Business Plan, and I set to work. I quickly finished the Cover page with my business name, logo, legal structure, legal address, contact info and date. That was easy enough! Next came the Executive Summary – my SB adviser told me to write that page last – so I was on a roll, yes I was!
After that came the Statement of Purpose – why I needed a Business Plan and what I expected from my company. Still a piece of cake. On to the Business Description. I had to think a little about this one and wrote a description of exactly what I would be making and selling. Giving back to the community is also important to me and I wanted to make it a fundamental part of my business, so I also described that aspect in this section.
Company History was the next section I had to tackle. Since I am my company at this point, this was basically my history. I discussed how my careers in engineering and decorative painting, among other things, gave me the experience I needed to start my jewelry business. Products and Services were next to be addressed. Here I attached photos of my current work, discussed ideas for future designs that were dependent on acquiring special equipment, logo, packaging needs and customer service. Ok, this was still going well!
The next section was Market Analysis. Here I had to identify my target customer, the market for my product, the market share I expected, market growth, the competition and other factors that might affect my market and sales. Squeeeeeeeal! That’s the sound of the brakes on my Business Plan. Where does someone get this kind of information? It seemed like an awful lot of work. But I was a woman on a mission – I had that $2,000 grant in my sights and I was going to finish this business plan!
Next: The Business Plan – Market Analysis