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With my small business clients, one of the scariest terms seems to be the dreaded “business plan.” And I get asked regularly, “Why do I need one?” Well, to be honest, you don’t, unless you plan an asking for funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA) or other entity. I successfully started a business from scratch, without any outside funding, so a business plan was not a requirement. However, I am a firm believer in the quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

A business plan must be thought of as a description of your business and future goals, in written form. There is no rocket science involved. It is just your sitting down and clarifying who you are, who your customers are, what need you are fulfilling, how you will reach your customers and fulfill their needs, and your best-guess projections as to your business’ future finances needs and goals. That’s all there is to it.

In order to have your business be more than a wish, you need to have a road map…or a business plan. And the format is not crucial for your own personal purposes. Making a plan helps to solidify what to focus on, and what not to waste your time doing. To succeed, you need clarity, and that is what this plan will do for you.

Now, if you plan on seeking any loans or grants to start or grow your business, you will need a more structured business plan. But, don’t worry! There are plenty of free and low cost resources to help you with the proper format desired by funding agencies. And one of those resources is the SBA – and December is “National Write a Business Plan Month.” The SBA helps to demystify the format of a traditional business plan, providing descriptions of the needed content sections, and even includes examples. In addition, there is even a Business Plan Tool to help you create your plan. If you would like further assistance, you can even contact SCORE to meet with you and assist you in writing your business plan.

As mentioned in previous posts, planning is crucial to your future business success. If you view a business plan as your written goals, you will be much more likely to focus your energies on activities that will ensure your success, opposed to wasting time and effort on tasks that will hinder your business growth.

Until next issue…Best wishes in your endeavors!

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