The Business Plan—Don’t Start Your Business Without It

March 17, 2014

“The Business Plan” is a partnership between the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce and Mason County Press.

By Matt Larson. Business Development Consultant. Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Workshops to be offered locally in March and April

People with GPS units in their cars love the convenience of simply entering locations and receiving step-by-step directions for getting there safe and sound.

Entrepreneurs have their own “GPS” to help find small business success—the Business Plan. But unlike its electronic counterparts, a business plan doesn’t come with a pre-programmed route to “Easy Street.” It’s up to every aspiring small business owner to collect and analyze information related to a small business idea. Only then can one determine the best way to get that idea from Point A to Point B and beyond.

The prospect of preparing a business plan may seem rather intimidating. Though it does require a lot of time and effort, most aspiring entrepreneurs soon find the exercise enjoyable and self-sustaining—the more they explore the opportunities and challenges for their idea, the more they want to know. They also realize that just as a poorly programmed GPS will result in getting lost, a poorly prepared business plan will doom their small business dreams.

Preparing a business plan has never been easier. There are plenty of software tools, templates, workshops and local support like SCORE that are available to guide you through the various sections (e.g., the market analysis, the proposed company description, organization and management, customer base, financial projections, etc.).

There’s also room for creativity, particularly since the business plan may be used to get banks and others potential investors excited about supporting your venture. For that reason, entrepreneur and nationally syndicated columnist Rhonda Abrams suggests “spicing up” a business plan with features such as PowerPoint slides, relevant charts and graphics, and even a website or video.

“Whether you present your plan in person or by email, readers’ attention spans are short,” Abrams explains. “You need to get key information across quickly.”

And just as in-car GPSs require regular updates, a business plan is a work in progress. That’s because a small business should always evolve and adapt in response to national and local economic changes, new technologies, and shifts in consumer preferences.

Abrams suggests the following schedule for business plan reviews/updates:

  • Annually. A basic evaluation. Look for changes in your target market, areas that may need to be reprioritized, and ways to improve the efficiency of your operations.
  • Every 3-5 years. A more comprehensive review where the goal is significant growth in sales or revenue.
  • After a major shift in your industry or other critical event. Examples include a new regulatory requirement, a natural disaster or act of terrorism, entry of a major new competitor, etc.

Are you looking to start a business and need a business plan? Has it been too long since you looked at your business plan? Or maybe you have been in business and never written one that would be helpful.  There are local workshops that can help.

  • ·         Fundamentals of Writing a Business Plan – The Basics (Part 1 of 2) – March 20, 6 to 8 p.m.
  • ·         Fundamentals of Writing a Business Plan – Marketing and Finance (Part 2 of 2) – April 10 – 6 to 8 p.m.
  • ·         Fundamentals of Marketing Your Business – April 24 – 6 to 8 p.m.

To learn more about the new Business and Community Education (formally The Leisure & Enrichment Program) offerings or to sign-up for the workshops above, please visit www.westhore.edu or contact Wanell Cabot at [email protected], or call 231.843.5818

For more information about taking advantage of free and confidential SCORE business mentoring services or to attend the monthly inventors/entrepreneurs network, contact Matt Larson at the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber at [email protected]231-845-0324, or visit www.ludington.score.org.

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