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 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 and templates 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.
You’ll find a wealth of small business-related information, resources, and training, plus free, confidential counseling from more than 13,000 business experts. For more information contact the Lake of the Ozarks SCORE Chapter at http://www.lakeoftheozarks.score.org/, by e-mail at email@example.com or call 573-346-5441.