Starting a business is a dream that many people share. You have a great idea, you’ve done a little research, and opening your business seems pretty cut and dry. You’re ready to go, right?
Not quite. In order for that dream to become reality, it’s important to have a breakdown of how you’re going to start and grow your business in a step-by-step roadmap. Developing a well thought out and descriptive business plan is more than just an essential step to starting a business, it provides guidelines that will keep your goals on track. While there are no guarantees in the business world, developing an organized plan can make an enormous impact on the rise or fall of a business from the get-go.
For further insight, we contacted Gary Byrd at Charlotte SCORE to answer some common questions that aspiring entrepreneurs have about creating a business plan. Charlotte SCORE was established in 1965 and has over 75 mentors that provide free counseling to Charlotte area business owners and entrepreneurs. Here’s what Byrd had to say about business plan development:
I have a plan for my business, but nothing formal or written down. This should be enough to get started, right?
Gary Byrd, SCORE Certified Mentor: No! A well thought out, articulate and written out business plan is indispensable to any business. It is your yardstick for determining what your goals are and how well you are achieving those goals.
What information do I need to include in my business plan?
Byrd: Each business will have unique requirements, but some are universal. The following are some of the basics that you should have in your business plan.
- A clear statement as to what your product or service is.
- Who are your potential customers and why might they want/need your product or service. Remember nothing happens until someone buys something.
- What is your message and how do you propose to reach your customers with that message? (Marketing)
- How will you stay engaged with your customers? It is much cheaper to keep an existing customer than to get a new one. (Customer Service)
- How much will my product/service cost to produce and what will be its selling price?
- What do I need to deliver my product/service to my potential customer? Employees? Buildings? Raw materials? Services?
- Who are my partners? Raw materials providers? Wholesalers? Lawyers? Accountants? Bankers?
Where do I find the information I need for my business plan?
Byrd: There are a number of excellent business plan templates available on the internet and in any bookstore. I suggest that you might start with the SCORE Business Plan Template for a Startup Business. You can find the template by clicking here.
How far into the future should my business plan go?
Byrd: Most financial organizations will want to see a three to five-year projection.
Why are business plans required to secure funding?
Byrd: A well-written business plan shows that you have done your due diligence to confirm that your business will be successful and therefore capable of repaying any loan.
What if my business plan doesn’t work?
Byrd: Your business plan will be indispensable in determining what went wrong and more importantly, how to fix it.
Is there anyone who can help guide me through creating a business plan?
Byrd: We are fortunate in having a number of organizations in the Charlotte area that can provide assistance in preparing a good Business Plan, just search the web. I can personally recommend the local SCORE chapter, which has over eighty experienced volunteer mentors who donate their experience and time to help you. Check out charlotte.score.org and click on Request A Meeting for a free consultation.
Thanks, Gary! To learn more about the free business mentoring services available through SCORE, contact the Charlotte branch today!
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