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Live and Die By the Business Plan

The Under-appreciated Solid Business Plan

So last time we spoke about transparency – telling people clearly and timely what is happening with your business processes – not withholding information. Today we are going to talk about probably the thing people underestimate more than any other – the business plan. Having a solid business plan is like having a solid foundation for your house. You wouldn’t build your house on swamp land, would you? In order to have a secure base for your home you need to dig deep and find that hard bedrock, then you can build the home you always wanted with secure knowledge that the foundation is solid. The same goes for a business of any kind.

A good business plan will always be useful when it comes time to finding investors (that’s if you need them). If I’m going to give you money to build your business I want to know where my money is going, and how it will grow. Investment doesn’t mean charity. I’m going to want a return, and if your business plan doesn’t give me what I’m looking for then I will not give you money. First impressions are lasting impressions. This can be the case with a sub par business plan. It will be the first thing I see, which will disappoint me so it will be the last thing I want to see. I will walk away feeling like I wasted my time, and that your business is doomed to fail – I’m out. Maybe this causes me to alert my friends not to consider your company as an area of investment.

So what actually constitutes a good business plan? Let me point you towards a site that will give you all the help you need and more – http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/writeabusinessplan/index.html.
Despite the politics within the United States government, one of the good things about it is the support it gives towards small business startups (with regards to the planning phase). These resources are excellent, and can help you shape a quality business plan.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, some things I think are important to consider when formulating your business plan – 1) Explain your idea/concept/whatever thoroughly. Don’t be vague. Misunderstandings can cause people to turn a blind eye towards your idea; 2) Have a statement of ethics/morals. Make sure your decision-making process has a base that can guide it through most situations. Really work this out because people will question where you are coming from on decisions; 3) Detail your financials. Money, money, money. I hate to emphasize this so much, but if people can’t see where the money is going, and why it is going in a specific direction, forget about gaining support. Also, maintain growth potential figures. This will show potential investors that you are looking ahead, and that could mean better initial investments, as well as future support; and I will leave you with this 4th point – keep the business plan flexible. Don’t be so rigid that you can’t adjust to changes in the business environment. Don’t be so flexible that you bend to every little thing forgetting who you are. Keep the ability to move fluidly incase something happens. Understanding the tangibles and intangibles within a business is very important.

A business plan is a guide for you, the business starter. When things are crazy and confused consult your business plan for direction. If it doesn’t have this you will be totally lost. Remember it is a plan, and the idea is to follow the plan. Don’t give up on it, or it will give up on you. Adhere to it as much as possible while remaining open-minded to changes, and spend the time to craft it so that in the future you only have to tweak it here and there.Until next time my friends…Good luck with your businesses.

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