If starting your business is in your immediate future you and are not sure where to start, there are four major areas I would suggest you consider. This article is just about one of those, which is the need to create a solid business plan, but the four areas to help determine your fitness for business ownership are as follows. First, are you a self-starter? Second, how well do you connect with other people? Third, how good are you at making decisions? Fourth, are you physically and emotionally ready to start and build your business?
As I mentioned above, this article is about area number five, that is, how well do you plan and organize. If you plan on going into business you should, at a minimum, look at the following. First, you’re going to need to build a business plan. Just as you’ve heard Look before You Leap, you should have heard “If You Fail to Plan you Plan to fail.” I think a business plan is one of the best kept secrets. Everyone knows you need a business plan but so few business owners actually put one together. And if you’d like to test this out, call three people you know who own and run a business and ask them if they have a written plan. I will be surprised if one out of the three does. And if you find one business person that does have a written plan, either ask if you can borrow it to model off it, or if that’s too sensitive, ask if you can meet with this owner to go over yours as I would guess the owner that does is successful. And it’s always good to talk to successful business owners.
Why is creating a business plan so important? It’s important for a number of reasons. First, converting ideas that are jumbled in your head and putting them to paper makes you focus and really think. I guarantee you will say to yourself a number of times, what you think is clear and makes perfect sense in your mind, completely changes when you have to take the idea and put it in writing. Second, putting it in writing makes you think not only of that question or problem, but the next set of thoughts that flow from that idea. For example, if your business plan includes the idea of creating an Operations Manual, putting this on paper will make you capture the idea so you don’t have to keep carrying it around in your head. It will also make you start thinking about the purpose of the operations manual. Questions will then come to mind such as, who its mainly written for, who’s the best person to write it, how often should it be updated and by whom, who should check to make sure it works and you need to make sure its backed up with the other business documents so it’s not lost. So, one simple idea to make an Operations Manual spun off about seven other needs. Third, it allows you to communicate the business plan or core idea of the business in writing to professionals such as third party lenders, attorneys and accountants, or key support people such as family and friends or key employees and others.
There are two types of business plans. The business plan for a brand new business will have different criteria to the business plan of an established business. However, both business plans include an Executive Summary that captures the essence of where the business is at and the direction, you as the owner, plan on taking it.