Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Completing that Treacherous Business Plan

If you've ever sat down to write a business plan, you know how daunting and frustrating the process can be. Many aspiring entrepreneurs already have a vision and mission in mind, having been thinking about them most days. The goals are there already and so are the growth plans for the next 20 years. Those were already determined years ago, when that first seed of possibility of becoming a business owner somehow made its way into your mind. The real frustration arises when you hit those pages titled "Financial Plans", "Executive Summary" or - wait for this one - "Market Research".

Most business plans have the same format. The aspiring business owner has to have some path in place, one that can be used to keep you on track. Then there are others that simply throw you off course with their technical formalities and detailed demands.

The best way to keep your sanity and your actual business plans going is to recruit a mentor to help with the process. This individual can be in the business of building plans or it can be just some objective perspective only an outsider can provide. Some business experience or education will be required to navigate through such treacherous topics like "Executive Summary" or creating financial statements. Many nonprofits or government related agencies provide this service for free. Your first stop should be at the Small Business Administration (www.SBA.gov), which can connect you with a mentor who will advise you through the process. Otherwise, look for a nonprofit that works in the type of business you are working to launch. It will either help you finish the business plan or direct you to someone who can.

In the meantime, start with what you do know and finish those categories within the business plan you can complete on your own. If you still haven't been teamed up with a partner, your local library is the next best resource. Librarians can help you link to their online research databases that hold such data as competitive analyses and industry statistics. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the industry you're operating in and the terms and treacherous jargon connected to your business. Choose what works best for you, but whatever you do, don't make quitting an option.

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