You can find comfort in a business plan. I wrote my first business plan in late 2009 even though I started working for myself in 1992. Today’s economy is different. You need a framework for making good decisions. You need to know specifically what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. You need to know who else is doing it and how they price their goods and services.
Yes, I’m talking about homework. Just because you’re not a student does not mean you are exempt from homework. Your homework project is to create a business plan.[i]
You can start small. I launched the Small Business Administration’s business plan template and completed the “Products and Services” section first. I listed two products and then saved my changes as a Microsoft Word document. Later that week, I realized that I forgot an additional seven products and services that should be in the business plan. I opened the plan, added more products, and then saved it.
I set an Outlook reminder for the first day of each quarter to update the business plan. The following quarter arrived and up popped the reminder. I looked at the plan and decided to generate my profit/loss reports for the previous two years. I saved them as PDFs in the same folder as my business plan.
The following quarter, I realized that I switched vendors for one of my services. I updated the business plan with accurate info regarding this new vendor. I also wrote where I think my industry is going. It’s part of the plan and I feel you owe it to yourself to at least write your ideas, whether they are right or wrong.
My business plan is not finished and yours also may never be finished. I have a rather weak entry under the “Competitors” heading. I see some folks marketing themselves in my niche but they do not have the training, experience, or business savvy that I do. However, they exist and they can grab business. Competitors come and go, and I have to be conscious. This section may end up changing every time I open the business plan. That may be the case for you too. It is not good and it is not bad. You need startup funding, and to obtain it you should have a business plan in place first. Startup money is used for office space (if necessary), a web site, marketing, phone, car, printing, postage, insurance, and staff. You can fund this business yourself with funds from a personal savings account, investors, family members, and friends, but be careful before asking anyone to invest in your business…they may start telling you what to do. Regardless, you will need a business plan before you ask anyone to invest in your business.
My friend who is a vice president at a large bank reads business plans all day. Some of them are longer than 90 pages. He reads them and usually denies the applicant’s request for funding. He says some plans are beautiful, but they do not convince him that the company would be a good risk. I can only wonder how much time new business owners spend writing 90-page business plans when they should be spending their time and energy running their companies. If you think your company is a good risk, explain why in your business plan.
Mark Anthony Germanos is the President of Cameron Park Computer Services, a premier Sacramento IT company providing IT services, IT solutions and IT support. Cameron Park Computer Services moves clients to the Cloud. “The Cloud is among the best IT solutions we’ve ever offered,” says Germanos, “I’ve been in the IT service and IT support business since 1992. When you run your business in the Cloud, your data is always available, available from anywhere and the cost is usually less. Does your IT company offer IT services, IT support and CloudU certified staff that can provide today’s IT solutions at affordable prices”? Cameron Park Computer Services does.