By Kevin Scanlan, Certified SCORE Mentor
Where Do I Start?
That’s typically the first question I’m asked by a new client looking for my advice as a SCORE mentor. Whether it’s from someone wanting to start a business or someone wanting to grow their existing business, my answer is typically the same, you need a map.
In business, your map is a Business Plan. It shows you how to get from Point A to Point B and later to Point C and beyond. It’s the GPS for your business.
Business plans need to answer some very basic questions: What are you going to do? Where are you going to do it? Why are you doing it? Are you qualified to do it (i.e., do you need a specific license or certification)? When will you start? How will you finance it? How will you know you’ve been successful?
I recommend that clients do a SWOT analysis: What are your Strengths? What are your Weaknesses? What are the Opportunities for this business? What are the Threats to you being successful?
Finally, I look for projected financial performance over 30, 60, 90,120 and 365 days.
A Business Plan is not something you create and then put in a drawer, never to be looked at again. It’s a living document. It should be reviewed every 30 days during the first year.
When you look at the plan, you should ask yourself two questions: What has changed in the past 30 days that has impacted the plan? and What might change in the next 30-60 days (or longer) that may impact the plan?
There are many resources for developing a Business Plan. There is no one “approved outline” for a Business Plan — It’s what makes sense to you.
The Small Business Administration website, sba.gov, has sample business plans under their Resources section. On the SCORE website, chicago.score.org look under webinars to find several presentations that will walk you through the steps of creating a Business Plan.
The Chicago Public Library offers web-based Small Business Resources at www.chipublib.org. Click on browse, then online resources to access hundreds of samples of actual Business Plans in the Business Plans Handbook. All you need is a valid Library card.
Last, but hopefully not least, is me! During my career I’ve written over 75 Business Plans. Since becoming a SCORE Certified Mentor, I’ve reviewed over 50 Business Plans. It usually takes 3 to 4 meetings to develop a solid Business Plan.
Remember, there is no fee for my Mentoring Services or any of the resources listed above. If you would like to explore what it takes to start a business or if you want to grow your existing business, contact me at email@example.com