Develop Your Business Plan
To get started with any new business idea, you need to pull together the critical components that help to explain the idea and to provide the basis for the argument that it is a viable business opportunity. This is necessary to assist you in thinking through all of the elements of the idea to ensure you haven’t left out some important aspect. This plan will also be used to move forward with your idea, to obtain feedback on your idea from friends and consultants, to facilitate outside financing, business insurance, and other services.
First step – reading and learning
First, you have to do your homework, starting with a lot of reading. Good places to get a solid overview for most of what follows are:
If you have never run your own business before, it might be best to take a class or two on running your own business. Classes are available from a variety of sources.
Some hard cold facts
about doing business in San Juan County.
Writing the plan
Your plan needs to include those elements sufficient to paint a complete picture of the idea you are proposing. Following is an example list of the parts of a complete business plan. Depending upon the set of uses of your plan, you may or may not need all of these parts. Templates are available, with a couple of sources being:
Here’s the general outline of what a business plan should include:
Make sure you can answer (and answer well) the following questions in your business plan, and in your presentation.
Seeking advice and assistance
As you prepare and write your business plan, there are several groups which you can seek assistance from to clarify your ideas and assumptions and to ensure you have thought completely through your ideas.
There are several that offer free services (always a good place to start), but if your idea is to proceed, it is not unusual to ultimately have to pay for advice as well.
Do you have sufficient capital?
There is the ole adage, “It takes money to make money”. And this somewhat applies to new business ideas. It is difficult (but not impossible) for new business ideas to be completely funded by outside means. Usually, commercial financial sources require new business ideas to have some existing capital already available. This can be your own collateral, maybe an Angel Investor, or a non-profit lender. There are occassional examples of new business ideas obtaining financing with very little of their own capital – it just means a tougher job selling your idea, and your idea has to be much more clearly a winner.
It is best to discuss possible funding alternatives with folks as part of your planning and investigation well before actually submitting an application. Here are some possible sources of funding and funding advice:
Confirm your plan
Okay, so you have your plan written, you have a pretty good understanding of sources for financing, you’ve reviewed your plan with some free consultants and friends and you think you are ready to go. Now it is time to test your idea and plan.
First, make your pitch to a friend or two and seek feedback on your idea, your plan and your presentation. Do you make a convincing case for your idea?
Second, go back to those free experts your engaged during the writing of your plan and now make them the pitch. Can they poke any holes in you idea, plan or presentation?
Third, find a real target customer (or two or three or more) and pitch your plan to them. Are they willing “to buy” what you propose to have to sell to them? Does it meet one of their top needs at the present time? (It may be something they say they would love to have, but is it presently a priority need for them? Do they have budget now (or in the near future) to solve this need?). Is this the “right time” for your product or service?
Finally, it is really helpful if you can interview someone (in another town, county, region) who is doing something similar to your business idea. Ask them their experience, hurdles they faced, advice and insights. Most people are usually helpful, as long as they don’t think you are going to compete with them in their business area.
Some folks to test your idea with:
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