Business Plans

One of the things that will really help get a new business off to a good start is a business plan.  If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of this before, but don’t worry, they’re not too hard. 

One of the things that will really help get a new business off to a good start is a business plan.  If you’re like me, you’ve never heard of this before, but don’t worry, they’re not too hard.  

They do take time, brain power, and some research though.  This is NOT a good business plan.

Business plans are usually required if you want financing or are looking to bring on additional partners.  Even if you’re not (we’re not), they are a great way to help get your ducks in a line before you begin!  Having a business plan will help you think things through and avoid many of the more common missteps new business owners are prone to make.

Taking the time to write a good business plan is just as wise of an investment as spending the money to get a good lawyer or CPA for your business; your reward (in time and money) will be many times more than your investment. In the picture below, think of the guy up top as your business plan, and the person below as your business – your business plan will help your business make forward (and upward) progress.

So, now on to the question you must be wondering: What IS a business plan?  A business plan is a written document that outlines and summarizes many key areas of your business.  I didn’t realize there was so much to think about, but as I worked my way through the various topics, I was able to really pull my ideas together, see how they would work in relation to each other, and discover areas that needed change.  Writing a business plan was one of the things that helped me make the transition from having an idea to having a business.

Here is a list of topics that are generally included in most business plans:

  • Executive Summary
  • General Company Description
  • Products and Services
  • Marketing Plan
  • Operational Plan
  • Management and Organization
  • Personal Financial Statement
  • Startup Expenses and Capitalization
  • Financial Plan

There are two different types of business plans that I know of: a one-page business plan and a full business plan.  The major difference between the two is the number of sections included, but they are written the same way.

In a one-page business plan, you summarize your thoughts for each of the major sections (ie: the ones in the bulleted list above).  For a full business plan, you summarize your thoughts for each of the major sections AND for all of their sub-sections – I would guess there are 40-60 sub-sections total. This might seem like a lot of work (especially the full business plan), but don’t get overwhelmed; a business plan is NOT a dissertation.  It's actually easier than you might think.  It's kind-of like a snowball, really. 

The summaries you write can be anywhere from a few sentences to a few paragraphs, making it easy to write down your thoughts and move on to the next section.  The links I've provided for full and one-page business plans have examples to help get you rolling.  After a few sections, your business plan will start to take shape as the different sections begin building on and complimenting each other. This process will help your business grow some real muscle as you spend additional time thinking it through, promoting it's strengths, and working on it's weaknesses. When you’re all done, you’ll have covered everything from A to Z, and your business plan will be a whole bunch of little summary paragraphs that are easy to read, easy to digest, and make it easy to discuss or present your business idea to others.  Taa-daa!  

Natril Gear's business plan is a full business plan.  Fulls are not better than one-pagers, and one-pagers are not better than fulls – the main point really is to organize and think things through with your business BEFORE they becomes an issue.  Some of us just need more help getting ideas out of our heads than others.  🙂

So hopefully now you understand more about business plans, realize anyone can write them (this doesn't require an English essay degree), and you see the value in creating one before you start your next business venture (remember the "business plan" pulling the "business" up in the picture earlier).

Don't be this guy.

Happy business planning!

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