General discussion

Do you need a business plan?

Many people considering the switch from salaried employee to small-business owner think that a business plan is just something you have to show to a bank in order to get a loan. (Indeed, that's what most plans are.) What most people fail to realize is that a properly constructed business plan is also an "action plan" for your business to follow in the pursuit of "success".

In my experience, you not only need "a" business plan, you need "two" business plans--one for you, and one for the bank. (The kind of business plan most banks would go for is usually a disaster in the real world.) The depth of thought and energy that go into preparing a proper (i.e. strategically sound) business plan will help you to clarify your goals and priorities...and the finished product will help you to determine the "viability" of your business concept.

Wink JDM

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Comments
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Since "free" is always good...
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And don't forget...

to check out some of the software available at Download.com!

Wink JDM

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How do you weed out the good from the bad?

I think what I find most frustrating is that I just need a quick way to find out whether or not an idea I have is worth taking all the time to make plans for, whether it be for the purpose of obtaining financing or for the purpose of managing effectively or any other purpose.

I find there is a big difference between planning a business and evaluating an idea to determine if it is worth pursuing as a business. Unless the idea shows promise, I don't want to waste my time making plans.

So, while I agree with what is said here, I want more.

Most of the materials I see out on the web fail to make this distinction. Are there materials that help a person quickly and efficiently evaluate a business idea to determine if it is worth developing into a business?

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Feasibility studies will do this.

Hi CherylIBCE,

From my experience, feasibility studies are addressing this need. A feasibility study will consider the financial model (cash flow potential and durability) and market potential without diving into a full operational and marketing plan.

There is a free download here under "Resources" that may give you a guideline for assessing feasibility.

www.firststepsconsulting.com

Hope this helps...

Best,
Brian

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When to take the time

I think it would depend largely on how quickly you can accurately examine a market to see if your business is worth developing a plan for.

I have found that more often then not, and contrary to how most people start their businesses, opportunities come from first identifying the market and then finding a product or service that you can deliver to them.

No point having a product with out a market, right?

Marketing planning in my mind has a lot more to do with "how can I satisfy this need I see in this market" rather than "ok, I have a product, now where do I flog it?"

Don't get me wrong, markets can and are found for products everyday, I have just found that it is a little easier to satisfy a hungry market by developing a product then satisfy product sales by developing a hungry market. Small business marketing plans should take these factors into account. It is needs based selling. Million dollar ideas are a dime a dozen, but million dollar markets are golden.

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Re:Do you need a business plan?

? What does it take to succeed in this type of company?

? Do you have the skills and background necessary?

? Can you afford to take the risk? What effect would the business' failure have on you?

? What is the growth potential for the business? Can it meet your financial expectations and requirements?

? Is there a large enough market for your products/services?

? Will you enjoy owning and managing the business?

A business plan is an important ingredient to the success of a start-up business.

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Reposted for Kathleen: yes, you do.

Yes, you do need a business plan.

Long-term goals are only achieved when the day-to-day tasks are established and done in accordance with that final goal. A long-term goal isn't achieved when the day-to-day momentum isn't there.

Hope this helps Happy

Kathleen

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Fail to plan....cheesy, I know, but true

I agree with the idea of having a business plan in order to start or even expand a business. The beauty of a business or marketing plan is that they are dynamic in nature - they rarely look exactly the same as they started after they are used for awhile!

Business and marketing plans are especially important for securing financing. In my experience most investors, including banks, want to see that there has been a significant amount of thought and effort into what you are asking them to invest in. A good business plan with a solid marketing plan goes along way in communicating to your investors that you have a reasonable chance at succeeding in your venture.

A solid business plan communicates that you have a good idea of what kind of environment you are operating in, what advantages you have in your markets, what the risks are, etc.

Very often during the process of business and marketing planning, business owners learn a great deal about their own businesses, uncovering weaknesses and discovering opportunities that some times go unnoticed in the day to day operation. Small business marketing plans are definitely a good move to make when starting-up or expanding - they help you keep on track and guide you to the specific goals you desire to achieve.

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