Green Business Bureau Blog
A Business Plan is the Key to Success
Having an idea for a new business does not make it a success just by the mere service or product alone. There has to be a strategy behind opening the new business with a goal to reach. This strategy, or plan, needs to help the vision come into being, keep it sustained, and help it become successful. In the business world, this strategy is called a business plan. They can be as complicated, or as simple as it needs to be. For example, selling lemonade in the driveway sounds simple, but it still needs a plan. What are the supplies needed to make lemonade? Will you use plastic cups to sell it out of? What is the cost of making the lemonade, the cups, and signs? How much does each cup need to cost to make a profit? Are bio-degradable cups too expensive to be an option? Since you are selling a product out in the environment, what are the plans in case it is cold or raining? Again, these are not hard decisions to make for such a small business, but still a business plan needs to be formed to make the lemonade stand a success.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) at www.sba.gov there are several elements to a good business plan: executive summary, market analysis, company description, organization and management, marketing and sales management, service or product line, funding request, financials, and an appendix for additional information. A business plan should be reviewed on a quarterly basis and be flexible if changes are found to be needed.
Save the Best for Last
Even though the Summary is the most important part of the business plan, writing it should be saved until last. This statement will encompass what the entire plan for success will be. There should be a clear statement of your business, product, how you plan to sell and distribute items, number of staff, along with what direction the business will grow. Writing this after the details are completed will make writing the summary less daunting.
Where does the Green Come From
The most daunting task in a plan is the market analysis and financials, but the detail on this section will depend on whether funding needs to be obtained. If the funds have already been secured, then less work will be needed. If you are still trying to secure a loan, a detailed report will be necessary. Do your research and find out all the costs involved including the product, shipping, packaging, and marketing of your business. Never underestimate the power of the internet. If creating a website intimidates you, then add the cost of getting one professionally done.
Without organization and management planned out, there would be little chance of success for your business. It is rare to find a one man business, thus a clear chart for how the management will work in the business in needed. Be sure to have an organizational chart which shows each level of management, starting from the lowest employee up to president.
You Touch It, You Bought It
The service, or product line, section should give all the details of your service or product. List any copyrights and patents obtained, or in the process of obtaining. Be sure to include any research and development that will be planned. With environmental conservation looming large in society, including how green your product is from start to its recycling potential will give your plan an enormous boost.
As mentioned before, the level of financial analysis needed will be determined on whether funding will need to be secured still. The funding request section will be where all the detail is given for any potential loan or backer for your business. Complete details will need to be provided on what funding has been secured already, and where the rest of the funding will come from. Since this may involve a loan, a detailed plan for five years should be included with long term goals and plans. This is the chance to convince investors that your service or product will be a homerun and their monies will be handled responsibly.
Do Not be Afraid to Ask for Help
Thankfully, you do not have start this alone. At the SBA site, there are links on finding mentors to help with the development of the plan, and to help get the business of the ground. There are sections on how to obtain a loan and contractors to help you. On www.businessplans.org there are samples of successful business plans. Find one similar to your market and use it as a design tool. If thinking about all these steps seems daunting, there are software programs that can help with every step of the way. You cannot have a successful business plan if you do not ever start one.