Jean publishes a blog called the Enterprise Corner. It features articles on entrepreneurship, local industry trends, manufacturing news and periodic ‘toolbox’ articles showcasing assistance, incentives and other resources for local businesses.
It is no secret that we encourage entrepreneurs to develop a business plan prior to starting a business. In fact, part of the reason we started the Enterprise Challenge Business Plan Contest was to identify and reward Yakima County's best and brightest new businesses and entrepreneurs. One of the most valuable things entrepreneurs can do is to use their business plan as a working document and review often. The real value isn't in the actual completed plan, but in the process of gathering information, research and planning your business.
Writing a business plan can be a lot of work, but can pay dividends in the long run. It will aid you in identifying how much money you will need to get started (and operate), narrow your market and customers, prompt you to think about future growth and exit plans and help you refine your sales pitch. Here are three ways that having a business plan can pay off:
1. Recruiting and securing investors. Having a solid and realistic business plan can open the door for private and equity investment. Most investors, venture capitalists and angel investors are going to want to look at a business plan before they plunk down any cash for a start-up.
2. Getting a bank loan. Unfortunately with the lending market, loans can be difficult to get; entrepreneurs should plan on having a business plan and personal equity to even apply for a bank loan, micro-loan or government backed loan.
3. Winning a business plan competition. Now this may be more of a challenge since business plan contests are extremely competitive and may be hard to locate; however it's not an impossible idea. The winner of the Fifth Enterprise Challenge, Claim Clothing, invested many hours into their business plan and it showed. They only started the business recently so they had a little bit of traction and history to back up the plan with real results and numbers. It was time well spent landing them $10,000 to invest into their growing enterprise.
One final thought on how business plans can help: they can be an excellent reality check to gauge progress once you do get started. I am always impressed when I visit a company and they can tell me right where they are at with their projections from the original business plan.
There are numerous resources for business plan assistance for Yakima County entrepreneurs, both online or in person. Not sure how to get started putting your plan together? Please contact Jean Brown at 575-1140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.