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 it 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 big 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. Here's a handy loan checklist from the Small Business Administration.
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 Second Enterprise Challenge, Washington Vision Therapy Center, invested many hours into their business plan and it showed. They not only had a solid business plan, an innovative and sustainable product, but had started the business recently so they had a little bit of traction and history to back up the plan with real results and numbers. Read more about other business plan contests.
Here's a great article about two entrepreneurs that started a restaurant, Bogota Latin Bistro, which is now a multi-million dollar venture and they are looking to expand. The part I love about the Bogota story is the men did their homework, realized the areas they needed help with and took a cautious approach before diving in. " The pair now had the passion, but lacked a coherent plan, any funding, and basic business know-how. So when Ali saw an ad in the Brooklyn Courrier, for a 16-week business course for $90, both signed up. During the workshop they drafted a rough business plan. They went on to win the Brooklyn Business Library business plan competition, called Power Up, in November of 2003. The prize: $10,000 in cash and $10,000 in-kind services to jump-start their business. Only they'd need more like $400,000 than $20,000 to open.". Inc. May 31, 2011. 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.
Find more start up resources on our website;