What really is a Business Plan and Why should I make one?

Many small business owners just decide one day, for what ever reason, that they want or need to work for themselves and up and start a self business. But sooner or later there will come a time when this single person business will be asked for or need a business plan. Maybe it is the bank for a loan or to open an account or a CPA that files your taxes, but no matter the reason why, every business owner should make a plan to help them manage their business during its life.

If you do not have one already the governments Small Business Administration is a good place to start to get a template of what should be included in a plan. http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/writing-business-plan. And if you are really new to business and just jumped right into it you might even want to back track and take a look at the steps of starting a business they offer as well, http://www.sba.gov/thinking-about-starting. You may find you have missed a few things you should still think about doing.

A business plan is just a road map of where you are to where you want to end up. It will include things like your mission statement, the who, what, where and how of your business. What type of work you will perform, in what locations, who is your prospective customer, what prices are you expecting to charge or how you will calculate your pricing, what equipment you will buy, at what cost, will you spread this cost over a set number of years, will you do all the work yourself or hire employees, how will you deal with these employees, and what your expected profit will be in a set period of time from the start of your business.

Now many business owners think that they only need to make a business plan once, when they are first starting out or to fulfill a loan requirement for a banker, but a good business owner will review and adjust their business plan as the years go by as their business grows and evolves. For instance when just starting out you may have worked alone and mainly did house washing, but over time you added employees, these grew into multiple crews and you found you enjoyed cleaning and staining decks, while doing house washing, more than washing homes and your business shifted to mainly deck work. With this change your business plan should also be changed and rewritten. In fact many business plans are made to cover a finite amount of time after which a new plan is expected to be made to cover a next set amount of time. There are other places and groups available to help you with this, like SCORE http://www.score.org/resources/business-plans-financial-statements-template-gallery, Bplans.com or even Microsoft Office. Even here in your own industry there are groups that have done the work for you or will help you, such as http://www.powerwash.com/articles/pressure-washing-business-plan-power-wash-contractor.html. Also free examples to watch and learn from on youtube.com, just search “how to write a business plan”.

So during this month of December, being National Business Plan month, I encourage you to make or revisit your business plan.