A startup business plan can be intimidating. It can also be time consuming, monotonous and difficult. All this is because you have to think. You have to carefully think through every step of starting your company so you can prepare for success. A good business plan is clear and concise. Explaining to your audience what it is you plan to do requires much thought. Otherwise, your idea, product or service remains with you and will seldom reach your intended market.
Begin with your Mission and Vision Statements. Each should be only one or two sentences. Here is where you explain your company’s reason for being and the values by which your business intends to live. Sounds simple, but putting it in writing so others can understand it can be difficult. Without a mission and vision, you are merely wishing, dreaming, hoping to become successful, which means you will continue to work for someone else or not at all.
The next step is to develop an Organization Chart of the people you want to make up your board of directors and management team. List the members’/owners’ names, their biographies, their experience and skills. Even if you are a sole proprietor, you may want to list your advisory support team such as an attorney, accountant, banker, insurance agent, mentors and other advisors. Be specific as to who will report to whom and list their areas of responsibility.
Now, you are ready for the Legal Structure of your new business. Make an appointment with your accountant to determine your business tax status (sole proprietor, C-Corp, S-Corp). This is completely different from filing your business name with the State as an LLC or Partnership or even a sole proprietorship. Then, obtain your EIN (emplyee identification number) before you go to the bank to open your business checking account.
In the meantime, be thinking about the Process of running the daily operation of your business and the people you will need to help it become successful. Location and equipment should be included. Go back to your Organization Chart and expand it to include the rest of your Operating Team. Leadership is key in selecting the right people.
At this point, you should feel like you are becoming a real business. Start focusing on marketing your product or service. Get your board or advisors to help you. Their engagement is important in making the process work efficiently. If you don’t have an advisory board, consider contacting SCORE Northern Arizona. This organization will put a team of advisors together to help you. The counseling is free, face-to-face and confidential.
Next month watch for Part 2, which will review your Marketing Plan consisting of branding, logo, competition, pricing, demographics, social media and technology. Remember, all of the steps involved in starting a small business must refer to your Mission and Vision statements. Keep your objective in mind at all times. Work smart to be successful. FBN
By Jerry Jones
SCORE Northern Arizona is an affiliate of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and is located at 1228 Willow Creek Road, Suite 2, Prescott, AZ 86301. Should you wish to request a mentor or advisory team, give SCORE Northern Arizona a call at 928–778-7438 or visit their web site at northernarizona.score.org.