People with GPS units in their cars love the convenience of simply entering locations and receiving step-by-step directions for getting to their destination safe and sound.
Central Maine SCORE chapter mentor Jack Tetreault notes that, “Entrepreneurs have their own ‘GPS’ to help find small business success: the business plan. But unlike its electronic counterparts, a business plan does not come with a preprogrammed route to ‘Easy Street.’
It’s up to every aspiring small-business owner to collect and analyze information related to a small business idea. Only then can one determine the best way to get that idea from Point A to Point B and beyond.
The prospect of preparing a business plan may seem intimidating. Though it does require a lot of time and effort, most aspiring entrepreneurs soon find the exercise enjoyable and self-sustaining — the more they explore the opportunities and challenges for their idea, the more they want to know.
Preparing a business plan has never been easier. There are plenty of software tools and templates available to guide you through the various sections needed to describe your idea and your intentions. For example, SCORE’s business plan guide is at its score.org website.
There is also room for creativity, particularly since the business plan may be required by banks and other potential investors. We suggest using PowerPoint slides, relevant charts and graphics and even a video presentation, if possible.
Tetreault adds that, “Whether you present your plan in person or by email, readers’ attention spans are short. You need to get key information across quickly. And just as in-car GPSs require regular updates, your business plan is a work in progress that should evolve in response to local and national economic changes, new technologies and shifts in consumer preferences.”
For more information on establishing and operating your small business, contact SCORE, a nonprofit nationwide organization of more than 12,000 volunteer business mentors who provide free confidential counseling and low-cost training workshops. In the Lewiston-Auburn area, call Central Maine SCORE at 782-3708 for information and an appointment; in Rumford-Mexico call 364-3123; in Oxford Hills call 743-0499. Or contact SCORE at www.SCOREMaine.org.
This column is provided by the Central Maine SCORE chapter.