Start with a good business plan

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A good business plan provides the small-business owner with a guide for action to build a successful small business. The business plan examines the environment in which a business operates, describes how the business will function and anticipates solutions to problems and responses to opportunities.

“If you are about to start up a business or even if you are already in business, it is worth your time to write a business plan,” advises Bob Kennelly, chairman of the Lewiston-Auburn chapter of SCORE. “Planning helps you guarantee that you have defined and described business objects, such as sales, expenses and the goals of your business.”

“The more accurate your plan, the better able you will be to follow this business plan as a true operating guide for business. The plan should identify your target customers and how you will gain their business. Your business plan is the definitive document that showcases your clear thinking about the business,” he said.

Furthermore, if you plan to seek financing, a copy of your business plan will generally be required as a way to show to the loaning agency that you have a valid business idea and realistic plans for success.

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Both from a financing and operational perspective, the business plan should address future contingencies. You should answer the following questions:

— What will competitors do to offset your presence in the market?

— What are the new trends developing in your field and how will you accommodate them?

— After your business is established, how will you make the business grow?

Putting your ideas in writing forces you to think realistically about what the business can achieve.

Your local SCORE office has free materials that detail how to develop a business plan and answer key questions, and can benefit both startups and existing businesses. Those who would like to discuss business planning, business startup or business expansion, should contact SCORE, a nonprofit association of more than 12,000 volunteer business mentors.

In the Lewiston-Auburn area, call L-A 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.

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