A good business plan provides the small-business owner with a plan of action that helps 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 a business or even if you are already in business, it is well-worth your time to write a business plan,” said Central Maine SCORE mentor Ralph Tuttle. “Planning helps you guarantee that you have defined and described business objectives, such as sales, expenses and the actual goals of your business.”

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

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

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

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

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

* How will you make the business grow after it is established?

Putting your ideas in writing forces you to think realistically about possible achievements.

Your local SCORE chapter office has free material that details how to develop a business plan and answer key questions.

For this and other business advice, contact Central Maine SCORE at 782-3708 or at [email protected], or contact the Auburn Public Library for an appointment with a volunteer mentor. In Oxford Hills call 743-0499; in Rumford-Mexico call 364-3123. Or contact SCORE at www.SCOREmaine.org.

This column is provided by the Central Maine SCORE chapter.

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