The end of a year and the beginning of a new one encourage us to reflect and plan ahead all at the same time. This applies to many areas of our lives, and if you are a business owner or a manager, it likely also applies to your business!
A business plan is a guiding document for all businesses, not just small businesses (extremely helpful to small business owners). We have heard the stories of a business plan sitting on a shelf, collecting dust, but in those cases, we would assume that this document was not accurate or well-developed. A well-thought-out business plan is something that serves a business at the development stage and beyond. It sets goals and provides a reference for how a business will reach profits, grow, and eventually exit. It is meant to be revisited and adjusted over time with each year, new phase of the business lifecycle, or shift in industry norms, markets, or economy.
Helping a business create a solid business plan is something that our team and program is nationally recognized for. We can help a business create the simplest of business plans or the most comprehensive of plans, depending on what is best for the owner, the business, its goals, and what meets the needs of financing or investment partners.
While a business plan can seem daunting, the many sections of it are necessary pieces of the whole puzzle. A business is more successful when it has considered all of the different sections and planned for some of the what-ifs. At its heart, the business plan identifies the core concept of viability of the product or service – its need in the market and that it has a market. The other business plan sections analyze and explain in detail the competition, communications and marketing, operations, management, and human resources needed to succeed, and the plans for growth in this area. It also includes the financial resources needed and related projections for revenue and profitability, as well as other important considerations like the method for exiting the business (it is inevitable in every business) and protecting the business’ information (cybersecurity).
We also strongly encourage existing businesses to use their business plan, check in with it when making strategic decisions, and bring it back in for an annual “check-up” with an ND SBDC advisor so that content can be updated, shifts in industry data can be considered, and projections can be recalculated using the current standing of the business. Looking to move? Build a new space? Launch a new product line? Hire more staff? Did your industry shift after the pandemic or because of the economy? Let’s chat and work through that together!
Many partners of the ND SBDC are providers of financing; traditional lenders, alternative funders, regional or economic development programs, or private investors. It is important to us to make sure that what lands in our clients’ business plans meets the needs of these partners. The due diligence we do on our end to ensure that the information is complete, accurate, and relevant with current market data makes the work of these partners easier. If you happen to be a financing partner and have suggestions on how this can be improved to meet the needs of your organization, I encourage you to please let us know! Also, if you know a business that needs to start or revisit their plan of action, please send them our way, we are happy to assist… and don’t forget, our services do not cost the client anything, and the benefits might be invaluable to the business and to you. When small businesses thrive, communities thrive, North Dakota thrives.
We wish you the best as this year winds to a close, and we sincerely appreciate all of your support.
Season’s Greetings, and the warmest wishes to you and your loved ones!
Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network