How can I finish my business plan?

In this series of 19 short articles, StratPad’s founder discusses the fundamentals of starting and running a small business.

Today he talks about how to finish a business plan:

Q: How can I finish my business plan? I’ve never made one before.

A: Business plans are hard work. And there’s lots of people that start business plans with good intentions and are never able to finish them. And I think there’s a couple things that get in the way.

The first is the financials, which are right in the middle. Not a lot of small business people are financially literate when they first start out. When your bank asks you or when you know that to finish off the business plan you have to put together a set of financial projections, it can simply stop you dead in your tracks. With that in mind, the first bit of advice I would give you is, find someone who can help you through that. It’s not that expensive. And don’t try to learn it all yourself. That will come as you grow your business.

The second things that gets in the way, I think, is a real clear understanding of what’s expected in the final business plan. A lot of small business people start off thinking that they have to put together a 120-page business plan. And as you take a look through the 30 sections that are required in a traditional business plan, something like half those things either take way too much work or they’re just irrelevant for small business.

What I would advise you to do is just start off small. If you can answer five or seven or eight questions, know who are your customers, what makes you unique, why do they love you, who are your competitors, those types of things, that’ll be a good start. If you can just write one or two paragraphs to answer five or six questions, that by itself is probably good enough to at least get the conversation going with your banker or with whoever you need to be using your business plan with.

Start small and get help doing your financial projections, and that will help you get your business plan done.

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