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    12 Replies Latest reply on Jun 17, 2009 3:46 PM by JohnSF

    Need help writing a formal business plan

    Soph.events Wayfarer
      I have recently started an event planning business and have yet to get a solid business plan written. Can someone help or point me in the right direction? I've read a lot of articles about writing business plans, but some of them are a bit confusing. Knowing that the best way to receive start-up funding is to have a well-written business plan in place, I'm looking to start a draft as soon as possible.

      Thanks for any/all assistance.
        • Re: Need help writing a formal business plan
          thetaxclub Newbie
          You're definitely right - Writing a solid business plan is almost always a prerequisite to receiving funding from lenders or other investors. Following are the keys for successful business plans that I've either read or written:

          Keep in mind the 4 C's - Character, Cash Flow, Collateral, and Contribution. While not an actual part of the business plan, the reader will want to know about these four items. This concept, or some variation thereof, is taught in many entrepreneurial classes in business schools, as well as included in many business plan books.

          Character - What is the background of the business owners / managers? What is their work / school experience, and how does it translate to this business? Are they capable of managing the business described in the plan? This is one of the most important, if not THE most important, aspect of the business plan - if you've built other successful companies, for example, you're much more likely to receive funding than if not. If you don't have much experience or as solid of a background as you'd like, try to add experienced managers, Board of Directors members, or Advisory Board members to bolster your case.

          Cash Flow - What are the projected cash flows of the company? Will the company be able to re-pay its loans or generate distributions for its owners / investors? When? Not many lenders or investors will be interested if they don't feel comfortable with the financial projections and the underlying assumptions behind the projectsions.

          Collateral - Does the business have any collateral, such as real estate, equipment, inventory, etc? It's definitely not a dealbreaker if not (many services companies don't have much in the way of assets, for example), but collateral definitely provides a higher level of comfort to lenders.

          Contribution - How much money has the owner put in personally? If an entrepreneur isn't willing to put in his or her own money, it's a red flag for any lenders.

          Other than keeping the above principles in mind, I'd stress the importance of an executive summary. After completing your plan, go back and write your summary - it needs to grab the reader's attention. It's basically the equivalent of a cover sheet to a resume; you need something that sets your plan apart from the dozens or hundreds of others that a lender may view.

          Finally, make sure your financial projections can tell the story of your business. Explaining the assumptions for your projections is crucial to ensure that a potential lender or investor understands how you came up with your numbers rather than just "guessing."

          There are many software packages that can assist you, such as Business Plan Pro. However, depending on the complexity of your business and your experience in writing business plans, it may make sense to have a professional assist you. Good luck on your new venture!!
          • Re: Need help writing a formal business plan
            odgrell Adventurer
            I would be more than happy to help you. I have written a couple myself and can help you draft it up as well as coming up with some projected financial statements. Contact me at mgrellbooks@gmail.com if your interested.
            • Re: Need help writing a formal business plan
              Tracker

              A good business plan is something that funding sources and/or prospective investors are going to want to see so as you mentioned in your post, that should be your priority at this point. In general, at their simplest, Business Plans should consist of the following:

              Executive Summary
              Market Opportunity
              Vision, Mission, & Objectives
              Management
              Business Strategy
              Competition
              Risk
              Financial Plan/Capital Requirements
              Summary

              How complex and comprehensive your plan should be depends on what you plan to use it for. This generally falls into 3 categories:

              1. Internal Planning (to form the business)

              2. Internal Planning and for presentation to close contacts that might want to invest in the business.

              3. Internal Planning, for close contacts presentation and presentation to experienced investors and/or sources of funding for the business.

              Business plans can range from 10 pages to 50+. Simpler business plans (really more of an extended Executive Summary) are usually 10 pages or so and would primarily be used for internal planning purposes. These type plans are less complex. Plans for presentation to personal funding sources or investor-ready business plans designed for professional investor presentation are longer and much more comprehensive (they have to be to cover all of the aspects of your business that an investor or funding source is going to want to know about).

              There are a number of resources you can find online (some free, some not) that can help you with your business plan. Just enter "help with business plan" or "business plan" in any search engine and you will find many sources to check out. One site that you might find useful is: http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html

              Feel free to look at my profile and visit my site, where you will find more info on writing business plans etc. Also, you can search within this online community for "business plan" "start-up" etc. and find many postings, some from experienced business professionals, that might be useful to you as well.

              I hope that helps; good luck with your venture.

              Dennis Lowery
              Adducent, Inc.
              • Re: Need help writing a formal business plan
                LUCKIEST Guide
                Need help writing a formal business plan, Welcome Lynnecia

                I am a SCORE Counselor. Both SCORE and I would be happy to help you write a business plan.

                SCORE is FREE and SCORE also has a FREE Virtual Online Learning Center and the first course is "Developing a Business Plan"

                Good luck, LUCKIEST
                • Re: Need help writing a formal business plan
                  JohnSF Wayfarer
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                  While writing a business plan is the first step to actually
                  starting a business, you must keep in mind that an action plan and analysis of
                  the market must take place as well. A business plan will be useless unless
                  there is actually a strong Demand and Supply for your product or service. I
                  would recommend doing some research to start and discover what kind of market
                  you are dealing with (i.e. who is your target market, demographics, will they
                  want the product).

                  You mentioned a possible need for start-up funding. Keep in mind it may be
                  advantageous to start slow, and rapidly expand without seeking outside
                  investors. I wrote an article on grass-roots and guerilla marketing, which
                  highlights ways to effectively acquire new customers through cheap,
                  cost-efficient means. The article can be accessed at http://www.examiner.com/x-2295-Philadelphia-Entrepreneurship-Examiner.

                  If you would like some detailed help on your business plan, feel
                  free to contact me at john@solidfoundationllc.com
                    • Re: Need help writing a formal business plan
                      JohnSF Wayfarer
                      Sorry for the above post. What I was trying to say was...

                      While writing a business plan is the first step to actually starting a business, you must keep in mind that an action plan and analysis of the market must take place as well. A business plan will be useless unless there is actually a strong Demand and Supply for your product or service. I would recommend doing some research to start and discover what kind of market you are dealing with (i.e. who is your target market, demographics, will they want the product?)

                      You mentioned a possible need for start-up funding. Keep in mind it may be advantageous to start slow, and rapidly expand without seeking outside investors. I wrote an article on grass-roots and guerilla marketing, which highlights way to effectively acquire new customers through cheap, cost-efficient means. The article can be accessed at http:www.examiner.com/x-2295-Philadelphia-Entrepreneurship-Examiner.

                      If you would like some detailed help on your business plan, feel free to contact me at john@solidfoundationllc.com

                      Hope this helps.

                      John
                      Solid Foundation LLC
                      www.solidfoundationllc.com