Happy Saturday to you. I am about to start watching the University of Washington Huskies football team battle Oregon and then I remembered that I need to hold my VRITUAL BOOK READING! Today I share business planning resources.
Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation www.smbnation.com
Microsoft Small Business Specialist SBSC, MBA, MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE, CNP
PS – did u know I host a technology conference in the New York City area each spring? Save the date for March 6-8, 2009 and watch “voice meet data” in the SMB space!
PPS – my SBS 2008 book will be out in mid-November 2008!
PPPS – my Microsoft Response Point Primer book is here NOW!
Resources to Assist With Your Business Plan
Whether you live in the US or not, the Small Business Administration (SBA), located at www.sba.gov, provides significant business planning resources. Not only will you find business plan templates and articles of interest, but in many US cities, the SBA offers a program called SCORE. SCORE is a group of volunteer business executives who will assist you in constructing your business plan. People who have engaged SCORE report it’s been a good use of time, and they benefited from the objective feedback.
The SBA is a tremendous resource for constructing your SMB consulting business plan.
Your first step in taking advantage of the SBA’s business planning resources is to click the “Starting Your Business” button in the upper left. Notice in the lower left, there is a selection box titled “Frequent I Can’t Finds and Answers” where business plans and SCORE are specific selection options. The information presented at the SBA site is typically free, and I’ve found it to be worthy. However, there are business plan software programs on the market which can be found by searching on the term “business plan” at your favorite software reseller. From such a search, I discovered Palo Alto Software (www.paloaltosoftware.com) and its offerings as shown in Figure 2-6.
Palo Alto Software’s business planning and marketing software provide professional templates to guide the creation of your SMB business plan.
Another example is PlanWare (www.planware.org), where you can download EXL-PLAN Super 2.1, a shareware business planning template designed to work with Microsoft Excel and Word. The Excel spreadsheet component is shown in Figure 2-7 and the Word document component is shown in Figure 2-8. One positive for PlanWare is that, because it’s located in Ireland, the tools it offers would likely have more of an international flavor for overseas readers of this book.
The spreadsheet-side of EXL-PLAN Super.
The document-side of EXL -PLAN Super.
Perhaps you’re really not a writer and it’s not in the cards to complete your own business plan. There are professionals waiting to assist you, but be advised that a professional business plan can cost as much as $10,000 to create. You can find the names of business plan writing firms from local accountants and business attorneys. In fact, as shown in Figure 2-9, many accounting firms are in the business of writing business plans.
CFO2Go is representative of accounting firms that will write your business plan.
BEST PRACTICE: When it was time to write my own business plan, I engaged CFO2Go in a trade-out of services to write my business plan. CFO2Go needed assistance implementing SBS, and I felt that I really needed the independent analysis of an accounting firm to write my business plan, interview me, bring forth concrete suggestions for profitability, etc.
I share this with you to make two points. First, I received a professional business plan for my SMB consulting practice on the cheap via a client trade-out and encourage you find similar opportunities. This allows you to lower your start-up costs while still completing the all-important business plan. Second, even though I’m a writer,
I didn’t want to consume all of my hours writing an SMB consulting firm business plan. Rather, I wanted someone else who wasn’t emotionally involved to write it for me and allow me to make edits.
Something else to think about is approaching the business department of your local business college and having a student who is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or an upper-level student in the undergraduate program write your business plan while working for you on an internship basis. In my community, Seattle Pacific University (www.spu.edu) requires business students to complete internships as part of earning their degrees. This is a common requirement and perhaps used at a college located in your area.
BEST PRACTICE: It’s been said that it’s easier to write someone else’s business plan than your own. There is some truth to that statement, as someone on the outside can see things the business owner doesn’t. The point is, you might assist another business person in gathering together and writing his or her business plan so you can gain some experience before you write your own. And who knows? Perhaps your calling is to be a management consultant, in addition to an SMB consultant in technology. Maybe you’ll be earning part of you’re living as a business plan writer. Hey – no harm, no foul if that’s the direction you go to add this to your portfolio of services.