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Aw, Man: You Mean I Have to Have a (Business) Plan?

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Is this you? The whip-smart businessperson with all the best intentions and no business plan?

I am continually surprised, whenever I speak with my consulting clients or attend a public speaking engagement, to discover that many people start a new business without a business plan.

“What do I need that for?” they ask.

Inevitably, I roll my eyes and answer, “So you know where you’re going.”

You wouldn’t consider driving somewhere new without a map, and similarly, you shouldn’t start a new business without a business plan. You may not believe me now, but your business plan is the single most important aspect of your business.

“What about my expertise?” you might say.

Your expertise is certainly very valuable, as are experience, skill, dedication and stamina to work long hours. But none of these may get to even make an appearance if your business plan is unprofessional, or is not presented in the way potential financiers (loaners of money, in other words) want to see your goods.

Let’s face it, most of us need money as we’re starting our new business. The smallest, most bank-draining expenses will crop up, so we will need it to get started. There’s certainly no shame in that. But simultaneously, we’re all taught that debt is a bad thing, and not to get into it.

I don’t want to encourage irresponsibility, but it may help to remind ourselves that most companies carry debt. Yes, even Microsoft carries debt for a specific purpose. Debt can help establish a credit record, or build a relationship with a lender (in case you need money later). It can also become a calculated risk for greater growth in the long term. If borrowing money can help you make and sell more products now, it’s generally worth the risk of establishing debt in the short term.

If you’re new to business plan writing, and the very idea of writing one causes you to go to bed with a migraine, one of my favorite software programs is Business Plan Pro, which does most of the work for you (and who doesn’t like that?). Simplifying Excel and QuickBooks imports (for those all-important balance sheet and P&L statement figures) and offering more advanced tools than most other business plan programs, this is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to get up and running fast.

If you’d prefer to work with an expert, and have a little more money to spend, you may be able to kill two birds with one stone by signing up for John Day’s Real Life Accounting. John will not only teach you how to write a business plan, but how to plan the accounting strategy of your soon-to-be successful business (hey, think positive!).

Don’t worry. It’s entirely for beginners and completely internet-based. John leaves plenty of time for emailed questions (answers are provided within 24 hours). In twenty non-sequential hours, you will learn how to set up your books, and create the important financial statements necessary for writing a successful business plan. And the best part is that you have a year to access all student-related areas of John’s site, if you want to take the class over again. In other words, it works around your schedule, which you may as well enjoy while it lasts. Few things will in this world.

After you’re finished writing your masterwork, you will be ready to approach banks and venture capitalists like the pro you are. Now get to work!

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Copyright 2006 Find Your

Alyson Mead is founder of In her 18-year career as an award-winning writer, she has published hundreds of articles in over 25 outlets, including Salon, AOL, MSN-NBC, BUST, New York Daily News, Bitch, The Sun, In These Times and more. She has received the Columbine Award for Screenwriting, the Roy W. Dean Filmmaking Grant, and a Writer’s Digest Award.


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  • Posted On November 30, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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