A road map to success

People who want
to start a small business often have a fantastic idea, but not much else. All
the logistics are up in the air. Putting together a business plan provides
prospective entrepreneurs with a framework for figuring out whether the idea is
workable.

“A business plan is a
description of the business — you could say a road map — that helps you get
to your desired location,” said business development adviser Charmaine Moss,
who helps small businesses through the Department of Commerce and Investment.

“It gives you an idea of the
obstacles that lie ahead and can point out possible alternate routes.” She said
one of the major benefits of developing a business plan is getting to
thoroughly know the planned business’ industry and market.

“A well-prepared business plan
will not only assist in plotting a course for the company, it can also serve as
a vital sales tool,” she said.

Break it down

Before
undertaking a full business plan, Moss advises preparing a three- to five-page
business proposal that provides an executive summary, a description of the
company, a description of the product or service, a market outline, a marketing
plan, a description of the company’s operations, a description of the
management team and a breakdown of financials.

“A good business plan is a 20-
to 40-page written outline that describes your business idea’s potential,
explains the business concept, identifies resources needed, and most
importantly, tells the reader why the business will succeed,” says Moss.

“It is an important document,
not just for raising money from outside investors, but because it forces you to
set goals and targets which will enable you to track the progress of your
business.”

Most importantly, she says, the
process of writing a business plan will help prospective entrepreneurs to
better understand and communicate their business idea to whomever they talk to.

Essentials of a plan

“I think everyone who is opening up a business on
the Island would produce much higher results and have more confidence if they
had a business plan,” says Dale Avery.

The
sole owner/director of Natural Balance Ltd, she went to DCI for help in
starting her businesses after hearing an ad on the radio.

She
says she always knew what business she would like to open: “One that would help
people with the everyday life experiences. Make them feel better about
themselves and about life in general.” 

Avery
says that she first considered the possibility of owning a business about seven
years ago, she felt that May 2010 was the right time to take the plunge.

“I
did not have any challenges putting together my business plan, or for that
matter, getting my business open with Charmaine Moss guiding me in all the
right directions,” says Avery.

“I
won’t tell you I wasn’t nervous at some points during the process because I
was, but I believe that is normal for a new business owner.”

She
says putting together the business plan with the help of trained professionals
was the way to go.

“It
not only helps the new owner, but it helps the whole country as a whole,” she
says, noting that it give a business owner a sense of well-being and confidence
knowing that they have done all that they can to ensure the business’ success.

 “If you miss some steps, it is easier for your
business to fail and you don’t want that to happen. If you know you done
everything you can to make your business successful, that means you have done
your best and also done the best for the Island,” Avery says.

“I
can see the business growing one day and then hire on local and talented
staff.”

In
2006, Donna Hunter decided to open a small business specialising in window
treatments after having worked in the industry for over seven years.

“I
knew exactly what I would be doing – custom made blinds and draperies,” she
says.

Hunter
says she definitely had challenges putting together the business plan for Total
Window Fashions.

“When
I started it seemed impossible,” she says, but she was guided through with a
small business specialist.

Now,
“every aspect of the business plan makes sense.”

“Every
financial institution is asking for a business plan, once you approach them for
a loan,” she says. “Also, it streamlined my ideas, and I got lots of ideas from
DCI. The business plan got me more prepared and organized. I often refer to
it.”     

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