So, I honestly never realized how important it was to have a business plan until I began business school this past fall. Maybe it was because no one ever stressed the importance of having one to me. Of course, a few people would ask if I had one, but I always brushed it off and never took it seriously. Beginning graduate school has opened up many doors of opportunity for me. Specifically, many business resources for women such as one-on-one counseling, fellowship opportunities, and events for women with small start-ups. I stumbled across the Tory Burch Fellows Application and was stuck in the process when it asked for a business plan. Luckily, I had enough time to submit, but honestly I did not know where to start. I immediately scheduled appointments with the Small Business Development Center and the Entrepreneurship professor on campus for direction and guidance.
Supposedly, the average business plans range from 25-30 pages. That already seemed overwhelming! How was I going to find time to write that many pages by the deadline plus finish schoolwork and focus on other important things pertaining to my business? Luckily, the application only asked for a ten page business plan, however I knew competition would be stiff so I wanted to bring something great to the table. Both of my counselors sent me their business plan templates. But what I found the most helpful was the business plan template that Microsoft Word has already created. The template provides you with all the proper information you will need to provide for a successful business plan.
Being that I am a small business owner and just started a couple of years ago, I found myself stuck towards the end when asked for income statements, balance sheets, financial overview, start-up capital, cash flow, etc. – another reason I am glad to be in school and learn how these things can truly effect the success of my business. In the future, I know that I will be able to provide more information once there is an increase in revenue and more business growth. With much focus and many reviews and edits from my counseling sessions, I was able to complete up to 16 pages to submit for the fellowship application. I realized that no one reputable would take me serious without a business plan and it is important to have your vision and mission statements on paper. Here are a few other things you need to start:
- Executive Summary (including Highlights, Objectives, Mission Statement)
- Description of Business (including Company Ownership, Location, Management, Start-Up/Acquisition Summary)
- Marketing (including Market Analysis, Market Segmentation, Competition, Pricing)
These are just a few things taken from the template. Microsoft Word does a good job at explaining what needs to be provided under each topic. So, what’s holding you back?