I am trying to write a business plan for my home micro-business and I keep hitting dead ends.
Mostly because the generic business plan that the SBA suggest above is for companies, not micro-business. Even in my rosiest forecast I don’t plan on having employees, investors, or business loans. In fact, the only person who will ever be seeing this plan is me (and my readers).
But having a plan seems to be a core requisite for being a ‘real’ entrepreneur as opposed to a hobbyist who makes a little money on the side. So I’m trying to find a way to hack down the extra bits until I get what I need.
So what’s in a plan?
Business Plan Executive Summary
This section is basically the introduction paragraph of an essay, so I figure I’m not allowed to skip it. It’s just a soundbite for the rest of the plan so maybe I’ll write the rest of it first and then come back.
Things I need: The Mission Statement, Date the business begins, Products manufactured/services rendered, Summary of management’s future plans
Things I can skip: Names of the founders and the functions they perform, Number of employees, Location of the business and any branches or subsidiaries, Description of plant or facilities, Summary of company growth including financial or market highlights.
Now this is the meat and potatoes of a business plan, after all it’s the market that will make or break a company. No matter what you’re trying to sell if you don’t know how or where it’s already being sold and who’s buying it… you’re toast.
Things I need: Industry Description and Outlook, Identifying Your Target Market, Market Tests, Lead Times, Competitive Analysis, Regulatory Restrictions
Things I can skip: Nothing. Seriously, beyond product development this is really the core of what I need to get done before I move forward.
This seems to be just a more detailed rehash of the first section. I’m tempted to skip this one altogether, but I figure it’ll be the same thing that ends up on my About page for the business.
Organization & Management
There is only one person in this business and unless the universe sends me a twist the size of Atlantis, I’m not going to need this section.
Marketing & Sales Management
Ah the joys of finding your market… and then getting them to pay attention! Most of my marketing will be online, but that doesn’t reduce the amount of work I’ll need to do to get ready.
Things I need: Market penetration, Growth, Channels of distribution, Communication strategy, Sales activities
Things I can skip: Sales force strategy
Service or Product Line
Again, another section where I can’t skip anything. Nice to see that I’m in step at least for a small part of the process!
Things I need: Detailed description of your product or service, Information related to your product’s life cycle, Copyright, patent, and trade secret information, Research and development (R&D) activities
Skip! I do not plan on spending a lot of money to get things up and running so I’m not taking out any loans. It helps that this is a part-time business and that I have a day job and day job income.
I’m focusing heavily on the future in this one, but I’m not looking to woo investors so it’s not as important a section as it might be.
Things I need: Prospective Financial Data
Things I can skip: Historical Financial Data
Err, I’m really not sure if I’ll need this or not. It appears to just be a section for ‘data as requested.’
Of Cabbages and Kings
The other aspect that I have to worry about is that this isn’t going to a full-time job, so I have a limited amount of time to spend. So figuring out how much time things take is actually a very important part of my planning– but it’s not something that seems to fit in a traditional outline.
So now that I have some idea of what I need to accomplish… time to start accomplishing!