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Business Plan

Do I need insurance?

Yes. To understand your risks, consult with an insurance agent. The agent can also give you quotes to help you develop accurate cost projections. Typically the types of insurance a small business owner will need to consider are: liability, property, worker’s compensation and, in some cases, bonding. For details see Insurance.

I need data for my business plan. What do I do?

The more data and research you do, the stronger your business plan will be. Your SBDC consultant can help you obtain a variety of information from SBDCnet, IBIS World, and other databases that could be helpful. You will likely need to determine your own projected expenses from suppliers and service providers. We also have planning templates and samples that can be helpful. Once you have a draft plan, we can review it and offer feedback. Contact your nearest SBDC office to schedule an appointment.

How long will it take to develop my business plan and get financing?

The length of time needed to craft a business plan can vary considerably based on the potential size of the business, uniqueness, whether you already have data, and whether financing or outside investment is needed. There is no one right way to write a business plan, so don’t get caught up in trying to make your plan look like someone else’s or hiring someone else to write your plan. You know more about your business than any outsider. Meeting with an SBDC consultant can help you avoid pitfalls in the planning process.

How do I choose a legal name and organizational structure for my business?

Your selection of a business name and structure is very important. They are registered with the Idaho Secretary of State. This process may affect your legal liability, taxes and more, so you may want to consult with your attorney and accountant before choosing a structure. You can research the differences between a sole propriotorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), partnership, and corporation by checking Legal Structure. Talk first to your SBDC consultant and then to an attorney and a CPA. The higher your personal net worth, the more protection you will need and the business structure is the place to start.

What is in a business plan? Do I need a formal, written one?

A business plan describes your business, identifies your goals and serves as your firm's resume. The business will need a competitive advantage or value proposition to compete. The plan details the products and services you will sell; the customers to whom you will sell them; the production, management, and marketing activities needed to produce your offerings; and the projected profit or loss that will result from your efforts.

The business plan allows you to use the research you completed to draft the plan to make decisions affecting the future of the business. Completing the plan forces you to examine future decisions regarding management, marketing, personnel, and finances in an objective and organized way. It provides a projection of the sources and uses of financing needed for start-up or change up of your business. A cash flow projection is a vital part of the plan for certain types of businesses. The business plan can be a useful tool in securing capital. The plan may become your owner's manual guiding your daily operations and activities.

Business planning is an ongoing activity. Existing businesses, as well as start-up firms, benefit from writing and regularly updating their goals, plans and activities. If you seek funding, you will be required to provide a well researched and written business plan.

Will the SBDC write the business plan for me?

No. The SBDC will assist you in developing and reviewing a business plan. However, it is important that you write your business plan yourself. Writing a business plan forces you to think through issues that you may not have considered otherwise. The SBDC does offer workshops and on-line training courses that will assist you in writing your business plan.

Do I need a business plan? If so, why?

A good business plan will increase your chances for success. A high percentage of start-up businesses fail and a plan could help prevent failure. A business plan is the resume for your business. It provides information about your company and its industry, describes a marketing plan, details the operations plan and projects the financial needs of the business. It helps you allocate resources properly and make informed decisions. It provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money. A thorough, well-written business plan is crucial to obtaining financing. Additionally, it can be used to tell your sales personnel, suppliers and others about your operations and goals.

How do I write a business plan?

We recommend using a business plan template. You can find several online including on the SBA website. We still see plenty of plans written with paper and pencil if that is more your style. Describing your business structure, customers and the value you provide them is a good place to start. An SBDC consultant or a SCORE counselor can provide assistance.

What is Business Model Canvas?

The Business Model Canvas is a great visual tool to chart business elements that describe your business’ products and/or services and their value to your customers. A strategic management tool such as the Business Model Canvas can help define and streamline your business.

What is a business feasibility study?

A feasibility study contains facts and projections that outline possible future scenarios for your business and gives an idea of whether your proposal is likely to succeed. It allows a business person or investor to look at probable outcomes before significant money is spent. These studies can be brief or lengthy. They may be about cost of production, pricing, technical prospects, scheduling, or other factors regarding the operation of the business and prospects of success.

Why do I need to define my business in detail?

Defining your business in detail will enable you to define your goals and see where you may be spending your time and money. It may also reveal potential untapped markets. A simple or common type of business with little investment might need only a short description. The bigger, more unique, and high investment your business, the greater the need for a more detailed description.  Ask yourself, “What business am I really in?" Some owner-managers have gone broke because they never answered that question. One watch shop owner realized that most of his time was spent repairing watches while most of his money was spent selling them. He finally decided he was in the repair business and discontinued the sales operations. His profits improved dramatically.

Can you name a good reference book that can be used in the creation of a business plan for a restaurant?

The National Restaurant Association, the trade industry group for the restaurant industry, has a number of publications you may find useful. You can find more information on these publications on the National Restaurant Association’s website.

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