Starting a Small Business

Developing a Business Plan

Many organizations, individuals, and even software programs can help you write a business plan. However, a business plan is not something that you just write and never have to think about again; it should be reviewed frequently and changed when appropriate so that it can continue to be relevant for the development of your business over time. Here we’ll tell you about what sort of things your business plan should include and then give some advice on how you can find people who can help you make your plan.

What to Include in Your Business Plan

When you make a business plan, it has to cover many different things; this article will provide an overview of the main points. At the very least, your plan should include a detailed discussion of all the following:

  1. Executive Summary: A brief explanation of your business, saying who you are, what you do, and why people should consider buying your products or paying for your services.
  2. Business Description and Vision: A more detailed introduction to your business, including your mission statement (the product or service you provide and why it matters); company vision (how you hope to see your business grow); long-term business goals and objectives; and a brief history of the business.
  3. Definition of the Market: Basic information about the industry you operate in and the customer needs you are fulfilling.
  4. Description of Products and Services: Details about your products and services, with explanations of how they are competitive.
  5. Organization and Management: How your business is organized, including its legal structure (for example: proprietorship, partnership, or corporation); the licenses or permits it needs to operate; and the key people or employees.
  6. Marketing and Sales Strategy: Who your customers are; what the demand is for your products and services; and how your sales strategy, pricing, promotions, and product placement will operate.
  7. Financial Management: Your estimated startup costs; how much money you have to invest and how much you need in loans; your balance sheet in 1 year (how much cash, business assets, and debt you expect your business to have); how much income and expenses you expect to have in 1 year; and how much profit or loss you expect your business to have in one year.

The executive summary only needs to be 1 or 2 paragraphs long. The other parts of the business plan should be as detailed as is necessary to complete them. For example, the business description and vision may be multiple pages, while organization and management could be just a couple of sentences if your business is very small and has no additional employees besides yourself.

Examples of business plans features business plan software and free sample business plans, along with other expert advice. For example, to look at a business plan for a dog kennel business that is similar to Bob’s, click here.

Organizations That Help with Business Planning

There are many organizations that can help you develop your business plan. They may have classes, help you individually, provide you with business-planning software, or refer you to experts who can help. Here are some good places to start:

  • Local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has created Small Business Development Centers throughout the country that provide management assistance to people who have or want to start small businesses.
  • The Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration (AZRSA). AZRSA offers assistance and services that can help you start a small business, including business coaching, help with savings programs, business coaching, and sometimes even funding for one-time capital expenses. To apply for services, call or visit a vocational rehabilitation office near you.
  • Organizations that support microenterprise. Here are some more organizations that can help you start your small business:
    • The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a nonprofit that provides education, mentorship, counseling, tools, and workshops to help small businesses get started, grow, and achieve their goals.
    • The Women's Business Center (WBC) provides training, coaching, and technical assistance for small businesses whether it's with a business idea, the start-up phase, or an establised company.
    • The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) supports people with disabilities, their family members, and services providers with technical assistance, consulting, and mentoring services, including help with self-employment and small business plans, such as business planning referrals, financing strategies, marketing research, disability-specific programs, benefits planning, e-commerce, independent contracting, home-based business options, and small business initiatives for disabled veterans.
    • The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) can help you find out who is providing loans, business training, financial education, and other important services for small businesses in your state.

All of these organizations are experienced with helping potential entrepreneurs design business plans, but some of them have little, if any, disability experience. They may not know much about benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and won’t know about resources or income limits these and other programs may have. They also may not know the tools, programs, or strategies that exist to help people with disabilities start their own businesses. We’ll talk about some of those disability-specific considerations later in this article.

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