Friday, May 27, 2011
Writing An Effective Business Plan
It seems to me that the reason I am often lousy on the follow-through is because the idea I have generated isn't the right fit for me. It's a good idea and I'm excited about it... but I am not the person meant to follow that path. Sometimes I try, and inevitably I fizzle out.
This idea, my Spookytown idea, is one that I've had for years... I keep coming back to it... but I've been lousy on the follow-through because, quite frankly, it seemed like a pipe dream. It is such a huge vision that it was nearly impossible for me to break it down into steps or even know what direction to turn in order to get it started.
Finding a location we love, and the idea of opening the bar, was one of those moments of serendipity where everything just gelled together in my mind, and it all seems to FIT.
We've done all the work we can up to having a completed business plan at this point, I believe. The business plan is the next logical step. We've been working on it (indeed, I have 16 pages of it rough-drafted), but it's a much bigger task than I expected it to be. It seems, from my research, that there is no one set business plan. Most of them have elements of similarity, but depending on your purpose and your business, each one is very unique. It's POSSIBLE to have a small, two or three page business plan, but for what we want to do, that doesn't feel right. The two primary purposes of our business plan are 1) to help us secure funding and 2) to make sure the vision we have in our heads is REALLY a good, worthwhile investment (inasmuch as research can support, anyway). That means lots of market research and financial documents.
I am certainly capable and confident about all of those things, but they are taking longer than I expected. Since I am an idea generator, naturally I keep generating more and more ideas for this project... and it is somewhat frustrating to have to write them down on a list and keep focusing on the business plan until it's complete. I'm not used to focusing on just one thing. It's a bit of a challenge for me.
For instance, the other day I generated what I believe is a great idea to raise funds for the project (actually I have generated TWO great funding ideas in the last week, heh), and I'm eager to get started, BUT the main one will take a lot of time and focus. So if I start working on it, the business plan will fall by the wayside, and suddenly we might find ourselves with a decent amount of funding but only a half-completed plan. That doesn't make logical sense.
So I have to reign in my impulses and complete the task at hand. It's a challenge for me, but that's OK. It's good to push ourselves out of our comfort zones once in a while. I'm just so excited about all of this that I want to tackle everything at ONCE! ... And there's not enough time or resources going around to manage it all effectively. So, one thing at a time.
In terms of writing the business plan, the two resources I have utilized most have been:
A) the free website Bplans.com, which has a TON of useful advice, sample outlines, and a large variety of free sample business plans.
B) The book The Complete Idiot's Guide To Business Plans PLUS, which has been chock full of information as well AND has a CD with a ton of information on it. I took it out from my local library for free, but I am thinking it will be well worth the purchase price and am considering buying it for our own personal reference as well.
When the business plan is complete, I'll be looking for a few sharp eyes to look it over. I'll need folks that are willing to proofread AND ask difficult questions. I'd like to make sure we didn't leave any holes and that the plan is as complete as possible before we use it to try and secure funding. If you are interested in being one of those people, please let me know.
Additionally, if any of you have any advice or resources regarding business plans that you'd like to share with us, please feel free! We appreciate all the help we can get.