Hi Gladys, I am not new to business. I have owned a home and gardening center for eight years. I want to expand into other areas in my city. I want to make sure that each move I make in expanding is the right move. So on the advice of a friend I called on a small business development outfit to give me direction. I have been attending regular classroom sessions for the last four months. And up to this point I have spent the last four months writing a business plan. I didn’t write a business plan for my business when I started it. And it’s been very profitable. Why on earth do I need to spend so much time writing a business plan to expand my company? This is an exercise for a beginning business. It seems like such a waste of time. — C.W
You wrote that you want to make all the right moves. Writing out a business plan lets you see every little detail of the many elements that go into the making and expansion of a business. You might even learn a few things you didn’t know before. This can prove to be a wonderful opportunity for you to even strengthen your business as it is.
Many people think a business plan is something you put together in order to get financing. Sometimes this is true, but not always. A business plan can become the working papers that keep you focused and guided in the right direction.
One of the most important parts of a well-crafted business plan is the market development and implementation section. This section not only helps you to identify your customers and prospective customers it also helps you to strategize on how to communicate to them and get them in the door.
I will never forget the early morning phone call I received from a woman who owned a successful beauty salon and decided to expand to including spa services. She moved to a space that was more than three times the size of her original place and remodeled to include state-of-the-art spa services. She had borrowed more than one hundred thousand dollars based on her business plan.
She told me that owning a beautiful day spa had always been her dream, but for some strange reason she was losing money. She didn’t have the customers she thought the expansion would bring and she was unable to get her salon customers to use the spa services. In addition she was behind in her payments to the bank and in her rent.
When I met with her I asked to see her business plan. After examining both her business and her business plan, I found that the marketing section was not clear. She had not developed that part of her plan. Had she taken the time to identify who her customers were before her expansion she would have known that they weren’t interested in spa services. And, with that knowledge she could have put together a strategy to attract the kind of customer who would use her services.
If the business plan sessions are covering every detail of business development it is not a waste of your time. The truth is, it can prove to be beneficial to secure success for your business.
Gladys Edmunds, founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh, is an author and coach/consultant in business development. Her column appears Wednesdays. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of her columns is here. Her website is gladysedmunds.com.
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