Tag Archives: business plan

It’s time to write your business plan.


Creating a new business can be a tough journey. Doing so while working full-time may seem tougher, but this route actually offers several benefits. You can continue earning money to put towards your startup. But even if you only work an hour a week building your company, you still need a business plan.

A business plan is critical to every small business, even for pre-startups. Why do you need one so early? It serves as your map through what might be a bumpy journey. A business plan gives you the best shot at a smooth ride.

Business plans typically have four sections: the Executive Summary, the Business Details, Financial Forecasts and Supporting Data.  Continue reading

Do you know the real truth about small business financing?


by Rieva Lesonsky for SCORE.org

When it comes to funding your small business, obtaining financing isn’t the only challenge entrepreneurs face. Apparently, learning about and understanding your financing options is a hurdle in itself, according to OnDeck’s latest Main Street Pulse Report.

In the most recent quarterly survey of small business owners:

  • 80 percent of business owners don’t think banks do a good job of explaining what it takes to qualify for different types of business financing.
  • 75 percent of business owners admit they don’t know all their financing options.
  • 66 percent of business owners don’t have a strong understanding of how business credit is calculated and how lenders use it to deny or approve financing applications.

Let me debunk some of the most common business financing misconceptions I hear from small business owners.

Myth: The SBA gives business loans.

Reality: The SBA does not make direct loans. They do, however, guarantee loans through a variety of financing sources including banks, credit unions and non-bank lenders. The SBA guarantees a portion of the loan to lessen the risk to lenders and make them more likely to lend to small companies.

Myth: If the banks turn me down, I’m out of luck.

Reality: Banks are only one financing source that’s open to small businesses. Other lending sources may include community-based microloans, alternative financing methods such as merchant cash advances or factoring, credit unions or crowdfunding. The best option for you depends on a variety of factors, including how much money you need, how long you’ve been in business, your business credit history and how fast you need the money.

Myth: If I don’t have good business credit, there’s no way I’ll get a loan.

Reality: Your business credit score is important, sure. But it’s easier than it used to be to find financing with a less-than-perfect credit score. In the wake of the Great Recession, when banks tightened the purse strings, a variety of alternative lenders sprang up to help small businesses find the capital they needed. You may pay more for your financing if your credit isn’t stellar—that’s just how it works. But you’re not necessarily out of the running.

The study also reports that 87 percent of business owners haven’t found a resource that explains how to qualify for financing. To help in that regard, OnDeck is partnering with SCORE to provide education about financing. They’ve also created a website, BusinessLoans.com, to educate entrepreneurs about their options.

Of course, one of the best resources around for financing education and assistance is your SCORE mentor. Your mentor can assess your needs, explain your options, help you prepare your application and even connect you with financing sources in your community. Visit KitsapSCORE.org to learn more and get matched with a mentor today.

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship.

What’s more important to business strategy, predicting change or the lack of change?

Jeff Bezos as quoted by Bill Gurley:

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

Read more on VentureBeat…

Should my new company have co-founders?

From the Kauffman Founders School…

Once a decision is made to found a company, one of the first and most important decisions concerns whether to “go solo” or to form a founding team. There are good reasons to form a team, but it is essential to address the question: with whom should I found? Read more.

Ask SCORE: What’s the key to having a good business plan?

A: Embrace the process, not just the plan. 

by Ken Sethney, Kitsap SCORE

Strategic planning isn’t just an option for small businesses today; it’s essential. Given the uncertain direction of some trends and the rapid pace of change in others, every small business needs some kind of roadmap by which to navigate these shifting environment and the right metrics to accurately gauge progress towards business goals.

But while most small businesses know they have to plan, few know how to do it correctly.

Writing in American Express OPEN Forum, management consultant Les McKeown says that while he’s seen virtually every type of strategic planning process, “many times, those involved in the process place too much importance in the resulting plans, and far too little in the planning process itself.” McKeown, president and CEO of Predictable Success, explains that the point of planning is “to develop an understanding of what’s likely to happen in the future and to be fully prepared for most circumstances.”  Continue reading