Souky Souky

Step Five: Write a Business Plan

Starting a BusinessEllen Dittmar

Good job! Look at you! You have already accomplished so much! You have a dream, a name and a website. That is huge! Pour yourself a glass of wine...you have earned it! But don't get too comfortable (or drunk). You have some serious work to do. Now, you need a plan. 

This is the part of this series where I very politely remind you that I am NOT a business expert. I have started exactly one business and written one business plan. And even calling it a "plan" feels a bit like a farce. It is a word document. A word document that I have edited about 15 million times and probably will continue to edit as my business grows and changes. While it is not fancy or super official, this creating this plan has been an essential part of the process.

Starting a business is a journey. It makes sense that you would need a map. And while you might not want (or need) to outline the exact route you are going to take to get to from Point A to Point B, it is helpful to know the general direction you are going to head in. Sure you could wing it and just start driving. That would be TRULY adventurous. But it would also be truly risky. You would need to be very open to the many possible outcomes of your spontaneity. You would have to be prepared to end up in blistery North Dakota in the dead of winter even if you packed for the dry desert climate of Arizona.

So how do you write a business plan? What do you need to include? Where do you start?

These are all obvious and valid questions. Unfortunately, I am the opposite of an expert on the subject. It would honestly be irresponsible for me to tell you exactly what to do. What I can tell you is what I did to write mine. I consulted an expert in the field. And by "consulted an expert" I mean that I read a book. In Christy Wright's book titled Business Boutique, she outlines the whole process of writing a business plan and she explains it in such a way that makes the process less overwhelming. I literally just worked through the steps she outlined in her book and voila....I had a business plan!

I am not going lie...it wasn't quite that simple but it was a very useful tool to help guide the process along. She uses a tiered cake as a metaphor for how to write your plan. Below you will find the summarized steps but don't skip reading the actual book. The book is so much more detailed (and no, I am not getting paid to say this!) and helpful!

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I am sure you could find a million different resources out there to use for guiding you in business plan making 101. Do your homework and find the resource that best fits you and your business. But I will say that Christy's book is especially great for women who want to start a small businesses in creative fields. This is her niche. Plus, she is from Tennessee so, if you get the audio-book, you have the added bonus of listening to the calming sounds of her sweet southern accent.

Whatever you do...don't give up! Don't let a pesky business plan stand in the way of you and your dreams! Now, open up that word doc and get typing!