Over the last ten years I have helped literally thousands of people start a small business. Some of the people I have helped have been students taking my classes at Dakota County Technical College. Some have been clients of the SBDC (Small Business Development Center), and some have taken my one day course on starting a business called The Foundation Course. In addition to the people who take classes for me and are clients with the SBDC, eight months ago I started doing a free seminar at Work Force centers on starting a successful small business. In just over eight months I have spoken to over 1300 out of work people, and have tried to give them the hope that starting a new business gives. It doesn’t matter if I am in the classroom, doing individual counseling, or doing a talk on starting a business, my best advice is always the same. If you want to start a new business AND you want to give that business the best chance at succeeding, then the one single best piece of advice I can give you is……
CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN BEFORE YOU START!
So why is business planning so important. Creating a business plan (notice I don’t say write a business plan, see principle #3 of the 21 Question Business Plan™) is critical because going through the business planning process does three important things that will help your new business succeed:
#1: Going through the business plan process verifies that the business you want to start will meet your goals! Everyone starting a business should start with a goal for the business. The business planning process tells you very clearly if the new business will meet your goals. If it does, great go ahead and start the business. If it doesn’t, shelve that business idea and start another!
#2: Doing a business plan before you start your business will show you areas that need work so you can deal with these areas before you start! There are a lot of areas of a new business that need focus. No one person is good at everything. Going through the business planning process will show you the areas where you are the weakest. These weak areas might also make the business vulnerable to failure. Discovering these areas before you start gives you a great opportunity to work on them and strengthen them so the new business launch will be successful.
#3: Going through the business planning process helps you make a rock solid decision that you are starting the right business for you! If you are starting a business you can’t start if half-heartedly! You have to start your business with a 100% commitment and a 100% desire to succeed. Creating a plan before you start will either give you 100% confidence in your decision, or it will cause doubt in your decision. If after doing a plan, you have doubts, than deal with the doubts before you start! If your decision is now rock solid, then start your business and don’t look back!
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