How To Develop a Business Plan



Writing a business plan can be a daunting task. Just like anything else in life, a plan is an essential tool for success. We have all witnessed an under capitalized business shutter up soon after opening. A business plan should tell a compelling story about what you do and why consumers would want to buy your service or product. A good plan is a living document that shows viability and growth and should be updated on regular basis. There are multiple websites and templates on the internet that help organize the process. In addition, the Small Business Association (SBA) offers some good resources to guide you through your journey.

There are various types of  business plans used for different stages of growth. Stages include; start-ups, post launch, line of credit needs and expansion & growth. Determine what stage of your business lifecycle you are facing and tailor your plan accordingly. Consider the audience, are you looking for investors, partners, stakeholders or a line of credit?  Regardless of your lifecycle, a business plan sets you up for success.  

Business Plans should answer a litany of what, who, why and how questions:

  • What is the problem that your business is solving?
  • Why do consumers want your product or service?  
  • What are your key features?
  • How much capital is required?
  • What challenges could impede growth?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

 These questions should be answered in sections and clearly articulated for the reader to understand and process. Whether looking for capital or seed money,  defining business objectives and goals in a logical and disciplined way will make the difference between success and failure.  There are several standard sections that must be included, the outline provided illustrates a framework to get started. 

The business plan framework is very simple, and outline in this graphic:

The Final Steps:

8. Funding

Why should a bank or investor help you? How much do you need? When will you be able to pay it back? What is the investor going to get out of the deal?

Key Inclusions & FAQ’s

  • How long will the cash or requested funding you receive last? What will it cover in terms  of growth. What type of funding are you requesting? Debt, Equity, Angel?

9. Appendix

This is an as needed section but you should have it organized in case a lender asks.  

Key Inclusions & FAQ’s

  • Include legal paperwork, letters of reference, customer testimonials, permits, contracts, leases, attorneys, accountants and your business manager.

Now that the framework is in place, start writing and don’t stop until the plan is done. When presenting to investors tell a story that sells your business idea simply and succinctly.  Describe how you make money and what the best thing about your product or service is. The foundation you establish today will be rewarded tomorrow.


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Graduation is a Right Of Passage, No Matter What Your Age

Graduation is a Right Of Passage, No Matter What Your Age

By: Jodi Cross


This year I had the pleasure of attending three graduations. One for each of my sister’s triplets in three different North East cities. I could feel the optimism of the graduates as they reveled in their accomplishment, the hope of a brighter future radiating on their faces. I remember my special day and all the promises of a lifetime before me that it held.

Graduations are a right of passage no matter what your age. There is something about your name being called, the walk across the stage in that cap and gown and the flipping of the tassel that signify completion. It means you are a finisher, you stuck with it, finished the job you started and all those late nights and missed family gatherings on weekends finally paid off.

This year’s graduates always have challenges; there the economy, paying off the school loans and actually securing a job. Although the speeches are very motivating, dream jobs are few and far between. When I graduated I was able to get a job in my field of study immediately. I started out in the hotel business as an entry level sales person making $17,500 a year. That was a long time ago but, I certainly didn’t think it was a lot of money or my dream job at the time. My focus at the time was getting a job in the field I studied in and getting some experience. That strategy served me well as I was able to move up steadily and make more money because I had a background that lent itself to giving me an advantage over the next person who didn’t have that experience. The other thing I had was a passion for travel which I was able to use in the hotel business.

So for all you graduates out there, here are my two cents on what Paved my way to success; 

P -Have passion in life and learn to love the journey not the destination. It is so easy to exist instead of live, think about what you are enthusiastic about and pursue that passion in your work and play.

 A-Strive to be the most authentic version of yourself that you can be.  Listen to that little voice inside of you that tells you when things are not feeling quite right, trust your GUT.

 V-Value your family and friendships. For without that support systems were would any of us be today?

 E- Education. Never stop learning even if it is through reading, traveling or schooling. They say the education of a person is never complete until they die. Here is to the class of 2014!

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