Starting a new business is both scary and exciting. When you are starting a new business, you need to define what your business is - what you will be selling and to whom you will be selling your product or service. Writing down a business plan (and writing it down is the crucial step) forces you to think through different aspects of starting and running your business. The business plan templates require you to answer different questions - who are the owners and what is their business background. What do the owners bring as strengths to the business? You can also use this opportunity to evaluate everyone's weaknesses so that you know whether all of the owners have different and complementary strengths and weaknesses (this is the best set-up if you can find business partners who have strengths and experience that is different from yours). Or you may discover that you are both good at marketing and you both hate and are bad with numbers. This means that you may need to hire a bookkeeper. If you are already in business, writing down your strengths and weaknesses and those of your partners and employees will focus on what areas of expertise you need to develop, using your existing personnel or by hiring new employees. Completing a pro forma income and expense statement (if you are a new business) will expose how much money you need to pay for your business expenses and how much income you will need to pay those expenses. One of those expenses will be salary and other compensation. Staring at real numbers makes the decisions you need to make more concrete. If you need $5,000 per month to pay your expenses, you need to sell at least $5,000 worth of product or your services each month. You learn that you cannot cut your prices for very long to get market share before you must start charging enough to stay in business. If you are discounting all the time, you are not serious about your business. If your expenses are exceeding your estimates, it becomes easy to track where the overages are. Writing down your plan for your marketing gives you benchmarks that you and your staff can use. Will you use social media, networking, advertising, publicity or other means to let the world know about your business? How many tweets, how many networking events, how many lunches with referral sources will you or your marketers do each week? The more precise you write your business plan, the easier it is to track what you doing and where you are coming up short. Does your business plan include plans to grow? Do you have ideas for expansion, either with your services or a new product? Does your plan include how you will physically expand if you need to hire employees? Will your current office space permit you to add new hires? How much will larger space cost you and how much will a new employee cost you? All of these decisions should be in your business plan. Do you need investors? How will they be able to make a decision about giving or loaning you money if you don't have a written business plan to show them how you intend to use their money? Your business plan is not written in stone. Along the way you will make changes to reflect what works and what doesn't work. You may also change your strategy about how to grow your business. But, a written business plan is one that you can refer to over and over again when your business isn't succeeding the way you want it to. And it will be the roadmap for even bigger success. Your business plan doesn't have to be a huge document. But, it should be long enough so that you can show others the money you expect to make and the actions you will take to earn that income. As you become established and the business grows, you want to show your business plan to your employees so that everyone is on the same page as to goals. They can't share your vision if they don't know what it is and how you intend to get there. Contact Robin Gronsky at Rgronsky@Gronskylaw.com to find out how she can help you solve your new or existing legal business problems.
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