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It’s Time To Plan During National Write A Business Plan Month

It’s Time To Plan During National Write A Business Plan Month

December is National Write a Business Plan month, which is the perfect time as we prepare for the start of a new year. A business plan is the first step in turning a business idea into a reality. A proper business plan can help acquire funding and give your business a better chance at succeeding.

Writing a business plan is the initial and most important aspect of any business. No business begins or holds ongoing relevance without one. It serves as a roadmap to the activities of a business — its goals and objectives, the resources needed, and more.

According to data from the Census Bureau, there are over 3 million Black-owned businesses in the United States. Nearly 135,000 of those are Black-owned employer firms.

The Small Business Administration reports there are over 500,000 new entrepreneurs each year, with about 70 percent of those by immigrants, minorities, or women. Starting a business as a minority or woman is even more important to plan, research, set goals, and gather thoughts. With the barriers that Black, Latino, women, and other minority-disadvantaged businesses face when it comes to applying for funds, it is always better to be overprepared.

When I was growing up, the narrative that was pushed was to have a “good job.” It seemed to be the pinnacle of most people’s existence, and being an entrepreneur was out of reach. Obtaining and keeping a “good job” meant security and a stable livelihood to take care of your family.

Looking at entrepreneurship through my adult lens now, I see it as something responsible for innovations that have transformed our lives. Black entrepreneurship and innovation have historically provided a pathway to wealth creation, even in the face of discrimination, violence, and the destruction of Black property.

Black families have relied on innovative business ideas to build wealth and strengthen their communities. We can look back to after Civil War when Black entrepreneurship continued to flourish, despite Jim Crow laws. Since white businesses would not serve Black customers, Black people founded their own businesses without access to capital. These businesses created a safe space where Black pride could expand. One of the greatest examples is Black Wall Street, the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In those days, business plans may not have been high-level or as detailed as they can be now. The point, however, is to get something in writing to ensure you think about your idea, business, market potential, product or service, goals, competitors, and more. The Small Business Administration reports that entrepreneurs with business plans, particularly minorities and women, will help a new business be successful. In fact, about 50 percent of businesses fail within the first five years. Those with a business plan have a failure rate of only 30 percent.

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Black women entrepreneurs are the fastest growing but among the lowest funded and lowest earning groups of entrepreneurs in the country. They need more coaching, training, and services to help them build scalable businesses and have access to the capital they need to play big.

Fueling Black business growth is more than just providing capital. It requires leaders in financial institutions and investors to align and collaborate toward a clear set of goals, which address systemic barriers.

Speaking from personal experience, writing a business plan takes time. However, keeping in mind that it will serve as a brief outline of how you plan to start up, run and grow your business, it will not be overwhelming. There really is no expectation that you can forecast every possible scenario. However, the business plan helps you to truly flesh out your business concept and effectively let banks know that you understand your industry, customers, and most importantly, numbers well enough to make a profit. So, start with your target market, competition, and financials.

If the traditional business plan seems overwhelming and time-consuming, the lean start-up plan has become popular in recent years. These one-page plans still include many of the same elements, but allow you to simplify your business concept and summarize these areas in a much more manageable format. They can also serve as a starting point to complete a full business plan when you’re more comfortable, or if your expected business structure and financing will be simple.

How to observe #WriteABusinessPlanMonth

If you’re considering starting a business, create your own business plan. Post a status on social media to let everyone know what you’re working on so they can support your business, and inspire others to write their own plan. If you’re not sure what to include, here is the framework to get started:

  1. Executive Summary. This shows your business plan in its entirety, including your business’s profile, mission, and how you plan to get there.
  2. Market Analysis. This involves in-depth research on the industry of your business.
  3. Company Description. This should offer information about what your company does, and what differentiates you.
  4. Organization. Discuss who is in charge, and any employees.
  5. Marketing and Sales. How do you plan to promote your business and make sales?
  6. Services and/or Products. In detail, talk about what you’re selling or what services you offer.
  7. Funding. If you need assistance with funding your business or products, mention how you plan to access those funds.
  8. Projections. Provide financial projections for 3-5 years. How much do you plan to spend, earn, and what do you expect profits to be.
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