Writing a business plan for a start-up is a crucial step in the process of starting a business. It is a way to organize your thoughts and answer tough questions to prepare you for the exciting path of business ownership. I wrote my first business plan to get funding for Fanelli’s Finest, my family’s lasagna sauce company. The dream had been there, the outrageously good lasagna sauce recipe had been there, but nothing happened until I went through the process of writing the plan.
Writing for the Amarillo EnterPrize Challenge presents some opportunities and challenges for a start-up company. Principally, it puts you in touch with the talented and driven coaches at the WTAMU Enterprise Center. Take advantage of the seminars and one-on-one coaching that comes with the challenge, it can be more valuable than the cash prize. Another opportunity the challenge presents is going through the processes in the workbook, it organizes your thoughts into a paper that investors can read with information they want to know. Finally, answering questions in the workbook takes you deeper into your business by compelling you to do more research and talk to more people in your field.
The unique challenges of writing a business plan for a start-up most often present themselves in the financial plan. Start-ups are dealing with unknowns when it comes to sales and revenue forecasts. The coaches will repeatedly tell you not to pull those numbers from the air. The answers will lie in the research that you do. For Fanelli’s Finest, it was talking to the buyer at United Supermarkets and getting his take on what we could sell.
Since winning the 2012 Amarillo EnterPrize Challenge, I have watched the business plan take shape into a real business moving in the Amarillo economy. I look at Fanelli’s Finest and how it has grown and how it doesn’t completely match up with our original plan. A few processes went easier and faster than we imagined. Reverse that thought for all else. Of course, a business plan is not a static thing and we must continue to organize our business as we learn to move and grow in the real world.
Best of luck to all of the EnterPrize Challenge entrants this year. I can’t wait to hear about your successes!