Creating a Business Plan for Your Small Business – Steps to Success – Maine SBDC

Business Planning, Financing, Marketing, and Financial Analysis. What entrepreneurs need to know to start or grow their business. This is Steps to Success, from the Maine Small Business Development Centers. Adam Copp had big plans to expand Howell’s Gun Shop in Gray, and by big, I mean double in size. Adam approached a local credit union for financing,
and that credit union directed Adam to me. Working together, here’s what we did. Adam’s plan to grow Howell’s included adding
a twelve thousand square foot indoor range, expanding the retail store, plus he added
a training facility. The construction blueprints looked impressive, but Adam also needed an impressive business blueprint, a business and marketing plan to sell the lender on the concept. That was some key homework Brad had me do, visiting other ranges. I visited 37 other ranges around the country
trying to project accurately range usage, ammunition usage, shared lane usage, and special
event usage. I lead Adam through some key steps in his
business planning process. First, know where you’re going and how you’ll
measure to get there. Every business must clearly establish goals. And, set some times or benchmarks for when
you expect to meet those goals. Many people write an entire plan to get financing,
but that’s just a means to an end. Instead, they need to focus on developing
their business goals, and where your financing will take you. All the while, keep in mind how you’ll know
when you get there. Next, I challenged Adam to study the feasibility
of his idea’s, and to do his marketing research. A good business idea is only as good an idea if you achieve a level of profit that you can live with. Study the marketplace and the competition. How many competitors are out there, and are
they successful? Determine if the market is large enough so
you can grab a fair and profitable share. That’s essential. Once you know where you’re going, you can
determine if you can get there. Now, Adam needed to determine what he’d sell,
and to whom. He had to profile his typical customer, and determine exactly what products and services he’d sell them. He needed to carefully set his prices, and
decide how he’d tell his customers he’s open for business, and that he has what they want. Also, consider how customers will access what you have to sell, perhaps through a retail shop, or an online store. Plus, decide on what will make your business
unique. What product or service do you offer that
is different from your competition, and meaningful to your customers, so that they’ll buy from
you, again and again. Another key step was for Adam to clarify his financing needs, and to pinpoint where that money would come from. Determining startup or expansion costs requires
continual planning and research. How much working capital do you need to cover
the cost of starting up, or expanding? How long before you can cover these costs from sales? This requires some tough financial considerations. You add the total you need for your project, including working capital, you determine how much you can contribute, and you assume you must borrow the balance. Then, you have to figure the debt service,
how much you’ll need each month in revenues to repay the principle in interest. Finally, a critical step in the planning process was to run the numbers before you spend any money. Projecting how your business will perform
financially greatly reduces your risk, and it saves you money. First, you project your cash flow. This will help you understand how money comes in, and if you’ll have enough to pay your bills. This will help you to determine if you can
afford to do what you’ve set out to do, before you spend any money. With 10 months of planning, realistic projections,
and a detailed business and marketing plan, I sent Adam back to the credit union, where
he obtained the financing totaling more than 2.7 million dollars. 7 months later, Adam opened his new facility. Today, Howell’s offers indoor ranges, private
classrooms, a variety of firearms, gun safes, plus archery products. We were big before. We’ve got double what we had in selection,
manufacturing, brands, colors, fit, feel, finish, because that’s what customers want. We’ve had multiple bachelor parties, bachelorette
parties, we’ve got our members league, our lady’s night. We had yoga with guns a few nights ago. It’s been great. Everyday, we’re excited to help business owners and entrepreneurs plan, prepare, and achieve their goals. Maine Small Business Development Centers, helping small businesses like yours succeed. Professional. Confidential. Free. Online at

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