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Tony S
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I'm currently writing a business plan (to help keep myself on the right track). I'm curious to find out if anyone else has done this. If so, did you use any specific software package that you would either recommend or not. Thanks for your replies.

Tony
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.



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George Ledo
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I looked at several software packages a few years ago in connection with starting a small non-magic business, and found that they "requested" so much overly-detailed information that I got totally bogged down. It's almost as if doing a business plan was supposed to be an end in itself rather than a means to an end. When I met with the local Chamber of Commerce business start-up people to discuss my business, they chuckled when I mentioned the software packages and said something to the effect of "you don't need a program to do your business plan." Then they gave me some of their own material, which was very useful and to the point.

To be fair about it, the programs I looked at seemed to be geared towards manufacturing businesses, which have numerous variables that small service businesses don't have. But the ad copy on the box doesn't tell you that.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a lot of material on starting a business, including a brochure on how to do a business plan. The local library has lots also, and so does the Chamber of Commerce, which is a great place to meet people and network. Local adult-ed programs often have one-night courses on starting a business.

Good luck!
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Tony S
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Thanks for the feedback. I'll definitely pursue some of those other sources.
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.



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George Ledo
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You're welcome.

Oh, yeah, sorry... you asked for names of specific packages. I believe the one I got bogged down on was "Business Plan Writer" or "Business Plan Writer Deluxe."

Although some parts of it were good (the sections on discussing your competitors, your competitive advantage, and your pricing strategy really made you think), I found myself skipping a lot of the other stuff because it just didn't apply to my particular business, or because I couldn't "fill in the forms" the way they were set up in the program.

I'd be curious as to what others here think, or what they've used.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Tony S
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Thanks again. I too would be interested in hearing what other people have to say about this.
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.



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Jim Snack
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You don't need a software program, but you do need a clear vision for your business, and solid strategies. Also a sharp pencil, a yellow legal pad, and a few days of quiet time to think.

For some good samples of simmple one page business plans check out:

http://www.onepagebusinessplan.com/index2.html
Jim Snack

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Tony S
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There are some interesting ideas on the link you sent, Jim. I started writing my business plan over the weekend using Microsoft Word and thought I'd look into software to help with the process. It sounds like the software that is available might be good for a more complex business model. I think I'll use the website you sent along with some of George's ideas and continue to write my plan using word.

Thanks for the help!
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R2
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You can usually find retired executives at the Small Business Administration who will offer free workshops and solid business plan advice? Free, nada, el zippo!

They do in Phoenix, Tucson, and El Paso so I am quite certain that you have them near Long Island?
George Ledo
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Thanks, ReyRey. This is a good resource too. It's a national association called SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), which ties into local Chambers of Commerce. I've talked with them a number of times over the years and they've generally been helpful. The thing to remember with these guys is that they have backgrounds in different fields, so you may want to ask for somebody with experience in something like small service businesses as opposed to manufacturing or banking.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Tony S
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Thanks for some more great ideas. I'm definitely going to use this information.
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.



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TheTopBanana
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"Guerilla Marketing" by Jay Conrad Levinson shows how to write a basic bussiness/ marketing plan easily for a small business...
cloneman
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Quote:
On 2004-06-28 12:02, georgefl38 wrote:
You're welcome.

Oh, yeah, sorry... you asked for names of specific packages. I believe the one I got bogged down on was "Business Plan Writer" or "Business Plan Writer Deluxe."

Although some parts of it were good (the sections on discussing your competitors, your competitive advantage, and your pricing strategy really made you think), I found myself skipping a lot of the other stuff because it just didn't apply to my particular business, or because I couldn't "fill in the forms" the way they were set up in the program.

I'd be curious as to what others here think, or what they've used.


I’ve tried Business Plan Writer Deluxe. I agree that as a software package, it’s not great. The key, bar none, to any successful business plan is the break-even projection. This and other financials are the one thing a financier, lending bank, or investor will look at before coughing up a thin dime.

Business plans ARE an end to themselves in a way. Their function is to determine whether or not a particular business idea is a good one from a financial point of view. You have to run the numbers here first to see whether it is worth risking real world capital in a business.

Other business plan sections, like “competitors” and “marketing strategy”, while easier to approach then financials, are simply not as critical as the fiscal projections.
"Anything is possible... if you don't know what you are talking about."
Bokken
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Bear in mind that business plans can be written for different purposes as well, and how you create the plan will depend on what that purpose is. As cloneman indicated, financials are extremely important when writing the plan primarily to obtain financial backing (also as an acid test as to whether you really think the business will produce a profit).

A business plan can also be written strictly for yourself, and no-one else would even need to see it in this case. With this type of plan you are essentially writing it to clearly define in your own mind how you want the business to operate, what you short mid and long term goals are, how you intend to differentiate yourself, etc. In essence it provides a roadmap for how you intend to proceed, and can clarify in your own mind what you specific business philosophy is.

There is a definite abundance of written material on the subject of business plans...might help to pick up a book on the subject to help clarify the process for yourself Smile

Dave
Tony S
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Once again, I'd like to thank everyone for their input. My business plan is coming along nicely. I did not purchase any specialized software, I decided to continue writing it using Microsoft Word. It is really for my own use, I don't currently plan on using it to obtain financing. In it, I have outlined my target audience, my marketing strategy, several potential revenue streams, my internet strategy, and the future steps I will take to target a higher end clientelle.

Dave - you very clearly summed up my intent when you wrote 'With this type of plan you are essentially writing it to clearly define in your own mind how you want the business to operate, what you short mid and long term goals are, how you intend to differentiate yourself, etc. In essence it provides a roadmap for how you intend to proceed, and can clarify in your own mind what you specific business philosophy is.'

Tony
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.



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George Ledo
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Congrats! Sounds like you're doing really well with the business plan.

Even though this is for your own use, don't forget you still have the option to have someone at SCORE take a look at it. It's a free service and may give you some good ideas, including (possibly) some other markets or networking contacts.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Bokken
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Tony - I'm glad my two cents was of some value Smile
I have to agree with georgefl38 as well that it's a good idea to have someone read your business plan after you've completed the first draft as well (although not your competition Smile ). Oftentimes they'll have some questions that may not have occurred to you that should be addressed as well. Also don't forget that the business plan isn't just a simple exercise to be completed and left, but should be a living document that you continually refer to while running the business to help keep you on track, and should be revised as you change/refine methods etc.

Dave
Threee
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Hey, if you visit entrepreneur.com I belive that they have guides on creating business plan as well as a lot of information that you might find usefull.
Good luck with your venture.
-Threee
------------------------------------
Threee.Period
Tony S
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Dave - I think you and I are on the same wavelength. I fully intend this to be a living, evolving document as the business grows. I'm taking my time writing it to make it the best it can be right now, but I know it will change as I learn from real world experience.

I'll take your advice and have someone look at it when it's complete. I don't think it will be complete for a while though, as I'm taking the time to study and learn something about the various business disciplines
as I write it. I find that the more research I do about each topic, the better I am able to write a realistic plan.


Threee - thanks for the tip about the entrepreneur.com website. I'll look at that too.

Tony

P.S. I'll work hard to keep this out of the hands of my competition!
We are all about as successful as we choose to be.



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NJJ
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A business plan should be a evolving document that changes as you and your business change.

its a very good idea.
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