Business plan important for small businesses

Published 12:59 pm Monday, October 3, 2011

By WAYNE CURTIS / Community Columnist

Small businesses are the driving force — the engine of growth — of the American economy. They are responsible for the majority of new jobs created in this country.

To survive, small businesses need credit to grow and generate jobs. If you are a small business owner or interested in starting a business, there are several things you need to do get the financial support you need to make the business successful.

Perhaps the most important element in securing finance is a well-developed business plan. A business plan is essential for both start-up and established businesses.

And without such a document, most loan officers will not consider lending to you.

A business plan serves as a guide to your business. As such, it can help keep your business on track. And you should refer to it often to make important business decisions.

As your business grows, you should periodically evaluate your plan for additional sources of income and more new markets.

Keep in mind that a business plan is a flexible document that should be adjusted as necessary.

What should be included in a business plan? Your plan should begin with a succinct statement of the purpose of the business.

This should explain how your business will work and why it will be successful.

It should also include sections devoted your target customers, current or future competition for your product or service, marketing strategy, qualifications of the key management personnel and a detailed financial plan.

The latter should provide projected financial statements to include income and cash flow estimates for a minimum of three years. Many readers are probably daunted at the prospects of having to develop a business plan. The process, however, is really not that challenging. You have a number of options for developing a plan.

These include writing it yourself, using software that is readily available or hiring a professional writer.

Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., is on the board of directors of First United Security Bank.  He may be contacted at