The only thing that comes first when wanting to open a small business is the business plan. Every mentor will tell you, including myself, that it’s a living, breathing entity, and will encourage you to embrace and indulge that.
Kathleen and I liked www.enloop.com. For about $20 a month, you get fool-proof setup and organization. Its literally click and type. It generates reports, allows for the input of your own reports, charts, photos, etc. The file can then be saved, printed, emailed, etc. For less editing options, basic enloop is free, and we did use that for the first few months before upgrading. (If paying, save all your invoices!)
Your business plan becomes your world. You’ll think about it and tweak it constantly as you fill in the blanks. And we truly did just that – full in the blanks. Although the plan is the first step, there’s no first step in constructing the plan. We divided the topics up by our strengths and set to work filling in what we knew. When we didn’t know something, we went out to investigate. That included chatting with peers that already had businesses in the same area and/or niche. I was surprised at how many people wanted to help – everyone wanted to help! We even have mock profit and loss statements from one retailer and we structured our own around that! Other info includes getting realistic quotes from the state and city ‘re licensing, permits, inspections, insurance companies, etc. But the most important thing to remember is that the plan is MEANT for editing. Some of these numbers aren’t concrete as maybe you don’t have the exact retail location, etc. And you certainly don’t know exactly what you’ll spend on utilities! But as you come across more actuate info, you plug it in.
The business plan is only a guess – an honest aerial view based on great research.
And if you’re already starting to feel like there’s a hundred planes flying above your head at once and you can’t quite configure them in order of 1 to 100, you’re doing it right.
My business partner and I both agree that the biggest thing we learned from the first few months is how to trust self and move forward even though there’s no solid ground. If you ever needed practice in letting go, digging in, and just doing, this is it. Although I never felt I was particularly bad at charging through uncharted waters, this experience has awakened and heightened all my fears – and therefore awakened and heightened all my personal successes as we forged ahead.
Take it one day at a time and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Its like a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the sky – maybe you just start with the corners, then the outside edge, then you slowly start to plug away at the image, itself.