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No two business plans look alike—nor should they. While many small businesses launch without a plan in sight, if you are bent on seeking funding, whether from a bank, angel or venture capitalist, you’ll need a business plan.
This task can be agonizing to some entrepreneurs—who fancy discussions about the big picture—and liberating for others—who spend too many wakeful nights counting sheep. To grow and survive, strategic thinking is essential.
In just 60-seconds, we’ll show you how to plan for your business’s future without over planning yourself out of existence.
0:60 Think Before You Act
In the reactionary, frenetic pace of entrepreneurs, doing is usually much more important than thinking. Taking weeks or months researching and reflecting on your business idea will help you face some tough questions—ones often overlooked amid all that doing. This means gathering data, evaluating your concept, assessing the market for your product or service and studying the competition. If you’re thinking about outsourcing these tasks, stop right there. It’s best to do it yourself.
0:43 Get Help from Others
Involve your management team (if you’re an existing business owner), professional consultants, other small business owners and anyone you trust enough to take a look at your plan. And, don’t forget to Ask SCORE for help. Some of the best and most unexpected ideas come from discussing your plans with others.
0:38 Get Personal
There is no one template to follow when creating your business plan. While many entrepreneurs start with a software package or template to cover the basics, be sure the plan works for you and meets your needs. But there are a few rules you should follow—be clear, concise and brief. Your plan should not be more than 25 pages.
0:23 Present Facts & Evidence
It’s crucial that your financial projections and sales estimates are based on thoughtful research and evidence. A potential funder will see right though it if you are padding the numbers. So make sure you can back up your assertions. Avoid using jargon and don’t make unverifiable statements—they will be challenged. Disclose any bad news yourself, rather than risk an investor finding out on their own.
0:11 Make the Plan an Oral Presentation
Be sure to structure your business plan to make it easy to present the information to potential investors or lenders. It may be helpful to consult with your intended audience as the planning process moves along. Listen carefully to their advice, so that when the time comes you’ll make an informed presentation.
If your intent is to get started "one day" on writing your fun center business plan, good for you. And you don't need to start from scratch - because many have gone where you are going and you can pull from their FEC experience.
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"I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to chat with me. This was a very valuable conversation as it gave me a whole lot more to think about. Although I have done some research, our conversation opened my eyes to things I was unaware of. From lease negotiation and startup costs to a much better understanding of what and how our local community and area demographics play into our fun center planning. Time well spent and I would recommend others who are researching their startup, give your office a call. You were extremely selfless with information and provided an encouraging view based in Reality. Thank you."
"Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, we really appreciate your time and insight. We had some idea of project scope, but had no idea about all the minutia and details to consider for startup location and our funding. After speaking with you, we came to the realization that ultimately the project we were considering is more of our time than we can commit to, and would not have discovered this reality until much further along. Thanks for helping us determine our path forward."
"This was by far the best thing I have done for my fun center startup. You provided such great and unbiased information, some of which I did not want to hear, but so glad that I did. I now have the focus of mind to proceed with a lot more confidence and direction. I just want to say again, thank you for sharing these insights and your experience."
"I wanted to say thanks again for all of your time in answering my many questions, and helping to make me better understand the steps needed to see our dream of a family entertainment center business in reality. For the first time in this journey I understand how and why to prepare our plan for funders, and how to match my own abilities and financial resources to accomplish my goal. And yes, I would recommend others do take advantage of this service, I can’t imagine to find this much experience and honest at any price, none the less for free. Thank you."
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On the web since 1999, the FEC Network is the online amusement business resource for startups, owners, operators and suppliers.