Are you thinking about starting a small business in Hazelwood? The city is already home to more than 1,000 successful businesses, and its proximity to Lambert St. Louis International Airport and major highways makes it ideal place to start a business venture, according to David Cox, economic developer for the City of Hazelwood.
Cox said it's important to write your business plan early in the process.
"I see a lot of projects where there is no plan until late and it’s harder to start the business," he said.
Let’s get planning!
If you’re considering opening a business in Hazelwood, we hope you’re following our small business series. So far, we’ve covered the concept phase of starting your own business, including tips on choosing an original business idea and inside information on buying a franchise.
Once you’ve decided what your business you'd like to open, it’s time to bring the concept into reality. The first step on that journey is to create a business plan, which can be simply defined as a written description of the steps you’ll take to launch and build your business.
Casaundra Bronner, owner of Hazelwood-based Conversation Pieces, said that it’s important for your business’ long-term success that you pay close attention to the details when you’re putting together your business plan.
“Going through the process helps you make important decisions about your business and determine what is needed to give your business longevity,” she said.
Why do I need a business plan?
A business plan can serve you in a number of ways. If you’re seeking investors to help fund your business, you’ll need a well-written business plan to show your potential investors your vision. And a business plan serves as a blueprint for your business, giving you a clearer understanding of how to manage your company.
Monica Black, owner of Etiquette Inclusion, said that every potential business owner needs to have a business plan.
“It's a good tool to have when presenting to sponsors,” Black said. “Yes, all small businesses need all the financial support they can get.”
She said that your business plan can also become a branding opportunity for the sponsor.
“This could be via a logo highlighted on your website or print materials, for example,” she said. “Tell sponsors it'll increase market share.”
Bronner agreed with Black that a business plan could also be helpful for potential investors and creditors.
“I personally think it can help them to see your business’s potential for future growth,” Bronner said. “It is your opportunity to thoroughly explain your vision to others to see just as clearly as you do.”
What do I need to include in a business plan?
A good business plan will outline your business goals and strategies. It will also help you to anticipate potential issues that may come up and give you time and space to plan solutions ahead of time. It will outline the organizational structure, including responsibilities and the amount of money you’ll need to finance the business until it becomes self-sufficient.
You’ll start with a cover and a title page. Once you’ve finished writing the business plan, you’ll add a table of contents. The core components of the business plan include the business concept, the marketplace description and analysis and the financial breakdown.
Cox said it's important to pay close attention to the financing portion of the business plan.
"Many projects seek funds from numerous sources, and often it takes longer than anticipated to get approvals," he said. "SBA has been slow with approvals as of late, so the plan should include a realistic timeline for having any loans or other debt financing in place."
We've only provided a very high-level overview, of course, and each section will be broken down further in your plan. Depending on the nature and size of your business and your funding requirements, your business plan may be anywhere from a single page to more than 100 pages.
Get Help Writing Your Business Plan
The following resources offer in-depth assistance with writing business plans.
- City of Hazelwood Economic Development Department—Led by David Cox, the office of economic development offers support for local businesses, including advice on writing business plans.
- Northwest Chamber of Commerce—As a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you’ll have direct access to your fellow business owners, many of whom will be happy to help you figure out the details of your business plan, among many other benefits.
- Greater North County Chamber of Commerce—The Greater North County Chamber of Commerce believes that by uniting together, the group has stands a “better chance of getting things done.” As with the Northwest Chamber, this group’s members can be a strong resource for a new business owner seeking guidance.
- Missouri Business Portal—This website acts as a portal for business registration, filings, licenses and permits in the state of Missouri. It also offers a wide variety of resources, including a detailed guide to writing a business plan.
- SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)—This St. Louis-based organization offers free, confidential business counseling, as well as workshops and seminars for start-up entrepreneurs and existing businesses. The SCORE Business Plan Template is a free 31-page document that offers both a template and detailed instructions for filling it out.
- Small Business Association: Writing a Business Plan—This section includes a detailed account of the essential elements required for a good business plan, tips on making your business plan stand out, free templates for writing a business plan and a thorough explanation of why you need one.
- Small Business Administration: How to Write a Business Plan—SBA also has a free online training course on writing business plans. It is a self-paced course that offers step by step information on starting and managing a business.
Have you always dreamed of starting your own business? Subscribe to our daily newsletter so you won’t miss a single part of this ongoing series! Next week, we’ll share tips and resources for finding free and low-cost classes and business training for business owners.