I´m still knee-deep in writing my business plan, and though it has given me a great idea of what my company is about and why the company should succeed, it has also resulted in terrifying me.
I had no idea how much went into the process of writing a business plan. In my mind, I thought that I would sit down and, in a few days, have a completed plan to take to the bank. Then I began viewing sample plans http://www.bplans.com/sp/businessplans.cfm and what I thought would take a few days has turned into a few weeks and I´m still nowhere near the end.
For one thing, while I know that my business has its own niche in the diaper bag and accessory industry, I had no idea how difficult it would be to write that out on paper. In the plan I must show why my business will succeed although there are many other diaper bag companies already on the market, some with proven track records and a great customer base. To say it will succeed because it is a great idea is not enough; I must show, step by step, why it will succeed along with or above the others.
Secondly, a lot of research has to be done before you even begin to write. You must have a breakdown of all the costs associated with starting and running the business. While I have been keeping these in a spreadsheet, I didn´t factor in one major startup cost: advertising. I knew that I would need to advertise, but I guess I thought that I would throw up the website and boom, people would come, and once they started buying I would invest some of the profit into advertising. Realistically, people will not come UNTIL I advertise. Suddenly, a new expense has been added.
Luckily I´ve found several baby expos that will be taking place in or after April. Most are located in the Southern California region, while another is in Oregon. So, if I procure a small business loan I can use part of that money to attend a trade show, which to me might make mores sense than sinking money into print advertising in the beginning. With a trade show my products will be on display to thousands of mothers-to-be, many of who might not have yet purchased a diaper bag or baby accessories. Still, while these shows are perfect for advertising products, they are not cheap. The booth I´m considering costs $600, and this doesn´t include travel expenses, food, or accommodations.
Then there is the fact that I have to show how the market is going in my business area. What are sales like for baby bags and accessories? How many women become pregnant in a year? I haven´t done this research yet, as I didn´t know that I would need it for the business plan. I know that diaper bags and accessories are a hot item right now, at least in the area in which I live. I have seen some very popular, fashionable bags springing up all over, so I know that people are buying them. Yet I don´t have hard statistics to stand behind this, and observation just isn´t good enough when you need a small business loan.
Here are some additional resources I´ve found helpful while writing my plan: