One of the items on our checklist as we started out on our small bakery business idea was to create a business plan. Seems easy enough, right? Right. Well... ... not really. We knew that businesses often create business plans, but we didn't really know why or how to to do it.
A business plan is not completely necessary. That is, it isn't illegal to start and run a business without one. But in our case, it has come in very handy as far as organizing our thoughts. Also, the fact that we need to get a loan to cover our start-up expenses means that we need to have something to present a bank with outside of the fact that we just really want to own our own bakery because we think it will be fun. They want numbers (of course they do!) They want to know that they will get their money back. It's an investment for them as well.
Looking online at the Small Business Administration website gave us a good start to understanding what a business plan entails. It describes the business plan and its purpose and it outlines what needs to be included. Even with this universal resource, eventually we came to realize that we needed some guidance. There are parts of the business plan that we were able to do on our own, and that made us think deeper about who we wanted to be as a business. We initially created a market analysis, company description and a product line, as well as our business philosophy. However, we got stumped on financial projections. Neither of us are accountants. What the heck is a break even analysis?! We asked our accountant who gave some good insight but as far as coming up with all of the actual numbers (projected fixed expenses, opening expenses, marketing expenses, costs of goods, projected production numbers, and on and on) we were at a loss and to be honest, we were completely overwhelmed with this task.
A friend of Trilety's, as well as my mom, suggested we talk to someone at the Nebraska Business Development Center. Located in Mammel Hall (College of Business Administration) on UNO's south campus, the NBDC and its staff have been our business plan saviors! We first registered online and then set up an appointment with a business counselor who helped us reorganize and complete our business plan. We had most of the writing done already but needed major help with our financial projections (as mentioned before). Its been about eight months and we have completed a solid business plan. Wow it feels fantastic! Fantastic!!!!
If you are thinking about starting a small business of any kind, or are in the process, this is such a good resource. I should also mentions that they have many more services than business plan development. The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) also offers business counseling services for web development, exit planning, energy efficiency, business valuation and transfer, to name a few. They also offer workshops in business development, business analysis, project management, government contracting, and government contracting.
As you may have come to realize, this post is an official recommendation. These birds give the NBDC five stars, two thumbs up, and partridge in a pear tree!