Who should write your business plan?
My husband and I recently bought a food truck for healthy cuisine on-the-go. We've done a few 'soft opens' the past few weekends at smaller venues, but have yet to go anywhere that would attract too many customers. This is mainly because we feel like we are not ready since we don't have a business plan. We are both first time entrepreneurs and have never written one. If not us, who should write our business plan?
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Eric Kaufman provided some excellent advice. You may want to obtain additional assistance, in person. I suggest you get some coaching to develop the business plan together. You can engage a professional consultant and/or you can contact SCORE (score.org) or the Small Business Administration (sba.gov) for coaching, free tools, free advice. Good luck!
Great to see that you are Up and running. Thats a big first step.
I have read most of the comments , which are fine. and Yes like the others the only person who should be putting the business plan together is "Both of you".
The main reason is that you have to own it.
I won't spend time covering the other points, that's already been done.
I just want to add a few more points for you to consider, within your plan.
1) Remember the BP is your road map. it is not a document that you just do once and put away in a draw. It should be a living document that you review, and adjust.
Some people may say that's once you have done it, that's it and it's in stone.
Things change all the time, great businesses always adapt.
2) The BP should be designed to take away the emotional side of your business. By this I mean that it is a document that is in black and white. Something that some plans fail to include is a "Exit" Strategy. They plan for the good times, but not the hard times. Great businesses plan for both, they include a savings strategy, a purchasing strategy, a countermeasures strategy, Risk analyses, including off road due to illness, or accident, even a bottom line When to consider walking away, before the business takes everything away from you. If you face this in your planning, you will also have an exit road map. So that when the emotional times come, you have already have some guidance within your plan. THis part of the plan we hope and trust will never have to be used. but at least by having it there you will be objective.
3) within the Marketing plan one should be asking:
A) What is it that I can bring that is different and or better than the others.
B) Why should my business exist.
C) You should also think from your customers perspective, and at least answer this one question that they will be thinking but may not actually say, and that is: "What's in it for me?" ONce you know that you should be telling them without actually stating it.
Good luck with your new business, you are on the right track, it is always amazing just how many new business start up and never think about putting down a business plan. Some will succeed, but many more will fail.
Like they say If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.
Rgds, George. - Melbourne Australia.
Business plans serve two primary purposes: to design a way to grow and run your business and as a means of obtaining financing. The financing business plans should be done by someone experienced in this area. The operating business plans should be written by you, the business owner.
I've seen many types of business plans, from 1 page to 30! You should be able to craft a well thought out plan in under 10 pages. Here are the areas to concentrate on:
1. A summary of your business and what you want to accomplish. Describe your business in detail and why you chose to get into this type of business.
2. Mission, vision and values. People want to know who you are and what you stand for.
3. Key goals and objectves. This is important for staying on track and focused.
4. Target market & customer profile: You must know exactly who your best customers are and what they want.
5. Product & service description.
6. Competitive envirnoment: What are your customers other choices and what separates you from them.
7. Marketing Strategy and Sales Process; Where will you spend your time promoting your business.
8. Revenue and expense projections.
9. Operating plan: How will you operate your business every day? Who's involved, what are their roles? How will you turn a profit?
10. Business development and growth sechule: What and when will you take action on that will grow your business.
Going through a process like this will uncover a myriad of things you need to consider before actually diving in. It's important to anticipate issues and opportunities before you step in them. Once you have created a first draft, give it to someone with business building experience and let them evaluate it. Then, write your final plan.
Keep your business plan with you always. It's your road map. It won't do much good sitting on a book shelf somewhere.
Whoa, hold on there! Put that key back into the ignition. You know how it feels when the engine is running. You also know now how it feels when you're paying attention to a pack of scardy cats.
You better 'grow up quickly' you'll say to your friends and young'uns when you turn your back on fear and head straight into hopefulness, fulfillment, satisfaction, smiles, and knowing you're right even if it's a close call with red ink!
When are you going to make yourself happy with you?
Forget that pack of nay-saying, hibernating bears only hungry for a growl and a choke on the flowers of life.
Now, start your engines, it's a race to your happiness, get there, now!
Greg Linn 417-520-6741
Hi Heather--I am an accountant in Chicago who works with restaurants and food trucks. Perhaps we could help each other. If you would be willing to be a "case study" I could help you set up your books and financial systems to make sure you get off on the right foot and do not run afoul of state/fed tax regulations before you even know you have.
Let me know if you are interested I'd love to jump on a quick call.
Congratulations on your business venture! I celebrate your healthy food truck focus. Yes, it seems you need a Strategic Business Framework that includes your, WHY, a Vision Statement, Core Values that drive decision making, a Competitive Edge, problems you solve, value you bring, why do business with you, and a Mission Statement of the WHAT and HOW of every day to guide you to work not only "IN" your business, but "ON" your business.
Your framework will drive your branding, target market, marketing, and sales to achieve success!
I'd welcome the opportunity to learn more about your purpose, focus, and goals. Choose to invest your time and energy in activities to achieve the results YOU desire!
As most of the suggestions above:
Ideally you are the best person to write down on your plan by considering your end goal, then available resources to how would you arrange for resources. Since you have your own unique ideas of business or inspired idea from other similar businesses, that would give you an idea as to how they market products. Basically business plan has two major purpose 1) How would you achieve the goal 2) How would you acquire required resources to achieve the Goal.
Now depending on specific purpose from above 1 & 2.
Ex: To achieve goal what would be you business plan - you can get information say marketing professional
OR To obtain Finances or banking facilities - you can get information say from Chartered Accountant.
Of course going forward when you exponentially grow to a chain, you can revise your strategic business plans by having a CEO (Which I wish for you)
All the best for your business.
As they say, if you do not have a business plan you do not have a business. I suggest reading "Four Steps to Epiphany" by Steve Blank. Then read the other books he mentions.
I am a business attorney and I always recommend that my clients write their own business plans, because if you are going to run the business you need to be a part of making the plan. The example I always give is this. Say you hire someone to do your business plan. They decide that you should have an ad on the outside back page of the yellow pages, which costs, depending on your market, $5,000 or more per month. You do it only to discover that your customers don't look for you using the yellow pages. You are in a long term commitment to pay for advertising that is not based on what you want to do with your business, but on assumptions that someone else made. It doesn't make sense.
The reason for working on a business plan, whether you need the money or not, is to set your roadmap. By putting together a business plan you are doing the research into your market, your target audience, what makes your product unique etc. Also you can test your pricing, # of sales to break even etc. all before investing too much money into a business that you could realize may not be profitable. Yes, a plan is a lot of work, but well worth it. The SCORE organization is a great resource to help you. I also cover the Biz Plan fundamentals in a business startup guide I authored for women called "Fabulous Fempreneurship" which you might find worth reading to help you get started. http://www.volumesdirect.com/SearchResult.aspx?KeyWords=Slatter
What you need right now is just to find out WHERE to be with your food truck and WHEN. Start generating money and then make at least a solid financial projection so you can assess how much you're actually making each month. A program such as PlanMagic Retail offers such besides the business plan template. But do the financials and enter the actual sales every month to see how you're doing as time passes. You do not need a full blown business plan at this time.
Go to the small business site (SBA.gov). They have a defined process and a template. You must know all the answers. https://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/how-write-business-plan
Since you've already made the commitment to start a business and have purchased the truck, I suggest that:
1. Turn off the engine.
2. Do some critical thinking and research.
Specifically, if you've not already done so, formulate a business model. You can find numerous examples on the web. The purpose of this exercise is to test your original assumptions with reality. It is not to your benefit to try to confirm your original beliefs (hopes and dreams), rather you need to find out what is real.
To be successful, it is never about what you want to offer, but rather what customers want, desire and can afford to purchase.
Go to the locations where you originally anticipated your customers would be. Ask the customers at the other food trucks some basic "research" questions:
1. What do they buy
2. How often do they buy from any food truck
3. What do they like about the current (truck) offerings
4. What is not being offered that they would prefer to buy
5. How often they might buy from a different truck - if that option were available.
In doing so, you have the opportunity to formulate your "unique value" and, hopefully, a competitive edge. Although your intent to offer "healthy cuisine" is understandable, virtually every market segment is saturated. with numerous and/or "similar" offerings. I'm sure your area is the same.
If you cannot come up with one, your best (and least expensive option) is to sell the truck and try something else.(You will not want to hear this, but starting over may be your least costly option.)
If, however, you can find a definable way to compete, do research on all of the other aspects of operating your business. Such as, cost of food, fuel, insurance, licensing, social media (advertising and promotion), truck and equipment maintenance, etc.
Hopefully, this analysis will yield a profit margin (above your all of your expenses) to make this endeavor a viable business, rather than an expensive hobby.
If you get to the point that there is a reasonable certainty that you:
1. Know who you target customer is
2. Know where they buy
3. Know how often they buy
4. Know what they will pay
5. Know (after all costs are computed) you will still be making a reasonable profit
Then it will be time to develop a Tactical Plan. That is, one Day One, you know what you need to do in order to prepare and travel to where your customers are and with everything you need to provide what your customers want.
Heather, there is a lot to consider. Take the time to do the critical thinking and research to assure your self and your husband that you can and will succeed.
By the way, should your ever need to prepare a Business Plan, this research and the development of a Business Model and Tactical Plan will wow whoever reads it because your Business Plan will be based upon reality, rather than assumptions, and expectations.
Hope this helps.
Assuming you have little business training or experience, as first time entrepreneurs, you should get some professional help to save time, money and possible damage from doing the wrong things. BUT look for one who has experience working with small entrepreneurs AND only after you have sufficient hands on experience with and knowledge about your newly established business. Some pointers are: How do different customers react to your healthy cuisine on-the-go? Who buys from you? What revenues were generated from different items on your menu from different locations or areas etc. A business advisor can only help you to align statistics and based on your input to develop a workable business plan. You need to provide sufficient and accurate information to your adviser to get positive results.
No one can write the plan except you. Only you can express your USP, your strategies, nor understand your marketplace better than you. You can get a good template and forms from score.org, and you can get coaching and mentorship from people like me.
why do you need a business plan if it is for financing get a great one and make sure you get your cpa to do the financials if its for you i would use the canvass
A business plan by owners is too often a case of detached fiction I'm sorry to say. What you need to have first is a life plan that details for you AND your wife what you AGREE you want from life and how the business fits into that. Anybody can write a bunch of numbers down and make an imaginary p&l but far more important is to know why you are doing specific things, what purpose it serves for you and what is at stake by both failure and success. When you know that then a business plan is far more likely to be realistic and attainable whether you do it yourself or get professional guidance.
Dear Heather: With all due respect, is the business plan going to take away the fear of being a first time entrepreneurs? Do you need the business plan to get permission to go to larger markets and attract your ideal clients? Or do you think that the business plan will give you instructions on how to get the "many customers" you wish to have?
Find out the places that attract your customers (you may want to follow other food trucks for a while), offer exceptional customer service and quality of food and you will be on your way to success. Later on, when you find out what works and what does not, you may want to have your thoughts more organized and then create a "business plan" and put down what worked best and focus on doing more of the things which worked well. and write down how you will be doing these things which bring you success
and modify the others which were not as successful.
PS trying to figure out why I get this red underline!
You don't really need a business plan. You are first time entrepreneurs and what you need is to research the local market and find out where your clients are, who your target clients are, and why they should at your truck.
Very competitive business the restaurant and food truck industry. Why do you want to be in that industry?