Week 8: Final Preparation
The final exam consists of a series of essays that relate to sections of a business plan. The purpose of the final preparation is to provide resources for researching and writing each section of the business plan.
Before you begin the final exam, be sure to review the “Business Plan” Sections below. The next step is to decide if you want to write about an existing company or a new company idea. Be sure to choose one business for the entirety of the exam. The following details below include what should be included in each section of the business plan. In addition, for further research, the Small Business Resources are provided below.
Business Plan Sections:
For this section, you should describe what differentiates your business from others, and the markets your business serves. The basic description should include: Company Name, Mission statement, Type of business (retail, manufacturing, service), ownership/legal structure, Unique product or service you will offer etc.
Web resource: http://www.sba.gov/content/company-description
For this section, you should describe the strengths and weaknesses of each primary competitor: consider sales, quality, distribution, price, production capabilities, reputation, and products/services. Outline how your product or service stacks up in terms of pricing and identify your competitive advantage.
Web resource: http://www.sba.gov/content/market-analysis
Organization & Management
For this section, you should describe the management team: What are the responsibilities and expertise of each manager? What role will they play in managing personnel and resources? For each position, outline the skills and talents that each person posses (or will possess). Create a list of job descriptions for each position on your organizational chart. Briefly outline your hiring and personnel plan.
Web resource: http://www.sba.gov/content/organization-management
Service or Product Line
For this section, you should begin describing your service or product and then include information about the specific benefits of your product or service – from your customers’ perspective. You should also talk about your product or service’s ability to meet consumer needs. In addition, explain the production process: For products, describe the stages of production from inception to completion. For a service company, detail the process of delivering the service to customers.
Web resource: http://www.sba.gov/content/service-or-product-line
Marketing & Sales
For this section, you should define your marketing strategy, include a strategy for building your business (growth strategy), Choices for distribution channels (Channels of distribution strategy), and How are you going to reach your customers (Communication strategy)
Web resource: http://www.sba.gov/content/marketing-sales
Small Business Resources
Entrepreneurs have an abundance of information available to them on the World Wide Web. The first site to visit for anyone interested in small business is the Small Business Administration (http://www.sba.gov/). The Small Business Administration, a part of the United States Government, was established in 1953. It provides financial, technical and management assistance to help Americans who are interested in starting, running, and growing their own businesses.
The SBA site contains sections devoted to starting, financing, and expanding small businesses, in addition to listings of resources and services available from the federal government. The Starting Your Business section of the website (http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/) provides extensive information regarding startup procedures and requirements, including a discussion of the first steps necessary to get started in a small business (http://www.sba.gov/starting_business/startup/areyo…).
The Small Business Administration also helps entrepreneurs to secure financing to start or grow their businesses. The SBA works through banks, venture capital lenders, and other lending institutions to provide loans and venture capital to businesses that are unable to obtain financing through regular lending sources. SBA financing information is discussed on the Financing Your Business page (http://www.sba.gov/financing/). The section entitled Growing Your Business provides information on SBA workshops and training, along with links to other online resources available to those interested in entrepreneurship (http://www.sba.gov/managing/).
Another web source of information for the small businessperson is the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). Score works with the SBA to aid in the starting, development and continued success of small businesses nationwide. Retired and working business owners and executives volunteer their time and knowledge as business counselors. They provide counseling and mentoring in a confidential format at no cost to the small businessperson. The information and services provided to entrepreneurs by the SCORE website (http://www.score.org/) include email counseling from an alphabetical listing of 597 specific skills.
A web search using the keywords “small business development center” will result in a list of the URLs of dozens of SBDCs (small business development centers) around the country. SBDCs are agencies established by local governments and universities to assist small businesses in getting started and surviving in today’s marketplace. An example of a SBDC is the Western Illinois University Small Business Development Center (http://www.wiusbdc.org/). The WIU SBDC provides individual business counseling and group training support for business people in western Illinois. Like many SBDCs, Western Illinois University provides a small business Incubator to local entrepreneurs (http://www.wiusbdc.org/). Small business incubators provide small businesses with protected environments during their initial stages of development. They offer flexibly sized physical facilities, affordably priced leases with favorable terms, share-cost basis equipment and services, assistance with management and marketing problems, and financial assistance. Incubators are usually restricted to start-up firms. However, they sometimes include a mix of new and developing businesses. Incubator businesses may come from a specific industry group or different types of businesses. Support activities like photocopying, telephone answering and secretarial services are provided at low cost and are usually available on an as-needed basis.