If you’re considering opening a business in O’Fallon, you may be 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.
Why do I need a business plan?
“Making a business successful depends on so many variables,” said Patty Brown, an economic development specialist for the City of O'Fallon.
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.
“The key for anyone interested in starting off, is to recognize that running your own business isn’t a 40-hour-per-week job,” Brown said. “It really is a life-changing decision that takes a 24-hour, 365-day commitment.”
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 also 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.
This is a very high-level overview, of course, and each section will be broken down further. 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.
The following resources offer in-depth assistance with writing business plans.
- City of O’Fallon Economic Development Department—“Anyone that’s interested in opening a business in O’Fallon should contact the City’s Economic Development department early in the process,” Brown said. “We’re happy to help guide them through the process.”
- O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce—If you join the Chamber of Commerce, you’ll receive a variety of benefits, including online member-to-member support, so you can get advice from a local business owner who has been where you are when you’re ready to write your business plan.
- The St. Charles City-County Library, Deer Run Branch—The library district offers a resources for business owners (and prospective business owners), including help with writing business plans.
- Economic Development Center (EDC) of St. Charles County—In addition to a wide range of services for small businesses, the EDC has a business consultation service and a small incubator program.
- 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 discuss writing a business plan.
Do you own your own business in O’Fallon? We want to share your story with the community! Contact Patch reporter Angela Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for an interview.