Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Fundamentals of Writing a Business Plan
I attended a free workshop this morning at the Dexter District Library. First of all, what a gorgeous library! If you're in the Dexter, MI area, you MUST check out their building!
The workshop was really interesting too. I had hoped for a bit more on library resources to help people write business plans, but the speaker did go through all the pieces of a business plan and talk about what kinds of information entrepreneurs will be looking for when they come to the library. Here are some key points I took from this workshop.
The speaker was Shannon from the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center. www.misbtdc.org/region12. My library is in region 9, which was good to find out because if we send a patron to the wrong center location, they will most likely refer the patron back to the correct region. Each region has resources specific to their area, so the patron will get the best help from the center that has made connections in their area.
We talked a bit about the difference between SCORE and MI-SBTDC. In a nutshell, SCORE does more hand-holding for those brand new to business and entrepreneurship, while SBTDC gives their clients the tools to work with independently.
SBTDC's services are free except for training sessions.
A business plan is written primarily to get you financing. However, it is a document that is useful to buyers when one is trying to sell their business. It's also a great way for businesses to track their successes and failures, as well as keep up to date on changing market trends. If a business plan was written when a business was formed years ago, it might be a good idea for them to look at the mission and goals they set for themselves then and re-evaluate their business for contemporary markets. With so many businesses going out of business in the recent economic climate, a business plan will help them get financing to stay afloat, too.
The folks at the ReferenceUSA database will come and do free training for staff and the public! This is a great idea for a staff in-service or a program to connect the library with local businesses.
Places to find industry information (other than the usual print directories and databases): local Chamber of Commerce, professional associations in the industry, and successful businesses in the industry. If someone was thinking about starting a business unique to a certain area, they might find a somewhat similar business in another area, like another state, and just call to chat them up. They are not in direct competition for customers, so there is no threat.
SBTDC will not advise clients on what legal structure a business should take, and they don't advise librarians to do so either. They have a list of accountants and lawyers who will give that kind of advice. Libraries can, of course, offer books and articles that help patrons make that decision for themselves.
These are the interesting pieces of information from the workshop (aside from the step-by-step look at what is typically included in a business plan, which was very helpful, but way too much info to repeat here). I hope some of these tidbits help you in your reference work with entrepreneurs!
Posted by Holly Hibner