(Volusia/Flagler SCORE) - For today's entrepreneurs and small business owners, the last year was like no other they have ever experienced. In many cases the challenges were devastating. At a minimum, virtually all businesses had to modify their operating model to address the economic and human impacts of the COVID-19 virus.  Even for existing business owners it is time to think of your business like a start-up as you pivot to what the "new normal" will bring in the coming year.  This makes developing a roadmap to success, for 2021, most important.

Writing a business plan can be intimidating under the best of circumstances. Setting manageable goals with deadlines and seeking guidance from trusted resources will help make the process easier and allow you to create an actionable plan.

A business plan is not about the document itself, but rather the discovery process used to create it.

Business plans can be developed in several different ways, but all should go after the same result - to clearly demonstrate the viability of the business to generate revenue and turn a profit. The plan needs to state the business case for the business itself, discuss the marketplace, financials, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, and much more. It is a lot to think about.

 The benefits of planning - and the investment in the time it takes to write the plan - are invaluable in the end. Thinking through operating costs and revenue projections ahead of time, for example, will help make important decisions that could be the difference between the business losing money or generating a profit.

When you are ready to start your business plan, create manageable goals and hold yourself accountable for meeting deadlines.

The easiest way to get started is to create a task list with manageable goals and deadlines. Here are some tips to make writing a business plan less intimidating and easier to accomplish.

  1. Do not Attempt to Write Your Plan All at Once

Break up your plan into smaller sections and address each section individually. A great way to work through a business plan is to first create an outline. This will create a guide for you from which to build and keep your plan well-organized, so you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Schedule Time to Write

Schedule time to work on your plan. Get out your calendar and block out time each week to write. When you create a schedule and stick with it, you will complete your plan faster and be ready to launch sooner.

  1. Use Technology and Other Resources to Your Advantage

There are plenty of online tools and templates available, many free, that you can utilize as you start your business plan. Using a template is a great way to create your plan's outline and get started. SCORE offers a range of business planning templates for download that can give you a head start.

  1. Get Feedback Along the Way

Ask trusted mentors and other partners to read through your plan as you go. They may offer suggestions on how to improve or clarify sections of the plan.

Writing a business plan can be a challenging task. But, with the right approach and support, your plan will give you more clarity into and validation of your business concept than just about any other tool.

Developing a business plan takes consistent effort and dedication. You can make the writing and planning process easier and far less intimidating with a SCORE mentor by your side. A SCORE mentor will support you throughout the entire writing and planning process, provide you with actionable feedback along the way, and help you create a strong plan for future success. To schedule a mentoring session with a SCORE mentor, please visit our local Chapter's website: volusiaflagler.score.org or call our office at 386-255-6889.

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