Writing My Business Plan

Posted by MarieTalarico on November 16, 2011

SLEEP!!!! That’s what my Financial Advisor wrote across an early draft of my business plan. I had asked for her opinion. And while there were many pertinent notes interspersed throughout it, this is the one that has stuck with me on this journey.

SLEEP!!!! That’s what my Financial Advisor wrote across an early draft of my business plan. I had asked for her opinion. And while there were many pertinent notes interspersed throughout it, this is the one that has stuck with me on this journey.

When I first came to PARO to attend classes I had already been testing my product for 6 months. I met with Suzanne and she suggested that I write a business plan. I could not have been more proud when I said that I already had one, and handed her a single sheet of paper. Yes, you read correctly, a single sheet of paper. On that sheet I had researched my suppliers, priced my expenses, and pulled a selling price per bottle from thin air. A mission statement had even been parsed.

Suzanne graciously asked if it was okay to take a copy of my business plan. Then, with much encouragement, and some nudging, aided me in the process of applying to the Self-Employment Benefits program and the Gateway program through PARO. As you may know, ten weeks are given to write a business plan when you are a participant in these programs. On day one, it felt like a languid ten weeks. But by the end of week three it felt like an infinitesimally short ten weeks. Sleep was in short supply, my “to do” list was three pages long, and the most common sounds at my home were the percussive sounds of fingers pounding the keyboard followed by interjections of “seriously?!” and any number of swear words. My business came naturally to me. Writing my business plan did not. It required that I learn a new language in that diminutive number of days.

Part of that new language was a SWOT – yes that’s an O, not an A. When we were first asked to create this analysis I did not write down the correct letters for its acronym, and when you Google SWAT something completely different appears in the search.  Learning the language not only made the SWOT analysis possible, but also made it possible to look at competition as simply another business to differentiate myself from.

Word choice came to matter in the creation of an “elevator speech.” Every Wednesday at PARO you are asked to introduce yourself and your business in a clear, cogent way that takes 2-4 sentences.  Distilling personal core values, business core values, language appropriate to my target market, and a tangible format was a challenge.  It is one that, to this day continues to evolve, and that continues to be invaluable when meeting new people.

In the process of writing a business plan I learned how to both find and define my Target Market. The ability to speak from that place of knowledge has lead to an ability to choose appropriate advertising opportunities on a budget and to a growing number of sales for my company.

Now, at the end of my time in the Gateway program, that one word across my cover page still resonates for me.  SLEEP!!!! Without it, I see only the plan and not the joy of the business. And yet, without the business plan, I could not have the successes and the joy in both my business and my accompanying website (www.gratitudegemoils.com) that I have had.

~ Katherine Keeping

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