Idea sparks passion. Passion develops motivation. Motivation leads to creating a plan of action. A well-executed plan of action leads to an achievement, then achievements stoke further motivation. This motion continues to loop in an upward spiral progression. It's these step-by-step progressions that develop elements of personal success.
Recently I had the privilege to speak with a few potential and new entrepreneurs who went through the phases of business planning. They were humble enough to share their opinions and discuss how business planning helped them achieve their start.
Cyndi Schefflin and her partner, Jess Ryan, are in the process of launching worldwide distribution of eco-friendly products. Schefflin recalls what an amazing experience business planning has been for her saying, “Business planning helped me measure my expectations against the reality of forming and operating a business. It helped me conduct the research essential to real planning.” After writing a business plan, Schefflin and her partner felt more confident about their goals; “Prior to writing a business plan, we felt we had a winner but as we wrote and researched the plan we realized we actually had something better than we thought. It enhanced our business strategies and expanded our vision.” Schefflin met with SCORE mentors to discuss planning and preparation. “It was a tremendous help and it gave us new ideas, things to change or consider, and adjustments to make. Later when we met with the lenders we knew what to say and received wonderful reviews on the plan, the idea, the viability and the marketing strategies,” she recalls. She and partner, Jess Ryan, are patiently waiting for production of their final prototypes prior to conducting a final presentation to obtain a business loan.
Entrepreneurs like Jaspreet Kaur and her brother envisioned starting their own e-commerce site and decided to conduct the necessary research. “When it comes to business planning, I had some rough ideas and didn’t completely understand the importance of writing a business plan until I started looking for answers,” says Kaur. “Writing a business plan can seem like a daunting task but it helps answer questions that you wouldn't be able to know answers to otherwise. It helped me organize my thoughts, gave a clear direction to our vision, helped validate our business idea through market analysis, prepared us to apply for a business loan, and helped us set short and long term goals. In my opinion, business planning is no different than having a roadmap. Without it you can easily get lost.” She adds, “When I went to apply for a business loan, the first question the lender asked me was if I had a business plan with financial projections, and it felt good to say ‘yes, I do.’” A few weeks after her lengthy meeting with the lender, Kaur and her brother were informed that they had been approved for the initial startup loan. “It was an exciting moment for all of us,” she recalls.
Carolyn Portuondo, a stay at home mom of 2 years, wanted to open up a bakery storefront so she decided to write a business plan. In the beginning of 2010, she successfully launched her business. “After I completed my business plan I became very confident because it helped me learn about areas of business that I would have never had a clue about,” said Portuondo. During her most recent radio interview, she was asked to share one experience of becoming a successful entrepreneur in this economy and replied, “Write a business plan no matter what, and make it a must because that’s what got me to where I am today.” She has been a proud business owner for nearly two years and now has five employees. Age is never a factor when it comes to planning and starting your own business.
Don Beckman, a carrier electrician, lost his job due to downsizing in the construction industry. Beckman, then 57 years old, didn't know when the economy would pick up. “At this age I didn't want to take the chance of waiting for the economy to get better so I decided to start my own business,” he said. He soon discovered a niche in the solar industry, wrote a business plan that helped him validate his idea and launched a training school for solar panel installation professionals. Not only did Beckman achieve startup success but he also secured revenue for the following year. During our most recent lunch meeting I congratulated him on his success. He humbly responded, “I am still learning, and planning ahead.”
Almost every business or company that is considered big and profitable today once started as a small business. Successful entrepreneurs often pace their business progression and create phases of success by identifying their right niches, analyzing their markets and executing their plans strategically.