Writing a business plan helps you to understand every component of your business from communicating your ideas and building a framework for decision-making and management. It serves as a reminder of your goals and for tracking the business’s performance. The plan is a tool to articulate investment needs, capital assets, business partnerships, and customer loyalty. If you take the time and energy to create a comprehensive business plan then you will be on the road to minimizing your risks while directed toward success. Business plan outlines are basically all the same. There are different ways to complete a business plan from using self-guided books, working with a professional consultant or participating in a business plan class. You need to be realistic about how you work best, your time and the quality of results you want. Business Plan Sections The quality of the information is more important that the quantity (This section is written last) Write a brief description of the business including Mission Statement and overview of the Market Analysis, Competition, Organizational Structure, short and long term goals and the feasibility of the business. Example The mission of the Franklin County CDC is to stimulate a more vital, rural economy, to maximize community control over our future economic destiny, and to expand opportunities for low and moderate-income residents. For a restaurant:XXXX is a great place to eat, combining an intriguing atmosphere with excellent, interesting food that is also very good for the people who eat there. We want fair profit for the owners, and a rewarding place to work for the employees. Example: Short Term Goal 1: Sales goals of $XX,XXX within 2 years Objective A: Retail sales $XX,000 in first year growing to % more in year 2 Objective B: Wholesale sales $XX,000 from XX accounts in year 1 to XX in year 2 Objective C: Website sales $X,000 in year 1 with % increase in year 2 Short Term Goal 2: Marketing goals to reach 200 customers in 2 years Objective A: Advertising through print and radio media reaching XXX customers Objective B: Social networking using facebook/linked In reaching XXX contacts Objective C: Market research through interviews, surveys and industry trends yearly Short term Goal 3: Operations goal to reduce waste by XX% Objective A: Review administrative processes and paper consumption Objective B: Review production processes to minimize waste Objective C: Review marketing materials purchased and inventory control systems Long Term Goal: To pay off loan in 5 years Objective A: To increase principle amount each month Objective B: Seek refinancing if rates go down Objective C: Reduce unnecessary spending Use this link to search for the industry that best fits your business: Contact a local reference librarian to help locate the most recent reports for free: 1) IBIS industry report that describes the industry and trends 2) MINTEL report on various target customers to better understand buying motivations for example: Mintel report: Local procurement “Interest in locally procured food and non-food items is enjoying significant growth. A number of powerful trends are responsible for this: 1) Go to the Boston Public Library 3) Become familiar with the resources BPL Electronic Databases Example: What makes this business special or unique to the industry and competition? (from sample business plans website https://www.bplans.com/samples/sba.cfm) SOLE PROPRIETOR, all business assets and debts, profits and losses is your individual responsibility. Personal Income Tax For more specific information on government regulations, click here. Would you take a long trip without an itinerary? Make a cake without a recipe? A Marketing plan, part of a business plan, explains what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to do it. As a small business owner your resources and time are limited so you need to make more good decisions that are beneficial. A marketing plan will clarify your thinking and prevent you from spending on the wrong items. The Marketing plan is your strategy to capture a select market. A typical way of describing a strategy is found in the marketing mix composed of the 5 P’s, the product/service, placement, promotion, positioning, and people. The objective is to organize this mix to accomplish the goals of the marketing plan. Amy Shapiro, FCCDC Business Development Director helps you identify who the customer is, how you reach them, and reminds you to stay focused because “You can’t be everything to everyone!” Product/Service: Describe what you are selling emphasizing the features, benefits and seasonality of the product. Know what you are selling. You should be able to talk about the product or service with style and confidence. Features: Describe product and/or service by concrete descriptions like size, color, taste, weight, hours, activity, workshop, training, etc. Benefits: Describe the product and/or service by intangible descriptions like how the customer would feel after using the product or service (“peace of mind”) confidence, educated, comfortable. Placement: Describe the surroundings that highlight the product or service. You don’t want to place the candy next to the toothbrushes or wedding rings next to books on divorce. Where will you be selling? examples: Product: In retail stores, farmers markets, consignment shops, specialty food stores, fairs and festivals, online… Service: Collaborating with alternative health professionals, contractors, promoting workshops & classes, downtown office. Promotion: Describe the following: Marketing materials: (What is the look and feel?) Logo, product descriptions, labels, business card, hang tags, brochure, postcard, sign, website… Media: Describe how you will use newspaper and radio Social Media: Describe costs and benefits of using social media Incentives: Describe costs and benefits of using coupons, giveaways, and gift certificates Positioning: Describe how your business relates to other alternative choices your customer will be choosing from. Make sure the image, customer service and quality fit with the target customer you are trying to reach. People: Determining the characteristics of your customers will help you with pricing, packaging, labeling, and product placement. The more products/services you offer, the larger the market potential. Examples of customer characteristics include income level, education, marital status, household type, location, or occupation. Defining purchasing influences of your customers is another way to profile potential customers. Example of business customer characteristics: Industry (segment), location, size, quality, price, technology, uniqueness. Other customer traits to examine: environment, arts Refer to the U.S. Census to obtain information Other ways to describe competitors: Products, Price, Quality, Selection, Service, Reliability, Stability, Expertise, Reputation, Location, Appearance, Sales Methods, Credit Policies, Advertising, and Image. Describe your competitive advantage and disadvantages. Explain specific ways you will improve the impact of your business. See The Environmental Sustainability Business Checklist for helpful information for the marketing strategy. An essential component in business planning details your financial needs and resources. The following worksheets will assist you in identifying your personal financial picture, business start-up expenses, repeating monthly business expenses, monthly profit and loss statement, and a yearly cash flow income & expense projection. Complete the financial worksheets as realistically as possible. Clarify your assumptions at the bottom of each page. Information explained in the previous parts of the business plan need to relate to the Financial Plan. Example: If the Marketing Strategy refers to monthly advertising in the newspaper and radio there must be a corresponding amount for that expense. Alan Singer, Business Lending Program Manager, often says, “Part of what makes a business plan work is really understanding your business. Finances and financial planning are just two of the tools in managing your businesses resources.” Personal Credit History Credit Reporting Agencies As a Massachusetts resident you are entitled to one free credit report per year from: EXPERIAN TRANSUNION EQUIFAX For personal credit problems: Sources of Financing How to Borrow Money from People You Know TIP – Be aware of the following: LOAN TYPES: Intermediate Loan: Repayment made within three to five years. Generally used for permanent expansion or to acquire equipment. Long-Term Loan: Used for real-estate purchases or for business start-up. The C’s of Credit – Criteria used by lenders to determine whether to grant credit and credit terms Credit History: What is the credit rating of the business Character: Does the owner have the ability and intent Capacity: What is the ability of the business to repay Collateral: What is the equity contribution for the loan? Conditions: Is the business sustainable? Capital: What is the loan amount and purpose? What you need to know before approaching a lender: 1. Know how much money you need to borrow. This section describes and prioritizes the actions needed to move forward to implement the plan for year one. Set up a calendar that itemizes the actions, time and who is responsible. Integrate the objectives from Part 2. Example: Example: Action Step 1: TO COMPLETE BUSINESS PLAN BY DEC 15 Action Step 2: OBTAIN FINANCING BY MARCH Research Financial Institutions to determine best fit by Jan 15 Action Step 3: BEGIN START-UP PHASE OF BUSINESS JULY 1 The best way to clarify a person’s roles and responsibilities within a business is to create a job description. This can also serve as an outline for measuring job performance. Creating a “Personnel Policy Manual” can also create better employees. The manual should include the business overview and mission statement, employment policies, conditions of work, wage compensation, benefits plan, training and development, travel and relocation stipend, absence policy, termination and retirement procedures, equal opportunity employment statements and procedural requirements. You will need to fill our Form SS-4. This can be done online at the Internal Revenue website. (This website is also an excellent resource for information.) You will also need a state employer identifier number. The state number will usually be the same as your federal employer identification number however you still need to register with the state to let them know you will be subject to employment taxes. Massachusetts requires all new businesses to file and pay their taxes online. For additional information, visit the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website. You will need to register with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance for state unemployment taxes. This is done with Form 1110-A available at the Massachusetts website. Before any employee starts work for you, it is necessary to secure from them a completed W-4. New hires must be reported to Massachusetts within 14 days or a $25 penalty may be imposed upon the employer. Also it is necessary to have employees complete an I-9 to assure your potential employees are legally allowed to work in the U.S. Also, before your hire your first employee, you must have workers compensation insurance. Your local insurance agent should be able to assist you. The IRS and Massachusetts websites are a wonderful resource to guide you through the considerable number of forms and filing requirements. Cost of payroll to the employer example: FICA and Medicare: 7.65% Research and compare programs. Business planning involves collecting information and assessing the quality of its usefulness. Today we are bombarded with information from so many directions that filtering the essential information becomes a regular task. Planning a business takes being a “Jack or Jill of all trades.” You can’t know everything but you can think strategically. Networking with people creates an opportunity to receive a personal recommendation for suppliers, vendors, real estate opportunities, potential employees, professional consultants, sales leads, electricians, sign makers, the list is endless. Hearing from someone about the positive and negative will help you determine who is right for the job. Networking groups can be beneficial to you, your business and also the community. There are all types of networking groups, for example the Chamber of Commerce, local business associations, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, Women’s Business Organizations, Toastmasters, Business Networking International, Guilds and Trade Associations to name a few. Building business relationships creates a give and take that can take time to develop but in the end are rewarding. What do you seek to learn about? Sales leads, new suppliers? Create a list of people you feel comfortable approaching for a referral. Prioritize that list in an order of most connected to least connected. Practice your ask on a friend or family member. Keep track of results and always say thank you. Avoid making these common mistakes. 1. You forget the real reason you advertise. 2. You don’t have specific objectives for your advertising. 3. Your advertising is written for the wrong people. 4. You worry about whether people will “like” your advertising. 5. You confuse “attractive” advertising with “effective” advertising. 6. You equate “creativity” with advertising effectiveness. 7. You think biggest is best. 8. You create advertising to solve your problem – not the reader’s problem. 9. Your advertising fails to start with its ‘big gun’. 10. You talk product features instead of customer benefits. 11. You forget to establish the NEED for what you’re selling. 12. You say it — but don’t prove it. 13. You spend your money on advertising that’s funny, cute or clever. 14. You don’t seek tangible, measurable results from your advertising. 15. You don’t like “long copy.” 16. You’re concerned with style instead of content. 17. You insist upon advertising that is “different.” 18. You fail to say immediately how you can benefit the reader. 19. You don’t understand the importance of the headline. 20. You’re too ‘advertising campaign’ oriented. 21. You never think about WHY people read a publication. Financial Worksheets: General Business Worksheets and Checklists: Business Training Events are listed on the training calendar. Massachusetts Information Privacy Laws Sales Tax Self-Employment Tax Business Taxes Business Licenses Fictitious Business Name Business Insurance Resale Certificate Employee Identification numbers (EIN) Zoning Regulations Environmental Regulations Workman’s Compensation State Withholdings Federal Withholding Hiring Regulations Safety and Health Regulations The Western Mass Food Processing Center (FPC) is available to help guide you along the path to the success of your product. FPC members have access to complete technical support including business planning, product development, regulatory compliance, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of wholesale and retail products. Our facility provides access to shipping, receiving, dry and refrigerated storage, and commercial processing equipment. In addition, we regularly offer workshops, exhibitions, and other opportunities to network with other small- and medium-scale food ventures. We advise that entrepreneurs develop a basic business plan, perform small batch testing, and understand the complexities of cost and technical requirements for manufacturing food products before fully launching into production. With food products, the first priority is food safety. Know and understand all relevant regulations affecting your product before you move ahead. The Western Mass Food Center is here to assist you in merging the basic business plan with the details of food manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales. See our Food Processing Center section for more information on our services, facilities and membership rates, along with member bios. Wholesale License to Manufacture and Distribute Food: Retail Food Service License (Pushcarts, catering, farmstand): USDA: Regulates meat and poultry products for wholesale: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Domestic Food Producer Registration: General information Laboratory Analysis/Process Review
The Business Plan
1. Executive Summary
2. Mission Statement
3. Background Information
4. Organizational Structure
6. The Marketing Plan
7. Operating Controls
8. The Financial Plan
9. Feasibility Action Statement
10. Supporting Documents
BUSINESS PLAN OUTLINE
How to do research using the local Library
Instructions in how to locate industry research materials from the MA Library system
PARTNERSHIP, two or more people share capital, earnings, and losses. If one partner should die, the partnership is void.
LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, similar to partnership except one person is a general partner with more control and the other is a limited partner with less control.
CORPORATIONS are owned by shareholders with board of directors and officers.
SUBCHAPTER S CORPORATION is a corporation but taxed as a partnership or sole proprietor.
LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC) is a blending of the corporate and partnership structures providing owners with limited risk to personal assets and tax advantages.
COOPERATIVE is owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit.
Business Income Tax
Business License Fees
Employee Payroll Tax /Withholding
Consumer Protection Regulations: Warranties
— Professional Licenses
— Business Registrations
— Uniform Commercial Code
Other Regulations Specific to your business
– Basic need for love, good heath, beauty
– Buying patterns reflected in quality, price, trends and convenience
– Cultural orientations liberal, conservative, religious,
– Interests in gardening, cooking, athletics, reading,
If you’re planning to approach a lender you will want to make sure your credit report is accurate. If your credit report is wrong it may take a few months to make a correction.
Get a free credit report yearly www.annualcreditreport.com
PO Box 2002, Allen, Texas 75013-0036
Request Phone: (888) 397-3742
2 Baldwin Place, Crum Lynne, PA 19022
Request Phone: (800) 888-4213
Dispute Line: (800) 916-8800
5505 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Suite 600
Atlanta, Georgia 30374 – 0241
Request Phone: (800) 997-2493
Dispute Line: (800) 944-1122
Consumer Credit Counseling Services
Credit counseling (24/7 by phone and internet) debt
management plans, credit score tools and resources.
Friends and Family can be a source of financing. There are several parts to borrowing money starting with setting up a loan documentation, payment processing, and payment tracking and accounting.
Short-Term Loan: Generally used to meet short-term needs, such as inventory purchase or short-term liquidity problems; repayments made within one year.
and the individual?
to manage the business?
2. Identify how you plan to use the money.
3. How will the money be repaid by the business.
Read business plan book by Sept 15.
Meet with business counselor by Sept 30.
Develop & Complete Market Survey by Oct 15
Research and Compile Information by Nov 15
Write Plan by Dec 1
Share plan with business counselor for feedback by Dec 10
Make corrections to plan Dec 13
Presentations to Lenders by Jan 20
Projected acceptance by Lender by Feb 20
Compilation of additional materials for lenders by Feb 28
Develop alternative plan if denied March 15 (see FCCDC Loan Program)
Find location, renovate and move in by May 15
Finalize Marketing Plan & Materials by May 20
Purchase Materials & Supplies by June 1
Target opening for June 20
Building the Business Team
Building the Business Team
Consider these points when hiring personnel or consultants
Hire your employees carefully
Give employees meaningful feedback
Provide employees a clear description of their job responsibilities
Motivate Employees regularly
Decide on business communication details early! It’s important.
FUTA for the first $7000 of wages per employee is 0.8%
Mass unemployment: Depending on the kind of business and employee turnover could be 2% – 15% for the first $ 14,000 of wages per employee. Workers compensation insurance: Directly related to payroll and depends on nature of business ranging from 0.005% – 100%
How To Begin To Network
Tip: To increase your sales and profits.
Tip: Be specific, decide on measurable objectives.
Tip: Create your advertising for potential buyers – not suspects.
Tip: Your not in a popularity contest. Worry about if it will be seen, read, and believed by people. It must be informative and persuasive enough to get them to act.
Tip: Advertising is more effective if it looks “newsy” not “addy.”
Tip: An advertisement which offers a simple solution to the reader’s problem will be substantially more costeffective than one with a dazzling creative concept.
Tip: You need the most cost effective unit you can buy to achieve your goals. Smaller more frequent advertising may be more effective.
Tip: Remember that the reader is concerned with their problem not yours. Evaluate how you include competitors.
Tip: The advertisement is your sales presentation. It should say something very important, very quickly.
Tip: Your customer wants to know what your product or service will do for them. Product features (glossy paint) are not product benefits (durable,
scratch-resistant, washable, etc.).
Tip: Explain why the reader needs your product.
Tip: “Fluff” doesn’t sell. Use case histories and testimonials to support your claims.
Tip: You’re not in show business to entertain. You’re in business to sell.
Tip: Get something in your advertising to attract a response so you can measure the effectiveness of each ad in each publication.
Tip: Your advertisement should attract a potential buyer. They need information to make a buying decision.
Tip: Does your ad have information that may stop someone using a competitive product and start using yours?
Tip: Make sure your advertising informs and sells.
Tip: Be direct. Get to the point.
Tip: The right headline can attract the people who need the product your selling. Don’t use cute, clever or indirect headlines. Your ad will not be
read by the people who need your product.
Tip: Test to find out your most effective advertisement. Use that as a control until you develop a better ad to replace it.
Tip: To get news or information. If your advertising offers none – you’re in trouble.
Business Planning Worksheets
Worksheets and checklists can help you organize your business
Personal Balance Sheet (fillable PDF)
Profit and Loss Statement (fillable PDF)
Start-up Cost Worksheet: One Time Expenses (fillable PDF)
Start-up Capital Worksheet: Repeating Expenses (fillable PDF)
Income and Expense Projections (fillable PDF)
Cash Flow Projections
Cash Flow Projections as Excel Spreadsheet
Personal Financial Statement
Environmental Sustainability Checklist
Real Estate Lease Checklist
Manufacturer’s Site Planning Checklist
Leasing vs. Purchasing Equipment Checklist
New data privacy laws went into effect March 1, 2010, and all businesses must comply – regardless of the size or location of your business. If you take checks, debit or credit card payments, keep social security info (for employees or others) or drivers license numbers, you must comply. Businesses that use personal information of Massachusetts residents must have a Comprehensive Written Information Security Program (WISP) and have policies and practices in place to safeguard personal information against identity theft. More information
Some businesses are required to collect sales and use taxes from customers that will in turn be paid to local, state or federal governments.
Every working person contributes to Social Security and Medicaid. As self-employed, you contribute through a selfemployment tax through your personal income taxes.
As a business owner, you are required to file state taxes though your personal income taxes. Business tax forms and
information can be found by contacting the Department of Revenue’s Customer Service Bureau.
Depending on your business type and it’s location, you may be required to obtain licenses, certificates or permits.
Check with the license office in the city or town your business will be located to find out what is required.
The county recorder has a list of business in their office. You must apply for a business license using a business name that is not already being used by another business.
Protect your business against unforeseen events. Business insurance may be required by law. Contact your insurance
agent or broker for more information.
This permit allows products to be purchased, tax free, for
resale. To apply for this certificate, you must have a State Issued Employee Identification number (EIN). Information
and applications can be found by contacting the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, Sales and Use division.
All businesses must have this number to pay social security, federal withholding and federal unemployment to the IRS.
You can obtain the application at most SSI offices. You can download the application (SS-4) from the IRS website or by requesting one over the telephone. If you tele-TIN the completed application, it would be processed immediately.
Depending on your business type check with the office in the town hall or city your business will be located to
find out zoning restrictions.
Some business may have to comply with environmental regulations that mandate responsibility and awareness.
Some examples: Hazardous Material, Petroleum storage, Wetlands regulations, USDA regulations, FDA Regulations, DEQ Regulations
If an employee is injured on the job this insurance will cover medical bills. Policies can be obtained by contacting your insurance company.
You are required to deduct from employees pay for state payroll taxes. Information can be found
by contacting the Dept of Revenue & Division of Unemployment Assistance.
Some businesses may need to withhold Federal Income Tax, Social Security, and Unemployment taxes. Information can be found by contacting the Internal Revenue Service.
Businesses are required by law to abide by nondiscrimination regulations. Some interview questions are illegal. Hiring a person under-18 years of age requires a business to follow guidelines outlined by the Department of Labor.
All business with employees must comply to Occupational Health and Safety regulations. Information can be found by contacting the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Launching a Food Venture
Launching a Food Venture
Getting Started Checklist
Remember, the packaging is often the first and only contact the consumer has with your product. Your package must do the selling without you there in the store.
Mass Department of Public Health,
Food Protection Program
305 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Telephone: (617) 983-6700
Greenfield Health Department
Town Hall, Greenfield, MA 01301
Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
Office of Dr. Olga Padilla Zacor
ATTN: Elizabeth Keller
630 West North St., Geneva, NY 14456
General Food Business Resources
“Food Processors Resource Manual”
251 Causeway St., Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114
The quality of the information is more important that the quantity
(This section is written last)
Short Term Goal 1: Sales goals of $XX,XXX within 2 years
Objective A: Retail sales $XX,000 in first year growing to % more in year 2
Objective B: Wholesale sales $XX,000 from XX accounts in year 1 to XX in year 2
Objective C: Website sales $X,000 in year 1 with % increase in year 2
Short Term Goal 2: Marketing goals to reach 200 customers in 2 years
Objective A: Advertising through print and radio media reaching XXX customers
Objective B: Social networking using facebook/linked In reaching XXX contacts
Objective C: Market research through interviews, surveys and industry trends yearly
Short term Goal 3: Operations goal to reduce waste by XX%
Objective A: Review administrative processes and paper consumption
Objective B: Review production processes to minimize waste
Objective C: Review marketing materials purchased and inventory control systems
Long Term Goal: To pay off loan in 5 years
Objective A: To increase principle amount each month
Objective B: Seek refinancing if rates go down
Objective C: Reduce unnecessary spending
Use this link to search for the industry that best fits your business:
Contact a local reference librarian to help locate the most recent reports for free:
1) IBIS industry report that describes the industry and trends
2) MINTEL report on various target customers to better understand buying motivations
for example: Mintel report: Local procurement
“Interest in locally procured food and non-food items is enjoying significant growth.
A number of powerful trends are responsible for this:
1) Go to the Boston Public Library
3) Become familiar with the resources BPL Electronic Databases
What makes this business special or unique to the industry and competition?
(from sample business plans website https://www.bplans.com/samples/sba.cfm)
For more specific information on government regulations, click here.
Where will you be selling? examples:
Promotion: Describe the following:
Media: Describe how you will use newspaper and radio
Social Media: Describe costs and benefits of using social media
Incentives: Describe costs and benefits of using coupons, giveaways, and gift certificates
Refer to the U.S. Census to obtain information
Describe your competitive advantage and disadvantages.
Explain specific ways you will improve the impact of your business.
Credit Reporting Agencies
As a Massachusetts resident you are entitled to one free credit report per year from:
Sources of Financing
TIP – Be aware of the following:
Long-Term Loan: Used for real-estate purchases or for business start-up.
The C’s of Credit – Criteria used by lenders to determine whether to grant credit and credit terms
Credit History: What is the credit rating of the business
Character: Does the owner have the ability and intent
Capacity: What is the ability of the business to repay
Collateral: What is the equity contribution for the loan?
Conditions: Is the business sustainable?
Capital: What is the loan amount and purpose?
What you need to know before approaching a lender:
Action Step 2: OBTAIN FINANCING BY MARCH
Cost of payroll to the employer example:
Research and compare programs.
What do you seek to learn about? Sales leads, new suppliers?
Avoid making these common mistakes.
1. You forget the real reason you advertise.
18. You fail to say immediately how you can benefit the reader.
Business Training Events are listed on the training calendar.