I recently attended the City of Chicago’s business planning workshop for small businesses. There are several taking place throughout the city. This one was hosted by the Chatham Business Association. Donna Rockin, the director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center/ Duman Entrepreneurship Center at JVS Chicago presented an excellent workshop titled, “How to Write a Business Plan.”
Below are 4 pieces of information she shared that would be valuable for current entrepreneurs and others who are considering launching a small business:
1. Assemble a good team of experts/counselors who can help your business grow. Ask other small business owners or local business associations for recommendations—specifically people whom they have worked with directly and whom they trust. This may include references such as legal, accounting, and/or marketing.
2. Rework/Rewrite/Refresh your business plan every 12-18 months. Your business may evolve over time. You may stumble upon your key product or service. Thus, what you wrote and planned for 2 years ago may not be completely relevant anymore, so revisit your plan to account for new info you learned while operating your business and any new direction you may want to take.
3. Don’t offer your products or services for free. Unless you are offering a special promotion that speaks directly to your target audience or customer, be cautious of freebies. People value what they pay for and will find a way to pay for it, if it is important to them.
4. Understand and always be prepared to articulate why your business is unique. Answer these questions: What services or products do you offer? Who is your target market? What are your objectives and goals for your business? Why does the world or your target market need your business to be in existence?
At the end of the presentation, I asked the event organizers what is their top piece of advice for entrepreneurs. See quotes below.
Keep your eye on the cash flow. When planning for your business, remember to include a salary and pay attention to all of the financial details—such as bank fees. Also, revisit your personal household budget so that you are conscious of all of your spending.
Director Illinois Small Business Development Center/
Duman Entrepreneurship Center at JVS Chicago
Go with the pace of your business. When you first launch your business, some things aren’t necessary to purchase. For example, sometimes entrepreneurs go and get a package of legal agreements that they are told they need, when that doesn’t reflect the flow of their business—and they probably would have been okay with a simple ‘statement of work’ document.
Chatham Business Association
No matter what stage you are in your business, always take advantage of free workshops and local community resources. You can never stop learning and growing as an entrepreneur.
Wishing you all the best, Business Rock Stars!
Entrepreneurs, what key advice would you add to this list? Leave a comment below or tweet them to me @bestrategicPR.