BY KATIE MATTESON
If you’re thinking about starting a business or you’ve been in business for a while and want to take the next step, read the article starting on Page 8 – no wait – first read this, then go there.
The story is about the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Carl and I became very familiar with the place, as we spent three hours a week there from Feb. 4 until graduation day on April 8 when we walked out with a Certificate of Educational Achievement from the Entrepreneurial Training Program.
But wait, you say, you’re already in business, what could you possibly learn from a course like that? The answer: a lot. Specifically, we spent eight sessions studying business principles and learning how to build our business plan (something we’d never done before). Between sessions we read assignments in the textbook and worked through exercises in the workbook that helped us prepare sections of the plan, which had to be turned in weekly.
And I’ll say this for the record: Writing a business plan is definitely not for sissies.
The format we used broke it down like this: I. Executive Summary, II. Business Concept (Description, Goals and Objectives, Industry Information), III. Business Organization and Operations (Structure, Management and Personnel, Operations Plan, Managing Books and Records), IV. Marketing Plan (Products and Services, Market Analysis, Objectives, Strategies and Tactics, Direct Sales and Customer Service), V. Financial Plan (Capital Requirements, Sales Forecasts, Cash Flow Projections and Financial Statements).
It was tough and some days we wondered why we were voluntarily putting ourselves through this process. But we kept going back, week after week. At the end of it all we felt pretty darn proud of our accomplishment and what we’d learned.
Because SBDC is such a fabulous local resource and we believe in the power of small business, we invited business consultant Mary Fischer-Tracy to write a monthly column. We’re so thrilled that she said yes! Watch for the first installment next month.