CALVIN GOINGS: Successful business starts with a plan

Starting and managing a business takes motivation, desire and talent. It also takes research and planning.

Like a chess game, success in small business starts with decisive and correct opening moves. And, although initial mistakes are not fatal, it takes skill, discipline and hard work to regain the advantage.

To increase your chance for success, take the time up front to explore and evaluate your business and personal goals. Then use this information to build a comprehensive and well-thought-out business plan that will help you reach these goals.

The process of developing a business plan will help you think through some important issues that you may not have considered yet. Your plan will become a valuable tool as you set out to raise money for your business. It should also provide milestones to gauge your success.

The SBA, through a relationship with My Own Business, offers a special online course on how to get started with a small business. Visit the website at http://pnw.cc/3wh.

Before starting out, list your reasons for wanting to go into business. Some of the most common reasons for starting a business include wanting to be your own boss, wanting to attain financial independence, wanting more creative freedom and wanting to be able to fully exploit your talents and skills.

Next you need to determine what business is “right for you.” Ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • What do I like to do with my time?
  • What technical skills have I learned or developed?
  • What do others say I am good at?
  • How much time do I have to run a successful business?
  • Do I have any hobbies or interests that are marketable?

Then you should identify the niche your business will fill. Conduct the necessary research to answer these questions:

  • Is my idea practical and will it fill a need?
  • What is my competition?
  • What is my business advantage over existing firms?
  • Can I deliver a better quality service?
  • Can I create a demand for your business?

The final step before developing your plan is a pre-business checklist. You should answer these questions:

  • What business am I interested in starting?
  • What services or products will I sell? Where will I be located?
  • What skills and experience do I bring to the business?
  • What will be my legal structure?
  • What will I name my business?
  • What equipment or supplies will I need?
  • What insurance coverage will be needed?
  • What financing will I need?
  • What are my resources?
  • How will I compensate myself?

Your answers will help you create a focused, well-researched business plan that should serve as a blueprint. It should detail how the business will be operated, managed and capitalized.

For a broad discussion on start-up business topics, visit the SBA website at http://pnw.cc/3wm. And, for additional resources in your community, please contact the local Small Business Development Center at Renton Technical College.

Calvin W. Goings was appointed regional administrator for the United States Small Business Administration in January. As regional administrator for Region 10, Goings is responsible for overseeing the Obama Administration’s small business programs and initiatives in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.


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