Saturday 17 January 2015

A Plan for Success | Advice from Marla Ahlgrimm on Starting a New Business

As an entrepreneur, pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm has had over 30 years of experience operating her own successful businesses. Here, Ahlgrimm answers questions about one of the most confusing steps in starting a new company: the business plan.

Q: What exactly is a business plan?

Marla Ahlgrimm: A business plan is essentially a document that outlines how you, the business owner, intend to create a successful establishment. An effective business plan outlines expectations for the next 3 to 5 years. This should include information on location, employees, target market, and how you intend to earn a profit for your investors.

Q: Is a business plan necessary to gain financial backing?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Unless you are planning on borrowing money specifically from close friends and family, yes. All financial institutions and investment firms require an approved business plan before lending money. This offers them an opportunity to gain information about the business and its projected success.

Q: What other documentation should I include with my business plan?

Marla Ahlgrimm: Along with an operational narrative, most lenders will require an income statement that includes expected inventory and equipment expenses, employee hiring and training costs, insurance, rents, utilities, and other potential financial needs.

Q: Who should write the business plan?

Marla Ahlgrimm: While delegation is a great way to ensure normal, everyday tasks get completed, this is best left to the business owner. Aside from giving the prospective entrepreneur a better insight on what it takes to run a business, this allows investors a way to gauge his or her business acumen.

Q: What are the benefits of starting my own business?

Marla Ahlgrimm: In addition to the obvious motive of financial independence, a business owner has a unique opportunity to better his or her community, gain the respect of other business owners, and serve as an expert to a specific need.

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