Q: I want to start or buy a business.  This will be an entirely new experience for me. What are some of the things I should consider before I jump in?


A: You are wise to look before you leap. Ask yourself the following questions before you make the final decision:

  • Do you have experience in the kind of business you are considering? Are currently working in the field? If you are considering buying a business, why is the current owner selling?
  • Do you have the necessary funds to cover your startup costs and monthly operating expenses? Will the business be seasonal or provide a predictable monthly income stream?
  • Do you possess the administrative skills to handle the back-office duties of hiring staff, bookkeeping, tax reporting, insurance, negotiating a lease, inventory control, to name a few?
  • Who are your target customers and who is the competition? How will you compete and what will be your competitive advantage?

These are some of the questions you must answer before you invest the first dime in a new business venture. Fortunately, you do not have to travel this journey of enlightenment alone. The Richmond Chapter of SCORE has forty volunteer business counselors who can guide you in the process of developing a viable business plan.

In this digital world we live in, most of us want quick answers to important questions. Taking shortcuts is not an option in the development of your business plan. This is your plan and no one but you can develop it.

There are sample business plans available and numerous articles written on how to write a business plan that may be of some value but, in the final analysis, it is your investment of time and thought that will determine the success of your plan.

The real value of creating a business plan is not in having the finished product in hand; rather, the value lies in the process of researching and thinking about your business in a systematic way. The act of planning helps you to think things through thoroughly. Study and research if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It takes time now, but avoids costly, perhaps disastrous, mistakes later.

For an outline to follow, including excel spreadsheets to determine startup expenses and a 12-month cash flow statement log on to -

About the Author(s)

Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America's Small Business.

Business Counselor