The Small Business Start-Up Trifecta Series

March 16, 2012

Part 1 of 3: Three streamlined plans that will help you ramp up your small business today.

Alyssa Gregory, Small Business Collaborator

Successful small business ownership takes a unique combination of passion, determination, and planning. It comes with an equally unique set of challenges; one of the most common for a new entrepreneur is figuring out how to move from the idea stage to the action stage.

The problem is, there are a lot of steps to starting a small business, and the more research you do, books you read and experts you talk to, the more your to-do list grows. Before you know it, you are over-prepared, over-loaded with information, and not sure what to do next.

Of course, the research and information stage is vital. The trick is figuring out what you absolutely need to know, then getting started while you continue to beef up your knowledge. If you wait to get started, you may end up in "information paralysis," a place where you know a heck of a lot about the process, but haven't figured out how to apply it in the real world.

To get past this state of paralysis and start to build the momentum you need to make your business idea a reality, you need to focus on three must-have plans for every small business: the business plan, the marketing plan and the financial plan. I often refer to these as the "start-up trifecta." Once you have a handle on these three plans, you will be surprised how everything else starts to fall into place.

This three part series will provide a rundown on these plans, and how they will help you make some serious progress in your small business today.

The Business Plan

The phrase "business plan" has been known to cause even the most determined entrepreneur to break out in a sweat. The idea of having to create this "document" that encompasses everything you want for your business is an overwhelming one.

But your small business plan is an important tool that will help you act on and achieve your goals, and it doesn't have to be a massively long and boring document. A functional business plan can take many forms…even a few notes on the back of a napkin.

At a minimum, you need a streamlined business plan that focuses on identifying your vision, mission, objectives, strategies, start-up capital, anticipated expenses and projected income. This document may be the beginning of a more formal business plan you can present to investors or use to apply for a small business loan. Or, it may be all you need to outline where you are right now, identify where you want to go, and create a plan to get there.

Alyssa Gregory is a small business collaborator. She consults small business owners, writes about small business topics, brings entrepreneurs together, and speaks to groups about starting, managing and growing small businesses. She has a passion for creating opportunities for collaboration and sharing knowledge.