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San Diego Uptown News | March 4-17, 2011 Uptown Games Uptown’s Planning your Business By Jim Schneider, Executive Director of the Adams Avenue Business Association

Many prospective or existing small busi- nesses and entrepreneurs they have a clear idea of what their business should be or how it should work out. Often, in bad times, or when things do not go as expected, I ask if they have a guide for their expectations. Often the answer is no.

Most small businesses I encounter do not have a business plan. They believe that they know their

Business well enough or have been in business long enough to manage without one. This is probably true in some cases; however, things do not always go as planned and the economic climate changes as we have seen over the past couple of years. Having a road map to guide through these difficult times would be very beneficial to saving your business. It is also a great tool to evaluate your business on a regular basis. I strongly recommend having a business plan for every small business. A business plan is not merely a document that you give to a bank for a loan request. It can serve as a valuable tool to guide your business as time goes along. Having a business plan can be a very helpful guide for your progress over a three to five year period. It can include measures of progress and goals and serves well to maintain the focus for the original intent of the business. The best way to create a business plan is to simply BEGIN. Just find an outline that you are comfortable with and begin to work on the various sections, one at a time. If you set aside some time to write your plan you will be astonished at what you know about your business and what makes your business special. Having the confidence of being the expert and knowing how you stand apart from the competition will have a positive effect on how you approach cus- tomers and the operations of your business.

Here are the basic items that should be included in any business plan:

1) About the Business. This is a one to two page section that allows you to explain what your business does for your custom- ers and the products or services are offered to your customers.

2) About the owners. This portion explains who the owners are and tells of their past experiences. It not only offers a potential lender an introduction to you, it

allows them to see how your experiences come together to make this business set apart from the competition. Again one or two pages are is all you need.

3) Financial Information. The financial information section well thought out and in writing will help to guide any business to profitability. This is where you can see how much things will cost and how much you need to sell (and at what price you need to sell) to make this venture profitable.

4) Your Goals and Objectives. Having the goals and objectives of your business in writing will help you to stay on track with your focus on specific goals that you have set for yourself and your business. This sec- tion should also be no more than one page.

5) Your Competition. Knowing who your competition is, where they are located and what they do differently than you can be a very valuable bit of knowledge. With this knowledge, and having it in writing, you can remind yourself what separates you from the competition and you’ll be able to concentrate on the things that make you different and become or remain the pre- ferred supplier of your product or service.

With these general headings, you can draft your business plan. Once you have it drafted, I highly recommend having it reviewed by an expert. Some of the local experts that you can contact are very af- fordable or free such as the Small Business Development Centers or SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). The local offices for each of these are very helpful and can offer additional resources to make your business plan a very useful tool for operating your business. Having and expert review your plan will bring validity to your work. Once you have a business plan, it is

necessary to review and even revise it once every six months or each year. By review- ing the plan you will evaluate your goals, the measures of success you have laid out for yourself and remind yourself of the primary focus for your business. This will serve as a regular checkup for the health of your business and let you know what you need to adjust, change or modify to continue on the path toward success as you have defined it.u

Adams Avenue Business Association (AABA) Mission: To promote and increase commercial activity within the Adams Avenue Business Improvement District.

AABA represents over 600 businesses on Adams Avenue, manages the Adams Avenue Business Improvement District and local Maintenance Assessment Districts. AABA also hosts a number of annual special events which include: the Roots Fest on Adams, Taste of Adams Avenue and the Adams Avenue Street Fair along with the Weekly Adams Avenue Farmers’ Market. These events are operated as community events as well as fundraising activities to support the projects and programs of the Adams Avenue Business Association.

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