Should you have a business plan?

Sept. 1, 2022
Whether thriving, failing, or just making it, a business plan can help ensure the growth of your shop.
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What you will learn:
Having a plan to show your potential business purchaser is the best sales tool there is
•  A business plan serves as a roadmap guiding the growth and continued success of your business.     
• 75 percent of all shop owners are aged 55 or older and 34 percent are over 65
When you travel, you have a plan. When you build a home, you have a plan. When you save for your kids’ education or your retirement, you have a plan. It sure would seem like a good idea to have a plan for your business, which is probably paying for all your other lifetime plans. Don't worry, we are not expecting you to put together a lengthy document and you don’t have to do it all at once. Your plan can take as long as you need to develop it and, in fact, taking a good hard look at your business is not an over-night thing.

Business plans aren't just for startups

Developing a business plan for an established business serves several purposes: It can help convince investors or lenders to finance your business, persuade a business buyer to purchase your business, or entice partners or key employees to join your company. The 2022 Motor Age reader survey shows that 75 percent of all shop owners are aged 55 or older and 34 percent are over 65. Having a plan to show your potential business purchaser is the best sales tool there is. Most importantly, regardless of the stage of your business, a business plan serves as a roadmap guiding the growth and continued success of your business.
Creating and revising a business plan is your best opportunity to carefully think through every step to achieving your goals for your company. This is your chance to discover weaknesses that may threaten your business, identify opportunities you may not have considered, and plan how you will deal with challenges that are likely to arise. Be honest with yourself as you work through your business plan. Don’t gloss over potential problems; instead, figure out solutions.
According to the PTEN 2022 Aftermarket Profile, the percentage of shops offering repairs for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), has grown from six percent to 12 percent in just three years and is forecast to grow again in 2022. Is this a service you should be offering? Is your team trained in this area? Is this extra revenue worth the investment? This is the type of research you should be doing and deciding upon. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast that 51 percent of the vehicles sold in 2027 will be hybrids and electric vehicles. Are you ready for that?
A good business plan doesn’t have to be long and wordy — it needs to be clear and concise. A person outside of your industry should be able to understand it. Avoid overusing industry jargon or terminology. Try to spend most of the time involved on researching and thinking and avoid making unsubstantiated claims or sweeping statements. Be totally honest, your assumptions must be supported with facts.
If your plan is primarily for internal use, it doesn’t need to be as lengthy or fine-tuned as a plan for outside readers. However, you should still think it through carefully, particularly the marketing and financial sections. You might start with a business canvas model or “lean canvas” form of plan that asks you to fill out nine boxes on one page of paper. If you can write one sentence in each box, you’ve got the start of a traditional business plan. For the business plan, just Google, “lean business model canvas.” There are many free and low-cost plans.
If you are going to apply for financing or look for funding sources, you’ll need a traditional business plan with all the required elements. One trick to ensuring your plan is well written is to write the executive summary, which highlights each element of your plan for the potential reader, last. Doing so will ensure that you highlight the key points in each element and maintain a continuity of your plan that shows how the actions and research contained in each element contribute to your overall goal of sustained profit and growth.
So how do you start? Often a simple SWOT analysis will get you thinking in the right direction. Simply stated SWOT stands for:
• Strengths: What do you do well?
• Weaknesses: Where do you think your business is struggling?
• Opportunities: How can you build your business?
• Threats: What is lurking out there that could torpedo your business?
To find suitable forms for you, simply type “SWOT template” into Google, click on images, and print the one you like. Then you'll be well on your way to taking your business to the next level.

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