This is a copy of a weekly posting done in conjunction with Crain’s Chicago Business.
Posted by Ann D. at 8/12/2009 6:45 AM CDT
We’ve asked SCORE Chicago, the local small-business counseling and advisory service, to answer your questions about starting and running a small business. We want to hear from you. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org — be sure to include “Ask SCORE” in the subject line — and we’ll run it past SCORE and post the answers here every Wednesday.
Recent SCORE posts offered advice on getting your marketing e-mails opened, perspective on why now can be a good time to start a small business, and ideas on taking advantage of the downturn.
In the meantime, here’s a question that SCORE Chicago experts hear often in their seminars and one-on-one counseling sessions: “Which aspect of my business plan is most important — especially if I’m trying to appeal to a banker?”
While your numbers are important, Meghan Kearns, a vice-president at Harris Bank and a frequent presenter at SCORE Chicago workshops, suggests that you focus on the marketing and management sections of your business plan.
The marketing section describes your audience — in short, who you’re going to sell to. You should be able to describe those potential customers in detail and lay out the ways you plan to reach them.
As for management, you should be able to discuss how you’re going to manage the business in good times and bad times — especially in bad times. What plans and resources would you fall back on in an economic period like the one we’re enduring now? Think about it — get some help from an adviser if you need to — and be prepared to describe your thoughts in full in your business plan.
A banker will judge your business prospects based in large part on the quality of your answers to these marketing and management-related questions.
This 59-second video from SCORE Chicago provides more a little more insight. (You can watch SCORE Chicago’s entire interview with Ms. Kearns here.)
And for more guidance on writing a business plan, visit this section of the SCORE Chicago Web site