Pre-Business Planning

Are You Ready?

Are You Ready?

Thinking about starting a business? Click here for some considerations to think about before investing time, energy, and money into your dream.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I learn about turning my cool idea into a business?

  • Read business-planning books and magazines
  • Enroll in a business planning class (offered fall and spring at the FCCDC)
  • Meet with a business counselor (FCCDC, SBDC, SCORE)
  • Talk with other business owners.

When is the right time to go into business?

  • When you have other means of support for a few years while building your business
  • You have support from family and friends
  • You have carefully evaluated the business idea
  • You are in good health

How can I obtain financing for my business?

  • Develop a business plan
  • Share the plan with commercial bankers, alternative lenders, family and friends to find the best arrangement.

What can I do to market my business if I have a limited budget?

  • Evaluate your target market and competition
  • Develop a marketing plan with goals and objectives
  • Read about low-cost marketing
  • Build collaborations with other business owners who share the same target market
  • Measure results

Who is available to talk about small business issues?

  • Franklin County Community Development Corporation (FCCDC)
  • Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC)
  • Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE)
  • Industry Specific Professionals
  • Business Associations
    • Franklin County Chamber of Commerce
    • North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce
    • Greenfield Business Association
    • Shelburne Falls Area Business Association
    • Orange Business Association
  • Greenfield Community College
  • Universities

Risk Management

Risk Management Checklist

Risks and rewards of business ownership can be varied — know what they are./p>

  • Are my business goals well thought out, written and measurable?
  • Have I communicated those goals with everyone involved in the business?
  • Do I know which risks will keep me from reaching the business goals?
  • Have I scheduled regular Insurance check-ups for health, life, property, and disability?
  • Will my lender understand the business plan and help me achieve its objectives?
  • Are all business assets covered by risk management coverage?
  • Do I know what financial records I need to manage the business?
  • Do I understand the term and conditions of loan arrangements?
  • Do I have an alternative source of income?
  • Do I have a will? When was it last reviewed and updated?
  • Does my family know where my will and other important documents are located?

Why Businesses Fail

Reasons Why Businesses Fail

We all know that many businesses fail. To increase your chances of success, you’ll want to honestly assess your business — or business plan — and look for ways to build on strengths and counteract weaknesses.

Avoid these common business pitfalls. These tips will help you plan for your success.

Your business is not making a profit.
You can’t succeed if your expenses are higher than your income.
TIP: Know all of your real costs. Keep expenses low and be sure to cover your costs.

You don’t understand your customer’s buying habits.
If you don’t know who or where your customers are, or what motivates them to support your business, you risk losing your customers.
TIP: Talk with your customers. Get feedback, find out what is working and not working. Research potential customers.

You think you can do it all on your own.
Doing it all on your own is one of the fastest ways to burn out and sabotage your new business.
TIP: Know when you need help — whether outsourcing, a consultant or technical assistance — and ask for it.

Your business is growing too fast.
While growth in business is generally a good thing, too much growth too quickly can sink your business.
TIP: Remember not to take on more than you can handle or afford. It takes resources – money, inventory and staff – to meet increasing demand.

You depend too heavily on one customer.
Relying too heavily on one customer – no matter how big or lucrative – is setting yourself up for failure if you lose that customer.
TIP: The more customers you have the better your chances of business survival.

You’re pricing the product/service too low.
You must cover your expenses if you want your business to survive.
TIP: Know your costs and price your product or service accordingly.

You start out without enough cash.
Plan for the start-up costs. You may have to pay up-front for goods and services and you will probably be waiting for money to come back in.
TIP: Make sure to have available enough cash or access to credit.

You are unwilling to react to competition, changes in technology, or changes in the market.
In order to survive – and thrive – businesses must react to changes in the market, technology and competition.
TIP: Don’t be afraid to experiment and change with the times. Networking, doing research or taking classes can make changes easier and more positive.

Plan for success by:

KEEPING GOOD RECORDS
Use QuickBooks or some other bookkeeping program to help manage your cash flow. Bookkeeping software – and the proper training – can help you categorize expenses, run cash flow, payroll and analysis reports and even estimate break-even and profit timelines.

BUDGETING FOR UNEXPECTED EXPENSES
Equipment failures, tax hikes and cost increases are bound to happen. Plan for these unexpected expenses so you don’t fall behind. It’s a good idea to have enough cash reserves to cover 45 days of ordinary business expenses.

Risk Management Checklist

  • Are my business goals well thought out, written and measurable?
  • Have I communicated those goals with everyone involved in the business?
  • Do I know which risks will keep me from reaching the business goals?
  • Have I scheduled regular Insurance check-ups for health, life, property, and disability?
  • Will my lender understand the business plan and help me achieve its objectives?
  • Are all business assets covered by risk management coverage?
  • Do I know what financial records I need to manage the business?
  • Do I understand the term and conditions of loan arrangements?
  • Do I have an alternative source of income?
  • Do I have a will? When was it last reviewed and updated?
  • Does my family know where my will and other important documents are located?

Planning Questions

Planning Questions

This downloadable PDF will guide you through the business planning process.

Job Description

Develop your new job description… Business Owner!

As a business owner you will need to fill many different roles. You may have expertise in some areas, but in other areas you will have to learn new skills and find consultants.

JOB TITLEBUSINESS OWNER
Administrative Support/ReceptionistAnswering phones; filing paperwork; buying office supplies; handling shipping; answering customer requests; other duties as requested.
Advertising/
Marketing Manager
Researching similar businesses to determine your competitive advantages; writing ads; joining business groups; networking with anyone and everyone who could be a possiblecustomer.
Bill CollectorCommunicating with customers who don’t pay their bills; making repeat calls; sending invoices; possibly taking someone to court.
Bookkeeper/
Accountant
Maintaining all records, managing accounts; preparing tax forms; understanding financialstatements.
Business PlannerDrafting and making changes to your business plan depending on your financial, personal, andretirement goals; planning for expected and unexpected costs.
LawyerUnderstanding the laws related to your business; complying with federal and statelaws for employees; knowing the penalties for violations.
Manager/BossBeing responsible for managing all the people in your business; taking care oftime off, sick days, insurance forms, complaints, taxes, and more.
Tax CollectorCollecting and paying sales tax from customers, payroll taxes from employees,and your own income tax.
Technical Support Must be able to repair own equipment and solve technical problems.Decide when to hire a repair person or purchase new equipment.
BenefitsHealth insurance, retirement, time off
SalaryDepends on your business

Does your resume match this job description? List your strengths and identify the challenges.

As a business owner, you may fill all of these roles:

  • President
  • Financial Manager

— Finance
— Accounting

  • Marketing Manager

— Promotion
— Public Relations

  • Sales Manager

— Direct Sales

  • Operations Manager

— Assembly
— Logistics
— Quality Control

Download this page as a PDF

Advisory Team

Form an Advisory Team

Surrounding yourself with critical thinkers who will help evaluate your strategies can be key to your success. Advisory members range from lawyers, accountants, experienced or retired entrepreneurs to industry experts, bankers and community members.

Test Your Idea

Test your business idea before you start

Interview other business owners and learn about business ownership, major obstacles, tips and resources available.

Personal Financial Assessment

Personal Financial Assessment

Determine your credit rating and ability to borrow. Filling out a Personal Balance Sheet at the beginning will give you time to correct problems and understand your borrowing ability when you need it.