Tis the time of year to make resolutions, and this holds true for business owners, too.
In fact, December is National Write a Business Plan Month. While the roots of this designation are up for debate, the timing seems appropriate as business owners close out the year and prepare for 2013. In addition, if your tax cycle runs on a calendar year, this is your last chance to make sure you've actually incurred all the tax-deductible expenses in your budget. Don't miss out on significant tax savings this year by waiting.
Business plans are essential for start-ups and companies looking to redirect their organization's goals. This is especially true for business owners looking for access to capital to build or grow their business, as most lending sources require that entrepreneurs have a business plan. It may also be a requirement if you are looking to become certified by government agencies as a vendor.
Strong advocates of the business plan, The Women's Fund of Southwest Florida recently launched a direct loan pilot program to help bring much needed access to capital for women-owned businesses. Even though women-owned businesses outperformed men's during the last recession, lack of access to capital continues to hold these small businesses back.
We believe women can be key players in recharging our region's economy if their businesses are better positioned to flourish. And a well-written business plan is a key starting point.
Remember the I Love Lucy episode "The Girls Go Into Business"? Lucy and Ethel are all set to go into business and they buy a dress shop. Unfortunately, they were unable to sell any dresses and had to sell the business at a loss. What do you think happens to your business when you don't plan?
So, whether it's the official month for writing business plans or not, December is an opportune time to develop or refine your plan. After all, you can't just sit back and rely on the Lucy and Ethel sitcom approach to get your business going. To quote Lucille Ball, "Luck? I don't know anything about luck. I've never banked on it and I'm afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: hard work - and realizing what opportunity is and what isn't."
We agree with Lucille.
Brenda Tate is president of The Women's Fund of Southwest Florida, a non-profit organization dedicated to conducting research, raising money and awarding strategic grants to fund programs and organizations that address the special, critical needs of women and girls in Southwest Florida. For more information, visit www.womensfundflorida.org