Two of the most basic questions you'll hear from people unfamiliar with business planning are (a) what sort of business requires a plan, and (b) what does a business plan look like? In short, the answer to (a) is: any business. If you need funding to launch an idea or expand your current set of products or services, you'll need a business plan, no matter what sort of work you're doing. The brief answer to (b) is: a business plan is a highly structured, information-rich document filled with data and research that support every aspect of your company (or idea) in order to make the expansion (or start-up) an appealing venture for a bank or private investor.
But perhaps a more useful way to examine the scope of this complex document, the business plan, is to string together several case studies that show a range of business concepts in action. By considering specific examples of business plans we have created, we can begin to demonstrate precisely how this industry operates and what it ultimately produces. So, first, we'll consider the case of Synergy Dental, a Portland, Oregon dentist.
Synergy Dental, now in active operation, is a full-service Portland, Oregon dentist with an office not far from downtown that offers an entire spectrum of orthodontic services and procedures. The owner's idea was to create a premier facility which specialized in advanced dental procedures, but still offered commonplace services like tooth cleaning and whitening. Fortunately for the client, he was already well-known regionally as a high-quality Portland, Oregon dentist, which made his goal of creating a top-flight dental office more realistic. It is important to note, however, that reputation alone will not guarantee you approval on a major bank loan. Far from it. Without supporting market research, convincing financials, and accurate service descriptions, the concept simply wouldn't stand up against the litmus test that the SBA, banks, and venture capitalists employ to measure the worth of a business idea. That's where the business plan comes in. We partnered with Synergy Dental to create a document that would answer these needs. We performed careful market research (analyzing the demographics of the surrounding area that the clinic would target); clearly spelled out the services that would be available; prepared vetted, painstaking financial forecasts; and developed a marketing strategy designed to leverage the dentist's formidable background and experience to bring the company into great prosperity. Many days, hours of revision, and thirty pages later, we delivered The Plan, and the Portland, Oregon dentist that yearned to open a full-service office was on his way toward a hearty approval from the bank an approval that would never have come without the Document.