Business Planning For The Ages

Business Planning for Startups

The year was 1990 and the Salon Grand Opening was hopping! The weather was perfect as if it had been ordered especially for that day. The salon was crowded with friends, family, clients, and well-wishers. Even the mayor of the city was there. People were mingling while enjoying the food and drinks that were served. The flyers and invitations had been sent out two weeks in advance. The anticipation was high, and we were not disappointed.

The management and staff cordially invite you to attend our grand opening celebration held at

Out of the Woods Salon

2:00-6:00 pm

Sunday, August 18, 1991

“Out of The Woods Salon and Day Spa, For the 90’s and Beyond”.

For the woman (or man) who appreciates the fine art of style, we proudly present,

“Out of The Woods” Salon and Day Spa.

Our salon is crafted with an almost obsessive attention to design detail. Imbued with a richness of feeling that other salons just can’t touch. A higher level of sophistication…. The mood of the times…not just another salon, but a better choice…

We want to be different but we want to make sense. If we were to find one word to describe the experience, the question would be universal and the answers would never be the same. Free your senses from the city limits. Possibilities are endless and the options are always open.

Far beyond the urban grayscape to find the masterpiece that lies within.

Escape to Out of the Woods Salon and Day Spa

There was a 10% coupon offered for any future service, and package deals were also available. A number to call for an appointment on the flyer included the salon hours, and phone number. There were no online appointments available back then.

It was a grand accomplishment. But it didn’t happen overnight. My dream of opening my salon had finally come to fruition after years of dreaming and planning. The planning was the key. We had spent almost two years writing down goals and saving photos of dream salons we wanted to emulate, and visiting the salon showrooms in Chicago. Belvedere was one of my favorites. When my mind was ready to stop dreaming and start doing something about my dream, I prepared by taking salon management courses so that I could learn as much about being a salon owner as possible. In preparing my business plan, my instructor stressed the importance of hiring an accountant. I found one that came highly recommended by a dear friend who was an attorney and who was also one of my clients.

My new accountant and I sat down in his office and we talked at length about my dream salon. During this period, I had stars in my eyes only thinking of the glamorous side of salon ownership. You know the same way that you dream of falling in love and everything is just perfect. You can’t imagine the romance ever ending. Well, it was kind of like that when I thought of owning my own salon. However, my accountant introduced me to a bit of reality. Along with owning a salon came lots of responsibility. You don’t just say, “I’m opening a salon” without a plan. At least you don’t do it if you want to be successful. I learned that I had to first make a plan, then work the plan. He said it was sort of like a roadmap. You outline where you wanted to go, when you were going, how long it was going to take you to get there, and what you were going to do when you got there. When he painted the picture of the work that needed to be done, my heart skipped in fear. It was the fear of the unknown. Luckily, he said he would be there to guide me.

If the thought of business planning scares you, you are not alone. I remember when we created my first business plan way back in 1989, my accountant told me that he wanted my plan to be two-inches thick. He wanted a projected balance sheet, profit and loss statements, narratives, furniture and equipment list, and more. I could not imagine where to start! He introduced me to the professor of a business class at Indiana University NW who used my project as a class project. They performed most of the groundwork that included market competition analysis, and demographics, they checked out computer systems and programs, helped with inventory selection and control and more. One of the student architects that attended my church drew the rendering of my salon store front and floor plan and also teamed up with my dad, the builder/carpenter to bring my salon to reality. In the end, my plan actually was about two inches thick.

That was a lot of work required because I was seeking a guaranteed loan through the SBA. They wanted to see 12-month, 36-month, and 5-year projections and the navel from my first child…I’m just kidding.

There is still a lot of work involved in planning a business, however, but if it is your dream to own a business, the business plan is the foundation. Every business must have a foundation in order to be successful. You want your plan to work for your business so that you can spend time doing what you came to do…operate the business without worry, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. A business plan is necessary even if you are not trying to attract investors. It is vital to provide direction for you and your staff in order for your business to grow. You want to describe what I call the five P’s: Your Purpose, Your People, Your Products, Your Promotion, and Your Profits.

Show why you care. When I started my first salon, I set out to change how people looked at salons. I didn’t want to be called a beauty shop. I wanted it to be professional, yet friendly. I provided a snack bar so that people would not be eating all over the salon. I provided a playroom so that my staff and guests could leave their children to be entertained while they had their services done. I wanted my passion to be seen in every service that I offered. By explaining why, you will show that you care about your business, and create a connection with your clients, your investors, and others.

I checked with the SBA to see if there were any updates in a business plan. What I found are those same elements but you can keep is simpler than a two-inch business plan that I had to do. I have included eight steps to help you get started on your plan, and I have also included FREE templates for your convenience.

Step One – The Executive Summary is simply a business snapshot. This section allows you to describe your company, your market, your competition, and your product or service. Know your company, the industry, and your audience. Who is your ideal client? What do they want and how can you solve their problem? It is an overall summary that paints a clear picture of your company…the who, the what, the how…you will get the picture. See what I did there?J

(Keep in mind that different readers have a certain type of interest. Bankers may want to see cash-flow statements and balance sheets, but an investor may only be looking at your basic business concept and your management team) You may want to modify your plan based on who is reading it.

Step Two – Company Description – Create a company profile. Who you are, what products and services that you offer. What is your purpose, why do you do what you do, and who’s problems can you solve? In the end, if you have a website, (and you should), you can put this as a blurb on your ‘About’ page.

Step Three – Market Analysis – is simply researching the industry that you are choosing, what the market looks like and who your competitors are.

Step Four - Organization and Management – simply means you describe how your business is set up, what is the structure, who is managing your business, and who your people are.

Step Five – Service or Product – What products or services will you offer? What products and services are you passionate about? What would your ideal client want?

Step Six – Marketing and sales – How are you going to market your business and what is your sales strategy? What kind of promotions will you run? Will you offer new products and services? How will you promote them? Each marketing objective should have goals and tactics to reach those goals. What is your advertising budget?

Step Seven – Finance – How much money do you need for the next three to five years? How much profit do you predict your company will make? Create balance sheets and projections. This is usually separated into Funding and Finance. However, I recommend an accountant for this part. It will save you a lot of headaches. Bankers and some investors want to see how you and your team make your money, spend your money, and keep your money.

Step Eight – Appendix – this section simply includes your resume and any permits. In some cases, it may be optional.

One thing you may want to remember is that location is important. You should include this info in the overview or the executive summary.

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