Buying A Business: The Business Plan as a Guidebook

I am always amazed at what little effort goes into a business plan when business buyers are looking at a business. The buyer will spend more time trying to figure out how to make the office bigger than they will trying to build a business plan the will improve the business.

When considering the purchase of a small business here are the 6 elements I think should be in a well written plan:

  1. Cash flow forecast: It’s not enough to be able to make a profit, the business plan template should include a cash flow element, first 90 days week-by-week, after that monthly for 1 year.
  2. A detailed step by step, minute by minute plan for exactly what you need to get done in the first 60 days.
  3. A marketing section that deals with two elements a) what are you going to do to keep the business that is already there b) what are you going to do to get new business
  4. A detailed plan for personnel, what you will discuss with each employee and a well thought out plan for anticipating the employees questions (insurance, benefits, pay, etc)
  5. A detailed description of where you see the business in 3 years, bigger? Smaller? New products? New geography?
  6. A detailed plan for keeping current vendors happy and a separate plan for identifying and nurturing back-up or new suppliers.

There you have it. A basic no frills look at what issues are important in the new business. The are many resources on the Internet for ideas on how to write a business plan. Many of those can be modified to serve your purposes. This business plan should mean something not be just a fluff piece to to use to apply for small business loans. This document should guide you and give confidence to your employees, customers and suppliers.

Take the time to make it make sense and avoid the common trap of convincing yourself you’re a genius and then create some pie-in-the-sky plan that is useless as soon as you hit the print button.