Business plans are not worth the paper they are written on

Small steps with kettle corn

Before writing this plan, why not try a popup of your business idea? Even in your own front yard, you can learn more than looking at a computer screen. Photo courtesy of Shawn’s Kettle Corn, Webster City, Iowa.

by Deb Brown

At least the old way of doing them

Writing a business plan is an intense and time-consuming project. You spend weeks and weeks there, and you're not even sure that everything is correct. Your financial projections are just crazy assumptions. You are not even open and they want you to guess how much money you will make! You can find out the amount of traffic going through your proposed location. But the mere fact that 10,000 people take this route does not mean that a certain percentage of them will be guaranteed to stop.

What if you wait and write your business plan after doing some testing?

How do you test your products and your market without having a brick and mortar business?
Attend a pop-up event or two

Small towns have these kinds of events. Car shows, city fairs, three-day fun events, goat food contests, celebrations and many other types of parties You can set up a table and covering and sell your product.

Track your sales! It's as simple as counting the inventory at the start and end. Note if you had to lower the price. Write down the suggestions people give you for similar products they would like. You will start to get an idea of ​​the products that people like.

Try a longer pop-up.

Does your city make seasonal popups in empty buildings? It is worth asking the building owner to do it! You can team up with other entrepreneurs and try it out.

Again, follow sales, price reductions and suggestions. If possible, follow the number of people who came into the building.

Let's not forget the online sale

Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Poshmark, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, eBid and Ruby Lane are a few places. Make sure you choose the right site (s) for your product type.

Many of these sites will follow up for you! Otherwise, follow them yourself.

Shared spaces

IIs there a place in your area where there is more than one supplier at the location? See if you can join them. It is a shared space and they work in different ways. Some have a cash register, some have each seller with a cash register. Both are known to work. Get the details and see if they work for you.

When tracking results, be sure to rate your market

Who buys your product?

When trying these ideas (and earning money), pay attention to the people who buy with you. Are they part of a certain age group? Are they males or females? Of a certain social stratum? These are all researches for the kind of people that make up your market.

Where do these people live? What do they look like? How old are they? What gender are they? Are these different nationalities? Where do they buy similar products? Do you meet a market need?

After this period of tracking sales, places and people, you are really ready to start writing a plan.

The difference is that you will have actual numbers and not composite numbers. You will also want to write about your products, the competition and the staff. You have also already obtained the answers for these subjects.

You have everything you need for a simple business plan. You can show the banker, if you need it, exactly what you have done while you are growing your business. You don't put your dreams and wishes on paper. You put facts and figures and proof that your business is working.

Our next video is Before you write your next plan and you will hear from real people in real cities who no longer write old-fashioned business plans.

About Deb Brown

Deb Brown comes from a farm outside of Geneva, Iowa, population 141. Her heart is in sharing opportunities for small towns. Deb travels a lot, hitting the roads when possible and talking to locals, sharing stories from other small towns and cheering on everyone who will listen. She is co-founder of and owner of Building Possibility.

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