It happens to a lot of businesses that start out self-funded: since nobody is requiring a business plan from them, they don’t think they need one. It’s not long before they realize what they’re missing.

That’s what happened to Monique Riviere, of Springdale, Maryland, when she bought her V2K Window Décor & More franchise two and a half years ago. V2K is an independently owned franchise providing custom window coverings and installation services to residential and commercial clients.

“There didn’t seem to be a need for a formal business plan — I didn’t have a lender that I needed to present my case to. Midway into my first year, I realized I was being pulled in many different directions. I needed to get my goals down on paper so that I didn’t respond to every whim, which could waste both time and money,” Monique remembers.

Like many small-business owners, Monique wasn’t sure she could write a business plan herself, but found the cost of having a professional do it prohibitive. “I felt very intimidated by the process and didn’t know where to start. I got estimates from a few companies starting in the low $1,000s, which was out of my range.”

Before she knew it, she was in her second year of business and still didn’t have a plan. Small business counselors with whom she consulted wanted to see one but, she says, “I had nothing to show.” It was time to get serious about writing a business plan, so she set out to find a computer program to help. Her requirements for the software: user-friendly, low-cost, and updatable.

She discovered that Business Plan Pro met those criteria. “I was immediately comfortable with the step-by-step interview process and impressed by both the interface and the content. My most intimidating areas – financials and market research – were even made simple.”

Being at ease with her business plan allowed Monique to enjoy the aspect of owning a business that excites her most: the freedom. “Charting my own path and determining how successful I want to be. The rewarding feeling at the end of a long, hard project makes it all worth it.”

Besides recommending having a business plan, Monique has some advice to entrepreneurs starting down the same road she did: “If you can partner with someone you know, like, and trust, do it! If not, make sure you have the consistent support of family, friends, and colleagues. You’ll need it to get through the bad days.”

The take away from Monique’s experience? Don’t kid yourself — you do need a business plan.

Jay Snider
Palo Alto Software