Financial planning is more important than money when starting a business
With or without money, the worst thing you can do when starting a business is ignore basic financial planning. Help is out there.
Both start-up and existing businesses have a variety of financial needs. Time spent analyzing what those needs are and planning how to meet them will contribute greatly to the success of any business. The good news is that you’re not alone, and there are several tools to aid in the financial planning process.
Lenders often require projected financial statements or cash analysis spreadsheets accompanied by a written narrative. This financial picture will make or break your opportunity to secure funding, as it will demonstrate your ability to generate income and achieve your financial goals. Here are a couple of great web-based worksheets that are available for free.
- Cash Flow Spreadsheets (Michigan SBTDC) Blank forms are provided to help complete financial plan documents.
- Financial Projection Templates (SCORE) Numerous Excel templates including balance sheet, profit & loss statement, financial ratio, amortization schedule, and financial diagnostics.
There are many agencies and resources in Michigan that can help entrepreneurs address these and other business planning challenges. Begin by contacting your local Michigan State University Extension office or local Chamber of Commerce. Additional resources include the Michigan Small Business Technology Development Center and your local economic development agency.
Local lenders serving your region can also be helpful, but keep in mind…they are not a charity and although they certainly want you to succeed, they are in business to make a profit. Don’t be surprised when they require personal capital investment (skin in the game), collateral and other ways to back up a loan.
Other web-based sources for information are:
- FAQ's. The U.S. Small Business Association offers extensive information and articles regarding small business financing. A good place to start is in the site's "Frequently Asked Questions about Business Financing" section.
- Equity Financing and Dilution Calculator. This tool helps entrepreneurs understand the impact of raising money for an early stage venture.
- Understanding Small Business Needs and Capital Access Barriers in Northern Lower Michigan. This report was published by Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development.
- Business Connect Tool Kit. More than $3 billion initiative for Michigan business.
- Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center - IRS Small Business Advantage gives you the information you need to stay tax compliant.
A quick word about grants. Of course there is always the rare exception, but generally grant monies are usually not available for new venture businesses.
There are sources however where you may find grant information. Check out your local library, area Business Resource Center, or online: