Do you know how to take control of your business's image online?  Google your business name, what do the search results show?  If you would like to be sure that a google search results in showing current and correct information about your business, there are a few easy steps you can take to control.  Go to GYBO - Get your business online, click on "check my business" and follow the prompts to enter your business information.  You can enter your contact information, photos, hours of operation, company description and more.  Another great benefit of this service provided by Google is that you'll be able to access "Google Analytics," where you can keep tabs on how many people are searching for and viewing your business information.  This information could be helpful in building your marketing plans in the future.

Now that you've figured out how to control your online business image, it's time to get back to the business plan drafting!  One of the most important segments of your business plan involves your financials, especially if you are using your business plan to seek funding from lenders.  A lender will want to see that you have a well thought out plan, giving them confidence that you will be able to pay back the funds that you borrow.  The Building a Sustainable Business book has some great worksheets that can help you with market assessment, working assets, lease agreements, income statements, cash flow and balance sheets (on pages 68 to 83, and 220 to 225).  Do you have an understanding of how much you have to sell in order for your business to be profitable?  It may also be helpful for you to do a break even analysis of your business (pages 169-170) which can help you to understand if you are pricing your products correctly, if your overhead is too high, etc.  Running the numbers is an important step in developing a sound business plan - it's important to know what your financial hurdles are and if your business idea truly has potential for success.

One more thing to consider when you are working through the financials of your business is taxes.  Do you know if your purchases or sales are tax exempt?  Do you plan on hiring employees on your farm and do you know how to withhold taxes from their wages?  It's important to understand the tax code and what parts of it apply to your business. The Iowa Department of Revenue has a nice online resource that can help you to understand how to navigate taxes with your farm business. 

Once you've thought through all of the various components of your business financials, marketing mission/vision, and have a solid understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, you should have enough information to work through the rest of the business plan template.  With a finished business plan, you can move forward with your business with confidence.  When you look to make changes to your business in the future, it's always good to look back at your business plan to be sure you're still following your mission and to adjust your business plan as your business grows.

If you need more guidance with building a business plan, contact your local Iowa Small Business Development Center and they may be able to provide you with some counseling.