Columns Opinion Your Views — 26 June 2014
The Business Plan: The one resource every business owner must know about

Bill Reagan

By Bill Reagan
(File Photo)

Our staff at the Alexandria Small Business Development Center recently updated our Web site (www.alexandriasbdc.org), making it better suited to help existing business owners as well as those thinking about starting a business.

This overhaul was made possible with dollars from the city, and we believe it will support and greatly benefit the small businesses that fuel our local economy. One of our primary objectives heading into the redesign was creating an uncluttered and intuitive Web site, full of information that answers entrepreneurs’ common questions. We added many new helpful resources and additional content to the site and also gave businesses several different ways to access that information. Many entrepreneurs will be interested in information tailored to their individual circumstances, whether they are starting out, looking to expand or just getting a better handle on their day-to-day operation.

Aspiring entrepreneurs will find a wealth of information on the startup checklist, which outlines an important sequence of steps to follow in order to start a business in Alexandria. Our approachable layout, with drop-down details, lets entrepreneurs gain a better understanding of the critical requirements in each step of the process. Equipped with this information from the beginning, entrepreneurs can effectively manage their time, focus and money while minimizing costly and frustrating surprises.

Another great resource on the website is the “Business Planning Guide,” which helps entrepreneurs carefully plan their venture by prompting them to think through a variety of considerations — including a few they might otherwise overlook. The guide provides detailed instructions for putting together financial projections and even includes instructions on style and language to make the final document appealing to loan officers or investors.

While there are several useful tools for new entrepreneurs, the Web site is not just for startups. Existing business owners will find practical and worthwhile help under the resources and programs section. Don’t forget to check out our interactive resource library, which allows users to filter and sort documents on a variety of criteria.

The information in the aforementioned section has been grouped into three categories: “Stage of Business,” “Industry,” and “Area of Need.” For example, a restaurateur can find specialized information for food service under the industry heading. A business with questions about hiring an employee would be able to visit the human resources and employer issues page under “Area of Need.” There is something for everyone in the resources and programs section.

We also streamlined our process for requesting a one-on-one session with one of our counselors. Now, businesses interested in receiving free and confidential counseling can visit the appropriate section of our site and submit a pre-counseling questionnaire, thus giving our staff all of the relevant information about the business’ needs prior to setting up an appointment.

Our new Web site provides much needed help for startups as well as existing businesses and is a great reference for those who care about solving business problems and getting entrepreneurs timely information. We hope you will take the time to check it out.

The writer is the executive director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.

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