Q: I want to open a gym. I have the vision, the mission statement, and the blueprints, but need a successful business plan. Is there a mentor who could teach me how to [write one and] also lead me in the direction of eager investors?
–D. Allan, Capitol Heights, MD
A: The first step to building a relationship with a mentor is to bring something to the table. In your case, it would be a business plan. The importance of a well thought-out, organized business plan cannot be overstated. Perhaps you are having trouble creating one because your desire outweighs your actions. Any mentor worth his salt will probably recommend that you start by asking yourself these questions:
- What service or product does your business provide and what needs does it fill?
- Who are the potential customers for your product or service and why will they purchase it from you?
- How will you reach your potential customers?
- Where will you get the financial resources to start your business?
These questions, from the Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov), will give you a sense of the critical thinking involved in creating a business plan. In addition, the business plan will help you allocate resources and is often a crucial part of any financing decisions from third parties. How to Write a Business Plan by Mike McKeever (Nolo; $34.99) and The Business Side of Fitness by Thomas Plummer (Healthy Learning; $39.95) should also give you the direction you seek.