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Work & Money

The Secrets to Writing a Good Business Plan

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 2pm ET

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Use these Small Business Administration tools and tips to build your business.



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En español | More and more boomers are taking the entrepreneurial route. But starting a business is a risky venture.

See also: AARP and SBA team up to help 50+ entrepreneurs.

Before taking the plunge, take a hard look at yourself, your finances, and your business ideas. Research, network and plan, plan, plan.

Thinking About Starting a Business

Go ahead, aim high, but know what you're getting into when you start your own business. — Photo by Matthias Tunger/Getty Images

Analyze Yourself

  • Do you have the confident, take-charge personality it takes to run your own show?
  • Does your family support your entrepreneurial project?
  • Do you have the tenacity to stick with it?
  • Are you ready for a significant time commitment? Starting a business often involves more than a 40 hours a week.
  • Are you comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty and chaos?
  • Are you a risk-taker? 

Identify Your Product or Service

  • Take the time to choose. Carefully compare the pros and cons, the risks and benefits, of each type of business.
  • Look for a business that allows you to specialize and fills a growing need.
  • Learn the business by working for someone in the same business first.
  • Pick something that you will enjoy doing.

Know the Financial Risks

  • Don’t use your retirement income to start a business. Consider a small-business loan to get you started.
  • Know that you have the resources and cash flow to cover a start-up period of a year or more.
  • Consider “moonlighting,” that is, starting a business in your off-hours while still working. But avoid all possible conflicts with your existing job.
  • Beware of self-employment scams.

Develop a Good Business Plan

A business plan shows why your idea is workable, how your business will operate, and how much your income and expenses will be.

The checklist for starting a company from the Small Business Administration is a good place to start. It helps you assess your situation, identify a niche, analyze the market and organize your finances.

It’s not enough to have a good product. You must know how to market and sell it. How will you reach your targeted market? What will make people buy your product?

Use the online workshops and templates from the Small Business Administration to help you develop your plan.

Get Help

Contact SCORE — Counselors to America’s Small Business — for free, confidential counseling on starting up a business.

The Riley Guide has links to many sources of help for setting up your small business.

You may also like: How job hunting has changed.

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