navigational tools: map, compass, telescope, etc.Before you can get financing, open shop or sell a single widget, you need to create a business plan.  Although many small business owners view this “time-consuming paperwork” as needless, a business plan provides an overall blueprint for your company, long and short-term goals and the overall vision of how your business will run day-to-day and year-to-year.  A well-written business plan lets your financiers, vendors, and associates know that you are serious about your business’ future and committed to making it a success—so much that you put it in writing.

There are nine elements that are contained within every successful business plan:

  • Executive Summary: This is a concise, but detailed, synopsis of your entire business plan.  More than likely you will write this last.  It will contain the following:
    • The date the business began or will begin.
    • The names and functions of the founders.
    • The number and function of any employees.
    • The business’ location, branches or subsidiaries and a description of them.
    • A description of the product or services your business provides.
    • Information regarding financial funding, such as investors or loans.
    • The companies financial and market growth.
    • Plans and goals for management.
  • Market Analysis:  This section should demonstrate your knowledge and ability to adapt to changes in your business’ industry.  You will need to:
    • Describe the size of your industry.
    • The historic growth rate and relating trends and characteristics occurring currently.
    • The major product and service users.
    • Your target market’s demographics, size, and purchasing information.
    • How you will obtain market share through advertising and public relations.
    • Your pricing plan.
    • Market tests completed and the results.
    • A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) analysis.
    • Regulatory requirements.
  • Company Description: This will describe how your company functions in a manner that satisfies a market's needs and what makes or will make it successful at doing so.
  • Organization & Management:  A successful company is a living organization.  This section describes who makes your company a success and how.  It will do this by presenting:
    • The organizational structure of personal.
    • Who owns the company, how much and their management involvement.
    • The resumes of management personnel.
    • The board of directors or advisors.
  • Marketing & Sales Management:  There is a saying that nothing happens until somebody sells something.  This sections shows how you will do this and touches upon:
    • How you will penetrate the market.
    • How you will grow market share.
    • Who will sell.
    • How they will reach the customer.
    • How you will compensate your sales team.
  • Service or Product Line: Explain your service or product, its distinct advantages, and the problem it solves for its potential market.  Information about future products and services should also be included in this section.
  • Funding Request: This section describes your current and future funding needs, your use of the funds, and anything that would affect that funding request.
  • Financials:  This shows historical and prospective financial data.
  • Appendix: This section can vary as necessary but may contain:
    • Credit history
    • Resumes of management
    • Product pictures
    • Letters of reference
    • Market research data
    • Licenses, permits, or patents
    • Legal documents
    • Copies of leases, building permits, etc.
    • Contracts
    • Your advisory team members

After you complete a rough draft of your business plan, you will want to have someone with experience in small business and your industry review it for additional guidance.  If you ask those with experience in business start-ups or small business finance, they will tell you that projections are almost always too optimistic and are never achieved.  A second set of eyes can help evaluate your business assumptions for accuracy and guide you to providing more thorough research.

Enterprise Bank, as a subsidiary of Enterprise Financial Services Group, Inc., regularly partners with a number of economic development programs and small business resources throughout our market area. These programs and organizations provide a wide spectrum of assistance to new and existing small business owners from business planning assistance and startup counseling to government contracting and gap financing. Many of these programs are geographically specific, but many others are available to all entrepreneurs statewide. Some are government sponsored, while others are private non-profit organizations. We have listed only a few here that the Bank works with regularly, but there are many others that provide valuable services to the small business community. In addition to the information here, we also invite you to visit to view the Business Quick Guide produced by the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, which contains contain information on a myriad of other resources available to businesses within the region.

Among the most widely used of these resources are the network of Small Business Development Centers throughout the Commonwealth which are joint efforts of the Small Business Administration, the PA Department of Community & Economic Development and the State’s system of higher education. These centers operate from colleges and universities within our market area, and provide free one-on-one counseling to new and existing entrepreneurs, as well as providing group training on topics of interest to small business owners, and serving as a conduit for small businesses to other resources and programs.

Similarly, there is also an active network of Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) Chapters in the Bank’s market area. This group of volunteers sponsored by the SBA also provide free one-on-one counseling and pre-business workshops for those considering starting a business. SCORE counselors are retired or semi-retired business owners, executives and professionals that use their business experience to mentor others who are just starting or expanding their small businesses.

Below are several of those groups. For more information on any organization listed, please visit their website.

Altoona Blair County Development
3900 Industrial Park
Altoona, PA  16602
Phone: 814-944-6113

Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania 

3819-33 Chestnut Street, Suite 325
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3238
Phone: 215-898-1219
Fax: 215-573-2135


Bridgeway Capital
707 Grant Street, Suite 1920
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412-201-2450
Fax: 412.201.2451


Regional Development Funding Corporation
3856 South Water Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Phone: 412-471-1030 ext. 101
Fax: 412-471-3902

Catalyst Connection
2000 Technology Drive
Pittsburgh, PA  15219
Phone: 412-918-4300
Fax: 412-687-2791


Riverside Center for Innovation/Northside Civic Development Center
700 River Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Phone: 412-322-3523
Fax: 412.322.3513

Duquesne University Small Business Development Center
108 Rockwell Hall
600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282-0103  
Phone: 412-396-6233
Fax: 412-396-5884


Saint Vincent College Small Business Development Center
300 Fraser Purchase Road
Latrobe, PA 15650-2690
Phone: 724-537-4572

Indiana County Center for Economic Development
Dana P. Henry
Indiana County Center for Economic Operations
1019 philadelphia Street
Indiana, PA 15701
Phone: 800-626-2662
Fax: 724-465-3706


SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives)
411 7th Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Phone: 412-395-6560 ext. 130

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center
Tony Palamone, Director
664 Pratt Drive, Suite 108
Indiana, PA  15705
Telephone: 724-357-7915
Fax: 724-357-5985


The Progress Fund
425 West Pittsburgh Street
Greensburg, PA 15601
Phone: 724-216-9160
Fax: 724-216-916

Northern Allegheny Chamber of Commerce
5000 Brooktree Road
Wexford, PA 15090
Phone: 724-934-9700
Fax: 724-934-9710


University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center
First Floor
Wesley W. Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-648-1542
Fax: 412-648-1636

PA Department of Community and Economic Development,
Entrepreneurial Assistance Office

Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, 4th Floor
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
Phone: 800-280-3801


Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh
200 Ross Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2016
Telephone: 412.255.6600
Fax: 412.255.6617

Books Available at the Resource Center

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