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Get in the Game
“The business plan is the number one thing that the lender looks for [when determining] if the project is feasible or not,” says Lori Chillingworth, executive vice president of business banking at Zions Bank. The plan should include all facets of the business, including its purpose, goals, products, niches, competitors, vendors, capital and more.
Chillingworth says the plan should also include detailed financial projections, an area where many applicants fall short. Most business owners include their projected costs and profits, but neglect to include the assumptions used to get to those figures. “Anyone can pull numbers out of the air,” Chillingworth says. “If you don’t include the assumptions, the projections are not as powerful as they should be to the reader.”
It’s also important to remember that the loan application is about more than just facts and figures—it’s about you. “Without you, the company wouldn’t exist,” Chillingworth says. “Sell yourself on what you know and why you can do this.” When working with the lender, it is crucial to emphasize your experience, expertise and skill set. You need to prove to the lender that you’re worth the risk they’re taking on your business.
Where to turn for more information—The Utah Small Business Administration (SBA) is a one-stop shop for business plan resources, including step-by step business plan instructions. Find it online at www.sba.gov.