PLATTSBURGH — As Martin McCarthy got rolling with his new Champlain business, A & E Logistics, he welcomed guidance from the North Country Small Business Development Center.
He met several times with center Business Adviser Angela Smith as he developed his business plan for his freight-forwarding enterprise. And while center staffers won’t write a plan for you, McCarthy said, they provided invaluable assistance as he developed it.
”I don’t think I’d be where I am without them,” he said.
McCarthy was among the entrepreneurs who attended a recent workshop put on by the center, where staff emphasized the importance of a well-thought-out business plan, whether for a new business or to expand an existing one.
”Basically, the center and focus point of a business plan is you,” said Andy Allison, a certified business adviser with the center.
Free, confidential assistance is available, he told participants at the workshop.
An important part of the process is to do a realistic self-assessment, he said. It should include a look at how hard participants are willing to work for success, whether this the right time to start or expand a business and if the resources to are there to help it succeed.
Banks are willing to extend credit, Allison said, but like to see evidence of a well thought-out proposal. Lenders focus on issues such as character, collateral, capacity to repay the loan, capital and conditions that could affect success.
Market research is another key, he said. It is extremely important to identify potential customers.
”The competition for them is very severe.”
To that end, business people should know what customers expect, what drives their buying decisions and demographics of the targeted population.
”All that affects how many people you can get in the door,” Allison said.