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Writing a business plan


New Member
I've been selling signs on the side for a couple years now and looking to get more into it full time, I'm trying to write a business plan and would appreciate some direction to resources, and advice from people with some realistic projections, and average sales for the sign industry.

I've been in the sign business for over 12 years, and have done many different jobs from painting to design to sales to install, needing to get more familiar with the business end of it, and wanted to try to get off on the right foot, I'll still be working part time.


New Member
Look into the SBA in your area. they usually offer service for free and can help you with some of the research.


New Member
Good for you. It's a nice change of pace to hear that you're getting into this business and trying to start off on the right foot.
The one question I have to ask you is why do you want to write a plan?
The SBA website offers a wealth of information that will get you thinking, but it won't really do much good when it comes to the business end of the business. Only experience counts here because trying to find someone who is successful in this business and willing to share all their knowledge is a little challenging.
Anyway, the SBA links to www.Bplans.com for sample business plans. If you want to spend a few hundred bucks on their software, it may make writing the plan a little easier.
www.census.gov offers a couple of reports on the sign industry. Although it is somewhat dated, it will give you more general info. It can also provide you with economic and market conditions for your area.
The trade associations, www.ussc.org and www.signs.org, can get you industry info, but more detailed info comes at a price. Check out the link I posted here...
Also, check with your local colleges and universities and your state and county. They may have a Small Business Development Center (SBDC), be associated with www.SCORE.org, or offer any number of programs to assist you with starting and running a business.
However, none of this info is really useful until you answer my first question. Once you answer it, you'll start to find your direction. The other things you have to consider, is why do you want to be in business for yourself? This is when you really have to get philosophical. Are you just looking to create a job for yourself, or are there other personal needs that you need to address? Remember, a business is just a tool. Just like a computer or a brush is a tool to get things accomplished in the sign industry, your business is just a tool that gets things accomplished in your personal life.



New Member

Thanks everyone for their advise, and thanks for the links Checkers, I'm actually been going to the sba/score right now, and to answer your question I never though I needed to write a business plan, now that I'm learning how to, it makes sence to do so, it gives you a goal to shoot for, and you can keep track of your projections, see where your at in your goals for your business. As I'm starting small I probably don't need to, but it's an excellent idea for when I want to expand, or when I want to start another business down the line.
For the reasons of starting my own business, I've been in it for over 12 years, I started as a painter/color matcher/graphics for a large exterior sign company, then I was a designer/graphics manager for a commercial sign company, then I went into the fast sign place with a guy that bought a franchise, there I learned how to price and found I could sell, something I never thought I had in me as I was always behind the scenes, then I found people were bypassing the owner and coming strait to me because they knew I could get what they wanted.
Basically, I'm tired of doing all the work, and scrapping by, graphic designers are a dime a dozen anymore, so I want to take my all around knowledge in signage, put it together with my artistic skills, and start getting a customer base together, I know it won't be easy, and there's lots to learn as I go, but I have to believe if these guys can come in and buy a franchise with no sign experience, I can do it to, that's all I hear is how a good sign company is hard to find, and there seems to be no shortage of work around the Atlanta area.
How to write a business plan

outline your goals and your objectives. the first few pages of your business plan are the most important if they are going to be reviewed by a lendor.

tell why you are starting your business or how you started it if you are already in business.

put your long and short term business goals into writing. who will be your target market, how long will it take to build your customer base, at what rate will your sales increase...

why are you qualified to run this type of business? give your bio but make it relate to this endevour.

what services/products are you going to offer? what is going to make you different than every other sign company? try to articulate yourself in a way that ppl outside of our industry can understand our products and services, avoid industry language that ppl outside of our trade woulld not understand.

what is the demand for your products in services? how large of a area are you going to have to service to be successful? what is the market potential? this section will most likely require the most research

how are you going to market your products and services? and what is it going to cost you to market your products and services

what are your projections 3yr 5 yr include financial forecast and why you are projecting what you are. Include balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow projections. If you are looking for outside funding this is where you outline how much you need.

make sure you include a exit strategy this is how many ppl end their business plans. identify at what point you need to cut your losses and call it quits...


New Member
Even if you try to start small, but have any intentions of growing beyond creating a job for yourself, you'll need the plan. Guess how I know :)
The reason why some of the franchises are so successful is because they have a good business plan and the operations manuals, and that's, literally and figuratively, money in the bank. On average, a franchise business has an 80% chance of success. Compare that to a typical independent company who has an 80% chance of failure and you'll understand what I mean.
Just about everyone here knows that making a basic sign is easy. The hard part is running the business profitably while providing products and services that will help your clients. So, not only do you have to work in the business, handling the day to day operations, you also have to make sure you work on the business to insure its success.
So, work with your coaches, build your team and be prepared for one wild ride. And remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes up to 5 years to get your business established, and another 2 to 5 years before you can consider yourself successful. From there, it starts to get a little easier :smile: