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A brainstorm guide for your startup

Orange Blossom

Encouraging Local Startup Businesses across New Mexico.  Planning Guide


This planning guide for your startup business, it is not written in stone, should be flexible. Using a long piece of butcher paper, 

  • draw 12-month sections across the top;

  • fold sheet into 3 equal parts across, label:

    1. Logistics: Tasks to grow the business

    2. Financial: sources (expenses/income)

    3. Marketing & Business Workshops

  • Use guide tasks and resources to add to timeline

  • Create a "parking lot" page for ideas that don't yet have a place. 

  • Task sheet: Identify taks and person to  research and report back for next time.

  • This is a living document: adjust items/activities over time.

Follow the numbers 1-8.  This guide is intended to establish an early brainstorm  that can lead to a business plan. 

This list is not exhaustive, you may add on, evolve or delete tasks.  

For free or low cost classes on developing your business plan visit: WESST, SMBD,

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  • Begin with People

Begin with the people who are engaged with your vision and willing to put several days into a brainstorm outline.  Leave judgement out, write every contribution somewhere on the sheet.

identify folks who have vision, ability to think forward, creative, & organized.  

Identify and use those skills, talent, and strengths each person can contribute to the brainstorm.

By the end of the brainstorm your supporters will self-identify if they wish to continue to the next phase.



  • Next steps

In a second phase, your team can flesh out the details of the brainstorm in one hour increments.  Take the first three months; then continue filling in details, then for every three months. 

Hold those ideas and list what assets you have and those you do not yet have: be specific, who, what, where when and how.

This may be a good time to look at topics and tools, skills, and knowledge to grow.  Insert them in your timeline.


It is also a good time to begin lookong for a mentor for experienced support.


  • Business location & operation expenses

Location costs: what will it cost to locate your business: brick and mortar; rent office space/utilities; studio; warehouse; etc

Phone and internet exp.  

 Salaries; computers, phones, copiers, desks, workspaces.

Employee Salaries

Research product supplies, machines, tools, etc. 

Business insurance

Product inventory storage and handling space, shipping costs, etc.

Marketing costs: business cards, online presence, website, adds.

Services: bookkeeping; taxes; social media manager; consultants


  • Sales and Marketing

  • Identify your audience &  clients. Explore: how narrow or broad are they; local or national; in person or online, both?

  • Begin a social media marketing  strategy.  A  timeline for growing. It's never too early yet hold off on a deep and costly dive.

  • List free social media for business (not personal pages); Free still costs in time and creativity.

  • When will you have your first business card?

  • How will you get paid? Cash, checks, credit cards?  Cash box; bank deposits, payment apps; daily/weekly records

  • Point of sale?; online store?

  • How will you reach your audience? business website; business social media platforms? Email, blogs, podcast?

  • Will you hire a social media manager

  • Will you market online? make a 6 month, 12 month, 2 year social media plan and landing page.


  • Explore great ideas

  • What is your product and purpose?  

  • List potential business names   

  • Explore logo designs

  • List products/services for research, design and development.

  • What talent/skills needed in 6-12 mo?

  • Invite team members to set a next time to fill in details/tasks on timeline.


  • Finances:  What about $$

Identify savings or income you can draw from to invest in your business.  $100 a month; $300 a month?

What bills do you already pay that supports a business? Home office/studio? Utilities? Phone/Internet? 

Do you have silent or active partner/ investors?

What can you afford through a regular income?

Will you seek out investors?

Will you take out low interest loans?

Are there low interest, small business or minority loans available to you?


  • Legal business entity

How soon do you want to establish a legal business entity? 6 months/12 months

Determine your structure: sole proprietor; partnership etc.

Establish a business name

Business address

City application for business License.

Research forms for your Tax FEIN number 

Where will you open your business bank account?


  • Grow business savvy, Classes, resources; tools for growth

"You don't know what you don't know."


I highly recommend, AFTER completing your brainstorm, begin to research local small business development organizations. WESST; SBDC; MSBD; SCORE


Near all workshops are free or at no cost and worth the time, yet take time to match workshops to your plan.   

Be selective, don't sign up for every course, make sure it serves you in your timeframe. Pace yourself, workshops come around again.

At the same time, match yourself with a free mentor from  SBDC.   Invite them to look at your brainstorm.  Ask  for feedback, be flexible, Draw from their experience.  It could save you time, money and headaches.


Be assured, your startup plan will take 3-6 months, just to start.  Longer if you are working a job.  


Similar to creating a plan for social media, a plan for business workshops can support your timeline and growth. Between workshops, stay focused on other aspects of your growing business.  


Completing this brainstorm exercise, offers a smart guide toward writing your business plan.  It also serves as a reference of how much you accomplished and flexible along the process.  

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