business plan

Writing a Business Plan for Your Unused Equipment

Marshall Atkinson is a graduate of Florida State University (BS in Art) and is now the owner of Atkinson Consulting LLC. He worked for T-Formation of Tallahassee Inc. for nearly 18 years as both art director and vice president of operations and was instrumental in the company's third-party certification through the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership - the first apparel company to receive such accreditation. Atkinson has participated on trade show and webinar industry panel discussions regarding sustainability and the Consumer Product Safety Information Act. Currently, he is also responsible for the education division of InkSoft

To learn more about Atkinson Consulting, visit:

You know that chunk of hardware that you “had to have” a short time ago. It was going to solve all of your problems, remember? Now, that piece of equipment is pushed to the side of the shop. Rather than letting another day go by of it collecting dust and taking up valuable space, today is the day we are going to work up a plan to breathe new life into that idea. It made a lot of sense once, and it can again. Here’s the nitty gritty on how to get it up and running.

Spend some quality time and write final operations or business plans for the neglected piece of equipment. I’m pointing to that D2 printer, polybagger, cylindrical press, embroidery sample machine, heat press, vinyl cutter, sublimation printer, etc. Come up with a detailed game plan. Include SMART goals to help define your objectives. Remember a SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Review the plan with your team one last time. It should be detailed with at least the following details:

  • Staff members should have assignments with due dates
  • Training should be coordinated with regular duty coverage and positioned with dates and times on a calendar
  • You should have those SMART goals written out

Remember, a goal without a plan is a wish. Make it happen.

Operations Planning

A good operation plan is essentially five ideas. For this project, think about why a piece of equipment didn't work out and how working on these issues could resolve that challenge.

  • Who should be working on what? This details your people and who needs to be involved.
  • What resources are needed? Resources can be supplies, as well as time, money, or training.
  • Examine the risks. Things can go south. What are the most common problems? Do you understand them?
  • Prevent the risks. How are you going to stop these from happening?
  • Strategically plan. Once you’ve outlined the four areas above, write a strategic plan in a SMART goal format.

Operational planning is all about creating a positive direction and establishing accountability.

What do you need to do, and who is doing it?

Business Planning

It is not uncommon to have a master business plan for the entire business, and also one for just a single segment. There is a wonderful free template at the Small Business Administration that I have been recommending for years. Use it.

A basic outline of what you’ll need to focus on are these areas:

  • Executive Summary: Snapshot of your business and a brief outline of key goals.
  • Company Description: Information on what you do, what differentiates your business from others, and the markets you serve.
  • Market Analysis: Overview of the research into your business market, customers, and competitors.
  • Organization and Management: Detail on how everything runs in your shop.
  • Service or Product Line: What are you selling? How will it benefit your customers?
  • Marketing and Sales: How do you plan to market your business? What is your sales strategy? Outline your pricing strategy.
  • Funding: Do you need more capital to get going or to grow?
  • Financial Projections: P&L (profit and loss statement), breakeven analysis, and more.
  • Appendix: All of your documentation.

One of the areas that people have problems with is that they make a big purchase to solve a problem, but don’t outline a roadmap on how they are going to do it. A business plan can provide a compass for you to make good decisions.

Read Marshall's full-length blog on powering up unused equipment here