PO means "Purchase Order". When doing business with large companies this is a standard way of securing an order. They issue you a formal "Purchase Order" which specifies all the terms and conditions of them purchasing your product from you.
In some states and countries, a PO (Purchase Order) is considered a contractual commitment, which can be bound by the courts - in fact so much so, that there are companies that will loan businesses money based on the PO's they have on the go and use the PO as security. Purchase Order Financing is a fairly common way of growing a business when one doesn't want to deal with high interest lenders and credit card companies.
For example: Williams Sonoma orders 5 pallets of boxed chocolates. You need to order 2,000lbs of chocolate for that, but can't afford to pay for the ingredients, and maybe you even need a special piece of equipment to fulfill the order. You can approach a Purchase Order financing company to front you between 50 and 80% of the total purchase price to buy your supplies and equipment.
I know, probably more than you wanted to know, but this knowledge now opens up possibility for you down the road.
do not bank on those BIG places to sell to, They are all now requiring a certification from the GFSI (global food safety initiative) if you are food or agri approved that is NOT valid any more, you will need the independent audited cetification that will run a small business upwards of $30,000 and tons of headaches. Advice is to STAY away form those who require this certification.
also NO no one will finance a PO, they will only finance the amount after YOU deliver the order, ( they are called factorers) they give you money minus 20% and they wait the 30 days to get paid BUT if you sell an order for $150,000 and you have the ability to fill and deliver, why give up $30,000 to get the money sooner then 30 days.
if you think the banks or VCs or those who say "pay us $1000 and well put you in touch with an investor"? you will loose your $1000
I appreciate the answer, and it is hard to walk away from the big chains at times. However I will never sign with companies like Costco, Walmart/Sam's, etc. unless they change some of their philosophies. I consider Whole Foods baby steps still. One region at a time.
Same with many others. I do have a different product than pure chocolate however, and although it is perishable on it's own merits, its shelf life is longer, but I see the angle that I need to take.
Again, many thanks for your advice.
We wrote a 45 page business plan, and like all good business plans you will burn it the day you open. We needed money, and we needed it at the pit of the recession. Yea, that was fun.
So don't do an extensive labor intensive plan. You need a cash flow sheet, you need to know what spokes of the wheel you're going to be going after money with and set some expectations of how you will profit. Then launch, and after Q1 refactor your cash flow model and start adjusting for reality.
I often suggest people find the SBA, SCORE, and SBTDC as places to go for advice in your region. They can help with advice, financial models, and shaking your logic tree. Very helpful stuff.
If you are able get some advisors you can talk to who can give you honest advice or thoughts. You don't have to take it, but you learn a lot from a variety of voices.
It can't be stressed enough that the real meat is once you start. Monthly or quarterly keep updating your sheets so you can get a gauge on where you are, where you are going, and what is needed to survive and thrive.
Much luck! :D
Thanks to all who contributed to this discussion...I am in the same position as Jennifer, and it helps to keep me focused, and move forward.
business plans are for securing capital, If you have the cash you do not need the business plan. Impress people with products not images of what is possible. My business plan allowed me to raise over $1,000,000 and eventually took my company public. after that the business plan was no longer needed.