The Almighty Business Plan

Jun 05 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

The Almighty Business PlanFrom the ebook, Micro Loans: Finance Your DreamsBy Darrin F. Coe, … to Richard Greene, in his book, From One … to … to Start, Manage, Grow and

The Almighty Business Plan
From the ebook,Guest Posting Micro Loans: Finance Your Dreams
By Darrin F. Coe, MA

According to Richard Greene, in his book, From One Entrepreneur to Another.How to Start, Manage, Grow and Exit Your Own Small Business,

“The business plan is a guide toward achieving profitability
as quickly and economically as possible. It is a plan for
orderly growth. It is designed to help you raise capital.”

And according to the Black Enterprise Guide to Starting Your Own Business by Wendy Beech,

“Every business owner should craft this important document
before hanging out a shingle, but few do. Instead, many business
owners fly by the seat of their pants and manage to successfully sail
through the first few years of their operation without a plan.
However, when major problems crop up and threaten the life of
their company, the owners must scramble to find and apply
quick fixes.”

According to the Oakland Business Development Corporation, a micro loan
application should include a business plan that incorporates the following information

– use of funds requested
– cash flow
– income statements
– balance sheet
– assumptions as to how you arrived at your numbers

Wendy Beech again writes,

“Creating a business plan will force you to think through all of the essential
factors that will impact the success of your operation . . . Drafting a written
plan will help to ensure that you have not omitted any significant factors
that could kill your business. With a plan, it will be easier for you to
communicate your ideas to potential investors, suppliers, partners,
corporate boards of directors, and employees.”

Before you write your business plan

1. Identify the audience to whom you’re writing
– Internal audience
– employees
– co-owners
– board of directors
– partners
– External audience
– MICRO LOAN LENDERS
– bankers
– venture capitalists
– vendors/suppliers
– family members
– friends

2. Specify the type of business that you’re seeking to start

–will your business be providing a product?
– develop statements concerning the uniqueness of
your products
– why is your product worth caring about?
– what is your product’s unique selling point?
– will your business be providing a service?
– consider customer service
– consider presentation of services
– will your business provide both product and service?
– consider what makes your combination of product
and service unique and superior to the competition
– consider your market niche

3. Gather available resources to help you write your plan

– marketing research
– business records
– review your personal circumstances
– analyze personal assets and liabilities
– analyze financial assets and liabilities
– do you have or can you develop collateral?

4. Set a planning timetable
– beginning plans generally take a five year viewpoint
– develop a system so that you can review and modify you
plan every 3 to 4 months.

5. Consider possible outcomes about your business
– research all possible types of sources of information about your
type of business
– consider the external factors that will be beyond your control

6. Schedule time to write your business plan
– identify a writing start date
– set aside 15 to 60 minutes per day, at the same time everyday
to develop your plan

== Note ==
A personal friend of mine, Mike Phillips, started the company Rock Solid Health and Fitness. He spent hours everyday writing his business plan and it took him about 2 months to complete. It was easily over 50 pages long. So expect to put in some effort when developing a great business plan.
== Note ==

In conclusion, business planning is vital to the long term success of your entrepreneurial endeavor. Whether you’re planning a small home business, an internet-based business, or a larger project, business planning will help you develop that project and protect the success of that project for the long term.

Comments are off for this post

Getting Out The Word

Jun 05 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

At this very moment there are AT LEAST 9 other companies competing for YOUR customers. How will you convince them to buy from you?The success of any business depends upon its ability to attract, and retain, customers. When you started your company you decided many of the marketing strategies needed to bring a product or service to market. We show you how!

Getting Out the Word Small Business Edition by Linda Lullie,Guest Posting Inspired 2 Design, LLCAt this very moment there are AT LEAST 9 other companies competing for YOUR customers. How will you convince them to buy from you? Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers – ever wonder what did he do with them once he’d picked them all? Marketing is the process of picking, preparing, and pricing a product (or service) to promote for purchase. Peter may very well have gone into the salsa business, opened a produce stand, or a restaurant. But how did he draw customers in and get them to buy his spicy product? The success of any business depends upon its ability to attract, and retain, customers. When you started your company you decided many of the marketing strategies needed to bring a product or service to market. These strategies include how your business solves a problem or fills a need, and who your target market is, then you open the store. Now it’s time to drive traffic to your front door. Promotion is the process and the product of “getting out the word”. Rarely does a product or service arise that does not require some type of promotion to generate sales. There are three major strategies to connect with customers. Although each method can be effective independently, utilize a combination for a well-rounded marketing plan. A multi-channel approach utilizes Advertising (the production and placement of ads) with the personal interaction of Sales, and the least expensive – yet least controllable channel, Public Relations. Armed with all three, savvy business owners construct an arsenal of promotion tools. Your must determine which form of which method to use when and with whom – then evaluate cost effectiveness by a cost per response ratio. Advertising is, in its most simple form, the practice of informing the public about your goods or services – and compelling them to make a purchase. You control the message – which should be consistent with your identity, the placement – which should be targeted, and the frequency and timing – which should be often enough to remind your customers of who you are and what you do. Many believe that the average person must be exposed to an ad piece seven times to be motivated by it. The message should produce awareness and effectively maintain a positive image of your company, goods and services – while persuading the public that your goods or services outperform competitors. Getting the 411 When it comes to deciding where to spend advertising dollars, start with the basic Yellow Pages ad. All directory ads have one thing in common – they supply information to a consumer who is ready to buy a product or service. Therefore, directory ads represent the one time when you need not convince the consumer to buy – you just need to convince them to buy FROM YOU. Your ad will be surrounded by competitors’ ads for the same or similar goods and services. So, how do you convince the customer to hire you? First, your ad has to be seen. Second, your ad has to scream experience and reliability. Getting noticed is priority, so make sure your ad is under the heading that is most commonly sought after for your product or service. You don’t want an Air Conditioning business listed under Retirement Homes. Often there will be multiple categories for an ad under, so look through the book before you place the call. Multiple listings should also yield a discounted rate. Size matters! The bigger the ad, the more noticeable it will be, and the more information you can include. Look at competitors, look at your budget and then purchase the largest space you can afford. Content must-haves include products/services offered, years in business, licensing, any seals or other reliability sellers, logo, location, phone number, hours and website address. As with all your advertising monies spent, keep a record of which promotions return the best – so make it a point to ask new customers how they heard about your business – track and repeat the winners, dump the losers. The directory ad is just the beginning. What’s black, and white, and read all over? That old riddle is not far off the mark. Truth is, newspaper ads are location driven, and reach a broad audience. The broader the audience, the more difficult it becomes to target your specific customer. Difficult, however is not impossible and newspapers are often a fine tool for getting out the word. Carefully select the title, section, size, frequency, content and design of your ad – and the offer is crucial, so test a few different ones. Remember that dailies are short lived – today’s news is tomorrow’s recyclable. Frequency is often the solution to this challenge. Repeat ads build recognition and credibility. As the number one media for local advertising, competition in the newspaper arena is nearly as fierce as in the case of directory ads, so consult a marketing expert for help with the intricacies of newspaper advertising. A professional advertising agency will design and place ads for you. Leaving the important design decisions to your newspaper sales rep is NEVER a good idea.Local Yocals Local magazines, co-op mailers, and freebies are usually mailed or made available on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. They target convenience by hitting small segments of households or businesses within a limited radius – and they’re usually more affordable than daily papers. If your product or service is location reliant, this type of ad should be in the mix. Include an incentive coupon or such to drive initial sales. If you live close to your business, watch what comes in the mail daily – examine each piece and think like a buyer…is it something you normally open and read? What prompts you to buy? If you’re not interested in a publication, others may feel the same. Be critical and be selective. Most mailers of this type are printed on a higher quality paper stock than newsprint, and color reproduction is often improved to give you more options for creating an attention grabbing ad. On the downside of these publications, they’re often unsolicited and therefore readership numbers are harder to gauge than subscription publications.Hitting the Big Time Regional and national consumer magazines and trade journals have a longer shelf life than newspapers. Major magazines have extensive reader demographics, and allowing extremely targeting placement. If you’re a local business, most nationals have small target ranges, and if you have a website, in many cases you don’t even need to remain local only! Keep in mind that the audience size you select will impact the ad cost just as much as the size and type of ad you place. One drawback to monthly publications – lead time. Often you may wait months to see your ad in print. Research a few publications, compare rates and readership, then decide if your budget allows for magazines – the caviar of publication ads. Get To the Point, Please Targeted, response rate driven, and design unlimited, direct mail is often the most attractive form of print advertising for any size business. Costs are controllable and response rates measurable, and repeatable. Choosing your mailing list is the first step. If you’ve developed a list of prospects, and repeat customers, start there. If not, renting a list is as easy and affordable. Most direct mail packages include an envelope, sales letter, flier and a response card. The complete package cost will depend on quantity, paper, ink colors, and level of personalization. Professional design is a great way to ensure a consistent look, effective copy, and a better deal with the printer. Most design firms will have a relationship with a local printer. Advertising pros can help ensure your mail pieces are cost-effective and achieve results. Direct mail doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. Numerous formats of direct mail pieces offer low cost without sacrificing creative options. Postcards are the most inexpensive form of single mailing, offering a multitude of paper and design options. Self mailers also offer significant savings over the four piece mailer package. Three or four panel fold outs can be designed to include a letter, response card, flier and envelope all in one. While economical in production and printing costs, one drawback to self mailers is their uncanny ability to resemble junk mail. Make sure the outside copy compels the prospect to open the mailer. In this arena especially, it’s highly recommended that you test a small portion of your list, no more than 10% of your names, with any one content. Changing your outside copy can be as inexpensive as a black plate change. Code your tests and mail several at once to different random samples, then record the response rates, analyze the results and go with the most effective. You’ll want to see response rates in the 3-5% range to judge any direct mailing a success. Before responses start coming in, make sure you’re prepared to follow up leads quickly. Fulfillment, whether it’s information, a sales call, shipping a product, or performing a service, will indicate your company’s level of customer service. Don’t create a fantastic piece, mail an expensive list and then, fail to follow through. Scale your mailings to fit your company’s capabilities. When creating a brochure or catalog, professional photography and copy writing are critical. Once you gain the interest of a prospective customer, you now have the responsibility to wow them with a fast following of a great piece. Brochures can be bi, tri or quad folded, printed on paper that looks and feels good, and must be designed to close a sale. Testimonials, examples, locations, service guarantees, everything that’s good about your company product or service is here on the brochure. Catalog page counts, paper quality, overall piece size, image quality, four color vs. black and white, photos vs. illustrations must be decided prior to design. It’s an extension of your brand, so be consistent. New Tool of the Trade The Internet is the most required form of advertising in the new economy. The internet affords even the smallest company the opportunity to compete with the big boys by increasing access to otherwise unreachable markets. When you’re really ready to get out the word about your business, there’s no better tool for advertising across town, or around the world, than a website. You cannot grow your business exponentially without a web presence. It doesn’t really matter what type of business you’re in, a website will work for you. Your competition is or will be there, so decide now – will it be your place or mine that customers visit for information, service and convenience – and ultimately, to spend their dollars. The capabilities of the web for instant gratification, visual stimulation, and information make innovation achievable for even the smallest of businesses and tightest of budgets. Whether you operate a restaurant, retail store, wholesale company, a hotel, or any product or service oriented company, there is an effective, online marketing plan for you. Look at your goals for the next year, next two years, or next five years. If they include opening new markets, improving customer and vendor communication, or reducing overhead, while increasing sales, then you have no choice but to include the internet in your plan and budget. A professionally designed website will help you achieve your business goals. Setting goals will help ensure your web development dollars are well spent. You can expect increased revenues to recoup the cost of developing and maintaining your site if you plan wisely. A dynamic, up-to-date site will receive more traffic, and achieve its marketing goals faster, than a minimalist or non-existent web presence. The value added by an internet presence is unmistakable. Many firms stimulate in-store sales via their website, or encourage a completed sale via the site or by Email, fax or phone. Plus you’ll increase your customer base via exposure to new markets and via viral marketing. Your site will enable you to respond faster to market trends, new products, customer requests, vendor confirmations, and keep your company on the cutting edge. In today’s new marketplace – customers demand this level of response. The possibilities are endless, and the technology is constantly changing, as are the preferences and tastes of the market you serve. Call on a professional to tie together your goals with the latest technology and trends. A professional advertising agency will take the time to discuss your goals, business model, customer base, and budget with you – and develop a complete plan that is consistent with your brand identity, in line to meet your future expectations. Back IN the Box Once you’re online presence is established, the natural progression is to incorporate Email marketing. Now deemed as one of the fastest growing and best performing advertising forms, Emails can accomplish a multitude of tasks. As a customer service tool, it provides many of the functions of a traditional call center: order summaries, confirmations, shipping updates, billing info, past due and backorder notifications. Customer inquiries can be handled via incoming Email. As a marketing tool, they should coordinate with your marketing mix. First, keep it all in the family. Don’t prospect for customers with Emails and run the risk of blacklisting yourself. Develop your own permission based list of addresses. ALWAYS have a Reason for the Campaign – while it’s important to be in the spotlight with customers, be careful you’re not wasting their time. Consumers want information that is useful. So whether you’re sending a Newsletter, Coupon, New Product Announcement, or an Order Confirmation – make sure it’s news they can use. And try to sweeten the offer – keep Emails specialized and offer deals, info and specials not readily available through other means. Offer “Secret Sales”, “Limited Editions” and “First to See” promos. Always offer your best products or your top selling services. When designing and writing your Emails, mix it up. Keep graphics and layouts ever changing to add interest. Be sure to keep the images small so they’re quick to open and draw on the screen. Pay special attention to your subject line. Avoid SPAM trigger words, and write a subject line that’s broad and clever. Personalize your messages: use buying habits or preferences to target your efforts. Or, at least use their name. Be clear with your call to action by providing “Click Here” links. Test – Test – Test different ideas and keep track of responses. A professionally Email is critical, employ the services of a writer and graphic designer. Emails greet your customers just as a salesperson would. So, put your best face forward. Taking Up Cyberspace? Just like opening a retail store on a busy highway or in a crowded mall is important for traffic and sales, optimizing your website and advertising it on busy, crowded search engines is important too. You pay top dollar rent for prime commercial real estate, and search engine marketing may cost you some coin as well. But if you design and host your site with a professional team, you can bank on high level marketing tactics for drawing traffic to your site. The use of keyword optimization within your site, and externally via pay-per-click ads, viral marketing techniques, and a full-service, well-rounded, marketing plan will ensure your site is not just taking up cyber-space. SEO (search engine optimization) is cost-effective when handled correctly. The challenge is to find prospects who are thinking about your product/service at the exact time that you’re there to sell. Search engines make it possible to target prospects at that very moment. Develop your website with keywords, meta tags, titles and descriptions that coincide with your content, and then submitting to search engines and directories is important to get you noticed. Add content that’s useful and specific to your industry. Search engine spiders will read through all the content and other data to index your site for display when a person types in a search term or phrase. Selecting the top terms is part of the challenge, placement is important and relevance is a must. Purchasing Pay-Per-Click or Search Words on an engine can be as complicated as brokering stocks, but your professional ad team will weed through the mix and prepare a plan for your business and budget. Ride the Wave of Air Any discussion on marketing is not complete without the queen and king of advertising mediums: radio and television. While these venues have long been out of reach for small business owners, the growth of cable TV stations, and satellite radio have opened up more market possibilities and makes these venues more affordable than you might think. Before exploring each medium individually, let’s point out two golden rules for the success of radio or television campaigns. First, place ads when people are listening or watching. Second, keep ads placed tightly together for the best results. Repetition is important as it’s so easy to switch the station or leave the room during the commercials. Plus, if the audience misses the address, phone number, or web address, they just can’t replay the ad. Make sure commercials run close together in a time slot that has an audience in your target demographic. Radio often allows negotiable rates for ads. You may be able to barter airtime by offering your products or services as contest prizes. Radio listeners are often quite loyal to their favorite DJs, making endorsements very effective – having the personality read your commercial is equal to an implied endorsement and often as effective. Use your radio campaign to support your print campaigns. For example, announcing your coupon in the newspaper or watch your mailbox for our offer. Since radio is not very effective with in-depth, complicated ads, it does boost other marketing techniques quite well. Placement is key, so be sure you know who you want to reach with your ads. Radio sales people will try to sell you a package plan that splits your ads up – BEWARE! Just as placement is key, frequency is super important as well, so although you may be tempted to go with their package since you seemingly get a lot of ad space for the dollar, look very closely to be sure your ad will be heard by the same audience four, five or six times . Concentrating your ads around the same run times on the same station within a short time span will not only get your message heard, it will also make your company look bigger than it is since the audience assumes you’re running ads even when they’re not listening. Once you’ve decided on a frequency plan, get your commercial written. Simple, creative, conversational ads with clearly defined benefits and a crystal clear call-to-action are a must for an ad. Stand out commercials get your message across and get the audience motivated.All Hail the King TV – the great American pastime is certainly the golden child for advertising campaigns. More people spend more time watching television than pay attention to any other medium. TV offers proven persuasive power – it simply works. But with most golden opportunities, there’s a cost involved. And with TV, it’s a big cost! Let’s summarize what you should expect for your money: 1. Instant validation2. Target audience reach3. Diverse audience reach4. Creative opportunities Now about the cost…a 30 second commercial during prime time may cost 10 to 30 times more than a comparable radio spot. That’s just the cost of the spot, that does not include writing, talent, set design or location, filming, and editing services. Cable TV may offer some bargains as compared to broadcast television. Often you can target a specific niche even better in the cable arena. When you advertise on television, you open up a world of creative possibilities. You’re competing with other stations, the refrigerator, the rest room, and umpteen other distractions during the commercials of any show, so it pays to create an ad that grabs attention instantly and remains in the mind of the audience. Don’t settle for the TV station’s in house production, get a professional agency to help you create the best ad for your money, one that not only captivates, but is in line with all your other marketing. Like radio, TV ads are fleeting, and you have to repeatedly hit your target market. Count on five to seven exposures for it to stick. Make sure to buy spots during times and programs that suit your product or service. Most stations offer packages, “fringe” time spots, and adjacencies for less than pick and choose times – these may work for you. If your budget allows the addition of television advertising, by all means, contact a professional. Properly executed, your TV ads can and will be the crowning achiever in your marketing arsenal. Get Directly to the Point One tried and true method for growing a business is to employ a sales force. Of course, as the business owner, you are constantly employed in direct sales for your business. You talk to family and friends, people who enter your storefront, or call you on the phone, you pass out business cards to anyone who will take one. What you do every day is a combination of sales and networking: the practice of connecting. Let’s say your brother needs his house painted and one of your customers is a painter. Your painter’s wife wants a new puppy, and you uncle owns a pet store. These types of personal connections are the backbone of the small business.Make the Connection Formal networking starts with joining a club, association, or business group. Some groups are designed specifically for networking, others for business to consumer relationship building, and still, some others are service oriented, so choose with care. When you consider the groups in which to invest time and money, consider who your target market is and whether you will reach that market via that group. Once you join, explore every opportunity to make connections. When attending events, focus on the quality of relationships rather than the quantity of contacts. Grow relationships since the better contacts know you, the more apt they are to recommend you. A good first impression – firm handshake, good eye contact, active listening – is as important as fast follow up. Show an active interest in the contact whether they’re a potential customer, or a potential referral source. Build your network of connections this way and as you do, continue to connect via a newsletter, Ezine or postcard mailing. Send connections timely and business appropriate clippings, or news stories. Build your network well and you’ll have an ever increasing sales force at work.The Host-ess with the Most-ess Business Hosting events is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with existing contacts and for making new ones. When you look at the cost of hosting an open house, seminar, sporting event, or party, and the buzz it can create in the marketplace, it’s a surefire advertising method that’s sadly too often overlooked. Seek out co-sponsors and donations of goods or services from contacts. This will not only cut your costs, but it strengthens relationships. When planning an event, keep track of costs and be ready with a follow-up campaign for converting the leads into sales. There’s No Business Like Trade Show Business… Trade shows are another good way to make sales happen. If you plan to exhibit, you must plan well, execute well, and finish well. Pick the right show, set clear goals, create a dynamic display, and man your space with people who are aware of your goals and can engage the show visitors. Draw a crowd to your booth with demonstrations, contests, and giveaways. Have plenty of attractive, accurate printed materials on hand, and be ready to do business. An advertising agency can help you create the right display, promotional pieces, and printed collateral to make your company shine at the show. As with all forms of networking to build sales, follow-up is key to your success. Make sure you’re getting the names and numbers of the prospects at the show, and contact them immediately after the show concludes, whether by email, phone or mail. The better you follow through, the more successful your trade show marketing investment will be.Use the Force… Every business needs to gain a edge over the competition. The statement “there’s enough business to go around for everyone” is often made by a soon to be out-of-business owner. Sales don’t happen by accident. Good salesmanship is critical for the small business owner, since in many cases, he or she cannot compete with big business on selection, price, or delivery. Training a sales team to represent who and what the business represents is critical. Every person who represents your company is a salesperson for you. They must know the company mission, philosophy, rules, policies, merchandise, services, pricing, delivery standards, and target customer. Businesses should employ creative techniques when training for sales. Stepping away from the traditional, expected method of “May I help you?”, and into a new, out of the box method of customer contact is crucial to getting the edge. Become memorable, go beyond expectations, adapt the message, use showmanship. The best part of a sales force is that they’re people. And people are flowing and adaptable. Once you print a business card, produce a commercial, host an event, it’s done. But with person to person contact, each situation can be customized to fit the customer – right at that moment – making your sales team a force that can make your business stand out above and apart from the competition.Stop the Presses! While direct, personal sales may very well be the most controllable of all marketing techniques, Public Relations is likely the least controllable, but arguably one of the cheapest ways to get out the word you want people to hear. That’s because public relations, by definition, is all about influencing opinions. As a business owner, the opinion you want your buying public to have is that what they need, you have, and you have it faster, better, cheaper than anyone else. Relating to your buying public is part of what you do everyday, but there are some important tools that a PR firm will use to create positive buzz. Just the Facts Probably the most basic tool in your marketing arsenal is a press kit. Think of it as a company introduction and overview. Use it to introduce your business to the media and to potential investors and employees. Post a copy on your website. Your kit should be current, accurate, and should include: company statistics (years in business, number of employees, locations, sales figures, client list), history, owners/shareholders bios and photographs, a press release, contact list, and a cover letter. You may want to use your kit to introduce your executives as experts in a particular field, and therefore make them available to the press as a source.Extra Extra Read All About It More than just a part of your press kit, press releases are good ways to keep media contacts current on what’s happening at your business, and to announce important, timely and newsworthy events. It’s important that press releases are written properly. Your subject should be newsworthy, meet the needs of the target paper or reporter, and remain somewhat neutral in tone. Being pushy or self-serving will not get your news published. Keep your information basic, accurate and on one page. Once you have your press release completed, send it to newspapers, magazines, trade publications, TV and radio news sources, and to the publishers of newsletters that cover your industry. Used effectively, press releases are a powerful public relations tool for marketing your business. It’s in the Air Public relations involves many different ways to promote a positive spin on a product, service or company. Yet one thing these methods have in common is their cost. For the most part, gaining a positive public image can be one of the least expensive ways to market. Attaining news coverage by supplying information is one way, but actually creating the news is a great way to get the word out about your business. Companies and individuals create news every day by using publicity stunts, authoring books, appearing on talk shows, making public appearances, performing community service, and sponsoring events and teams. Most of these methods are free, or inexpensive ways to get publicity. Tying it All Together The success of a business depends upon its ability to attract, and retain, customers. We’ve covered the three major strategies Peter (and you) should be using to connect with customers. However, before you start throwing time and money into advertising, direct sales, and public relations efforts, you have a little more work to do. Your company, products and services are identified by your brand. Your brand identity includes your logo, your color scheme, your packaging, your trucks, invoices, your store or office environment, and all of the elements that the public sees. It’s your image. And in keeping with your brand image, consistency across each and every marketing effort you put forth is vital. Your customer must see your company as a cohesive, well oiled machine that has its act together. Everything from employee uniforms to advertisements, to labels, must portray a consistent look and feel. A consistent marketing strategy across all channels boosts confidence, and revenues. That’s exactly what a full service creative advertising agency offers clients — consistency of brand identity across all marketing efforts. When a company picks, preps, prices, and promotes products and services using cohesive, targeted advertising, a trained, creative sales force, and grasps every opportunity to encourage positive public opinion, that company has constructed a well-rounded arsenal of promotion to get out the word. Get the customer in the door, deliver what you promise, do it better, faster and more memorably than your competitors, and customer retention levels will soar, as will sales, and profits. A happy customer is a repeat customer. And a loyal customer will tell others about you… and now…you’re getting out the word.Peter, with all his peppers, would be proud.

Comments are off for this post

Design the Future: Planning Steps for Three Types of Female Entrepreneurs

Jun 05 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Because diverse entrepreneurs have different definitions of success, they also have unique needs when it comes to planning for their business’ future. This article outlines the steps that three types of female entrepreneurs might consider taking to develop plans for their business’ future.

Every business owner creates her own definition of success. Whether she strives for growth over time,Guest Posting or just wants to maintain what she has well into the future, one key aspect of achieving success is planning. Just as every business owner creates her own definition of success, every business owner must also create her own plan to take her business from where it is now, to where she wants it to be.

A recent study from Jane Out of the Box, an authority on female entrepreneurs, reveals there are five distinct types of women in business. Based on professional market research of more than 2,500 women in business, this study shows that each type of business owner has a unique approach to running a business, and therefore, each one has a unique combination of needs. This article outlines three of the five types and provides advice about planning steps that meet the needs of the business owner and the business, now and in the future.

Jane Dough is an entrepreneur who enjoys running her business and generally, she makes a nice living. She is comfortable and determined in buying and selling, which may be why she’s five times more likely than the average female business owner to hit the million dollar mark. Jane Dough is clear in her priorities and may be intentionally and actively growing an asset-based or legacy business. It is estimated that 18% of women entrepreneurs fall in the category of Jane Dough.

Of all five types of entrepreneurs, Jane Dough is the most likely to have a plan for her business. She is driven to create a large business that has a life beyond herself and her own needs and interests. She enjoys strategizing and planning for long-term growth, and is great at delegating smaller tasks so she has the time she needs to do that. One of Jane Dough’s challenges, though, is that her visions are often on a large scale, and she doesn’t communicate them effectively to members of her team. They may be scrambling behind her, talking to each other in an effort to figure it all out. Each person may receive only parts of the story, and they speculate about her expectations and what she is doing, in an effort to anticipate her needs. This speculation and confusion can create havoc for Jane Dough and her business, and can slow down the progress of the plans she is making.

Here are some tips for Jane Dough on better communicating her vision and more effectively carrying out her plans:

· Schedule semi-annual business planning retreats. Not only will semi-annual planning retreats keep Jane Dough focused on the gap between her current situation and her goals (which naturally shift as time passes), it also will provide her with regular, specific opportunities to communicate her vision to her team members – all at once. Communicating that vision provides team members with a cohesive overall landscape of the anticipated future. Also, giving team members the chance to brainstorm about challenges, new product or service ideas or strategies for improving operations provides Jane Dough with insight from the people on the front lines.

· Create a hiring plan for the longer-term vision. Breadth and depth on a team will help a Jane Dough business owner realize the kind of growth for which she strives. A hiring plan, then, will allow Jane Dough to be effective in building strength into her organization. A well-constructed hiring plan takes into account the types of personalities a business owner enjoys working with, as well as the specific set of skills she needs in order to move her business to the next level. Draw an organizational chart detailing how each position fits with the others, and list below each position, the personality traits and skill sets it requires. With this plan at her fingertips, Jane Dough will find it easier to locate opportunities for the right people.

· Systematically track key performance metrics. To grow her business quickly and long-term, a business owner must understand the gaps that exist between where her company is today, and where she wants it to be. To gain that understanding, it is imperative to create clear, measurable goals, and to track the company’s performance against those goals. For example, if a Jane Dough wants to grow her business 10 percent in the next year, she may use several strategies to meet that goal. She may change copy or design elements of her web site to sell her product more effectively. She may advertise to increase traffic to her web site. She could also test a direct mail campaign to prospects who have opted-in on her web site, but haven’t followed up with a purchase. Each of these options is measurable, and Jane Dough can track each one to determine whether it is contributing to growth – and if so, by how much. She then can direct resources to the most effective strategy.

Go Jane Go is passionate about her work and provides excellent service, so she has plenty of clients – so much so, she’s struggling to keep up with demand. At 14% of women in business, she may be a classic overachiever, taking on volunteer opportunities as well. She’s eager to make an impact on the world and she often struggles to say no. Since she wants to say yes to so many people, she may even be in denial about how many hours she actually works during the course of a week. As a result, she may be running herself ragged and feeling guilty about neglecting herself and others who are important to her.

Undoubtedly the busiest type of business owner, more than a quarter of the original 2500 researched reported working more than 50 hours per week. For most Go Jane Go entrepreneurs, business is thriving – so much so, it can be overwhelming. At first glance, it may appear that Go Jane Go doesn’t really need to plan – business is booming, her income is high, and she has (almost) more customers than she can handle. However, creating a plan may help Go Jane Go feel less overwhelmed and therefore increase her personal satisfaction.

Here are some planning tips for Go Jane Go:

Get clear on personal priorities. Taking care of oneself isn’t selfish – it’s essential to high performance. It might benefit Go Jane Go to create a vision board. Here’s how: set aside a few hours to sit down with a poster-board (or a smaller piece of blank paper) and a pile of magazines. Go through the magazines and cut out images or words that represent “the dream life,” whether it’s a picture of a woman with an umbrella drink sitting poolside, a woman running in the park with her dog, or a woman sitting in the spa … getting absolutely clear on personal priorities gives Go Jane Go an idea of exactly where she wants to be – and she can then determine how to adjust her business accordingly.
Create a parking lot. Go Jane Go entrepreneurs often have long lists of desired future accomplishments. For many, those lists cause guilt or frustration. By giving those lists a specific place to “park,” Go Jane Go entrepreneurs will find they feel less stress because they know their dreams, in written form, are right there in the parking lot – waiting (and they won’t be forgotten). Go Jane Go can keep a shorter-term list of ideas and projects in a visible place at all times, and she can file longer-term lists in her drawer for regular review. This allows her to keep track of her plans, short- and long-term, and to feel at ease knowing those plans are always accessible.
Consider narrowing the focus of the company’s marketing campaign. If Go Jane Go feels overwhelmed (it is one of the primary factors in our research’s classification of Go Jane Go), then she might consider actively seeking clients who more ideally fit in with what she enjoys most about her business. For example, let’s consider a Go Jane Go jewelry designer. Currently, she’s designing wedding sets, necklace and earring sets, and jewelry for mothers. Let’s say that she most enjoys creating wedding sets – working with a couple to design a set of rings they’ll wear forever truly meets this Go Jane Go’s desire to help people, while using her creativity. Maybe it’s time she considered planning for a slightly different future in which she designs only wedding sets. She could narrow her marketing specifically to target people looking for wedding jewelry. It may be a future different than what Go Jane Go originally intended, but she’ll find more joy in creating jewelry that brings her together with clients who want the same thing she does.
Merry Jane is an entrepreneur who is usually building a part-time or “flexible time” business that gives her a creative outlet (whether she’s an ad agency consultant or she makes beautiful artwork) that she can manage within specific constraints around her schedule. She may have a day-job, or need to be fully present for family or other pursuits. Representing about 19% of women in business, she realizes she could make more money by working longer hours, but she’s happy with the tradeoff she has made because her business gives her tremendous freedom to work how and when she wants, around her other commitments.

A majority of Merry Jane-run businesses serve as outlets for expressing creativity and skills, and staying connected to professional interests, regardless of bigger priorities. Merry Jane business owners tend to judge success by different standards than other business owners. For example, Merry Jane appreciates the flexibility to work when, where and as much as she wants. She strives to meet all her obligations well, enjoys being recognized for her gifts and talents, and relishes the freedom to say no. And when this entrepreneurial type talks about making a contribution to the household, she’s talking more than money: from running her house to running her business and everything in between, Merry Jane’s systems-oriented style keeps her busy and on task – and gives her less time than most other business owner types to work on her business. So for Merry Jane, planning is a function of balance: she wants more customers – but not too many.

Here are some tips Merry Jane may consider when planning for her future:

Find a marketing method that pumps up business, just the right amount. Research shows that most Merry Janes would like to make more money. About 57 percent of Merry Jane entrepreneurs draw less than $25,000 per year, and 75 percent draw less than $50,000. So while Merry Jane likely wants more customers, she knows that a huge marketing push might generate so many customers, her time freedom is compromised. The first step is to hone in on a very specific target with a clear message, that will attract more ideal clients. A quick and easy way to identify the target market is to survey existing customers. Merry Jane can target more similar customers when she gets the answers to questions about how customers originally heard about the business, what attracted them to the business, what set the business apart and what the business’ biggest benefits are to them. Then, Merry Jane can find a marketing system that creates a steady stream of customers, such as network marketing, affiliate marketing, or referral marketing. By creating a low-investment marketing strategy directed at ideal clients, Merry Jane can plan for more customers, and more income, in the future.
Evaluate pricing – and consider raising it. Several factors contribute to a situation in which an entrepreneur simply isn’t charging enough. Maybe she “started low” to win business and never increased rates. Maybe she didn’t know what to charge and isn’t charging rates comparable to others in her industry. Maybe she overestimated her profit margin before she actually started running the business. Several strategies exist for evaluating pricing. The first is to determine what it costs to make a product, and then add a standard markup that represents company profit. The second is to “play the numbers” with the business owner’s desired hourly rate. For example, let’s say a business owner wants to gross $50,000, working 20 hours per week (remember, most Merry Jane business owners are part-time business owners). Take $50,000, divide it by 52 weeks and multiply it by 20 hours. The result: $48.07 per hour. However, consider tweaking the numbers to add in vacation and holiday time – make it 48 weeks. Plus, an entrepreneur must keep in mind the number of billable hours she works versus the number of other hours she works. Consider that paying bills, checking e-mails, reading the mail, marketing, planning and sending invoices aren’t billable tasks. So if a business owner figures that she spends 60 percent of her time working on billable tasks, she needs to adjust her equation again. Let’s take 48 weeks at 12 billable hours per week. To reach $50,000 in a year, Merry Jane would have to charge $86.81 per hour. By playing with the numbers, an entrepreneur can figure out exactly how much she needs to charge to make the money she wants – and if she’s not charging that much now, then increasing her rates could be part of her planning steps. By increasing her income, Merry Jane would have a little more freedom to stretch the creative muscles she so loves.
Planning for a business’ future means different things for diverse entrepreneurs. Not every entrepreneur wants rapid growth, and not every entrepreneur feels overwhelmed. The key is to evaluate the current situation, carve out a plan, and design the future.

Comments are off for this post

What Consulting Companies Know

Jun 04 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

There are certain similarities between consulting companies and Solopreneurs. Both work on a per project basis, submitting proposals and competing for clients. Both send the consultant to the client’s organization as a hired gun, take on the assignment, produce the deliverables and get paid. There, the similarities seem to end.

The fact is, consulting companies get a lot more money and respect than do Solopreneurs. The consulting company’s value-added is perceived as more valuable than the Solopreneur’s value-added. Most clients have a great deal of trust and confidence in consulting companies (well, at least the person who hired them does). As a result, consulting companies are awarded the most lucrative projects. Their calls and emails are always returned.

Soloprenuers who have worked for consulting companies appear to be held in higher regard by clients and prospects than those who have not worked in such companies. Anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that they receive more lucrative contracts, bill more hours and command a higher rate. Solopreneurs with a consulting company background appear to know a secret code, know all the right moves. I came to realize my knowledge gap through a series of casual meetings with an acquaintance of mine named Erika.

Erika once worked for a mid-size consulting company. Like me, she facilitates strategy meetings in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, but we cannot call each other competitors. Erika stands head and shoulders above me in terms of consulting savoir-faire and client list. Next to her, I am the country cousin! Over time, Erika shared with me a few consulting company secrets.

Primarily, the advantage gained from consulting company experience is that one learns how to build value into all client interactions. The perception of adding value starts with the very first client meeting. A consultant’s job is to deliver comprehensive, data-driven analysis, insights and answers that produce the desired results. Those analyses, answers and insights form the basis of the strategies that the client will be advised to implement, so that key goals and objectives will be reached.

Erika lets it be known that she will deliver the goods. In the client meeting, she asks questions that reveal what the client wants and help her to discover what the client needs. That information forms the essence of Erika’s value-added. Next, she confirms with the client that she’s accurately grasped the project scope and understands all priorities and timetables. She follows up in writing and in fact boasts that she does not so much submit proposals as send confirmation letters.

Erika isn’t awarded every assignment she’s invited to discuss, but her track record is very good. Before she starts work on a project, she also takes a few important actions to keep her value-added rolling:

I. Recognize, and if possible meet, the organization’s senior management team: the CEO, ED and other key staff. Their names and sometimes also photos are often listed on the company website.

II. Learn the thought process that led to the project’s initiation and approval. If possible, read the project proposal and review any preliminary work that may have been done. Find out who supports the project and who opposes it if you are able, to learn who your friends and detractors will be.

III. Know the organizations’ basic financial data. Read the most recent annual report and examine the P & L to learn the annual operating budget, total annual revenue, gross profits, profit margin and operating margin.

IV. Know your client’s top five competitors: key products and services, annual operating budget, total annual revenue and gross profits. Know what differentiates each main competitor from your client and know each main competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.

V. For nonprofit organization clients, know which agencies within a 10-20 mile radius deliver similar services or compete for a similar constituency. Know where and how those agencies offer services that complement or compete with your client’s mission.

VI. Cultivate good relationships with your project sponsor and other key project supporters. Identify a couple of good restaurants near your client’s geography and invite your sponsor and/or those with whom you work most closely out for coffee or lunch, as applicable.

VII. Become a resource for useful information to your client. Sign up for alerts and stay current with industry news and competitor’s activities. If an item looks particularly intriguing or urgent, send the link to the right people. This practice can continue after project completion, as can the above strategy, to extend relationship building and value-added. Your objective is to entice the client to engage you for repeat business and to refer you to others.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Comments are off for this post

Business Consulting – 10 Qualities of a Successful Consultant

Jun 03 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

What Sets Successful Consultants Apart? Are you part of a Management Team that is considering engaging a Business Consultant? Are you a Consultant who is considering a Consulting Job? This Article Covers 10 Qualities of a Successful Consultant.

1. Know the Client. It is not enough to know about the client’s business or industry, or to offer up boilerplate solutions. Consultants must understand the history, mission and goals as relates to their tasking and, any relevant information about competitors and stakeholders. In essence, they are being paid to be an extension of the organization’s team by helping to carry out key objectives through successful execution. In order to do that, it is critical that consultants understand the client’s business.

2. They Listen. Consultants need to be expert listeners in order to accurately assess, advise and apply their expertise and acquired discovery for the benefit of the client. It’s important to note that there is a substantial difference between hearing and listening. Listening gives us the ability to formulate the right questions and deduce accurate information from which to base our solutions.

3. Proper Connections. The sooner a consultant connects with the right people in the organization, the better. Too often, consultants misread the inner workings of an organization or miss important elements that may be key to their decision-making by catering exclusively to the top level. Successful consultants will pro-actively engage and connect with all of the key people who in any way, relate to their objectives.

4. Customization. When it comes to processes, people, communications, strategies and solutions–one size does not fit all. Great consultants put their experience and intuition into practice while analyzing, discovering and rendering solutions, and looking to best practices as a companion guide, but not as an exacting science.

5. Discernment. Critically, they must see the whole picture–that includes processes and people. Once they have identified all relevant components and dynamics, they will be able to start outlining how things fit together and begin to work toward formulating successful solutions. They also have a knack for not only seeing what is there, but what’s not there–discernment can be pivotal.

6. They Deliver. Perfectly crafted proposals, shining referrals and resumes do not guarantee success. When a business pays for expert analysis, skill and advice from outside of their internal pool of expertise, consultants need to deliver-and deliver to the client’s satisfaction.

7. Best Alignment. Not all consultants are cross–functional. Oftentimes, at the point a consultant is hired, the organization is desperate for help in building, making an important correction or securing a very specific skill set. They cannot afford to lose time or money. A consultant can hold multiple degrees or have decades of experience under their belt and still not be a good fit. Both the organization and the consultant need to be sure that they are the best alignment for one another.

8. Communication Excellence. Apart from possessing excellent verbal skills, the consultant should also have excellent listening skills and the ability to articulate. They need to be able to articulate pain points, goals and solutions. They should also keep all stakeholders informed, be prompt and clear with reports, and issue relevant feedback throughout the process.

9. On Their Game. Detail-oriented preparation, process and delivery are all important. They are also prompt, professional, organized, responsive and reliable. Staying on top of the latest trends and intelligence and being able to apply anything of relevance will also set them apart.

10. Create Value. Successful consultants create value by demonstrating business acumen and have the ability to lead and manage both processes and people. They are pro-active in understanding what the client needs, act as trusted advisors who bring the best solutions to the table in an effective and profitable manner, and they produce on their deliverables.

Comments are off for this post

Pharma Consulting Firms Changing the Face of the Industry

Jun 02 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

It is noticeable that the FDA is really beginning to tighten their compliance regulations and this is drastically increasing the uptake in pharma consulting services. It is advantageous in a number of different ways for a manufacturer to consider the usage of a consulting firm because they will act as an advisor in times of need.

Pharma consulting companies will typically boast a wide range of consultants with specific knowledge about different elements of the pharmaceutical industry. One of the main purposes of this type of consultancy firm is helping manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs to understand their compliance requirements in relation to how they actually manufacture the goods in their plants. More and more manufacturers are struggling to fall in line with FDA compliance regulations and will turn to consulting companies to help them overcome this hurdle.

Is Pharma Consulting the Right Solution for you?

Obviously, consulting has a whole host of benefits but in order to establish whether it is the right solution for your particular requirements, it is important to discuss your situation with experts in the field. By explaining the type of pharmaceutical goods that you produce and the market that you are targeting, it will become much easier for pharma consulting firms to tailor a solution that matches your requirements.

Another commonly sought resource from consultancy firms is pharmaceutical training seminars because these offer great value – insomuch as they will help to significantly increase the knowledge base of employees and managers alike when it comes to issues such as good manufacturing practice (GMP) and FDA / GMP auditing. Finding the right pharma consulting team for you should be relatively straightforward and most manufacturers head online to find the right match for their needs – both in terms of budget and calibre of consultants.

Pharma consulting isn’t something that is new to the industry but it really is beginning to yield dividends for those manufacturers who found themselves drowning in a sea of compliance and regulations. For any manufacturer of medical devices or drugs, it will certainly be advantageous to consider utilising the services of a leading consultancy firm.

Comments are off for this post

Advantages of Business Consulting Services

Jun 01 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Business Consultation Services are generally promoted, but not often well understood. Many see these services as a big picture conceptual exercise with no connection to the real world issues facing their business. Often Fortune 500 business consultation services come across as too ivory tower, and overly focused on highlighting issues without implementing solutions. There is a new breed of consultants that speak your language and understand the front line issues that you face as a business owner on a daily basis.

With the help of the internet, quality consulting service providers are much easier to find throughout the world. The internet proves enormously useful as a connection platform to find these smaller, specialized consulting firms. Whatever your need, be it financial reporting, sales assistance, IT, capital raising, human resources, there is a wide assortment of consulting service providers to select from. There are numerous advantages of business consultation expert services.

Quality consultants add a new dimension to a company, allowing it to think in new ways. Most quality business consultation service providers have strong backgrounds in a concentrated area, giving them subject matter mastery combined with real world experience. Adding them to your team gives your business the ability to think and execute at a higher level. Many rookie mistakes can be avoided by having a smart, experience-based business consulting service provider on your team.

As an outsider to your organization, a new business consulting service provider can bring a refreshing third party perspective. Often, companies or senior managers have a hard time clearly seeing their internal weaknesses. This is particularly relevant with smaller companies where a small group of employees comprises the entire C-Level management team. In addition, quality business consulting service providers know what standard practices are in your industry. They are well versed in best practices for their field and can easily tell you the best CRM system, or the best SEO approach or the best way to finance an acquisition.

Their expertise is their currency and their expertise has been acquired through involvement in a multitude of projects in the same field. Their concentrated experience can be a valuable addition to your knowledge base as you take your company in a new direction. One big advantage of business consultation services is the ability to save time and plan properly. Business is a learning curve and most successful companies rarely go in straight line in an upward direction. The key to navigating successful new growth steps is in proper planning and assigning realistic risk-based probabilities to each outcome.

A seasoned business consultation service provider is a great sounding board for all of this. They will be able to help you develop realistic timing assumptions and realistic cost factors. Most consultants are independent contractors and stay with your business for only a limited time. They are a flexible resource and are expendable once the project is complete. The value they bring during their engagement is considerable. Through aligning with a quality business consulting provider, your business can become quite sophisticated and seriously confront any challenges or opportunities that lay ahead.

Comments are off for this post

Small Business Consulting – Putting a Plan Into Action

May 29 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Small Business Consulting – A Very Crucial Element in Business

Small business consulting companies offer a wide variety of services. These services can be utilized before a company begins to operate. In order for a business to be successful, there are many things that should be done from the start.

The small business consulting, research, planning and training can be done in any area of the business. A consultant is considered an expert in the area they specialize in. The services and advice they offer are based on experience and knowledge. It is important for a company to work with a consultant that knows what they are doing.

Customer service is probably one of the most important areas of a business. If a company doesn’t have customers, then the business ceases to exist. One of the small business consulting services that can be offered focuses on the customer. A consultant can offer customer service training and customer loyalty training. Some people may think there isn’t a difference between the two, but the truth is, there is a huge difference. Customer service helps get a business off the ground, and customer loyalty helps keep it that way. To put it bluntly, a customer will pay their payment, but a loyal customer will make their payment on time.

Another important small business consulting service is branding. A consultant can help with the branding of a company, which will create public awareness of the business and their product. When branding is done properly, it can provide consistency in advertising and marketing. Branding can also help a company’s product standout against their competition.

Every business needs an excellent leader. Developing good leadership can be obtained with the use of small business consulting. The consultant can provide leadership training, management team development and employee training. All of these things go hand in hand when it comes to having great efficiency. When a company is run by a person with great leadership, this can allow the company to stay ahead of the competition.

Even after small business consulting services have been used and results are obtained, they can still be used as a method of prevention. For example, a company used small business consulting for employee training and leadership development. By continuing to use these services, the company can increase their chances of profitability and growth.

Procurement is another area that can be handled with small business consulting. A company needs to make sure that they are getting the product they asked for at the right price and in the time they need it. Procurement is practically handled on a daily basis. A consultant can help with things such as developing a procurement strategy, cost reduction, and value purchasing. By assessing procurement, a company be assured that they can provide their customers with the product they offer, at a fair price and have it there when they want it.

Small business consulting involves problem solving. Consultants are often referred to as problem solvers. When a company has a problem that arises, it needs to be handled as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Many problems may go unnoticed because the person in charge has a lack of time. A small problem can turn into a huge one very quickly. It is wise for a company to have someone on hand that can address problems as they occur to keep this from happening. If a company has someone to help with potential problems before they even open, this could help them in the future. A business needs to start out with as few problems as possible. A consultant can help with the problematic areas of the company, giving the manager or owner the time they need to focus on other areas of the business.

Small business consulting services can be used either short-term or long-term. It really depends on the nature of the business and how many issues exist. Either way, having a consultant as a right hand man can be very beneficial for any business. Many business fail because due to lack of knowledge and experience. These are two key components that a consultant has. Small business consulting can help a company rise to the top. It can ensure that the company has all of their ducks in a row, so to speak. If a person owns a company that is having issues or if a person is looking to open their business, it would be a wise investment to seek assistance from a small business consultant. By having a consultant on their side, it is sort of like having their own little insurance policy. A consultant can ensure the company that they will do everything to reach the goals the company has set. The company’s mission then becomes that of the consultant.

If you would like to learn more on small business management consulting, you can click the link below.

Comments are off for this post

« Newer posts