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Posts Tagged ‘Business Plan’

The Most Asked Question

We are a curious lot, we’re hungry for information & knowledge, we want to know what to do next, always looking for that nugget, that one thing to put us on the right track. We spend hours searching the Internet for a shortcut, are we join groups or businesses thinking it will shortcut success. The shortcut, should you find one, usually doesn’t have staying power, it has a short life span. It’s not because the deal, or whatever it is you decided to join is bad, the common denominator follows you every where you go, it’s why you either quit or hop aboard the next best thing.

I spent years trying to get that shortcut, thinking I could get rich, I could do something where I really didn’t have to work that hard, and make piles of money. Most of us are lazy, we want it all without having to pay the price to get it. There are two things required to succeed in business, one is to hard work, and the other is persistence. The combination of those two brings about life abundantly, growth, excitement, reward, enjoyment, and feeling of doing something special with your time, or your life.

I meet regularly with young people wanting to start their own business, they already know they don’t want to work for the man, they want to do work on their terms. The energy is overwhelming at times, but fun to be around. The conversation always starts with, I want to start a business, or I want a job, but I don’t know what I want to do. Every time, I’m dumb-founded by this, the answer to me is simple and as plain as the nose on our faces. I always say, if you don’t know, don’t worry about it, just go do something. I tell them to go and do something, anything, and they’ll find out what they like, love or hate. The problem is they haven’t done anything, so they have nothing to measure, nothing to compare. The old guard call it experience, I don’t look at that way, I want you to get used to the idea that you will have to do hard work before you discover your passion, the thing you really want to do.

The second thing I tell these young eager minds, go home and write, write down what you love doing. It could be a hobby, it could be music, it could be painting art, it doesn’t matter, just write it down. Once they figure it out, once they see something they are willing to invest their time and no money into, they always get to the most asked question. How do I do it?

This question comes from two things in my humble opinion. One, they haven’t worked for anyone else before, and they don’t learn how business might work. Two, they haven’t learned that building a business is hard work, and they don’t have that long old age thing called experience, they haven’t failed.

The younger generations have two choices to make when they decide to start a business, they can plan with a tradition business plan and funding, or they could just start. The later brings with it failure, and that is uncomfortable, and painful. Failure tends to squash that drive, that passion, that energy to build a business. The other failure is, the business isn’t profitable the first day they start telling the world about their new venture.

There are over 100 questions a business consultant would ask new business owners, and if they answered to many questions wrong, they would tell the young entrepreneur they shouldn’t start the business. I say, don’t listen to them, just go and do something and measure what’s happening as you go. I’m not saying you should ignore certain indicators, the business should be viable, not just a pipe dream.

First young entrepreneurs aren’t sure what kind of business to start, and secondly, they always ask, how do I do it. The most asked question in my business of helping business owners.

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If You Must Write A Business Plan

If you must write a business plan, you just can’t move forward without one, keep it simple. Don’t think in traditional terms, just do a simple business plan, something you can refer to as a guide. Here are 8 points to consider if you MUST write a business plan:

  1. Executive Summary – I would write it after you’ve done the next 7 points. Keep it short, one page.
  2. Company Description – Legal establishment, history, start-up strategy, etc.
  3. Product or Service – Describe what you’re selling. Focus on customer benefits.
  4. Market Analysis – You should know your market, customer needs, is there a need, where they are, and how to reach them.
  5. Strategy & Implementation – Be specific. Include management responsibilities with dates and budgets. Make sure you track results.
  6. Internet Strategy – For E-Commerce, include development costs, operations, and sales & marketing plans.
  7. Management Team – Describe the organization, and the key management personnel.
  8. Financial Analysis – Include your projected profit and loss, and cash flow tables.

You could have someone review this plan to ensure it’s a viable business, be sure this person or firm is capable of doing so. Be careful here, you could get stuck trying to make it perfect, don’t, just write as briefly as you can, unless you’re applying for funding, they want all the details.

 

The Future Of Business – “Everyone” Is Not Your Customer!

Far too often business owners state that everyone is their customer, it’s wrong, it’s just not true. Even if it were true, how could you possibly serve them all, and more importantly, what services & products would you know to provide everyone? Plus, what would marketers do if they couldn’t target market your products & services.

Typically, those business owners reveal their greatest weakness when making that claim. Firstly, they clearly do not understand business, secondly, they don’t have a business plan, and thirdly….they lack vision. I couldn’t speak more bluntly now could I, and I just gave you three reasons : )

If there is one thing I preach more than any other fact, business is and has changed, and you must change the way you think about business, and more importantly, how you think and see your business. Somehow we have to get away from thinking in terms of an exchange before payment, incorporate free into your business model, and how to be satisfied with less customers. That’s right….less!

Kevin Kelly wrote an amazing piece on 1,000 true fans, it’s really a tribe model in my head, but his theory is sound, and frankly is the future of business. His description of a fan is a thing of beauty, taken from the article on his blog:

“A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”

Now you might have an idea where I’m going, but I doubt it, I’m hard to follow sometimes. The question to ask yourself is, do you have fans / customers as described by Kevin Kelly? If you do, it won’t be hard to tell, if you don’t, you are probably wondering how to get those fans, and where might they be. If you did a business plan without knowing this description, of your preferred customer (fan), you would still be one degree off true north. Your plan would be flawed, because it would be based on old industrial age thinking, it would be based on what you know, and what you were taught in school. But that’s another topic.

Let’s stick with Kevin’s idea of a 1,000 true fans. In Kelly’s model, every true fan spends $100 per year on you whatever you produce. That means you will generate $100,000, that’s a decent pile of dough isn’t it. So there is your equation, 1,000 true fans x $100 = $100,000!! So what’s the problem?

The problem is not the equation, the problem most of the time is you, you get in the way, you begin to think too much, you still don’t understand the why. My workshops, public speaking engagements, my blog, and my book, is all about why you should change the way you think about your business. Most business owners aren’t paying attention to the why, mostly because they are paying attention to the details of paying the bills, covering payroll, and making sure there is stock. So where will you find the time to see what’s really going on, what’s changing, and how to adopt what’s changing? The stock answer, and I hear it every day, ” I don’t have time”. If that’s true, you probably won’t be in business in the next 5 – 10 years, because the way business and the consumers are changing, you will be forgotten, out of site, and out of mind.

The digital platform we call the Internet, is a game changer for sure. The real game changer has nothing to do with you the business owner, it’s the way people have shifted their buying patterns, from what to how. More importantly, these people formerly known as consumers want more control of your offerings, they want to decide, and they’re already talking about your competition. Why? Because you aren’t thinking like the new consumer, and….you aren’t listening to what they want.

There are over 2.2 billion users on the Internet, and another 3 Billion coming in the next 5 years, I know there are 1,000 true fans for your niche, now do you have time to find your 1,000 true fans? If not, hire someone who can show you how, someone with the vision to see the patterns of a changing consumer(s). You already know someone….wink, wink ; – )

Olivier Blanchard has 5 basic rules on the value of a follower, a fan, and a like, in simple terms, it’s based on the amount of money they spend on your product or service in a given calendar year. The potential of a follower and fan, that is something entirely different, and that equation has yet to be determined in my humble opinion. I think we are very bad at determining the potential value of a follower, a like, or a fan…but know this, it’s not linear, it’s exponential.

If you only need 1,000 true fans, “Everyone”, is not your customer.

Click on this link for the complete story on Kevin Kelly’s idea of 1,000 True Fans

Also read Olivier Blanchard’s work on The 5 basic rules of calculating fan/like/follower value.

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What's Your Plan For 2010?

You notice I didn’t ask you what your New Years Resolution(s) was or going to be? I don’t believe in or like New Years Resolutions because they set you up to fail. I won’t go in to why but I think you already know. We take more time to plan our vacations than we do our careers and or business goals for the next 1,2,3…5 years.

If you are a business owner you know that everything is in the plan, without it you don’t have a target, objectives and a road map to where you want to be in the next year, or the next 5. There are plans and then there wish lists, plans have long & short term goals. Wish lists don’t, they are nice to have’s or something you would like to have happen as a bonus to your plan.

Many of you are wondering what 2010 will bring, is business going to improve, will you find more work and so on. I don’t have a crystal ball, if I did I would know what’s going to happen to me let alone the sate of the Global market. I know this, we spend far too much time worrying, chasing and forgetting what’s truely important in our day-to-day lives.

Youv’e heard it said before, no one ever says on their death bed that they wished they worked more hours and had a bigger house or more money. They always say, I wish I had of spent more time with my kids, wife and taken more time for myself. You should know that I survived a heart attack in 2001, I can tell you first hand I never once thought about my job, my car, my house or any posession. I can tell you that I thought about my Lisa, my two boys Tyler & Brandon, my goals since then, to be and do more with them more often. I have and I continue to make sure my family gets the best of me.

We all have plans for different parts of our lives but mostly about our work and things we want from a material point of view. Business plans are abundent this time of year as new goals are put forward, hoping business will be better the next year than the last.  That’s OK, you should set those objectives, it’s good business to do so.

In 2010 much is going to change, but what? How will it impact your business and could you survive those changes you don’t see coming.  The level of risk when planning to upgrade full ERP systems, Payroll Software or an Office Suite may be low, but what happens when your business doesn’t reach sales objectives? How do you respond, what should you do? If you have a plan, you’ll know exactly what to do and even see clearly what steps to take to turn things around.

There a many, many templates and websites that can help you if you don’t have a plan, the business plan, the I.T. Strategic Plan and so on. I review many business plans and even more I.T. Strategic Plans and I can tell you almost immediately which ones are going to help when a crisis arrives. Everything is in the Plan.

What’s Your Plan For 2010?

Mine? Go over my plan and make adjustments as needed long term. I’m currently working on my short term plan, for the coming year called 2010. I’ll share some of my plans in my next Blog post.

You? Do you have one you can work from to ensure the next year has a road map?

How Do I Implement Social Media?

socialmediacluster

There are two questions that come up in almost every conversation I have on the topic of Social Media here in my local community, not online but offline. It never fails, these are the most asked questions I face.

1.) How Do I make or Implement Social Media in my Business?

2.) How do I make money and get the appropriate ROI using Social Media?


That’s more than two questions and alot to unpack, but that’s how they end up coming to me.

Keep in mind, I live in Canada and we typically are not early adopters on most things, we are at least 6 – 18 months behind our neighboring domestic USA. But that’s another story. We tend to be behind on what these new technology tools and movements are, what they mean and how to integrate them into our businesses and lives. So when the questions come from the executives the department leaders don’t have the right answer and worse yet they try to figure it out on their own, using old metrics and methods to generate some kind of understanding.

These two questions are hard to answer over a coffee or even in a board room, bringing in someone who has an understanding and is actually involved or an early adopter having success with Social Media to walk through some very important questions. Success doesn’t have to mean they are making millions, it means they have done many things right putting them in a position to monetize their passion or existing business.

There is many a debate on where Social Media fits in an organization, the Marketing / PR  Department, HR, IT Department and so on. I would suggest to you it fits into all three. The Marketing  / PR Department will most likely be the message creator for consistency purposes and also would hand off the Social Media chores to the Online Community Communications person. The HR Department would be involved for NDA purposes and orientation of new and existing staff, this would include the Internet Policy that the I.T. Department most likely helped develop. I.T. supports and ensures up time for all aspects of Information Technology needs.

I am assuming here that Information Technology was implemented properly in  the organization, which means, I.T. is in line with business needs and processes for the purpose of obtaining the goals of the organizations business plan. As you can see there is much that needs to be discussed before you venture out into this environment without building a team to discuss how you will proceed. The key is to bring someone in your area that is in the know and can help your team by ensuring the right questions are being asked and that they are getting answered. This person is much like a Project Manager with a difference, he/she is a lighthouse, a beacon and a sounding board. In the end it is up to the organization to decide what and how they want to proceed.

The point of this article is not lay out what you have to do step by step, but to prompt you to bring in someone who is knowledgeable, who is respected and recognized as someone in Social Media circles that can truly assist your organization. Someone with a strong background in technology and online marketing. This person can help you build the appropriate team, that will go a long way to ensuring success in developing  your Social Media Strategy.

If you are in need of help, feel free to contact me at: owen@owengreaves.com