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:
- Executive Summary – I would write it after you’ve done the next 7 points. Keep it short, one page.
- Company Description – Legal establishment, history, start-up strategy, etc.
- Product or Service – Describe what you’re selling. Focus on customer benefits.
- Market Analysis – You should know your market, customer needs, is there a need, where they are, and how to reach them.
- Strategy & Implementation – Be specific. Include management responsibilities with dates and budgets. Make sure you track results.
- Internet Strategy – For E-Commerce, include development costs, operations, and sales & marketing plans.
- Management Team – Describe the organization, and the key management personnel.
- 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.
Have you ever wondered what happens to things that find their way into the lost & found? What happens to great ideas when they fail to produce desired results? What do you do when what you’ve learned no longer works? Why don’t people start a business? Why do people wish, or hope something better will come along? Why don’t people know what they want? The real question is, what are you looking for, what are you hoping for, and most importantly, what are you waiting for?
There has never been a better time in history for anyone to make the world a better place, to start a business, to make something great happen, to truly see your purpose in life, and yet, we keep holding back. What is it, did you lose something, was it taken from you (most likely yes), or were you told you couldn’t? I’m going to tell you something. Those individuals in your life that tell you it’ll fail, it won’t work, and you can’t do it. They don’t have power over your desire to do something, today….you can just do it, you don’t need permission, you don’t need to ask anyone, you can just do it!
Somewhere along the way we lost sight of our future’s, our desire to do things. I can remember being in high school talking about all the great things I was gonna do after I got out, all the places I was going to go, and how I was going to life out the rest of my life. But somewhere on that journey, that confidence, that desire, that passion, and that drive, was driven out of me. Why? Because I allowed it, not because I didn’t have a choice. But today, that is all in the past, its history, today I can choose, I don’t have to conform to the powers that be, they actually have to keep an eye on me. The tables have turned, and now, you & I have the power to shape our future, to leverage each day, the choice is…more than ever, yours. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I’m not very good, I did however, choose to start this blog a number of years ago, and I’m writing to you right now!
You might be all fired up and ready to go, but let’s not lose sight of what you already have, and what you must look after, more importantly, making sure you’re being a good citizen that pays their bills, and shows up for work, life doesn’t stop because you’re all excited, and want to focus on your dream. I share this with you because I found myself looking back, wondering what happened, wondering…..something fell off the wagon. What was it, today it’s clear, at the time I was left wondering what was wrong, what was missing.
Many people don’t know what they want to do, many don’t want to leave the comfort of their careers, their jobs, because they are overcome by fear. Fear is powerful, you can’t ignore it, but most of the time, you can over-come it, you might even master it. Fear prevents you from living the abundant life, you never really live until you can move beyond those fears that are strongholds in your life.
What was that something that fell off the wagon? It was my power to choose, I gave up my power to the Industrial Age way of life. I gave my power away so I could feel secure, so I could keep the peace with my family and friends, so I could fit in. That system, that way of life works for some, but it squashes the will of many. If it works for you, then do it well, if it doesn’t….you have a hope and a decision to make, but make smart calculated decisions. Today you have choices most of us didn’t have 20 years ago, today you can do things at much lower levels of risk than 30 years ago. It’s an exciting time to be alive, don’t let your power to choose become something you lost, don’t let it fall off the wagon.
I was once asked what do I get if I use the Open & Free Business Model, it’s simple really, it sets you free. We are so afraid to change the way we think about business, how it really is, we forgot what it was like when we first started, the energy, nervous fear that it might not work, but we kept on going anyway. There is only one thing you really need to master, your fear. If you could identify it, you would probably be able to nail it down to one or two things.
I can only really speak from my experiences, my fears, they still live in me, but they don’t keep me from doing what I so desperately want to do. It doesn’t stop me from doing the thing, it may continue to haunt me from going bigger, growing my art to something far bigger than myself. The truth is, I actually care more about you than I do myself, I write, I share, I speak in public, I do workshops, all for you. But sometimes, all those exercises don’t work, sometimes you want my work the old fashion way. I can assure you, you probably won’t find it in the traditional format, it’s not who I am, and it doesn’t support my message.
Choosing to execute the Open & Free Business Model takes guts, courage, and persistence, it’s not easy to stay the course. It has the same slow growth as the stock market, it takes time to master the model, it takes time to figure out what part of your business can leverage the model. But once you’ve figured out it’s power, you’ll never go back, you’ll never stop giving your customers what they really want from you and your business.
What they want is freedom, freedom to choose, freedom to tell you how they would like to be served, how they would like to use your product or service. If you’re listening, and your practicing the Open & Free Business Model, your world will change, and your business will look different to you, and to your community. But first you must admit your business needs to change, it needs something different, it needs to attract attention in a non-traditional way. Otherwise, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. That may be OK for you, but it also may be the very thing that causes your business to struggle, and maybe even go out of business.
Set you and your business free, learn the Open & Free Business Model, follow the three-step process, Create. Differentiate. Deliver.
I know the question is odd when talking about the future of business, but I ask you to play along. Let’s see where I take you : )
If you were hired by your local hockey team (In my case, the Abbotsford Heat) to market the club in the digital realm, what might be there first question out of your mouth? No it’s not how much do I make. If the resources were in place, funding and say personnel, what would you ask?
Lets consider that all the questions are not dumb questions, no matter how obvious they might be, what would you ask?
I would most likely ask what the current cost is for customer acquisition, there is a cost with online marketing, so what is it?
Knowing that number would tell you at least two things, what they have been doing and, what they aren’t doing, that is provided you understand some simple marketing metrics and the overall understanding of what the strategy be.
You might even ask where the marketing dollars have been spent, like Google Ad Words and so on. Make a list. But there are two more important issues or questions I would be asking. Because frankly, I don’t care where the money is spent unless I know the answer to one primary question, and if I don’t get that answer, we are going to get it through some due diligence.
My first question is more about what the hardcore hockey fan wants, do the fans want free tickets to games, food or beer, or would they want dedicated, intimate free time with their favorite Player / Coach/ or even Executive?
It’s an Access over Ownership question, if we don’t know the answer, we better find out, and fast, because everything else that follows will be based on that data. I’m certain the average fan will pay the ticket price, but how much would they pay to have one-on-one time with their favorite hockey player? Maybe over a nice meal, I mean dedicated time, an intimate time to just be. What would you pay for that? A better question to ask yourself would be, would we be willing to give that access away for FREE?
You see, it’s easy to sell tickets, it’s even easier to sell club merchandise, but give the hardcore hockey fan access, and you have something really exciting.
The digital strategy will be built around what the hardcore fan really wants, and I’m willing to bet access is the secret sauce to your marketing efforts. The future of business as I have researched it, over the next 3 – 5 years will be Access over Ownership. Fill that need, and your hockey club will have a whole new set of marketing tactics to play with, a new view of the community, and a great way to Connect With Fans. Add that with a Reason To Buy, and you have a thing called revenue. (CWF + RTB = $$$$)
There are many, many more questions to ask, and this is a very low level, very loose post, but I’m flying at 50,000 feet and blue skying it.
If you knew access was the key, what other great ideas come to mind? Share them here in the comments, it would be great fun.
- The Future Of Business – Social Is A Feature Not A Platform (owengreaves.com)
- The Future Of Business – Fight Off The Mainstream Media & Big Business (owengreaves.com)
For years we have used the Internet much like a PS3 or an XBOX, it was an add-on to our entertainment center, it was attached to the TV. The TV has been the CORE entertainment box since it’s inception, but now TV as we know it is all but done. Internet TV is becoming the primary way we watch TV, that’s killing advertisers and cable networks. I wrote earlier this week that we in our household canceled cable for a couple reasons; we can get what we want on the NET, and two we weren’t watching TV all that much. So, we cut the overhead and will put that money into something we want online.
Business owners started paying attention to the Internet when they heard a few making considerable revenue online, the problem is, it was never take seriously. Today, if you’re a business owner you must take the Internet seriously and have a strategy that meets the requirements / objectives of your business plan. The Internet is no longer just an add-on, it has and is now becoming central to doing commerce period. In the next couple years you will see 30% of all commerce done online, is that your business? That number is going to grow closer to 60% when it’s all said and done.
It’s not enough to use the Internet as your primary source for revenue, you will also have to adopt an open economy strategy. The strategy is not difficult, it’s the way you think about that open economy, and how you will participate in it. I’ll harp on this until I no longer have to, it’s a paradigm shift, and it’s a painful shift. Take a look at my last blog post on Gerd Leonhards list of 14 shifts. My question to you is, how does it make you feel when you read that list?
Are you using the Internet only for entertainment, or is it becoming your primary way of doing business? The Internet is demanding respect, and so are your customers, they want to know if you are there to serve them or if you are just playing them and the Internet. No longer can you treat the Internet as an add-on to your business, you must begin the process giving the Internet it’s due. You should be shifting to a Web-Native model, that’s where the Internet is central to everything you do. Then you need to embrace an open economy where you give users more control of how they do business with you. This open economy is also very mobile and very social, how will you adopt this model? Will you be kicking and screaming or will you invite creativity and ask your customers what they would have you do?
Is the Internet just an add-on for you and your business or is the core platform for your business? The Internet is the game changer and has given everyone an opportiunity to not only have a voice, but also build something special your customers will embrace. Make the Internet your primary platform, the Internet Is No Longer Just An Add-on.