|Strategic Planning Information|
Dotcom Business Plans Archive Project
One of the most important initiatives in the domain of business documentation is that of professor David Kirsch from the University of Maryland, who thought of a dotcom Business Plan Archive - , a project that consists of collecting business plans for posterity. The project was started in 2002, through the Web portal businessplanarchive.org. The site was built by Webmergers.com and the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, in collaboration with the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.The project received financial support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
The archive contains records of more than 2,300 Internet companies (either successful or failed) founded in the 90s and during the Internet boom and bust era, that is between 1996 and 2000. The area of interest goes from business strategy to people's interactions in the dotcom workplace. The result will be a digital repository including business plans, marketing plans, venture presentations and any other records. The second part of the project will consist in gathering narratives from entrepreneurs, investors, employees and even customers who participated in this type of activity.
The purpose and usefulness of this project is to preserve past evidence of assumptions and strategies of successful and failed companies, thus providing valuable hints and knowledge for researchers and budding entrepreneurs, so as to learn from past mistakes and successes. Researchers will be able to benefit from this data so as to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research. Valuable insight from these business plans can be obtained:
* assumptions of the founders about the business;
The project brought to the researchers involved an award of $235,000 granted by the Library of Congress.
Laura Ciocan writes for http://www.businessplanning.ws where you can find more information about business planning
Business Plan: Planning the Operations
Writing a business plan is no easy task, sure you can whip something together in a day or so, but without proper planning you are setting yourself up to fail. Many first time entrepreneurs have a bit of trouble writing a business plan, which will be acceptable to bankers and investors. One easy place to fall down on is the understanding of the daily operations of your chosen business model.
How to Develop a Successful Board of Advisors (...and Why You Should!)
In today's rapidly changing and highly competitive markets, many privately held companies are creating outside advisory boards to give owners and CEOs fresh, knowledgeable advice. Even for small businesses, setting up an advisory board can give you a significant advantage over competitors that are relying solely on internal talent. An experienced and well-connected board of advisors can help your business grow and prosper in ways you've never imagined. What is a Board of Advisors? An advisory board is an outside group that is informally organized to provide business owners and corporate leaders with support, advice and assistance. While formal boards of directors have legally defined responsibilities and fiduciary duties, advisory boards have no formal power or binding legal authority. They serve at the pleasure of the business owner or CEO. Benefits of an Advisory Board There are several advantages that companies with advisory boards have over their competition. A board offers your business: An unbiased outside perspective. Increased corporate accountability and discipline. Enhanced CEO and management effectiveness. Greater credibility with investors, vendors and customers. Help in avoiding costly mistakes. Rounding out skills and expertise lacking in current management team. A sounding board for evaluating new business ideas and opportunities. Enhanced community and public relations. Improved marketing results and effectiveness. Strategic planning assistance and input. Centers of influence for networking introductions. Crisis and transition leadership in the event of the death or resignation of the CEO. Help anticipating market changes and trends. Steps to Creating an Effective Board of Advisors: Analyze the strength and weaknesses of your current management team. Look for critical areas of expertise and knowledge that your company could use help with such as marketing, legal, finance, eCommerce, and research and development or information technology. If your company is planning on going public within the next few years, seek out advisors who have successfully taken companies down that path. Set clear, written goals and objectives for your board of advisors. Getting maximum value from a board of advisors begins with clear objectives and goals. Board members must know why they have been asked to serve and what is expected of them. Before establishing the board, the CEO and senior managers should sit down and ask some of the following questions: 1. What are the main areas we need advice and guidance in? 2. What specifically do we need the board members to do for us? 3. Who are a few potential candidates for board membership? 4. How do we avoid giving away too much control to outsiders? 5. What will be the powers and limitations of the board? 6. What will setting up the board cost initially? Annually? Will it be worth the cost? Determine the size and structure of your board. Advisory boards range in size from two members to over thirty. The right size depends on many factors, such as your company's size, complexity, stage of development and individual skills needed. My experience and research has found that for most small to mid-sized, growing companies or start-ups, a 5 to 7 member advisory board is an ideal size. Smaller firms can start with just one or two members and add new members as they grow. Recruiting Candidates Determining whom you invite to join your board is one of the most critical decisions in setting up a board of advisors. Often a business owner's first instinct is to ask friends, family members or professional advisors to sit on their board. This is usually a mistake. Unless your friend or family member is a recognized authority in an area of expertise lacking by your management team or a highly successful entrepreneur, they are probably not the wisest choice. Another reason to avoid asking family or friends to join your board is lack of objectivity. Often advice from a friend, family member or management insider is sugar coated to protect relationships. An outside advisor can give you a much more objective and honest assessment of the situation. Using professional advisors such as your lawyer, banker or accountant as board members has it's own pitfalls. These advisors are already working for you and may not be as objective as you need, due to having an interest in generating future business from your company. Some critical action steps for recruiting a dynamite board of advisors are: Develop a candidate profile. After you have determined the areas of expertise your company is in need of, create a profile of candidates that successfully fit these needs. Take care to address knowledge and skills that your company will need to meet projected growth and future challenges. Seek out experts. Search online and offline for experts and proven leaders that meet your candidate profiles. Contact them and begin discussions about possible board membership. Ask for recommendations. Solicit recommendations from the experts you speak with that cannot serve on your board, of collogues of theirs that they feel would be a good fit for your needs. Begin networking with your attorney, accountant and other professional advisors. Once you have successfully recruited an advisor, he or she can often lead you to another good candidate. Find your candidates motivation. Most of your candidates are not going to be motivated by money alone. In fact, if money is their primary reason for joining your board, they may not be what you are looking for. The most effective board members are motivated by the challenge and intellectual stimulation of building successful companies. They serve because they are already high achievers and enjoy the challenge. Have variety in your board. Try to include experts and successful entrepreneurs from several different disciplines. Often board members who are successful marketers, CEOs and business owners from different industries can bring a fresh perspective to your business. These individuals can often help you incorporate best practices from other industries, into your own industry, creating revolutionary changes and opportunities. Look for a proven track record. Find the leaders in their field. The best board candidates are successful CEOs, business owners, professionals, university professors and consultants who have achieved success in their own businesses and careers. Clearly communicate your goals and objectives. Invest time in talking to and meeting with potential members. Communicate to them what your goals and objectives are. Let them know that you are not looking for "yes men" and that you want advisors who will challenge you and hold you accountable for your businesses growth. Board Compensation Board members expect and deserve to be compensated for their time, efforts and advice. Typical advisory board compensation includes a stipend from $5,000 to $25,000 per member, per year. Some companies pay their board members per meeting, with payment ranging from $500 to $3,000 per meeting, with a monthly retainer of $500 to $2,500. Companies should also cover transportation, meals and lodging for members when attending meetings. Most successful boards also give or require members to buy stock or some form of equity in the company. This gives the board members equity participation and a vested interest in the growth of the company. Pitfalls to Avoid Some potential problem areas to avoid when setting up or working with your advisory board are: Members missing meetings. Because board members are usually running successful businesses of their own, they may not always be available for every meeting. However, board members should be made aware that attendance of board meetings is important and expected. If a member is chronically absent, the value of their membership on the board should be reviewed. Insecurity of senior managers. Some company insiders may feel intimidated or threatened by the involvement of outsiders. The CEO or owner must make every effort to communicate to his staff the benefits and importance of having a board of advisors. Incompatible personalities. This is a challenging situation, because most members of your board will be strong willed, achiever types, who have gotten where they are by taking charge. Many will have strong convictions about their opinions and may find it hard to defer the leadership of the meetings to the CEO. You must determine when a member's personality is "too strong" and becoming disruptive. Excessive number of board members. Because of their strong personalities, if you have too many members on your board, the more assertive members often dominate the debates, depriving you of the contributions the quieter members may have made. Lack of CEO communication. Withholding company information or not regularly communicating with the members of your board of advisors destroys trust and effectiveness. Regular communication between meetings is essential to maintaining an effective board. Inadequate compensation. As I mentioned, you do not want compensation to be the determining factor in a candidates membership on your advisory board, however successful individuals of the caliber you seek expect to be fairly compensated for their time and knowledge. Keys to Board Effectiveness If you build it, use it. Owners and CEOs who invest the time and money in creating a board should be committed to soliciting and using its advice on important issues and decisions. Value their input, even when they disagree with what you want to do. Sometimes a board is at it's most valuable when it recommends against a course of action the CEO wants to take. If you recruit a good board, often they have already been down the path you are on, and their experience (and past failures) can help you to avoid costly mistakes. Communicate with your advisors. Keep the members of your board informed about what is happening in your company and industry. Counsel with individual members on the phone at least monthly and send them information well in advance of your meetings, to help them prepare and keep the meetings productive. Hold regular meetings. Most boards meet once per quarter. However, boards should meet more often during times of rapid growth or if company needs merit additional oversight and guidance. Have an objective for each meeting. Your board members are busy people and their time is valuable. Make the most out of your meetings with them, by having a clear agenda and objectives for each meeting. Make sure to cover the most important items of business first, in case the discussions take longer than planned or some members have to leave early. Annual assessment of board performance. Periodically assessing the board's effectiveness is a critical factor in ensuring a good return on investment. Each year the board should set performance goals and define their criteria for success. At the end of the year the CEO and the board should assess it's performance, compared to its goals and criteria for success. Over 80 percent of all private companies are operating without a board of advisors or board of directors. Odds are your competitors do not have one. Because of this, developing a board of advisors can give your company a distinct advantage over your competition. This is particularly true for start-ups and family run businesses. There is tremendous value in receiving objective, knowledgeable advice from a board of advisors who share in the financial and equity growth of your business. I encourage you to begin recruiting your advisory board today!
For Business Owners Only - You Can?t Be Fired But Neither Can You Quit
The decision to sell, or not to sell your business is a difficult one. There are many questions that need to be answered before an informed decision can be made. Is selling your best alternative? Will one of the kids want to take over the business? Timing is everything. Is now the right time? You do not have to sell or decide right now. You are quite busy so maybe you will look into it after. . .
Business Ideas: 3 Smart Ways To Generate Profitable Business Ideas Anytime
Creativity is one of the greatest tools for success in business.
Don?t Just Talk About the Weather, Use It to Advantage
A well known, national chain of restaurants discovered that certain weather patterns substantially impacts their business. They have studied it and found that more people go out to eat dinner when there is a series of beautiful days. So they measure the weather quality at their stores across the country. Managers report the weather quality daily. A weather predicting system is then employed to determine the quality of subsequent days. When the model predicts a higher customer count they reduce or eliminate sale items and include higher priced or higher margin specials on the changing daily menu. While they can't control the weather, they know that their customers respond to it. Knowing that, they work to take advantage of factors that can predict changes in business activity.
Completing the Annual Planning Process
Imagine an office without a desk, or lights, a computer, or even something as simple as a chair. When the architects and designers started planning a building or office space they knew they would have to make concessions for these items during each of the building activities. As marketers, we take part in many activities, much like a builder or designer does.
Building a Better Brick-and-Mortar with the Billion-Dollar Web
More than $117 billion passed hands from Internet shoppers to Internet vendors in 2004, according to the statistical research firm comScore. That's billion, with a B. Compared to the year before, the figure represents a whopping 24 percent increase in sales. Compared to the early 1990s, when the Web was a questionable commercial venture, today's $117 billion is proof-positive that the Web is the full-fledged money-making machine. It seems to be a big enough pie that any merchant with a Web site can cut out his heaping slice.
Be Like Bill - Think!
Twice a year, Bill Gates goes to a remote island hide-a-way for a week at a time. No, he's not going for a fishing vacation; instead of rods, reels, and lures he takes market analyses, position reports, engineering reports, and opportunity papers. In solitude he reads and thinks and reads some more, writing notes in the margins then composing questions, thoughts, and his own positions that will impact the future of Microsoft and the entire technology industry for years to come.
5 Strategies That Will Boost Your Business Productivity Today! - Part 2
Growing your own small business can be one of the most exciting journeys you could ever embark upon!
College Students and Graduates to Run Company Outlets or Franchises
Does your overall business strategy include the recruitment of college students to run your locations? Are you a franching company and looking for young, talented, hardworking and dedicated franchisees? There are some things to think about before you deploy such a strategy. There are both positives and negatives to focusing your recruitment efforts on college students, for instance best reason's to use college students include some of the following:
Business Plan Financial Projections: Stop Worrying About Being Right...
Business plan financial projections seem daunting because they are so uncertain. This very uncertainty, however, is what makes preparing them easy because you can't possibly be right. You can't predict the future. None of us can. All you can be is competent in the way you prepare your business plan projections.
Financing Business Expansion for Your Small Company
How you finance the expansion of your business is important. Borrowing and understanding the consequences of borrowing for your financing is extremely important. If you are going to borrow the money to finance the expansion of your business, you need to make sure that you are not going to get yourself into a cash crunch situation. This is where you are going to have a lot of money coming in from new business completed and invoiced but not have enough current cash flow. When you borrow you will be financing new equipment, locations, signage, or perhaps a new work truck on a credit line, lease or loan payments. The initial payments are going to be due before you get your increased income from the expansion in. This can be a major critical problem and we do not want this to happen to you.
Microsoft Great Plains Implementation: Healthcare/Hospital example ? overview for consultant
Microsoft Great Plains fits multiple services market niche and healthcare is not exemption. In the case of Healthcare/Hospital there is usually healthcare patient history tracking system in place and backoffice or accounting application should be integrated on the ongoing basis with the above mentioned system plus often Hospital or association is non-profit organization and non-for-profit accounting specifics should be taken into consideration.
Business Disaster? Wont Happen to Me
As fast as you can say business disaster, your business can go up in smoke. That's what happened a while back to Castle Carpet One. Gone were thousands of dollars worth of equipment and carpet, plus two smaller businesses that were housed in the same building. Luckily the owners, Larry and Diane Cox, had plenty of business insurance to cover their physical losses. But they lost their most important business asset - customer records - because of failed back up systems. Rebuilding their customer base will be tough and the long-term revenue impact is hard to measure.
Your Business: Will It Have A Happy Ending?
"Begin with the end in mind," says Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Successful Living. Those who have created a successful business know it does not happen without planning, hard work, and a little luck. Yet most have no plans for leaving their business, ever.
Elite Positioning Brings Higher Profits
Imagine spending the same amount of money on marketing and performing the same amount of work to deliver your products or services, but earning more money and keeping more after your expenses. That's what happens when you institute elite positioning for your business.
Buying Used Detailing Equipment and Rainy Day Services
Mobile auto detailing equipment becomes very inexpensive around March each year. If you look on eBay or your local classified section of the newspaper you will see. This is because mobile auto detailers are in a seasonal business. They find themselves scraping bottom when it is too cold to work because the water is freezing or it is raining and it becomes hard to sell detailing services. No one wants to see their business cards when it's raining. The only people who page them are their girlfriends who they can no longer take out for dinner or a movie. They can't use their car phone because it's been turned off by Verizon or Sprint. In a rainy year their cash reserve, if they had one, has been used up by mid January. They are eating Top Ramen by February. Their business no longer supports their needs. So they quit. Too bad for them; they obviously are not winners because: "Winner's Never Quit and Quitters Never Win!"
Do You Really Need a Business Plan?
"I don't need a business plan."
The Tables Have Turned - Its Officially a Sellers Market
Private equity firms have raised so much capital over the last 12 months that they are vigorously competing with one another for opportunities to put their money to work. Business owners, who previously would have had to go hat-in-hand to investors, instead find themselves inundated with unsolicited offers for their companies. Companies with solid balance sheets, good management and strong growth prospects are able to tailor deals to their liking, and get solid valuations.
Mining Market Data
With a heightened awareness of opportunity, ideas can often be generated by market research. The National Women's Business Center (NWBC) defines market research as "a systematic, objective collection and analysis of data about your target market, competition, and/or environment with the goal being increased understanding. Through the market research process, you can take data?a variety of related or non-related facts?and create useful information to guide your business decisions.
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