|Strategic Planning Information
Laying It Out On Paper
You might be thinking to yourself, "Why should I waste my time writing a business plan? I know what (web designers, freelance writers, professional organizers) do!" Knowing intellectually what your industry is all about and pinpointing exactly where you want your business to go are two entirely different propositions.
Something happens when you empty vague ideas out of your head and SOLIDIFY them on paper. Suddenly, it seems easier to move forward on projects for your business. Resources appear out of nowhere. You begin meeting people who can help you accomplish your goals. Sound like magic? It isn't. But having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish makes you more aware when you encounter someone or something that can help get you there.
Unfortunately, some people see creating a business plan as an almost insurmountable feat -- they may work on their plan for years, never reaching the end. This is absurd! Putting a business plan together involves nothing more than asking yourself a series of questions about how you will structure your company. Moreover, it's okay if you leave some things out the first time through. As time passes, you will have the opportunity to revise your business plan to reflect your changing focus.
The type of business plan we are developing is merely a short-term roadmap for your entrepreneurial activities -- to help you understand your financial needs, set "production" goals, think through any potential obstacles, and develop your daily business operating procedures.
YOUR COMPANY'S "VITAL STATISTICS"
We will begin with the easy part -- a straightforward description of who and where your company is today. Include your business name, address, phone, the entity (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.), and type of business. You also want to describe any clients that you have secured. If you are new in business, you might say, "I don't have any clients yet." But if you have spoken to anyone about this business venture, I'm sure you've heard, "Let me know when you get your business going. I need your help!" So be sure to include those potential clients on your list.
WHO NEEDS YOUR SERVICES?
Let's take a look at why someone would hire you. Your potential clients all face certain problems that will cause them to seek out your assistance -- and you must tailor your services to those needs. So take a minute to imagine some of your "typical" clients. What is causing them problems, and what can you do to help them? And be specific. When I started as a Professional Organizer, a statement like, "My clients are disorganized and need me to organize them," didn't do much to define my client base. But rephrasing it to say, "My clients are overburdened with paper and they need me to help them set up filing systems and learn how to manage incoming paper," brought me one step closer to setting up my business structure.
Every market has a "no-brainer" -- a huge, under-served, or untapped population that is just sitting there waiting to be serviced by you! You just need to figure out who those clients are. If you live in Florida, you might find an overabundance of elderly clients who are downsizing to a retirement community and need help cleaning out -- a great market for Professional Organizers.
Big cities are filled with busy executives who don't have time to stay on top of their daily responsibilities -- perfect for service businesses that "come to you" (grocery delivery, car detailing at your office). And most suburbs are overflowing with overwhelmed homemakers -- they need help maintaining their homes (handyman services), looking after their children (tutors, child care providers), and getting their errands done (concierge services). No one is limiting you to just one population. But finding a "niche" can help build your business quickly and give you a steady client base.
DESCRIBING YOUR MARKET
Now we are ready to focus in on your market -- those clients that you plan to serve. Be very specific about who your clients will be. Don't just say that your market is "everyone who needs their car serviced" or "anyone with hair." Are you limited to a specific geographic area (say, within fifty miles of your office)? Do you plan to work with the elderly, busy executives, single parents, men, women, or kids? Will you offer different kinds of services to different clients (closet organizing for some and paper management for others)? What about different levels of service (consulting versus doing the hands-on work yourself)? Will your business slow down during the summer or pick up at the first of the year?
Try to think through each question thoroughly and pinpoint the demographics of your client population.
WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION?
Before you begin any business venture, it is always a good idea to know your competition. Some fields, like Professional Organizing, are much more collaborative than competitive -- others, such as PR and advertising, are very cut-throat. However, competition in the abstract is still always a concern. If a client has a choice between you and even one other organizer, that's technically competition. You will need to make yourself more attractive to the client than your competitors to win the job. Do some research to find out what other professionals in your area are doing (check with your professional association, look in the Yellow Pages, and scan the classified ads). And don't be afraid to ask others in your field how they do business -- you might be surprised how many people are willing to share.
MAKING YOUR COMPANY STAND OUT IN THE CROWD
This is the hard part -- deciding how you will make your company seem more attractive to clients than the competitors. You are going to have to get inside the mind of your consumer and understand what influences their purchasing decisions. Is it price? Quality of service? The reputation of the organizer? Begin by asking the people around you how they would decide which organizer to hire. Then, you need to determine how you will make your company stand out. Will you offer discounts or "value-added" services? Share testimonials about your work? Create flashy brochures? Decide how you are different from the others and capitalize on that idea.
Even if you aren't planning on taking out a business loan, you still need to know whether or not your company will be profitable. First, examine how you charge for your services -- is it by the hour? By the job? Based on an up-front estimate? Now look at the number of clients you can reasonably service each week, month, or quarter. Be sure to leave time in there for a personal life -- remember that you can't see clients 24 hours a day (no matter how attractive that big paycheck may seem!) Based on these two figures, what is your projected income for the next year?
Next, take a look at your regular business expenses -- how much do you spend each year on office supplies? Travel? Marketing? If you don't know, that's your first goal for the new year -- to set up an accounting system that will track your expenses and income! How do you expect those expenses to change over the next year? Do you have any big purchases or investments planned?
When you compare your projected income to your projected expenses, how do you come out? Ahead? Breaking even? In the red? Let's think about some ways you could either increase your income -- you could work more hours, raise your rates, expand the services you offer, increase your profit margin on organizing supplies you sell. You can also consider reducing your expenses -- cutting back cell phone minutes, meeting networking contacts for coffee instead of lunch, buying supplies in bulk. Try to come up with a list of at 10 different ways you can improve your profit margin.
ADVERTISING AND PROMOTIONS
The next big question is how you are going to market to your clients -- how you will educate them about the services you provide and the benefits of working with your company. The first step is to think about the big picture -- your marketing strategy. Are you selling your company based on the speed with which you work, your price, or extra services? Then emphasize that as the CENTRAL THEME in all of your marketing efforts. Is your intention to put your name in front of as many people as possible, or a specifically targeted population? Do you want your company to be the most recognized name in the industry or the organizer for the elite? Your marketing strategy should be shaped first by whom you want to reach, and then how you plan to reach them.
When it comes to choosing a marketing vehicle, you have a lot of choices -- direct mail, radio and TV, trade shows, public appearances, word of mouth, special promotions. Which are the best methods for you? Start by talking to other professionals about what works for them. And use your gut instinct -- think about what you can afford, which method will best reach your audience, and what would attract you to a company. Don't feel as though you have to envision 10 years worth of advertising right now -- marketing, like all other parts of running a business, is a constantly developing process.
It's also important for you to give some thought to how you will manage the daily details of your business. Planning ahead for simple things -- how you will stay on top of your accounting, who will manage different administrative duties, what technology you will utilize -- will make running a business easier in the end. Make a list of tools and technologies you plan to employ -- everything from your planner to your accounting program to your cell phone. Also think about the professional help you plan to employ -- advisors like your CPA and attorney, freelance consultants, and even paid employees. Who are these people? What skills or experience do they bring to the table? How will their involvement benefit your business?
Finally, we must determine how well your business will fare among the competition. To do this, you must have a clear idea of how you will know you are succeeding. Will you base your success on income, number of clients, level of happiness, or fame? Once you know what success looks like, you need to identify any strengths or weaknesses that will affect your chances of achieving that success. Finally, you must develop a plan for overcoming those weaknesses. That may involve improving your business skills -- or hiring someone else to do work that is outside your realm of expertise. Be as honest as you can when answering these questions -- the more candid you are in developing your business plan, the easier it will be to carry out. Good luck!
Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of OnlineOrganizing.com -- a web-based one-stop shop offering everything that you need to get organized at home or at work. At OnlineOrganizing.com, you may get a referral to an organizer near you, shop for the latest organizing products, get tons of free tips, and even learn how to become a professional organizer or build your existing organizing business. And if you would like to read more articles about organizing your life or building your business, get a free subscription to the "Get Organized" and "Organized For A Living" newsletters. Please visit http://www.OnlineOrganizing.com or contact Ramona directly at [email protected] for more information.
Defining Go for It Business Goals
Many business start-up kits or consultants will tell you one of the first steps to starting a business is to define your business goals. Your goals may differ from the goals of another individual, for example; some people want freedom to do what they want to do, whenever they want, and without having to report to someone else. For others, the goal might be financial security. For another, flexibility or creativity might be their goal.
Business Problem Solving
Is there really anything as a problem? Does chaos or challenge mean you have a problem? I am under the belief that such things as other call problems are indeed the life-blood of opportunity and the louder it knocks the greater the gain. Embrace chaos. In my many years in business I loved a good challenge; let me recommend a good audio book incase you find yourself embattled with what you believe to be insurmountable problems:
The Chasm of Change---- Restructuring ----- The Goliath
Richard L. Daft one of the country's recognized academic leadership experts raises the question, "What kind of people can lead an organization through major change?" A Turn-A-Round restructuring qualifies as major change and requires transformational leadership. Daft points out that this type of leader is characterized by the ability to bring about change through innovation and creativity. This type of leader motivates people to not only follow their lead but to believe in the vision of corporate transformation, the need for revitalization, to sign on for the new vision and to help institutionalize a new organizational process." Daft points to four principles in discussions about leading an organization through major change. These four principles are the foundation of the restructuring Turn-A-Round process.
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.
Site Selection and Demographic Tips for Establishing Outlets
Many cities have home pages on the Internet. Many of these cities use these sites to promote their town. They use it to attract large corporations who will provide jobs and large retailers who will provide sales tax revenue dollars for city budgets. The first thing you need to do when surveying a town for a likely candidate for a company outlet is to visit their website and that you can do from where you are sitting right now. Websites can be great sources for general and statistical data. Here is some of the information you will find at these Internet sites: Upcoming City Events; Job Opportunities; Library Hours; How To Pay Water Bills; Statistical Data; Basic City Information; Etc.
How to Start A Business Plan
A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals, and serves as your firm's resume. The basic components include a current and pro forma balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow analysis. It helps you allocate resources properly, handle unforeseen complications, and make good business decisions. Because it provides specific and organized information about your company and how you will repay borrowed money, a good business plan is a crucial part of any loan application. Additionally, it informs sales personnel, suppliers, and others about your operations and goals.
Succession Planning for Business - 10 Key Points You Must Know
By cranking up others development to meet your business needs, big or small, not just for right now, but for the future, you will find payoffs, big-time. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Abstract thought on Business Strategy and Nature
Here is an abstract thought on studying nature and the natural order of things; things which work to help you better understand and strategize in business, war, sports or military operations. Let's compare the methods of distribution of organic viruses to all other more obvious distribution methods.
Business Planning and the ?Bozo? Factor
"Bozo" ? A clown with a forlorn look, always finding negative implications in every activity or event. A person who tries to find a way to prevent you from moving ahead, giving excuses such as "we've always done it this way, or this is not our culture" when presented a new opportunity or challenge. Normally associated with people who are uncomfortable with learning new techniques, processes, or relationships.
How to Write a Business Plan Market Analysis
Writing a business plan is an essential part of the initial strategic planning of any company. One thing, which seems to hang up most entrepreneurs, is figuring out what kind of data and information goes into the Market Analysis section. So often entrepreneurs will attempt to bluff or BS their way thru it. Often you find those with MBA write meticulous Market Analysis sections and although they may have little if any true entrepreneurial skills going into a new business, their business plans are sure to impress. But you need not be an MBA to write a proper Market Analysis section in your business plan for your next business.
Alice In Wonderland - A Parable for A Business Plan
Remember reading "Alice in Wonderland?"
Microsoft Great Plains in Advertising & Publishing ? implementation highlights
Microsoft Great Plains, former Great Plains Dynamics is excellent fit for service oriented business and in this small article we'll give you magazine publisher and advertiser implementation and reporting scenarios. The system we describe is not real, we are putting together industry specifics, based on our consulting practice. In the case if you do not see some unique features of your publishing business ? this just means that publishing industry is diversified and say, regional newspaper publishing is quite different from magazine with narrow specialization.
TQM Total Quality Management, the book
Every decade we seem to come up with a buzz-word to describe the things we should be doing right all the time. Forever we have heard our parents or grandparents use little phrases to get our attention. "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right? Or "Never enough time to do it right, but always making time to do it over." Quick quotes like these and there must be a hundreds of different ones which all lead to the same thing. In the 1980's and early 1990's it was TQM or Total Quality Management. Deming and Peters harped on this like there was no tomorrow. Then later on we had the Six Sigma by GE and the Jack Welsh crowd of executives and remember the ISO 9000 series of quality and perfection. Now then let's get back to; TQM Total Quality Management, the book. If you have not read it, then you should because you can buy it at any garage sale for $1.00 or at a used book store for $4-5 dollars. Amazon has tons of used ones for sale as well. Make sure you buy the right book, as there must be 100 or more books on that subject:
Family and Friends Referrals Make the Best Franchisees
As a franchisor it is imperative that you seek, find and recruit the best franchisees to maintain a strong franchise system. Your current Franchisees are your very best sales people, sometimes without even knowing it. As a franchisee starts making more money, it will show. Soon they will be moving out of their apartment or home into a nicer area. They will be driving a nicer car. They will be frequenting nicer eating establishments. A female franchisee's husband will tell the guys at work in a bragging way how great his wife is doing and that he plans on quitting his job to help her. A male franchisee's wife will brag to her friends that she is planning a vacation of that they bought a new indoor four-person Jacuzzi. Her friends will entice their husbands and boyfriends to look into the franchise, franchise companies should encourage this scenario and spend more time and money on referrals than straight sales. Sure mass marketing works, but throwing spaghetti at the refrigerator until something sticks is not very becoming of a star rated franchise system. Many times people at the franchisee's old job will start talking, "Hey, did you hear about Skip?, He's really doing well with that new franchise thing he doing." "Yah! Have you seen his new Corvette."
Content Management: Wise Investment for Business Prosperity
10 Ways To Make Your Business Unique
1. Largest Selection -
How To Kick Start Your Business And Double Your Profits
This will make some people angry as hell, but it's time to debunk the myth of 'Time Management' while sharing the real secret of the super successful.
Sample Business Plan Outline
If you are looking for a partner, funding, angle investor or venture capital you will be asked for a business plan. Even if you are not in need of capital in the formation of your new business endeavor you will still be glad you prepared a business plan to help you prove to yourself that you have the right stuff and that the business is economically viable. The first step in the creation of your new business will be making a customized business plan. Please use this outline as your template to insure you do not forget anything important. This is a business plan format and outline I had created after reading over ten business plan books and taking the best of each of them and putting them into one outline. I give this to your freely and wish you great success in your new business. It is the great entrepreneurial spirit and the entrepreneur that build this great nation, glad to see you are one of us
Why Six Sigma Will Work in Healthcare
If ever there were an industry where we want zero defects, it's healthcare. Patients, medical professionals, and healthcare administrators all want mistakes eliminated and quality and efficiency improved. Although most industries have undergone some type of data-supported, systematic, quality-improvement process, healthcare still has not. Medical and technological advances continue to outpace process and education adjustments. Demand and expectations for medical care are increasing. Inefficiency also leads to(causes, brings about, etc.) overcrowded emergency rooms, customer complaints, and lost revenues.
Creating a Vision That Achieves Results
How important is a vision statement to your company or division? Well, have you ever thought about embarking on a journey without knowing where you are going? The same can be said about running a company, without a vision statement you are going places but who knows if it is in the right direction or even if you want to go there.
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