Your Business Plan is an Expectation of Success
"Only Morons Start a Business on a Loan" -Mark Cuban
Success Begins With A Vision
The success of any business starts with a vision of opportunity, how it will evolve and what makes it competitive in the market. The challenge is to translate that idea into a reality which takes among other things, money to start, operate, and grow.
Raising the capital to start a business requires creating well-designed, comprehensive business plan to attract the interest of lenders and investors. A solid business plan offers a clear and strategic roadmap that defines where you are, how you got there, and how you plan to proceed.
New business ventures require a long-term personal commitment where you invest yourself into every aspect of the business to ensure your company succeeds. Entrepreneurs depend upon their resourcefulness and self-motivation to sustain productivity by accomplishing the objectives outlined in a business plan.
When starting a new venture, entrepreneurs need a business plan to resource strategy, reference sales goals or create a culture based on the mission statement outlined in a business plan.
LET YOUR BUSINESS PLAN GUIDE YOU
It can be quite difficult to stay focused on completing the difficult tasks associated with starting a business. Maintaining productivity can be quite challenging considering the continuous need to monitor your cash flow, market your product, research your industry and size up your competition, all while balancing daily productivity expectations. To consistently complete so many objectives is challenging to say the least. Therefore, as you plan and organize your way through the first few years of operations, one of the very best resources you can refer to your business plan.
A well drafted business plan is extremely effective for guiding you and your company through shifts in consumer demand and market volatility. However, more than anything, it's a highly effective tool for planning and designing cost-effective marketing strategies. A business plan is a model built upon your expectations of success. Focus on completing the objectives, and allow their accomplishment to motivate you to the next step and on to the next. By sticking to your business plan you'll see that it's an instrumental part of keeping things efficient and a way to help keep your focus on the daily tasks that need to be accomplished to help sustain productivity.
The Vision of Leadership
When starting your business, you had an idea of how your company would be managed. That idea was translated into your business plan, designed according to your own personal preference for what you believed would give the company the best chance for success. As your business begins to experience growth, you will begin hiring additional employees, and eventually you'll likely have to hire another manager.
A business plan specifically describes the skills and professional experience of management. From an entrepreneurial perspective, your management experience is what helps you develop a style of leadership. The way you approach leadership determines your ability to motivate your employees, which leads to increased productivity, resulting in stimulated growth.
The vision of leadership should be translated through your company's mission statement. By having a strong mission statement that's valued upon the principles of leadership, will help clarify a purpose and define what most important for your employees. Furthermore, a mission statement serves the best interests of your employees by aligning their efforts with the overall strategy for completing goals.
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Structure Your Management Around The Vision of Leadership
"For the most part, small businesses should be structured using a decentralized approach. This gives management more latitude to pass along responsibilities to employees, while providing more freedom to trust that workers will complete the tasks you assign to them.
When using a decentralized management structure, a democratic style of leadership is often best for motivating productivity and encouraging innovative thought. Projects get done faster and decisions are more effective. When you look at the level of professionalism among your employees, and you see a dedicated work ethic with an emphasis on quality, you just know that it works"
Have a Resilient Marketing Strategy
With productivity properly motivated, more effort can be concentrated on growing your customer base. Your business plan provides in-depth detail for the company's marketing strategy, and it shouldn't be forgotten as it represents the framework for generating new clients and increasing your bottom line.
It isn't easy to balance all the needs of the business and still possess "strategic marketing finesse", that is, when you wield strategic marketing know-how in the midst of turbulent economic conditions. Your business plan already had an effective marketing strategy but during a recession, it's best to adjust your business plan's marketing initiatives to compensate for constraining financial deficiencies.
It's not easy when you have to define a slow market, adjust your rates and concessions and then align them together into an effective advertising effort. The hope is, that it will attract new clients. The process really does require a certain finesse, especially when the market is seemingly unresponsive to the marketing strategy first implemented from your business plan.
If your budget can't stretch the dime far enough to rent a billboard along the freeway, or 20 seconds of air time on the radio, you have to get creative. The new trend in advertising that's showing a lot of promise is Internet marketing and social media networking. These techniques are proving effective in generating leads almost as much as motivating consumers to spend. It depends a lot on your product, but so far, reports have been positive, with all indicators pointing toward increases in consumer interest.
Worst case scenario is that it will create some value simply through its cost effectiveness, while generating enough revenue to justify the time you put into it. It's really a win-win situation, and the best part is, that it hasn't yet reached it's fullest potential .
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Tips For Reducing Cost
Getting through the first few years of operations requires a lot of penny-pinching. Now that your business is growing doesn't mean you let up on finding cost effectiveness wherever you can. Look to improve your bottom line by conducting regular payroll evaluations and check for accuracy when doing inventory counts. In both, review them for any unusual variances or dramatic increases in the rates you pay.
You can also decrease your liabilities by implementing a security system which can reduce the cost of your insurance coverage. You just have to make sure you have theft prevention mechanisms written into your policy. There are ways to lower costs. You just have do the research and find them.
Endure and Persevere
When I first started my business, I was a junior in college at N.A.U. I was able to find a balance between fulfilling my academic needs while trying to get my business off the ground.
I worked hard to ensure I was performing a quality service that was affordable for my customers. Their satisfaction was a priority. It was important that I left an impression on them and that they felt they had received value in the transaction. I didn't undercharge the customer, I just kept my prices at a highly competitive rate. It took doing daily research into my industry, even calling my competitors at times, posing as a customer to get their prices for services that were similar to mine. One thing I found out early on is a good pricing strategy is a great competitive advantage.
During my second year in business, I started getting referral calls. The business cards I had left behind with satisfied customers were starting to pay off. Soon my workload had doubled to the point that I would be at one job-site finishing up and had one or two more waiting for me to go start. It started getting a little intense, so I knew it was time to hire my first employee.
I had about a dozen clients and enough in my savings account to where I was comfortable hiring someone to help carry the workload. I caught a break when my girlfriend volunteered to work for half of what I was planning to pay for the help. Not only was she cost effective, she also wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty, plus she was able to immediately increase efficiency and help cut my turnaround time in half.
We were both business majors at NAU and it just so happened that she knew the editor of our school newspaper. After a little convincing, he published an article on my business which generated enough interest to bring us another 4 clients. It’s no wonder why I ended up marrying her.
The business began picking up momentum during my senior year just as the housing market began to rebound. My business was already doing fairly well, but with people starting to buy again, I hoped it would translate into more customers for the company.
Anticipating an increase in demand, I knew that it was time to get serious about marketing my business. My savings account was set, giving me about a six month cushion just in case the business took a nose dive. I had already experimented with Internet marketing in the past, but it was my wife who convinced me to give it another try.
The plan was that we would use what we knew about Marketing and launch an aggressive ad campaign to drive up business, using the Internet as part of a complete strategy. However, I thought the Internet had more potential for success.
What I wanted to do was try and leverage a social media platform in an attempt to finesse my service into a much larger market. Approaching the idea, I wanted to make sure I was maximizing its fullest potential. I kept my posts consistent, while encouraging customers that my service was unique.
To just dive in head first, and jump on Twitter to announce that I had a service, and if they tried it I‘d give them a discount, to me, that sounded like I was begging for their business. Anyone can do that. I wanted customers to be attracted to what I did because they were interested in what I had to say. For the customer, this made the information I was giving them actually worth something.
Using social media advertising, along with the help of my wife, were both significant in making everything come together. The response was overwhelming. Before we knew it, our customer base had tripled in size, my sole proprietorship had been transformed into a LLC, and we had fourteen full-time employees with annual earnings that put us in an entirely unfamiliar tax bracket.
Today, I have no complaints. The market is steady and my business is still growing. I still do my daily research of the market and keep my prices competitive. That's something you have to stay on top of if you ever want to make it in this business.
Small Business Owner/Entrepreneur
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