You need a good plan to put your strategy into action. You need to spend some time working on your business action plan. You also need to review what has been achieved.
Your strategy and consequently your business action plan should stress three important aspects – Goals, Budget and Marketing Strategy.
Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals is the first and foremost step in developing an action plan.
Your small business is rudderless without well-defined goals. When you formulate your goals, you need an action plan to achieve them. Define your goals and quantify them. This can be done in the following way:
1. List all your goals. This includes the tools your business needs, the new customers you should get, etc.
2. Arrange the goals in order of priority.
3. Give a realistic timeline for each goal. For example, what goals do you plan to achieve in the foreseeable future; the next 3, 6 and 9 months, for example.
Develop a Working Budget
The next step to develop an action plan is developing your budget. Make sure that your small business has a bank account.
If your business is new, it may not be possible for you to make money for first few months. Decide beforehand how much of an investment you can make in your business. Then, draw up a list of all things that will require investment.
Some of these may include:
1. Marketing efforts
2. Tools for your business
3. Salary and other expenses
Decide what expenses are the most important and will require money by priority.
Last but not least – keep a record of all your expenses. This is very important for filing taxes and calculating your profits or losses.
In your business action plan your marketing strategy should include a list of avenues that you are going to use for marketing your business. This can either be direct marketing or passive marketing avenues.
Decide which avenues are better suited to your overall goals. Some marketing avenues bring quick results, while some others take time to work. It is always better to have a mix of two promotion strategies – short term promotions and long-term promotions – for better results.
Direct marketing costs more money. So your business action plan should make judicious use of direct marketing methods. Keep a record of all your marketing campaigns and compare their results. This will help you identify the marketing options that are more effective for your small business.
Use them more often to get better results.
Get your website ready. Do passive web promotion for your business and use email marketing to promote your product or services. You can also use social marketing avenues to promote your business. Blogs are also an effective method of bringing targeted traffic to your website.
Now that you have your strategy and elements of action plans sorted out, it is time to put your plan into action. Implement your action plan in terms of goals, budget and marketing strategy and see how each element of your actions plan performs.
Review the results from time to time to ensure that you are on right track.
Common Business Planning Mistakes That You Should Avoid
Here are some common business planning mistakes that you should avoid. It is very important for any business plan to be practical and achievable, and it should also be error-free.
Worrying Too Much
If you constantly change your business plans because you are worried that things might not work out according to plan, then you need to inject yourself with some confidence.
No business is guaranteed success; but if you have done the necessary groundwork, then the chances of being successful will increase to a great extent.
Do not let worry or fear cloud your judgment. Be prepared to ride out rough times, especially in the beginning to avoid common business planning errors.
Lack of Specific Goals
Another common business planning mistake is not specifying your goals in your business plan. If you don’t do this, then you will not be able to chart out a proper roadmap to success. You will find it difficult to stick to a path that is confusing and ill-defined.
You will need to match a concrete goal with precise, time-bound dates. You should also chart out a proper roadmap that not only identifies potential pitfalls but also specifies the methods to avoid them.
Lack of Financial Planning
You should not build castles in the air, but instead should have plans that are supported by firm financial figures.
You should have achievable projections regarding on how you plan to finance your business and to maintain a positive cash flow. Good financial planning is the lifeline that will supply financial blood to your fledging business.
If you do not have the required knowledge to handle the financial aspect of your business plan, then get a certified accountant or tax consultant to do it for you.
If you avoid making this part of the plan, it will be very difficult for your business to succeed – and it is tantamount to committing financial suicide.
Overestimating and Underplanning
Another business planning error to avoid is putting in figures that seem physically impossible to achieve. By doing this your business will be headed towards disaster from the very first day.
On the other hand, even if your estimates are right on target, but you do not have plans to efficiently execute them, then they will reflect success only on paper.
The right mix of good estimates with adequate execution planning is necessary for any business plan to actually succeed in reality.
Picking up a Ready-Made Plan
You cannot just pick up any business plan and pray that it works for your business. Your business plans need to be modeled according to your business specifications.
Even simple factors such as location or population can produce different results in similar plans. Therefore, you will have to consider all the factors that are unique to your business when you sit down to do your business planning.
There are various business planning books and software packages available that can help you construct your business plan quickly and easily.
Your business plan needs to be designed according to your business, your ability and your particular market.
By avoiding the above business planning mistakes, you can devise a business plan that will help your small business to be ready to face any eventuality – and it will help you to reach your goals. -Your M.B.A. EJ Owens
Listen to our M.B.A. EJ Owens explain steps to fight the fear of networking. Listen to his steps of fear fighting to advance your business through networking.
-Your M.B.A. EJ Owens
I Have a Great Business Idea, uh… Now What?
The advice you normally get before starting a new business venture, if you get any at all, is research, plan, start and manage (in that order). You’ve got a great business idea – now what should you do?
I’ve laid out a few strategies to help you.
Homework Is First!
Your business idea may be great, but you should have a solid plan to get it off the ground. To develop a well-structured plan, you’ll have to do a good amount of homework, or research.
Don’t skim over the details; get answers to areas you do not understand. Get relevant books or attend programs to understand the issues involved in running your type of business. Arm yourself with pen and paper, meet or call potential clients and go get their views.
Get a manager’s book, any notebook solely dedicated to your business idea, and write every thought you’ve ever had about this business idea in it. Keep it by your bed at night and when you get a thought quickly write it down. If it doesn’t make sense at the time don’t worry. I have had many thoughts that later were combined with other thoughts and together they formed a great venture. Trust your instinct but confirm it with research.
You now have important information, and a network of potential clients. Based on this sound research, formulate your business plan.
Chalk Out a Business Plan
Chart out a detailed, well-structured business plan, with four broad categories; namely:
1. Prepare your business description
2. Decide on your marketing strategies
3. Evaluate availability of funds
4. Choose management practices
The business plan will enable you to make accurate profit/loss forecasts and optimal cash flow projections to equip you with ideas and plans for improvement before you embark on your venture.
You can check out many business plans and business plan guides available on the Internet for reference.
After you write down your business plan, it is time to get a good support system in place.
Build a Support System
When your business plan is ready, it’s time to get yourself a support system.
Discuss the pros and cons of your business ideas with a friend, a colleague, an experienced family member or a professional. Use their expertise to get feedback on your business plan. Their input will help your business grow.
Find a mentor, and use their suggestions to guide you through the rough patches. Hire, train and retain your employees and follow fair business practices to enhance their motivation levels.
Sort Out Legal and Tax Matters
Sort out the legal issues at the very beginning. Understand the process of registering your business and follow it to a T. Learn about workers compensation, insurance policies and payroll taxes. Plan effective tax management policies to avoid paying hefty IRS penalties at year-end. Ensure that all your contracts are legal and in writing. Different types of contracts include service contracts, rental agreements and leases, purchase orders, offer letters etc.
Get into the habit of providing a receipt to all your customers, and getting one for all services and products that you purchase.
Plan Contingent Strategies
A startup business brings with it a fair amount of mental and financial pressures. Therefore, in conjunction with your business plans develop strategies to combat these pressures.
Make sure you have sufficient financial backup to support your family in crunch situations (90 days of funds). Since every business has a gestation period, you should have enough financial reserve to last you through your business’ teething stage, as this will alleviate mental stress and let you to focus on your business.
By following the above steps, you can take your business idea and transform it into a solid, profit-making enterprise. – Your M.B.A. EJ Owens
Click here to listen to our M.B.A., Mr. EJ Owens, explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of corporations available to you.
Here are some ways to really make a a big impression on your customers. Rememberthe power is in the perception. The repeat patronage is in the quality.
Print really impressive business cards. Get professional help in designing and printing them to add that professional appeal to them. Make sure your website is on them and your blog (if you don’t have one…get one). You need a brief description of the products and services you provide right on the card. Consider printing your mission statement on the back. Remember, this is your only representation when you leave, make it a good one!
Get a logo and a slogan
People have a naturaldesire to be a part of something great. Make a logo that you can put on everything you provide and do. This will become your hallmark. Put it on letterhead, business cards, products, website, blog, vehicles, brochures, etc. Logos stay in the mind of customers and promote a lasting impression. Your slogan will simplify your message. Use this as a tag line under your companies name. Put in your footer on your letterhead. Have it as a main item on your website. Relate your mission statement to it. Put some time and effort into it because good or bad, if it sticks your stuck forever. Tell the Army about that one. They went from “Be all you can be” to “Army of One” and now to “Army Strong” but nothing is more synonymous with the Army than “Be all you can be”. In essence, their stuck with it! So, get this one some thought!
Dress and Act like a Professional
Your office should have a professional look to it. Even a home based business should dedicate a separate room for you to do business in. When talking to customers, ensure that the atmosphere of your office is professional. You are always on stage in front of a customer. Your dress should be very professional. Customers typically but into you first and then the product. Your office should be neat and tidy, fresh smelling, and the garbage should be empty as much as possible. Restrooms are an example of how you really are. They are often not thought about till needed. If they smell good and are clean that leaves a subliminal message to your customers that you are professional and have attention to detail.
Marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Most small business are on a budget and can not afford to to do main stream advertising. Seek out ways to get your name in front of as manny people as possible. Sponsor a baseball team, an ice cream party, maybe a charitable event. Never miss an opportunity to market. You should keep your brochures and business cards with you at all times. Opportunity does not keep normal business hours.
Get Online FAST!!!
Get a website and ge it today! The internet is a great arena to advertise your business and it is relatively inexpensive. A professional and attractively designed website will entice visitors to learn more about your business and what it has to offer.
Train Your Staff To Be Professionals
Train your employees to behave like professional at all times. Enforce a dress code if needed. Professional apperance is important – wheter or not you see customers on a daily basis. If you have a construction crew, get matching t-shirts for them. Get matching polo shirts for the staff. Everybody should look like they are part of the team. There is power in numbers and power in perception. Customers equate professionalism with quality. What did I say quality relustedin? Repeat Patronage. Thats how you get a steady revenue stream. Getting people to want to come back and getting them to recommed you to thier friends.
Active income is income you earn from actively participating in the business. If you are a handyman and you perform the drywall repair our customer requests then you are earning active income. Passive income is income you earn without participating in the service required. It should be the desire of all business owners to have a significant amount of their personal income that is driven by passive income. But what are the steps to achieving that goal? First you have to have a plan of action to meet your strategic goal for your business. Once you have that in place and are well down the road to meeting it then you must document your business processes. They must include time, cost, skill sets, resources, and risk. From there you can “LEAN” those processes for a more efficient way of conducting business. After you know who you are as a business then you can start to look over your competition for strategic weaknesses. There maybe an opportunity for a merger or acquisition, or even more exciting, a hostile takeover. Many business owners that I talk to have not thought past next weeks work and therefore continue to live month to month and worry about payroll week to week. A solid business plan will help you achieve your goal of passive income. Think about your business honestly, do you have a written plan for 3-5 years out that describes the vision, mission, and direction? If not, get one!
Well it seems more often than not that people start a business around something that they are good at and really enjoy. Somewhere they thought “I would love to do this for a living!” and on down that road a risk was taken and a business was formed. The business grows because the person is good at what they do and are passionate about it. Month go by and the business is growing and things are great…..till the books need to be reconciled or some tax is due or a large payment is needed in order to keep going. WOW, what happened. Well it should come to no surprise that they are great at cake baking, dress making, woodworking, tailoring, etc. but they didn’t have the business prerequisites. the home economics checkbook balancing education is what they are relying on to get them buy. In a regular household that is all you need. Not in business. Cost accounting, marketing, management, contracting, negotiating, legal understanding all seem to need their own special attention in business. This can seem daunting to a small business owner. After several run ins with these beasts the business owner finds themselves longing for the “security” of a regular job and shortly thereafter closes and returns to the workforce. And thus ends the great ride. Maybe they will attempt it again but most likely not.
How could this have been avoided? Do you think education is the key? How can you fix it if you never knew it was broke in the first place?
On August 15th, 2008 Kell-Sibley – An Executive Management Training Company (www.kellsibley.com), presents its 1-Day M.B.A. Program to the Mid-South. This program is for small business owners and those thinking about starting a business the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in this economy. The class is held at the Collierville Chamber of Commerce from 8a-4p. Graduates will receive a certificate to take with them. To register call the Collierville Chamber of Commerce at 853-1949 and speak to Kelly. The course cost is $175.00 per person. Visit www.colliervillechamber.com for more information.