Archive for March 2014

Your Business Plan, Your Business

March 31, 2014

Wallet and some money on a wooden tableIf you are in business, whether start up or older, then you realize that being in business is about growth and expansion, as much as it is about having a passion for your product or services. When you realize that you are at the point of taking your business to the next level, funding is probably an issue and if funding is the issue, then a business plan should also be a part of your funding plan. If you don’t have one yet, asking for money from any source requires that you develop a good, comprehensive Business Plan.

For some, writing that plan will be a straightforward project that is tackled with some degree of ease.  Others will find it a trial – an extremely difficult chore – that is approached with trepidation, maybe even put it off – repeatedly.

Information can help make that task a little less challenging and provide the framework for putting together a business plan that speaks to your funding source and gets positive results for the business.

While writing the business plan, analyzing your business in great detail is crucial. If not already identified, you will learn your strengths and challenges. You will revisit your goals and in the process, you will create a document that can be a  guide, an extremely useful tool for moving the business forward.

The most important use for your business plan, however, is to aid you as you seek funding, usually in the form of a loan or an approach to an investor. Creating a business plan that gets results takes a great deal of hard work and may take considerable time. This can be one of the most important tasks for your business. The fact is, if your business is static, not growing, then your business is in real jeopardy. At times, it is the lack of a funding boost that hampers the growth.

There are important elements that should be included in a well written Business Blan:

  • Cover Page. All the pertinent identifying information, including the address and the phone number of the business are included here.
  • Executive Summary. This section includes the overall description of the business, as well as the names of the owners. This is where you capture the attention of your reader. Write engagingly and succinctly. The Executive Summary could be considered your pumped up “elevator” speech on paper. It is the time to describe what your business is and why it’s important.
  • Business Description. This section explains your mission, points out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is also the section to describe your target market as well as your products and services.
  • Business Location. Provide the location of your company and why you decided to locate the business there. Explain the relevance and impact this location has on your product or service.
  • Market Analysis. Here you will explain you competition (direct and indirect), and the overall environment in which the business will operate. Are you bricks and mortar only or are you Internet based? Perhaps you are a combination of both. Report on industry trends and the factors that contribute to that trend. Pricing and product comparisons are also included.
  • Marketing Strategy. It is obvious that marketing is one of the key elements of any business. It’s the beacon to your services and products. It will flow from you marketing analysis and should also include the sales plan.
  • Management and Personnel. It is important to describe the organizational structure of the business, including key personnel, along with compensations and benefits.
  • Financials. The information you provide about the business financial position will help convince investors of  the feasibility and financial viability of the business. Expect to provide at least two years of projections along with any current sources of funding and the pro forma balance sheet.

The Business Plan is an important document for any business. It is the means for any entities you are approaching to get a clear picture and understanding of your enterprise. More than at any other time, this is when you want to be thorough.

If you have difficulty finding the time to do as in-depth a business plan as is needed for the industry, there are companies that can provide assistance with developing the best business plan possible. Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions is a company that can aid in this important process.

Be Exceptional!

Audrey

CEO and President

I welcome your comments on the experiences you have had with writing your Business Plan.

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Why You Need a Business Checkup

March 25, 2014

file000600920260Business checkups are an essential part of any business, whether you are a solo entrepreneur or a  small, medium or large business owner. A business checkup is similar to a health checkup because it takes the temperature and pulse of your business; it let’s you know whether you are doing well or if there is some problem that is looming and needs attention now rather than later.

If you prepared your strategic plan for the year in January, or even if you are just getting to it now, including timelines for doing a thorough check of the important aspects of your business is crucial. It is good business practice. As a business owner, and as someone who offers solutions to businesses, I suggest that quarterly is the opportune time to take a look at the goals you have set for your business and for looking at any obstacles that may be in the way of success. You do not want to reach the end of the year and find that you have not even come close to what you expected to accomplish.

I have provided a checklist to make it easy for you to perform that business checkup. The checklist is not in any particular order. If not all applies to your business each quarter, that’s ok, but I suggest you look at what does apply and schedule your checkup on a regular basis, starting now:

  1. Examine the number of customers and orders. Do you show an increase or decrease in the request for your product or services? What is your conversion rate of prospects who become customers purchasing your services or product?
  2. What is the sales trend? Is there a lot of activity in one particular aspect of your business over another? Can you tell why that is?
  3. Analyze your prices compared to that the prices of your competitors. Are you still in line with industry standards?
  4. Are your quarterly goals in line with expectations?
  5. Have you aggressively implemented your marketing  goals? Have your correctly identified your target market and are you reaching them?
  6. Have you conducted or scheduled a client satisfaction survey?
  7. Take a look at the health of your website. Search engines love relevance and activity. Schedule that activity quarterly, if not more often.
  8. Take a hard look at cash flow and your projections.
  9. Inventory your marketing materials. Replace and update as needed.
  10. Consult your tax accountant to be sure you are taking advantage of being a business owner.

The bottom line is that your business must be profitable and growing. You can not know this if you are not keeping your eyes on the health of your business. Don’t wait to conduct that business checkup at the end of the year. By then, it is too late to make any adjustments to your business strategy.

Here’s to the health of your business!

Be Exceptional!

Audrey

CEO, Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions