Archive for September 2014

The Marketing Plan: One of the Crucial Elements of the Annual Business Plan

September 29, 2014

pictwobusiness peopletalkingfile1761263245424The latest newsletter from Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions was about the reasons for developing an annual plan for your business. As promised in the newsletter, this next few articles will be targeting help with creating your Annual Business Plan. To begin the series, you should understand that a marketing plan is one of the crucial elements of the annual business plan.

The article explained that a yearly business plan or annual business  plan is at the crux of the success of any business, large or small – huge conglomerate of thousands or solo entrepreneur of one. After all, if you don’t have a path through the wilderness, you will likely wander around your business, directionless. Any success you experience will only come about because you stumbled on it. Imagine how much more successful your business can be, or how much more it can grow if you develop and follow a plan.

As crucial as the annual plan is, you need to know how to develop your plan and you need to know the key elements that make up that plan.

 

The elements of your annual business plan are simple:

  • Marketing
  • Budget
  • Operations

Ignore those simple, key elements and your business plan will be incomplete.

At the pinnacle is your marketing plan. Included in your marketing plan are:
1. Your marketing budget. Yes, it will become a part of your overall budget, but it is important to decide what you will spend for getting the word out about your business. Review your spending on marketing during the previous year.
2. Your marketing methods. There are formal and informal ways to market. Some will be incidental marketing and some marketing will be intentional and very deliberate.
3. Your ideal customers. Are they young or old, businesses or individuals? If you are having trouble identifying your ideal customer, part of your marketing budget should be allocated to soliciting aid with your project. There are companies and even coaches that specialize in helping you develop a plan.
4. Your marketing calendar. Create a marketing calendar and review it often. Stick to it as closely as possible. Consider how often you will attend networking events, conferences and other activities. Include your social media  activity on your calendar.
5. Your key staff in the planning. Generate excitement about accomplishing your goals by including your key staff in the planning. Establish sales contests, if applicable. The more your staff sees their individual success tied to your business success, the more successful you will be.
6. Your marketing plan reviews. Review past plans as you develop your new marketing plan. How accurate were they in helping your company reach your goals? What will you repeat? What will you discard and what will be novel to the new plan?

Creating your Annual Plan should not be taken lightly. Your marketing plan within the Annual Plan is crucial. Give yourself adequate time to create your plan. Work without distractions and give your planning the attention your business deserves. If you must, find a novel setting to work in. If you are including your key staff, as suggested, take them on a retreat to work on your plan.

Don’t hesitate to look to others for solutions and suggestions for developing your Annual Business Plan. The necessity of creating an Annual Business Plan can’t be over emphasized and your marketing plan is a crucial element within that plan.

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What’s in Your Small Business Toolbox?

September 13, 2014
Every business should have tools in the toolbox.

Every business should have tools in the toolbox.

After working with hundreds of small business owners and doing research, at Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions we have come to the conclusion that there are few essential tools that a small business must have in their toolbox to increase efficiency and chances for success.

You are bound to stumble on these yourself as you go about running your business, but why wait? Take a look at  some of the suggestions for tools that can help you manage and grow your business An added caveat is that many of the tools you can use are free. Here are just a few you can try:

1. Google Apps for Work – Google has plenty of tools that are extremely useful to the communications, analysis and management of the small business. Although not entirely free, the price is nominal when you look at the bundle of tools that are available in one package.

2. Video Conferencing – Literally stay in front of your customers and your staff by using the video conferencing tools such as Skype, Face Time on your iPhone, Google Chat, or apps such as Talky.io, vine.com and emeet.me. There are so many more. Explore and ask colleagues to find the right fit for your business.

3. PayPal (or some other convenient form of accepting payment 24/7.) My company uses PayPal. It is one of the oldest and widely accepted. It has a device to attach to your smartphone and allows you to swipe your customer’s card for payment on the spot. There are others. Again, speaking with colleagues is an excellent watt to do “comparison shopping.”

4. eNewsletter – Set up a schedule to send out eNewsletter to your contact list. An eNewsletter can go a long way to keep you in contact with your potential customers. MailChimp and Constant Contact are both excellent choices.

5. Website – You can’t be in business without a website. Potential customers expect it and without one, customers think you are not serious about your business. If you are one of the few who still think your business can run just fine without one, seriously consider whether you can get by without your business.

6. Employee Handbook – Unless you are a solo entrepreneur, a handbook is essential to ensure that you will be fair to your employee and they to you. It does not have to be a huge tome, but you owe it to your employees to clearly show them what is offered in your business.

7. Active Networking – While it is not a tangible tool, networking is invaluable to the health of your business. Without sharing your business with others – without building relationships – you have cut off an important avenue for sharing information and for acquiring new customers.

8. Business cards. This little piece of real estate is your ticket to potential customers and business colleagues. Today there are digital cards, but the old fashioned card is still the quickest way to exchange information about your business. Make sure you have plenty of crisp, clean cards to strategically give out.

9. Virtual Assistant – If you haven’t reached the point where you can hire an assistant, then consider the services of a virtual assistant to take care of items such as returning phone calls, taking customer orders or even recording data. You can often tailor your needs.

These suggested essentials are merely a part of your arsenal of business tools. You should devote some time during your week to exploring what is new. Talk to others in your industry. Find out what works for them and how it helped their business. You will probably discover what didn’t work as well and why not.

There are so many more aspects to growing your business, but there are tools to help you become a success at your passion and growing your business.

Leave comments and suggestions of tools that have helped you in your business. Your comments may become a part of our next Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions blog. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss a blog or an issue of our newsletter.