Business Plan – Your Operations

Introduction

In this section you aregoing to describe your business operation on a day to day basis. Itis different and unique for each and every business venture and soyou should Tailor this part of your business plan to reflect themarket you are operating in. But as a minimum you should bediscussing your location, production of your goods and services, ITsystems and management information systems and although this soundslike a lot it is information you should be comfortable with.

Location

You need to talk aboutany business property including if it is a room in your home, talkabout any long term commitments to this property including rent,mortgage, utilities, telecommunications, include costs and if you areoperating out of your home property be sure to assign a share ofthese. For example if your property has 6 rooms and you use 1 foryour business then 1/6 of all costs should be associated with thebusiness. You need to talk about the advantages and disadvantages ofyour current location and very briefly discuss any expansion plans.

Producing your goodsand Services

You need to explain howyou are going to manufacture your goods, will you own your ownfacilities or will it be more financially feasible to outsource theseservices? If you do own your own discuss the quality and how modernthey are, are they easy to expand in volume should the need arise doyou have a maximum volume and what is it, how does this compare withyour forecasted demand? How will you deliver if the demand exceedsthis volume? Do you need any investment in infrastructure. If you donot own your own, who will be your suppliers, discuss any relevantpricing and details about them here.

IT Systems

In todays businessenvironment IT is almost always an important considerations sodiscuss your requirement s and include your current strengths andweaknesses and how you are going to tackle your weaknesses. You needto go into detail about your systems reliability and any planneddevelopment of your systems and what benefits this will bring yourcompany and ultimately the customer. Focus on
  • Security
  • Reliability
  • Performance
  • development
  • integration with existing systems
  • innovation and software development
  • capacity
  • Back up and redundancy measures
These are all importantfactors in todays business environment and should be addressed.

Management InformationSystems

Describe yourprocedures for stock control, management accounts, quality control,customer satisfaction, sales, marketing, records, data handling,confidentiality, refer to current legislation and detail anycertifications you have or are going to aim for with dates forexample ISO:9002

Can they cope with anyexpansion of the business and are they scalable. Also discuss anyaudits and reviews of current processes and procedures you have inplace to ensure they are current and the most effective for the jobthey control.

Business Plan – You and Your Team


Introduction

Now you may be a oneman band or you may already have 10 partners with differentexperience and expertise or you may already have a work force inplace. The point is this is the section where you need to sellyourself and show what you bring to the business and how you aregoing to fill gaps in the experience. This section is important whenit gets to getting funding, because people are not only investing inyour business and the idea, but also in you as a person. So they needto be sure that you have the right skills and background to get thisdone.

Your Teams Skills

It needs to clearly layout the skills you have in your management team and your staff,concentrate on the strengths in your team and show how you are goingto deal with obvious weaknesses. Please note the word obvious, if youhave no one with marketing experience and this is clear then yesdiscuss how you are sending the GM on a marketing course to fill thisknowledge gap. But you don't want to discuss the GM's love ofholidays and so he takes time off every 5 weeks. Only talk about whatis glaring and what needs answering.
The Management Team

This can sell yourbusiness and get you that much needed investment so how do you do it!Explain who is involved, how they fit into your organisation. Includea C.V. For each key individual in the appendix and a paragraph oneach person in this section. Concentrate on RELEVENT experience,skills and qualifications. Also include the greater support network,financial advisers, accountants, lawyers and specialist advisers.

In order to securefunding this section must prove to potential investors that you havethe right mix of skills, determination, drive to make the business asuccess, with a keen focus on the business related aspects includingoperation and market experience, sales and marketing, financial andpossibly man management these are just as important in marketspecific skills.

This section is whereyou show your commitment to this venture so give it your all, letyour excitement, commitment and personality come through this willhelp you emotionally connect with investors.

The last thing youshould discuss in this section is how much money will each individualdraw from the business, this is very important for an investor asthey use this to determine how much of a stake will be left. It isimportant to leave a substantial percentage for business development,especially in the first 3-5 years, this shows a long term commitmentto this venture.

Your people

Give informationregarding the size and demographics of your workforce, break themdown by department if that is appropriate assign responsibilis andtalk about any branch of the business which will be outsourced. Ifyou are already established important stats include retention rates,productivity, average salaries and sales per employee if appropriate.

This section shouldalso contain information about your recruitment and trainingprocesses, it should show a commitment to your people and shouldindicate time-scales and costs involved.

Be realistic aboutmotivation and loyalty of your staff, we all know cold calling saleshas a high turnover, but what investors want to see is how are yougoing to improve staff morale and improve commitment.

We will next be talking about the operation section of the business plan.

Markets and Competitors


After working through the previous two posts you have a clear vision and a direction, you know what products and you have some basic information regarding your customers and how you are going to get the products to them.


Now in this post we are going to help you define your market, your companies position in it and who your main competitors are. In order to do this you need to do some market research, there is some useful information here regarding doing your market research.


Once you have gathered all the information you will need to collate it all. You should have information on:

  • Total size of the market
  • Your main competitors and their share of the market (think local and national)
  • history of the markets and the products
  • your customers and their buying habits
  • Product pricing and availability 

The main point of this section is to tell your reader that you know this market, you understand the trends within it and what drives it. You need to show that it is a growing market and how you are going to attract customers despite the competition.


I hear you say how am i meant to do this, well if you have been operating and or working in this market for a long time then it will feel natural and you will know this information naturally. If not then these are what you need to focus on to ensure that the readers get the level of detail they require:

    1. your target customers - Who are they, what is their demographic information, including disposable income and spending habits, how you know they are interested in products and services you will be supplying. Why this group of people.
    2. your competitors - who are they, how do they operate within the market, what is their main customer base, market share, it's good to perform a SWOT analysis on each competitor as well as yourself.
    3. the future - Expected changes to the market, focus on how you and your main competitors will react and use this section to show how you are innovative and understand the trends and what drives the market and how you can fill a gap in that market.
    I will be writing further posts on market research and competitors at a later date so please take a look at those to help with this section. But for now check out this article on Market Research

    An important note to finish on is that markets, competitors and customers are not static entities they change and are very fluid by showing contingencies and other scenarios you are showing the reader you understand this and it adds a layer of trust and believability to this section of your plan.

    Next up we'll be looking at you and your team and how this can be a big part of making your business a good investment prospect. As usual any questions  please feel free to ask.

    Your business, products and services

    With this post we are going to focus on your business and what is going to make you unique and stand out from the sea of competitors offering similar products and services.

    You have written your Vision Statement using the previous information. We will now use this and expand upon it to build a clear picture of what your business will be, your target customers and what you will be offering them. This is all information that others are going to want if they are to provide funds or investments.


    Now for this section you want to start out by giving an overview of your business, focus on:

    • The date you started trading or proposed start date.
    • Any investment or projected investments to date.
    • The type of business and the sector that it is in.
    • History of the company, including if applicable, previous owners, franchise information, previous successes
    • The legal status (e.g. sole trader, partnership, LLP, LTD) here is a good link for information about these
    • Your vision for the future.
    With all of this you will have given investors, banks, partners, angels the information they need to look further at your plan.

    Following on from this you are going to discuss your products and or services. An important point to keep in mind is that the person reading your plan may not know anything about the industry, market or products you are offering, so it is vital to keep jargon and acronyms down to a minimum.

    You need to consider and write about the following:
    • Describe your products and services as simply and clearly as possible.
    • What makes it different from similar products.
    • What benefits does this have for both your customer and your business.
    • Why will customers buy from you rather than competitors.
    • the key features and success factors in the industry you will be operating within.
    • How you plan to develop you products and services to ensure you are current
    • Any patents or trademarks you currently have
    In order to do this accurately you are going to have to have started looking at your competitors and there products, customer bases, look into the size of the current market and what market shares the main companies have. This will help you with this and the next section.

    You know your products and customers and so you can read this and fully understand it, to ensure that a person with no industry knowledge can understand it, give it to a friend or family member to read over and ensure that they understand the information within.

    Information within here will help give your business shape and ensure that you know who you are targeting and what you have to offer them that makes you stand out from the rest.

    Next time we will look at the markets and competitors section of your plan.

    Your vision, Your Plan

    In the last post we briefly spoke about writing down what you want your business to be,  the main services or products, who your main customers are and finally some short, medium and long term goals.

    If you did as the last post suggested and wrote a little about your business ideas, customers and goals then you can skip the below template. If you didn't use this little template and fill in the blanks.


    Within the next ___years grow (company name) ___________ into a business with £ ______ worth of annual sales.
    We will primarily operate in ______________
    providing (describe products/services)_____________________________________
    to (describe target customer and ideal client)_________________________ In the next year I aim to be                
                                           within the next three years I aim to be                            

    Using this simple but powerful statements gives you a clear and concise vision with which to start your business plan. You can keep looking back and referring to it as you build the plan, allowing you to keep focused on what you want your business to achieve. It will help keep your plan lean and targeted.

    If you have multiple markets and or products you may want to write something similar for each niche.

    Believe it or not by writing the above you have already wrote your vision statement as it focuses on the what's of your business, it describes your idealized perception of what your business will look like under ideal conditions, the key components are:
    1. Name of planned business venture
    2. The products/services you plan to provide
    3. The target markets you intend to serve
    4. Top level Goals
    This doesn't tell you how you are going to get to your goals, but it does set the direction of your business planning so it is important to get it right.

    Leave a comment with any questions and i'll get back to you.

    In the next post you may expect me to discuss the executive summary, as that comes at the front of your business plan, but it needs to be reflective of the overall plan so we will tackle that last. We will look at the your business, it's products and services.

    Starting a business - The Business Plan

    Over the coming months, I'm going to be writing about the importance of business plans, how to go about creating business plans and finally how to take that step from business plan to running the business.

    General overview

    A Business plan is arguably the most important part of any new start up business, or for that matter any business at all. Why? I hear you ask! It gives your ideas substance and a logical framework with which to build your dream into a reality. Not only this but anyone wanting to invest will want to see it. It is the guide to your business.

    There is a very famous saying:
    Failing to Plan, is planning to Fail
    This was said by Ben Franklin, Churchill and many others in some form or another. It really does apply to business plans. Did you know that 95% of businesses without a business plan fail... yes I know 87.567% of statistics are made up but feel free to go and verify this one. Without direction a new venture is likely to not succeed. Why start if you don't plan to succeed so get planning.

     Now you know why you need one, what exactly is it? A business plan is a working document (by that I mean you don't just write it once put it in that file and dust it off once every three years to show the bank when you want an overdraft or loan) It should be flexible, it should grow and change with the ever changing face of your business, it should reflect your business goals and finally but most importantly it should be current and up to date.

    I won't go into detail over how to write one here as that is for future posts. I'll just leave you with this If you want your business to succeed you have to plan for success, you need targets and plans these can't be in your head they need to be recorded, so please start by just jotting down your business ideas, what is the general concept, who are your potential customers, what are your short, medium and long term goals.
    I want to start a touring theatre company, which will supply theatre workshops to support the national curriculum. I want to deal with schools, local councils and government and social groups. I want to start in my local area probably with one troupe and once this is financially successful I'd like to branch out to other areas in the UK and eventually be the leading provider of TIE (Theatre in Education) for the UK. 
    This is all your start needs to be it states what you want to be, it's main market and niche and some short and longer term goals. It is very basic and a top level overview of what you want to achieve, but it is a great starting point.

    In the next blog we will build on the above and start talking about how we turn our vision into a business plan with substance.

    Please feel free to ask me any questions you like by leaving a comment.

    and check out businesslink.gov.uk which is a very useful site with lot's of information about starting a business including writing your business plans.

    Mental Health and Substance Abuse

    I'm seeing a trend of interest in integrating mental health and substance abuse services-- and I'm seeing some implications in the way agencies are approaching the idea.

    By "a trend" I mean that it has come up three times in the last couple of weeks.

    Talking with a potential customer a few weeks ago I asked about their project ideas. I look for ideas that galvanize key partners, meet a key need, and involve revenue generation. One of their key priorities was to figure out a way to integrate mental health and substance abuse services in a way that makes more sense for clients, makes more sense in terms of efficiency, and looks forward to a time beyond block grants, to a reimbursement model.

    To me, this sounds like a great fit for a business plan: priority need, committed partners, revenue generation required.

    One week later, I got an email from a Management Academy grad from several years back. They had just received HRSA funding for their business plan, doing similar work in rural Nebraska.

    Last week, a group from Maryland presented their final business plan on the same topic. The team really impressed us with their commitment to see the change through, because they really believe that they can provide measurably better care and deliver better outcomes, and also create measurable administrative efficiencies, by doing the hard work of integrating. They are committed to this path even though the reimbursement picture is foggy at best. No one is sure how this work will get compensated. The only certainty seems to be that the funding model will be changing often, and perhaps dramatically, at least for the next couple of years.

    You can't plan for everything. It certainly puts you way ahead of the curve to have planned for what you can plan for, though. These teams are being proactive. They are moving with purpose toward a better future state. And they are preparing themselves, as part of their plan, for uncertainty on the revenue side of the equation.
    --Stephen Orton



    Texas Instruments Sales, Profits Fall On Weak Demand

    Texas Instruments Inc.'s (TXN) third-quarter profit fell 30%, hurt by a broad slump in demand that the chip maker said should continue into the current period.

    The company's revenue in the third quarter was higher than it expected, but it noted the quarter was softer than normal. While executives said on a conference call that the company is seeing "early signs of stabilization," they still expect the fourth quarter to be weak and below seasonal.

    "Economic uncertainty continues to weigh on demand in almost every major market segment in which we operate," Chairman and Chief Executive Rich Templeton said in a press release.

    TI, which makes chips used in everything from cellphones to industrial equipment, had seen a sharp rebound after the recession caused customers to virtually stop buying chips. But recent macroeconomic worries have led to softer demand for semiconductors and other tech products, weighing not only on consumer businesses but also starting to affect enterprise demand.

    TI in August lowered its view for the third quarter, saying it was seeing broad-based weakness across its customers and markets. The company on Monday echoed those comments and provided lower-than-expected earnings guidance for the current quarter.

    Shares, up 11% over the past 12 months through Monday's close, slipped 1.3% to $31.27 in after-hours trading. The stock had climbed 4% during the regular session trading, slightly better than the 3.4% gain in the Philadelphia SOX Semiconductor index.

    Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said weakness in the third and fourth quarters was broadly expected, with macroeconomic softness weighing on TI's business.

    "Results weren't horrible versus where expectations were," Rasgon said. "Everyone expected it to be a messy quarter, but they actually beat this quarter."

    Chief Financial Officer Kevin March said in an interview the market is beginning to bottom, with July seeing the sharpest drop in orders but the decline moderating in August and September. He said revenue hit a low in July and grew the following two months.

    He said the market declines aren't driven by excess semiconductor inventory but noted customers are being cautious with orders on worries about the macroeconomic environment.

    "Customers had been reducing their internal inventories, and that's causing us and our competitors in the semiconductor industry to see revenue decline more sharply than what our customers ard actually experiencing," he said.

    Ron Slaymaker, vice president of investor relations, said during a conference call that the reduction in TI inventory by customers is largely past. He noted the company has a "reasonable" view of the fourth quarter but said demand beyond that is tied to what the macroeconomic environment is like.

    TI predicted a fourth-quarter profit of 28 cents to 36 cents, including about 15 cents of acquisition-related costs, on revenue between $3.26 billion and $3.54 billion. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 54 cents a share on revenue of $3.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. A year ago, TI reported fourth-quarter earnings of 78 cents a share on $3.53 billion in revenue.

    TI has been benefiting in recent quarters from increased focus on its highly profitable analog and embedded-application chips, as well as its applications processor for smartphones, tablets and other devices. Last month, it closed a $6.5 billion deal for rival National Semiconductor, expanding its reach in the analog market.

    The company's acquisition of National Semiconductor, while hurting fourth-quarter earnings by 15 cents a share, is helping buffer its revenue in the period, March said. At the midpoint of TI's guidance, sales are down about 2% sequentially with contributions from National Semiconductor's revenue. Taking that out, the midpoint would be down 10%, he said.

    March added during a conference call that acquisition charges will total $260 million in the fourth quarter and then decline to about $150 million in the first quarter and $110 million in the second quarter. The charges should then fall by about $10 million per quarter until reaching $80 million, which is the amortization of intangibles amount. He said that would continue for about eight to 10 years.

    March said smartphone demand remains "solid," but the company's other businesses are experiencing softness. Automotive customers are "being confronted by wary customers given the macroeconomic outlook," he said, while industrial demand is "weak." Communications infrastructure is slowing, while consumer and PC demand are below normal seasonality, March added.

    For the latest quarter, TI reported a profit of $601 million, or 51 cents a share, down from $859 million, or 71 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included about 9 cents of costs tied to the acquisition. Revenue fell 7.3% to $3.47 billion.

    The company last month forecast a per-share profit of 56 cents to 60 cents with revenue between $3.23 billion and $3.37 billion.

    Gross margin narrowed to 50.3% from 54.5%.

    Sales of analog chips, which provide almost half of total revenue, slipped 1.5% as earnings fell 20%. Revenue from the company's embedded processing segment declined 7% as earnings decreased 29%, while wireless sales dropped 24% amid lower demand for connectivity chips from key customers, pushing earnings down 57%.

    What You Shold Know About The Gateway ID47H02u

    The Gateway ID47H02u specification:

    Processor Intel Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz
    Memory 4GB DDR3 1333 MHz
    Chipset Intel HM65 Express
    Graphics Intel HD 3000
    Hard drive 500 GB 5400 rpm
    Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    Screen 14”
    Battery 6 cells

    Gateway claims eight hours on a single charge, but realistically, you will get somewhere between six to seven hours of up time, depending on your workload.

    Along with the impressive battery life, Gateway ID47H02u comes with one USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports. The USB 3.0 is still a rarity among mainstream class laptops. Gateway also able to pack 14-inch screen into a laptop that normally sports 13-inch screen. The laptop weighs in at 4.5 pounds, and adds another pound if you want to carry the AC adapter around.

    Keystone XL Pipeline Story

    In July 2008, TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP Ltd., announced Keystone XL, an approximately $7 billion pipeline project which would almost double the size and capacity of the company’s pipeline system connecting oil supply regions in Canada with U.S. refineries and distribution networks. The project comprises an approximately 1,661-mile, 36-inch crude oil pipeline stretching from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast Region in Texas.

    Despite clear advantages in terms of job creation, cost improvement, and enhanced security, the project has not yet been approved by the U.S. Department of State. In fact, the permit review of the project was delayed by almost a full year from the originally announced schedule.

    In a prior study, we determined that the total impact of the construction and development phases of the Keystone XL project on the U.S. economy would include (over the life of the project) $20.931 billion in total spending, $9.605 billion in output, and 118,935 person-years of employment. These were calculated at that time in constant (2009) dollars and rise slightly when adjusted to a 2011-dollar basis ($21.979 billion in total spending and $10.087 billion in output). The delays in the permitting process have cost business activity (on a net present value basis) of $1.19 billion in spending and $559 million in output, as well as postponing 88,622 person-years of employment. Job deferrals for states along the route vary, but most states have seen in excess of 5,000 person-years of employment (one person working for one year) delayed during a difficult economic period. View more on Ray Perryman Column.

    On The Road in North Platte

    A week or two after launching four new groups in North Platte I'm still thinking about the amazing public health system in Nebraska.

    The four teams we are working with from north central Nebraska are all rural. Very rural. In fact they would tell you that they don't have enough population to count as rural: most of their counties are "frontier," a few with densities of less than one person per square mile. The health districts themselves have only been around for ten years. The state used tobacco settlement money to establish public health infrastructure.

    The teams are working on great public health prevention issues: restaurant inspections (a role not in the public health portfolio in some areas), dental sealants for kids, healthy workplace products, sustainable plans for distributing vaccinations (flu and whatever comes next).

    In all four cases they are working hard to find the sustainable revenue stream to support their work over the long haul.

    One more thing they all share: great partnerships. Before there were health districts, many of these rural areas had health coalitions of health-conscious partners. As a result, the health leaders in these areas all think very deeply about how to engage and empower their partners. And the partners respond.

    To me, the trip it felt like a glimpse at the origins of public health agencies: energy and green shoots and wide-open spaces for the community service mission to express itself.

    --Stephen Orton

    Wanted to share this email with you from Nancy Cripps, long-time staffer to the Management Academy.

    It is with both joy and sadness I send this email. I am retiring on Friday, September 9.


    Forty years ago, I embarked on a vocational path looking for a meaningful career. From a telephone operator, to sales representative to administrative assistant. However, I would not know what meaningful was until I joined the public health profession. These last 10 years have been the best time of my life because I was working with the most dedicated of all professions. Certainly, public health workers are dedicated to leaving the world a better place.


    I also was able to learn from the best of the best. I will be forever grateful for having the best teachers in the country Janet Porter, Steve Orton and Karl Umble. From them, I learned many skills among them are communication, management and relationship building. Best of all, by observing them in action, I learned leadership skills. With those leadership skills, I was able to do community work and will continue that community work in my retirement.


    My greatest joy was helping all you, my students, write your own business plans while fulfilling all your other responsibilities. Whether it was a friendly reminder or a word of encouragement, I felt I was helping your communities through you.


    I am excited about this new adventure in my life. I promise you I will take all I learned from you to make my own community happier, safer and most of all healthier.

    It was an honor and pleasure working with you.

    --Nancy Cripps

    Events; New Trends, New Technologies, the Future…

    Since the creation of this blog we have posted different areas of the event planning industry that affect events; from trends to how to acquire the money for the creation of a new event planning company. But, what’s next? Are events going to survive the economic depression? Are there any new ideas? New trends?

    Gladly, I can say that the event planning industry is a thriving one worldwide. It is considered a billion dollar industry, with a stable spot within the entertainment industry. However, like everything else new trends, topics and ideas are being established in order to appeal to a more technologically and modern audiences.

    One of the most modern and popular trend are Green events. Previously, we explored how trade-shows and conventions are incorporating the green trend in order to be more environmentally conscious regarding their displays and presentations. Another green trend that has emerged is green catering. Caterers have boosted their revenues with eco-friendly practices. Not only are they helping the environment but also they are appealing to a green customer with the desire of having an environmentally friendly event.

    According to the article, Green Grows the Greenbacks: Some caterers Boost Revenue with Eco-Friendly Practices, on the magazine Special Events, reported that

    “Though the green practices themselves—such as cutting energy use and trash-hauling costs—tend to be revenue-neutral, Cuccaro says, the big payoff comes from green-minded clients. "We definitely pick up more business as a result" of green practices, he says.”

    This is a very good service event planners can suggest their clients who are on board with green events. Not only are helping the environment but we are creating conscious events that are modern and appealing to new modern clients. New trends are always emerging is up to event planners to be constantly researching new ways and techniques to create one-of-a kind events that are appealing to the always changing entertainment industry.

    As a recent college graduate I have learn the importance of research and thinking outside of the box. It is important to understand the industry, know what and how things are being done. This is the only way to make yourself stand out from the competition, in addition this way you or your company will always have a competitive edge. Learning about all the different components that make a successful event has definitely given me an advantage over those already established companies that have stayed behind.

    Resources: 
    http://specialevents.com/green_events/some-caterers-boost-revenu-with-eco-friendly-practices/

    Investors Wanted for New Business Opportunities.


    As we all know the business industry is currently undergoing a global crisis. However, investors and other investing organizations are willing to fund potential ideas. Amazingly, there are numerous ways of acquiring funding for a new venture or for expanding already successful businesses. Sometimes funding will come from the most unexpected places; all you have to do is do the correct research.

    For the last couple of posts we have established the importance of having and/or creating a business plan. We have also stated that one of the most important areas of the business plan is the financials. Now, after completing your business plan your next step is to begin looking for investors. 

    After doing some research myself, I have stumble upon some organizations that have very successful financing opportunities. The National Committee Investment Fund (NCIF) is one of these organizations. The National Community Investment Fund is a non-profit, private equity trust that invests in banks, thrifts and credit unions that generate both financial and social returns. To be considered a CDBI, an institution must focus a substantial part of its business on low- to moderate-income people or communities.

    “NCIF invests in CDBIs that display both strong financial and social performance. To determine if an institution meets these criteria, NCIF evaluates the institution using a Development Impact analysis as well as an internal CAMEL analysis. In addition, the institution must also provide a planned exit strategy.”

    The CAMEL analysis is explained in detail on the diagram to the left. If you meet NCIF’s qualifications make sure you look for more information on the requirements and the steps to take in order to be funded by the NCIF. For more information on the national Committee Investment Fund you can click here.

    Another help for small businesses, especially Micro-businesses is the AEO, Association for EnterpriseOpportunity. AEO is a national membership organization and voice of microenterprise development in the United States.  AEO's management team is focused on working with our members and partners to pilot new initiatives. One of the new initiatives is the Catalyst Initiative;

    If one in three microbusinesses in the United States hired an additional employee, the US would be at full employment. If this possibility is to become a reality, the economy must continue to show signs of a rebound so that confidence recovers, demand grows, and companies can bounce back. At the same time, there is an urgent need to reduce costs to reach micro-businesses and to invest in the capacity of the non-profits that are uniquely positioned to meet needs of LMI business owners.”

    This initiative can also be applied for non-profit organizations. Other initiatives include “green” companies and minority audiences. If you think you can apply for this or any other initiative or for more information on AEO funding feel free to browse the AEO website by clicking here.

    As you can see different organizations have taken on the task of helping enhance the professional world. Helping new and/or established entrepreneurs achieve success. Make sure you continue to do research and look for investors. As you can see they are out there looking for devoted, hard-working people with successful ideas. Good Luck!  






    Resources: 
    http://ncif.org/
    http://www.aeoworks.org/index.php/site/

    On The Road in Raleigh

    We launched four new teams in Raleigh this wedk! Here's a quick look at the projects going forward from that group:


    • A phone app/game to help drive school culture change
    • A revenue-supported plan for delivering quality improvement training
    • On-line weight loss and lifestyle change program... already piloted, and it works
    • Diabetes Education at the local level, sustained by revenues
    A key theme for me at this session is this: Public Health agencies are ready, willing and motivated to find partners and revenue streams to support their work. Gone are the days when we had to convince some teams that it was OK to think about generating revenue... now revenue-generation is seen as an important part of the public health portfolio. That doesn't mean *every* project or function needs to be revenue-supported, because some can't or shouldn't. It does mean that agencies need to have the tools to create business plans when revenue-generation is appropriate and will make a product or service better, more effective, more integrated, more sustainable.


    -- Stephen Orton

    Business Plan Part 2: No Walk in the Park.


    Continuing with our previous post, creating a business plan is no easy task. For the past month I have been creating one for a potential business I have planned, a specialized corporate event planning company based in Puerto Rico. I can assure everyone that it has not been a walk in the park.

    Taking into consideration the expert advice of Dave Lavinsky, I have certainly developed as detailed as possible all the key sections of the business plan. Every section has been personalized and strategically described, this will give any reader and/or investor in great detailed what the company is about, it’s goals, objectives, financials, team, etc.

    Simone Brummelhuis, advices us to specifically point out what makes your business successful and how it can benefit an investor or a bank, She suggests that your top sections should be your financials. People who are interested n investing in your idea want to see numbers. Personally, two of the hardest sections while creating the business plan have been the law and financing sections.  However, options like outsourcing outside help from a lawyer or an account can be of benefit of those who have difficulties in those areas. Agreeing with Brummelhuis, in my personal opinion the financial section is the most important. Those who are going to invest in your business NEED to understand when they will get their investment back and when they will start making some money.

    Having great resources like a good book on business plans, watching a tutorial video and reading about expert advice can be a great way to save money and create a successful business plan. Knowing the areas that you need more help can be a very good factor while creating your business plan.

    I do have to point out that research is key while creating this sort of document, but don’t be discouraged having a business plan benefits your business enormously.  Remember these tips and the creation of a business plan are a step closer to your SUCCESS. 

    Resources:
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    Become an Entrepreneur; Start with a Business Plan.


    Throughout the start of this Blog we have posted numerous trends, tips and strategies that benefit your business. However, this post will benefit those who want to start their own businesses or lack a business plan. We will discuss what is a business plan, the importance of creating one, the benefits of having one and we will present various expert views on the subject. 

    Let’s start by explaining what is a business plan. A business plan is any plan that works for a business and/or company explaining what the company is, its goals, overall numbers and future. (Bplans)A business plan is meant to look ahead, allocate resources, focus on points, and prepare for different opportunities and problems. 

    It is crucial for any business to create a business plan. Nowadays, people continue to disregard owing a business due to a false impression that you only need a business plan to start your own business.  A business can help running a business, whether you need a loan or investment or not, any business needs a plan that can optimize growth and development.

    According to Dave Lavinsky, founder of Growthink and President of Growthink Publishing, a successful business plan must have the following ten key points:
     
    1.     Executive Summary
    2.     Company Analysis
    3.     Industry Analysis
    4.     Analysis of Costumes and Competition
    5.     Marketing Plan
    6.     Operations Plan
    7.      Development Plans
    8.     Management Team
    9.     Financial Plan
    10. Appendix

    He expresses that many forget to explain several points resulting in a poor business plan. (Growthink)Lavinsky is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of business planning, capital raising, and new venture development. Over the past decade, Dave has guest lectured at top universities, developed over 100 business plans, and has written hundreds of articles on entrepreneurship, business planning and capital-raising. (To learn more about Dave Lavinsky click here)

    Another expert advice comes from Simone Brummelhuis, former attorney and founder of The NextWomen, the first Women’s Internet Business Magazine and community.  She expresses the importance of highlighting your business’ success and detailing the steps you have taken to achieve success in your business plan. (To learn more about Simone Brummelhuis click here)

    Pointing out in your business plan what makes your business successful and how it can benefit an investor or a bank can help your business bloom in a blink of an eye.  Having key elements like your financial plan, and your analysis of customers and competition can be decision makers when negotiating an investment or a loan. People who look for smart investments want the facts and numbers right away. Sections like the ones listed above makes it easy for those interested to make a decision and have an incentive at the time of the investing. 

    Taking these suggestions into consideration and researching more do’s and don’ts when creating a business plan can help your business enormously. Remember that creating a business plan benefits everyone; investors, banks, clients, staff and most importantly YOU! When you start creating a business plan you are a step closer to Success! 



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    Management Academy On The Road

    Here's a quick update on our Management Academy On The Road program. We completed a pilot in Florida with five counties; we launched a new group in Maryland this spring; two more groups launch this summer. The program is two on-site days, supported by webinars and technical assistance before and after (details on the MAPH website).

    Here's a short list of business plan ideas in development across these groups.
    • An ER Diversion project with hospitals, public health and the Federally Qualified Health Center
    • An "Academic Health Department" plan to allow the county to participate in clinical trials, bringing in revenue and expanding treatment options
    • A dental clinic add-on to an existing Ryan White organization
    • A free clinic to create a bridge for the uninsured until 2014
    • A health coaching project
    • A project to combine substance abuse/behavioral health in an integrated organization
    What ideas are sitting in your community's health improvement plan? What ideas are bubbling up from your community health assessment or your MAPP process? Can we help you push them to implementation?


    --Steve Orton



    Game On! Integrating Social Media in your campaign using Contests.

    We have discussed in previous posts the importance of incorporating all the different social media platforms available in order to attract more people to your events, conventions, trade-shows and even your company profile. (For more information on the importance of integrating social media to your campaign click here) However, there are even more ways that social media can help you bring more traffic to your website, blog or page. Featuring contests, competitions and/or coupons can help bring more traffic to your page, resulting maybe in more sales, more downloads or more clientele.

    A recent example of this new technique is the American sporting goods store, Callaway. Famous for their golf equipment and goods, Callaway has become one of the biggest brands in the sports industry. With artist endorsements and sponsorships, Callaway has been able to appeal to a younger audience and attract people to their brand.

    Like many of today’s companies, Callaway can be found in numerous social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. [Want to follow them on Facebook? Like them here] Recently, they have created a father’s day contest; Tee off with Diablo Octone and Justin Timberlake, where the lucky winner wins a set of Callaway clubs, meet Justin Timberlake and play golf with him. For more information on the contest you can visit Callaway’s official website http://www.callawaygolf.com/Global/en-US.html or click here.

    In order to enter the contest you must like their page first in Facebook. This guarantees a member in their Facebook page, giving the company access to your profile, likes and dislikes, and most importantly your information where more contests, equipment, and news can be distribute in mass quantities.

    As you can see very well known brands are incorporating contests and/or competitions to their marketing campaigns. The mix of utilizing social media and attractive techniques like the contests can benefit you in many ways; bringing you more traffic to your site, more followers, and customer data. All of these points can be used as evidence of a successful marketing campaign.

    Incorporating these types of techniques in the event planning industry can be easy and very entertaining to your clients or customers. For example, if you are participating in a trade-show doing a contest or a giveaway can bring more people to your booth. The contest can require people giving you their information, which you can later use as data for emails or newsletters.

    Remember to be creative and unique this is the only way your company, business or corporation can be successful. Using everything the Internet has to offer can benefit you no matter in what industry you are, make sure you integrate social media to your marketing plan in order to achieve your marketing goals.








    Resources:
    Information
    -http://www.slideshare.net/socialmediaanswers/integrating-social-media-into-your-marketing-campaign
    -http://www.callawaygolf.com/Global/en-US.html
    -https://www.facebook.com/Callaway?ref=ts&sk=app_111452482273231
    Pictures
    -http://www.tributemedia.com/blog/kelsey-bates/nows-time-be-unique
    -http://www.penn-olson.com/2010/01/27/top-10-social-media-countries/
    -http://hookgolfswing.com/golf-gear-and-reviews/top-golf-club-makers.html

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    Marketing?...Go Digital!


    We have established in previous posts the importance of incorporating new technologies and social media in events, conventions, meetings, etc. However, social media is just one channels of digital marketing. Marketing has evolved tremendously over the past few years. Now incorporating RSS feeds, podcasts, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click ads, and SMS and MMS messages will enhance the way you market your event, product or service. Although marketing and promoting events depend on the theme, concept and target market of the event itself, event planners can benefit from digital marketing since one of it's benefits include getting immediate feedback from the consumer.

    Taking advantage of all the services the Internet offers can help you increase and improve how you market your convention, meeting, trade-show, conference and/or seminar. Google search engine provides several tools that can help you create a more efficient digital marketing plan. One of these tools is called a Google Analytics. This is a free and easy way to keep track of your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. 

    "Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you're more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.

    This is a great tool to have. For more information on the product and how to use it see the video click here.

    Another tool event planners can use to enhance their event's marketing plan incorporating digital marketing is Google Webmaster. This is also a free and easy tool that helps you get data about crawling, indexing and web traffic. In addition, it sends you notifications every time there is a problem with your site. With Google Webmaster you can find out how Google views your site and how it is ranking it. You can also analyze data and see how many people found your site in search results, and how many people actually clicked on it. In addition, it tracks from all over the Web and shows you who added a link to your site. It also creates sitemaps in order to see how many pages have been added to your index. For more information on this great tool see this video. 


    As you can see search engines like Google are offering numerous services, for free, that help website owners learn more about what their visitor's trends and habits. This way website owners can personalized and enhanced their marketing techniques with actual and exact information. These are only a few tools you can utilize in order to obtain the best results when using and applying digital marketing. For more details on What is Digital Market? this is a good blog article, which explains and defines what it is exactly.