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An Effective Business Plan in Five Steps

business-plan

You have an idea for a business. You know what you want to sell, who you can sell it to, and how much you stand to earn from it. There’s just one more thing you need: a business plan.

Many people dread the idea of preparing a business plan. They think of the business plan as complicated, unnecessary document that exist only to make it more difficult for them to get started as an entrepreneur. They are wrong.

Business plans are necessary because they help you “see” your business. Instead of just talking in abstract ways about your “customer base” and your “profit potential,” it lets you put those things in writing and in concrete terms. It forces you to think through every aspect of your business in advance so down the road you don’t realize you’ve made a mistake that’s cost you your business, your life’s savings, and your job.

Besides all of that, they are also important tools for getting other people interested in your business. For one, if you’ve taken the time to create a business plan, others will realize that you are serious about this endeavour and that it isn’t just some pie-in-the-sky dream. A business plan also shows people that you are a professional and that you understand what it takes to start and manage a business. This is all extremely important, particularly if you need any type of outside funding, such as loans or investors.

So while the bad news may be that you definitely do need a business plan, the good news is that they don’t have to be complicated. The truth is that your plan only needs to cover seven main areas and none of these areas are going to require you to write a full-length novel. These five sections are the executive summary, the company overview, the business environment, the company description, and the action plan. All of those sections may sound complex, but most of them won’t involve information that you don’t already know.

Executive Summary

Even though this section will technically be first in your business plan, you should actually write it last because, just as its name implies, it summarizes the entire contents of your business plan. Because many readers never bother to get beyond the executive summary, you must make sure that it is comprehensive and well-written.

If that sounds difficult, it isn’t. Just make sure to read through your entire business plan before you start writing the executive summary. Make a list of information that you think is the most important or that would really stand out to a reader, and be sure to include all of it in your summary.

Company Overview

This section explains the guiding force behind your business. It gives them a chance to see what you have in mind for the business and how you plan to get there. Generally, the overview does this by providing a mission statement, goals, and objectives for your business.

In a nutshell, a mission statement provides the answers to all of these questions in less than 50 words: What am I selling? Who am I selling it to? Why am I selling it? It doesn’t need to be just one sentence, but keep it as brief as possible.

Goals and objectives, the other components of the company overview, are often confused by first time business plan writers. Remember that goals are things your company wants to achieve while your objectives are how they plan to get there.

Business Environment

This section will probably require you to do some outside research because it involves information relating to your industry, your market, and your competition. You need to take an honest look at the field you are preparing to enter and pay close attention to its structure, its trends, and its barriers to new businesses. Become familiar with the major competitors in your industry and decide how you will differentiate yourself from them. Also, get to know your potential customers and what makes them tick. The more you know about them, the more likely you will be to turn them into buyers.

Company Description

At this point in your business plan, you need to go into detail about your business. You can’t simply define your company in terms of what you sell, but also in terms of who you serve, what resources you will use, what types of employees you are looking for, what type of distribution method you’ll utilize, and more. All of this factors combine to create your company.

In addition to this, you should also state your company’s UPS (Unique Positioning Statement). This is a one sentence statement that explains what sets you apart from all of the competitors.

Action Plan

The last part of your business plan is this section which outlines the steps you need to take now in order to make your plan work. These should also reflect the goals and objectives that you’ve outlined in your company overview.

Besides these primary pieces of a business plan, you may also need to include a financial section, particularly if you plan on using it to get outside funding for your business. This may take more thought and planning than the other sections because it will require you to make some assumptions about your business’s revenue potential. The most important thing is to base any estimates on realistic expectations, not optimistic dreams.

You may want to visit the following websites for some samples to give you an idea of how things should be formatted and worded:

http://www.businessplans.org/businessplans.html

http://www.bplans.com/sp/

With some useful models and this helpful information, you’ll be well on your way to completing your effective and professional business plan.

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Mind Over Matter – Event

Mind Over Matter - Business Seminar

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Entrepreneur Superstar – Event

Entrepreneur Superstar Event

The term branding has long been relegated to companies, but today almost every individual has a personal brand. Not many of us have consciously cultivated these brands, but they exist nonetheless.

BECOME THE ENTREPRENEUR SUPERSTAR

One of the biggest challenges faced by present day Entrepreneurs is BRANDING. Not just any BRANDING – personal BRANDING.

With the understanding that your PERSONAL BRAND is an extension of your COMPANY BRAND; your overall BRANDING can be better served by having both brands aligned to yielding a higher rate of profitability for yourself and your company.

THE WHY

We invest thousands if not millions in our company brands but never think about how we can invest in our own PERSONAL BRAND.

THE TIME HAS COME TO DISCOVER

  • How To Create Your Personal Brand Vision
  • How To Define Your Target Audience
  • How To Build Up Your Online And Offline Assets
  • How To Build Your Brand Through Outreach
  • How To Get Free Press Coverage
  • How To Connect With Coaches and Mentors
  • How To Monitor Your Brand
  • Be Yourself Because Everyone Else Is Taken (Being the Entrepreneur Superstar)

Where (VENUE): The Entrepreneurship Academy Of Southern Africa

When (DATE): 05 June 2015

How (THEME): The Personal Branding Seminar

COST: R249 per person – BRING A FRIEND ALONG

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WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU

Did we mention that you are getting the BEST PERSONAL BRANDING training south of the Equator.

Apart from that all attendees walking away with GREAT VALUE:

  1. SIX hours of content on how to increase your PERSONAL BRAND VALUE

  2. 60 Page workbook to take away with you so you can go through the effective steps tools to achieving increased PERSONAL BRAND VALUE at your own pace in your own space.

  3. 15 Minutes Group Coaching on how to start immediately implementing the different strategies for Personal Branding

  4. We finish off with an Intensive Networking session to get you started on building your Personal BRAND

(True Value R997; You pay R249)


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Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Mindset concept in word tag cloud

Your success quotient is made up of skills, knowledge and attitude with attitude accounting for 85%. Carol S. Dweck’s book, Mindset The New Psychology for Success, supports how important attitude is, but adds an additional premise that you have to be open to learning rather than closed to learning.

According to Dweck, the world is divided between people who do and don’t have an open mindset.Those who do have an open mindset succeed, often outperform and lead happier lives as compared to those with exceptional skills and knowledge but who have a closed mindset.

“It is not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.” Alfred Binet.

Strong differences in people’s backgrounds, experiences, education and training have all been used as a way to explain why some of us achieve success and many of us fall short. According to Dweck, mindsets frame the running account taking place in people’s heads. They guide how you interpret things. The fixed mindset tends to judge failure as a loss and re-enforces its view of failure with internal monologues such as: “this means I am a loser,” or “this means I am not as good as they are.”

It also tends to support shutting down, not trying again or giving up. Growth mindset people on the other hand are also monitoring negative situations and have internal dialogue with themselves, but they interpret failure as a challenge and a learning experience. They know that they can obtain both positive and negative learning from failure experiences. They tend to look at failure as constructive and an opportunity for learning and growth. They ask questions like: “what can I learn from this,” or “how can I improve?”

Dweck suggests that there are four key steps to shifting your closed mindset to being more open. It is also important to note that many of us have both mindsets and they come into play in different situations. So when facing a future challenge or setback or criticism, you might decide that your fixed talents or abilities are lacking. Alternatively, you can try a growth mindset approach that suggests you need to ramp up your efforts, stretch yourself and possibly train and enhance your skills and abilities.

Here are some suggested steps:

  1. Learn to identify and hear your fixed mindset voice.

Look at situations and ask yourself about your judgments and your response to the situation. Are you saying things like: “It’s not too late to back out, make excuses,” or “it’s not my fault?”

  1. Recognize that you do have a choice.

Interpreting situations as bad or challenging or a setback can often be shifted to viewing them as a learning experience and a stepping stone to success. The choice is really up to you.

  1. Talk back to yourself with a growth mindset voice.

A fixed mindset voice can say things like “are you sure you can do this; maybe you don’t have the talent.” On the other hand, a growth mindset voice might say: “I may not be able to do this right now but I can learn it with time and help.”

  1. Take a growth mindset action step.

Since it is up to you, what you say and hear is up to you. Learn from your setbacks and try again. Take on challenges and when you hear criticism, act on it. This is not always easy but practice, with the support of a coach or mentor, can make all the difference in enhancing your success quotient score and getting attitudes in place for enhanced success.

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Business Networking For Success

Exchanging business cards at conference

In today’s world, business networking has become an integral element of conducting business as it helps to reach wider audiences and perhaps maximize client base in the process. Business networking refers to the practice of interacting with associates, fellow entrepreneurs, colleagues and other people to build a network of far-reaching contacts.

A very famous entrepreneur Robert Kiyosaki once stated that the rich get where they are because they understand the value of creating strong networks.

As an entrepreneur, you have to realize the benefits networking has to offer and subsequently take steps to create a strong and large network of contacts. A modern business thrives on networking to generate business referrals. These referrals, in turn, help the business to function and flourish.

10 Steps to Business Networking

“It isn’t what you know but who you know that makes a difference” – this is an age-old adage and it stands true till date specifically in the business industry.

The significance and potential of a strong and powerful business network are immense.

To increase your rate of business success as an aspiring or seasoned entrepreneurs, you can take the following steps to build strong network of business associates:

  1. Attend Business Breakfasts: Business breakfasts present an opportunity for entrepreneurs to mingle and interact. This opportunity can be exploited to best use by socializing and thus creating contacts.
  2. Join Trade and Business Associations: Trade and business associations aim to serve the local or regional business community. Several entrepreneurs and businesspersons join these associations to take advantage of the numerous benefits they have to offer. As a result, they have a large member base; this provides an opportunity to get to know other entrepreneurs from diverse industries and to learn from their experiences.
  3. Business Card: A business card is an identity of an entrepreneur; it reflects the values and the ideas one stands for. It is extremely important to have an impressive business card that gives the right vibes; in the absence of the person, the business card should have the potential to present the right image of the entrepreneur as well as the business.
  4. Host Seminars: Seminars are a form of academic instruction on particular topics offered by professional organizations in which individuals from different businesses participate. Hosting such seminars helps the attendees to get to know the speaker and also his/her background. This goes a long way to initiate and maintain business contacts.
  5. Attend Seminars: Attending seminars is a good way to meet people with similar interests and to create contacts that help to build a professionally sound business network.
  6. Active Referral Systems: It is imperative to have active referral systems in place. These help the entrepreneur to refer one’s work to other business owners. In this manner, other business owners will also refer the entrepreneur to their contacts. This helps to build more business and make more progress. The ability to generate referrals from other business owners is the single most relevant benefit of having a strong business network.
  7. Public Speaking Skills: In order to maintain a strong business network, it is quite important to be able to interact and communicate effectively with people. This requires that the entrepreneur practices public speaking and sharpens his/her communication skills to be able to better interact with others and to leave a mark in their minds.
  8. Buy Business Owners Lunch: In order to maintain the contacts in one’s network, it helps immensely to buy lunch for different business owners occasionally. Lunch time provides the opportunity to catch up on the latest business trends and market forces and also to communicate on a one-to-one basis. Having lunches together des not take away from the time assigned for daily tasks and also helps to stay in touch.
  9. Participate in Local Community Events: Local community events and charities present good opportunities to market oneself and the business. It is helpful to get behind their scenes and help with their organization; this creates a good public reputation and a good image for business owners. Other business owners would also like to interact and learn from this image-building step.
  10. Regular Press Releases: Press releases are a good means of communicating the recent changes and developments in the business to the public. Press releases also have and edge over regular advertising copy as they tend to be more authoritative and trustworthy. Thus, press releases should be regularly submitted to stay evident in people’s mind and to increase business awareness that helps to build contacts.

Benefits of Business Networking

Businesses with strong networks have an edge over its competition in numerous ways.

First, strong business networks are more updated with the latest business news. This helps entrepreneurs to learn about business prospects prior to others in the community. A business grapevine is an informal source of information and news; entrepreneurs with strong business networks are more aware of the information passing out in the grapevine.

Second, well-networked entrepreneurs are perceived as authority figures and leaders for others to follow. In business, perception is everything; people like to work with those people who are perceived as key players in the community. Third, a good network provides wider exposure which comes down to more capital investment opportunities. Investors tend to be more comfortable investing in businesses whose entrepreneurs are well-known and respected.

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A Simple Plan to Start a Business

A simple plan to start a business

When you want to start a business, whether it is a ‘small business’ where you work out of an office or a ‘home based business’ you run out of a corner of your bedroom, this simple plan can drastically change your rate of success and therefor change your life in a very BIG way.

Starting a business is not something you jump into.  When you are working a simple plan, starting a business is something you GROW into. The question that many people face when thinking about starting a business is always “where do I start.”

The answer to that question, even though it may seem obvious to many, is never really that simple to digest. Planning improves your chance of success. And planning is not just about putting together a ‘To-do’ list of items that one must carry out in order to start a business. Planning also involves articulating how you plan to grow your business. But for now, let us look at a simple plan on how you can start a business and achieve great success at it.

  1. Groundwork of your simple plan is crucial when starting a business.

Find someone that was successful in starting a business in your industry, watch them, interview them, find out everything you can about what they did when they were starting a business. Then, write a simple plan outlining what they do all day.

In order to have what they have, you must do what they do, so find out what percentage of their day is spent, for instance, on the telephone making calls, receiving calls and the type of calls.

  1. Plan your time well

The next step in your simple plan as you are starting a business is to divide your time like your mentor. Use the same percentage of the total hours, as you will not work the same hours they do.

The ‘secret to success’ is not in the hours, it is how you spend them! By following the simple plan outlined here, you make the most of your hours, and get the most out of everything as you are starting a business with a simple plan of success.

  1. Set both personal and business Goals

A vital piece of success when starting a business is that you have a goal in mind and work your simple plan to get there.

Without a destination (a specific income amount, a personal item like a car or boat, or simply an amount set aside in savings), how will you know you arrived?

  1. Track your progress.

Divide your goal into days, weeks, months and/or years to quickly know what is required to reach your destination.

Check your progress often. You will know quickly if you are sticking to your original goal or if you are ahead or behind schedule.

Just like a road trip, as you are starting a business, you will likely come across some detours, that’s OK. On vacation, just as in starting a business, if you find a road blocked or a path impassible, you simply find another way.

And, just as on vacation, include in your simple plan a few hours here/there for such ’emergencies’. If you find you have no emergencies, simply choose something else that will get you closer to your destination, or just relax and enjoy where you are.

  1. Work ON your business, not only IN your business.

In starting a business, you must set aside part of your time to plan, set goals, promote and advertise your business, not simply work along in your business, doing the things you do.

When starting a business, a simple form of advertising is a website. The more people that see what you have to offer, the quicker your business will grow.

You could go door-to-door, telling everyone about your website (not a simple plan!), or maximize your time by posting articles online where many people see them.

This is overlooked by many as they are starting a business, and one of the reasons they fail…

As your business grows, you will do less advertising and begin to work your simple plan toward the ‘IN your business’ phase.

  1. Give excellent Customer Service

Upset customers kill more business than you can imagine. Find a way to work with them, or simply give them their money back. Losing customers is something you cannot afford when you are just starting a business!

So many people simply do not make the time to provide quality service to their customers. Do not let that happen to you!

With a little planning and goal setting, follow through each week and simply repeating the process, you can change your business from flat to cash in a short amount of time.

When starting a business, if you follow the simple plan we have outlined here, you are already a success!

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