How To Develop a Business Plan

     

 

Writing a business plan can be a daunting task. Just like anything else in life, a plan is an essential tool for success. We have all witnessed an under capitalized business shutter up soon after opening. A business plan should tell a compelling story about what you do and why consumers would want to buy your service or product. A good plan is a living document that shows viability and growth and should be updated on regular basis. There are multiple websites and templates on the internet that help organize the process. In addition, the Small Business Association (SBA) offers some good resources to guide you through your journey.


There are various types of  business plans used for different stages of growth. Stages include; start-ups, post launch, line of credit needs and expansion & growth. Determine what stage of your business lifecycle you are facing and tailor your plan accordingly. Consider the audience, are you looking for investors, partners, stakeholders or a line of credit?  Regardless of your lifecycle, a business plan sets you up for success.  


Business Plans should answer a litany of what, who, why and how questions:

  • What is the problem that your business is solving?
  • Why do consumers want your product or service?  
  • What are your key features?
  • How much capital is required?
  • What challenges could impede growth?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

 These questions should be answered in sections and clearly articulated for the reader to understand and process. Whether looking for capital or seed money,  defining business objectives and goals in a logical and disciplined way will make the difference between success and failure.  There are several standard sections that must be included, the outline provided illustrates a framework to get started. 


The business plan framework is very simple, and outline in this graphic:

The Final Steps:

8. Funding

Why should a bank or investor help you? How much do you need? When will you be able to pay it back? What is the investor going to get out of the deal?

Key Inclusions & FAQ’s

  • How long will the cash or requested funding you receive last? What will it cover in terms  of growth. What type of funding are you requesting? Debt, Equity, Angel?

9. Appendix

This is an as needed section but you should have it organized in case a lender asks.  

Key Inclusions & FAQ’s

  • Include legal paperwork, letters of reference, customer testimonials, permits, contracts, leases, attorneys, accountants and your business manager.

Now that the framework is in place, start writing and don’t stop until the plan is done. When presenting to investors tell a story that sells your business idea simply and succinctly.  Describe how you make money and what the best thing about your product or service is. The foundation you establish today will be rewarded tomorrow.

Sources: Sba.gov

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Reputation Management

Today’s consumer is discriminating and demands excellent service. If your company doesn’t deliver on your brand promise, they will let the entire world know about it. So what do you do to manage a negative perception and boost your on-line reputation?

Root Cause- you must address the root cause of the problems. To get an understanding of what is going on behind the scenes, conduct a social media audit. Look at multiple platforms and review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Twitter and any other sites that impact your business. Review the comment and bucket or categorize them into common cause areas. This exercise will show you the pain points. Perhaps you have shipping complaints, cleanliness or quality issues or poor customer service comments. Next, prepare to address the various deficiencies with the appropriate division heads.

Leverage Staff Buy-in-once you have your bucket list complete, assemble your team. Run through the exercise showing the buckets and common complaints. Have an open conversation to determine if you need to adjust written standards, define if job tools are missing or set up new training protocols.  Create a plan that starts with stakeholder buy in and accountability. The end game is to deliver excellent quality. Once the stakeholder team has developed an actionable plan, take it to the staff in the form of a We Can Do It meeting. Then monitor results weekly and monthly for progress.

Ask your guest to write review. Now that you have presumably turned a corner, don’t be shy about asking for reviews. If you know a particular customer has had a great experience ask them to comment. Send, thank you e-mails with links to review sites for easy access.

Good Quality and Quantity. Build up your positive reviews and your popularity rating will improve.  Many of the sites work off an algorithm system for prioritizing. Remember, you’re only as good as your last review, so keep up the accountability on the back-end.

Senior Managers should respond to negative reviews.  Use the process to help identify ongoing customer issues and pain points. I know several managers who do an audit quarterly just to learn about operational deficiencies.

For a complete Social Media strategy and tactical marketing deployment suggestions contact; jcross@crossnm.com

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Planning Overtakes Procrastination


Planning Overtakes Procastination

By: Jodi Cross

Check Mate! I have declared war on procrastination! The piles have been building for months and my “to do” lists have a list of their own but nothing seems to get done. The key to ending the madness is planning.


Start by organizing your to-do lists and make priorities:

Make a list and write items down in categories

  • Breaking things into Personal or Professional action items

Prioritize 

Think of issues as:

  • Critical-these are things that must be done in an urgent time frame or their will be consequences.
  • Important-these items are action that must be taken but there are not   urgent consequence.

Layout tasks on your actual calendar

  • Schedule action items into small tasks.
  • Set deadlines and stick to them.

Avoid getting caught in the perfect trap 

  • Perfectionists can be the biggest procrastinators of all, it is part of their winning formula. Instead focus on progress.

Minimize Interruptions and distractions

  • Set a time to get projects done. Check your emails during certain windows during your day to avoid distractions.
  • Compartmentalize work flow and return calls later. Stays focused on projects and see them through. Once a task is completed check your email list and return your calls during set times throughout the day. This will make your time more productive.

Build in rewards

  • Think about big and small rewards you can give yourself if you finish a project.
  • Use positive, pleasurable outcomes to motivate you to complete a project.
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Blitz Your Way To New Business

 

Blitz Your Way To New Business

By: Jodi Cross

When was the last time a business owner or representative came to your business and invited you to try their products or services? This is not a new concept and some would argue that sales blitzes or cold calling are no longer effective. But, it is one of the first projects I organized years ago at my hotel sales job.


Recently, CNMI worked with a client to organize a sales blitz of local accounts. The blitz resulted in almost 10K in definite business and nearly 150K in prospects. Like anything else effective results are in the planning and follow up. One thing is for sure, sales blitzes can be a lot of fun and they get people out of a business as usual slump!


Before you begin to organize, identify the key business goals, special offers and need periods. Create your special offers and leave behind collateral based on those pre-determined business goals.


Here are my four “T’s” to blitzing your way to success.


Teams Sales is everyone’s job, without it your business will not succeed. Be sure to target enough time to get all the blitz materials together and team members oriented. 15-20 days in advance is usually a good planning cycle.

  • Identify a leader- usually your head sales person is best suited to manage the efforts.
  • Create cross-functional teams by including all departments.
  • Anchor teams with seasoned sales professionals and pair them with a junior manager from another department. Cross promote specials and offers collectively.

Territories– Use Google maps or your local city and street addresses to carve out target zones with in a 10-mile radius.

  • Set anchor calls in key buildings so you don’t have any problems with security.
  • Target about 30-50 calls for your teams per day.
  • Make your appointments on slow days like Monday’s and Tuesday’s.

Theme’s/Treats-I go back to my original question of when was the last time someone invited you to do business with them and gave you a gift. In this post e-mail, Internet world many of us rarely come out from behind our computer screen let alone thank our customers personally or invite them to work with us. My background is in the hospitality industry. We are in the business to be welcoming and hospitable. What better way to make someone feel good than to thank them for doing business with you or invite them to try your services.  This isn’t unique to the hospitality industry but it certainly is one nice advantage.  Any business owner can do it. Over the holiday’s, my broker from Edward Jones actually dropped off homemade cranberry relish to my office.

  • If you are promoting holiday parties, drop of Santa cookies and wear reindeer ears. You certainly will get the office talking.
  • Perhaps you are looking for more wedding business, dress up in formal wear and leave behind wedding favors.
  • If you are in the spa business, try bringing scented aromatherapy and leave behind a token gift with a bounce back coupon valid for the next month.

You get the idea.


Tracking- All this effort will be for not if you don’t measure and track the results.

  • Set a morning meeting and nightly recap to gather the team’s cards and tracking sheets.
  • Keep a centralized report on all activities and follow up items.
  • Track revenue for all business units. Just because you were looking for catering business but ended up finding a golf member prospect that still benefits the company.
  • Develop an action item plan for follow-up that the sales team or other managers can pursue immediately while the blitz is still happening.
 

With a concerted effort and a little organization your business can see immediate results from conducting a sales blitz.

To obtain your own sales blitz tracking sheet, email Jodi Cross at jcross@crossnm.com.



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