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Business and Marketing Plans

Posted on June 06, 2006

By Bonnie Wallsh

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want." Ben Stein, Professor and Writer

Anyone contemplating starting a business should create a business plan in writing. It provides you with a blueprint to develop your business and gives you a sense of direction. If you need to borrow funds, lenders will require a business plan before they will provide you with capital. Even if you don't need outside finances, it is advisable to outline a summary of your overall goals for the 1st year, 3 years, and 5 years. I worked part time with the Small Business Resource Center funded by the Small Business Administration (SBA) helping our clients to start and grow their businesses. One of the best books that I recommended to people was the Adams Streetwise book on Independent Consulting written by David Kintler with Bob Adams and published by Adams Media Corporation in 1998. You can purchase the book, new or used, on amazon.com.

Your business plan should include:

Summary What is your business strategy? What is the current stage of your business? Who are the key people in your organization? How much money will you need to get started? This summary is intended for the people who you approach for resources and provides an overview of your business plan. Concept What services will you be providing? Describe aspects of your business that are fundamental to your strategy. Will you be developing strategic alliances?

Current Situation This is particularly important if you are seeking funding from outside lenders. However, if you are self-financing, how much money will you be investing in your business? What financial resources are available to you until your business starts generating income?

Market Analysis You will need a clear and well thought out marketing plan. Understand the importance of branding and how to create your own brand. Think of the branding created by FEDEX. Federal Express changed its brand to FEDEX when customers starting using the word as a verb. Check out the FEDEX logo which was designed to represent their services. Have you noticed the arrow contained within their logo? Your brand will be used in your business cards, stationery, and web-site and should be consistent and recognizable by your prospective clients.

Competition What firms or internal departments are in direct competition with you? Think outside the box of anyone who provides the services that you are offering.

Competitive Analysis Prepare a SWOT analysis of your business - strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats. This is for your purpose only and you should be brutally honest with yourself.

Positioning As part of your market strategy, think of who your target market is. Don't plan on providing all services to everyone. This is the time for specialization when you can focus your energies on what market segment you are most likely to reach. How will you promote your business? Think beyond advertising to include writing articles, speaking engagements, and membership in associations. It's likely that your positioning may change as you develop your business. My firm that started 28 years ago after I was laid off as a teacher, provides a full range of meeting management services and is now shifting to provide training and education. I will be conducting workshops on “Launching your own Business” at the Meetings Market Academy + Exhibition as well as presenting sessions at many industry conferences. In addition, I will be an instructor at Virginia Tech University in addition to Johnson & Wales University and University of North Carolina in Charlotte.

Personnel Who are the key people in your organization? Who will you be developing strategic alliances with? What services will you be outsourcing that you can offer to your clients?

Financial Statements You need to prepare income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow. Include your projections for 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years.


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