Category: Business Planning

Things to Consider Before Starting Small Business to Thrive Successfully

Starting a small business takes considerable time and effort. It requires comprehensive planning and the ability to execute the same for your business. Therefore, before starting a small business, owners should have a complete knowledge of various things to ensure successful running of business. If anything goes wrong, it may affect your business plan. Following are basic things you need to follow before you start a business.

Self evaluation
The starting point for a business is, you need to identify your skills, talents, expertise and weaknesses; you need to evaluate your ideas. Examine the issues – Is there a real market for the product or service? Will your income be adequate? Is your product or service competitive with others? Do you have the required expertise? You need to consider with extreme care before you get started.

Do some research
Analyzing the market from the beginning is one of the most important things to consider before starting up a business. You need to do a thorough research about your target customers, your competitors and your industry. You also need to identify potential market and understand which products and services are in demand.

Be ready with a business plan
Business plans are important for a start-up small business owners. Your business plan should be properly structured and should focus clearly on your business goals and objectives. Depending on your business type, you need to describe which products or services you are selling, it should also include company description, market analysis, financial plan and management plan.

Create an initial budget
Creating an effective budget is the most challenging aspect of a small business. Depending on the size of your business, you need to structure the initial budget that includes start-up costs and weekly or monthly maintenance expenses. While budgeting you need to know how to manage your financial arrangements.

Choose location
Finding the right location is the key to success for small business. When you are looking out for a location, you must consider a few things like – Is the site located near potential customers? How safe is the area? Is the location convenient and accessible to traffic? How long have the competitors been in this area, and how strong are they? These are the things that you need to keep in mind before choosing a spot for your business.

Legal issues
Before starting a small business, you need to get the appropriate business licenses and permits. You should also look into legal matters such as registering your business, taxes and potential legal liabilities. Take the help professionals for advice in legal matters, if required, to protect your business.

Do frugal shopping
Small business owners should cut down their budgets on office expenses and go for seconds in terms of equipment, machines and furniture. Be frugal and just buy what you require for your business at the cheapest prices. It will save your money and you will be able to build a budget carefully later.

Every small business owner should take into account these points before starting a small business to thrive as a successful business.

Online Presence is Must for Small Businesses to be Successful

Online presence is the first step in exposing your small business to the world. These days, it is estimated that one third of the world’s population is using the Internet. It is very essential to understand the value of online presence, as the Internet is one of the best marketing platforms to target tremendous potential customers for your business. You can ignore this only to imperil the prospects of your business.

According to the Internet World Stats report, in 2011 there were 2.26 billion Internet users out of the seven billion global population. Hence, with the increasing number of Internet users globally, business owners should not ignore the effectiveness of online presence. And, before it is too late on losing valuable business opportunities, you should consider having a website for your business. This article discusses the importance of online presence for small businesses.

Online presence educates customers on your products/services
Through online presence, you can educate and advise the users/clients/prospective clients about your services/products. By furnishing specific details of the product/service, location, contact numbers, way of delivery and so on, will not only help your consumers make the right choices, but also build your brand identity, which will ultimately lead to increase of your sales.

Can target local audience
One of the advantages of having website for your business is, you can target the local audience. Through online presence people will get to know about your business – the products, offers, discounts and other information related to your business. In this way you will not only reach the local audience, but also get global exposure. This will lead to your business growth.

By targeting the local audience first, you can know the response of the users. Look for their feedback and considering the feedback, you can make changes in the product/service accordingly. This will show what way to proceed in the markets other than local ones.

Brand Building
Customers are increasingly purchasing through the Internet. Creating a website for your business and keeping the same accessible to all will, therefore, help potential customers access your products/services online. Also, good advertisement of your business online builds brand awareness.

If your product/service is up to the expectations of user in quality of products/service offered by you, it forms a positive impression on your business in the minds of customers, which will increase in productivity and profitability. This will also lead to brand building, thus making more popular among the users.

Open for business 24/7
Online presence makes it possible for your business to stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will allow potential customers accessible to your product/services at any given time. And if your business has an e-commerce option, then the customers can even purchase your products/services at their own convenient time.

Credible image
Having online presence will present a credible image of your business among customers, clients and prospective ones. With an attractive website that is accessible without developing technical errors, you can engage the attention of the visitors. Further, using quality content that is fresh, updated regularly, original and unique, you can make sure that customers decide to buy your product/service online. This way you will be ahead of competitors and there will be more chances of you generating business.

Customer feedback
Through online presence you can also know about your existing and potential customers and it will make it easy for your customers to give their valuable feedback or pose queries related to the products/services of your business website. This helps the business to improve and build good customer relationship.

Less expensive
Being present online for your business is inexpensive compared to any other means of business promotion. Selling through online presence is much cheaper compared to traditional media. Further, it is economical to promote your product/service online. User, customers, clients all take the advantage of presence of your business online.

For small businesses, online presence is, thus, significant. Small business owners need, therefore, to have strong and effective web presence and adopt marketing strategies, to convert customers into loyal customers in their business.

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Successful Business Plan

The chances of a business surviving and succeeding are more when it has a well-written and well-researched business plan that can guide in every step of business process. But, unfortunately, many small businesses don’t realize the importance of having a well-written business plan.

This article focuses on common mistakes that small business owners make when writing a business plan and how they can be avoided.

No proper research

The purpose of writing a business plan is to include all the necessary things that are required for your business process. For which, you need to do proper research to get adequate and accurate information that will validate your business plan. Before you start drafting your business plan, think about all the critical factors that should be included in the plan, make a note of them and accordingly structure your business plan.

Incomplete information

Never write a business plan that has incomplete information, because it may lead to failure of your business. A business plan should have clear and detailed information about your business and should cover all the areas including finance, administration, marketing, operations, accounting, etc.

Overestimation of revenues

While framing a business plan, see the real market for your products/services and the potential growth of sales and the revenues thereof. This is significant, as any overestimate would lead to loss of investment.

Look out for actual user experience and feedback for other products/services, if any. If there are none, it is sensible to keep the revenue expectations at modest levels to start with.

Detailed business plan

While it is important to detail the diverse aspects of the plan, you should ensure not to include trivial details which are tacit in course of business. If the information furnished by the plan is not straight forward and definite, later it becomes hard to implement the same. Such plans make business unsuccessful.

Neglecting competitors

Make a realistic estimate of competitors and potential competitors. Use relevant statistics including demographics, income-expenditure, inflation, industry and others that are necessary to get a clear picture of the competitors, present and potential.

No proper hiring

Clearly define in the business plan the number of professionals you will hire for each department. You need to hire professionals who have expertise, knowledge and experience to make the enterprise a success. Right attitude, good leadership qualities, personal integrity, ability to adjust to change and new circumstances are some of the qualities that a professional should poses. So, make it clear in the business plan about these attributes that you are looking for in a professional.

Superlatives and hype

Presenting the business with a hype without taking into account the ground reality is another mistake small business owners generally make. Your business may have reasonable turnover and growth, overtime. Be realistic while presenting data of your business.

Avoiding these mistakes, would lead you to a successful enterprise over a time span. It depends upon your ingenuity to grasp business trends and the ability to foresee the opportunities and threats to your business.

How to Choose a Name for Your Business – First Step to Give a Successful Start for Your Business

Choosing a successful business name is the most important step in starting a business. A name that rightly fits your business, brings forth success to your business. The name of your business contributes to your image and identity. Following are tips to help you choose the right name for your business.

Name that is unique
The chosen name should be unique and should reflect the type of product or service you offer to your potential customers. It should present a professional image in the minds of people. For example, if your products are for the younger generation, then you should go for a trendy name, as they are more likely to remember it.

While picking a name, consider the values it can inculcate. Examine if it fits your business and reflects your brand identity.

An effective business name conveys the uniqueness and value of the products or services. To make sure that the name you choose is unique, check if it is owned by others, whether online or offline.

It should be descriptive
The name of the business should be descriptive and should communicate what your business does – this helps your potential customers understand what product or service your business sells. It should also be memorable, appropriate and effective in making good impression of users. It should say about your business, products and services. Be focused on the values your business follows – quality, service, loyalty to customer and the like. It is better not to use irrelevant and unfocussed business names. This is, however, not to deny the simplicity and easy-to-remember aspect of the name.

Make it easy to spell and pronounce
An effective business name should be easy to spell, pronounce and remember. If your business name is easy for the customers to remember, than it is good for your business promotion and sales. Use short names as they are easy to remember and avoid using long names. It will also distinguish you from your competitors. Most important, it will spread word of mouth, if your customer recommends it to someone else.

Should have positive connotations
The name can give a connotation that is positive, negative or neutral. It is, however, safe to choose the positive connotation while naming your business, as it will convey the positivity of the business. A successful business name should have positive connotation. Avoid using a word with a negative or misleading connotation, as it may effect your business. In any case, it should impart prospective clients’/customers’ positive impression on the business for better business prospects.

Search on the Internet
Getting the right business name requires a lot of research and patience. The best solution is to search on the internet, as there are a number of names and suggestions available just a click away. It not only saves your time, you will also get to know if someone has the same name that you are thinking of naming your business. This will avoid you from being a copycat.

Consult experts
If you find it hard and complicated to come up with a good business name, consult experts. Consult professionals in the domain of your business. They can suggest a suitable name, logo etc.

Consulting experts entails cost, as they would give your business a name, the design of logo, caption for the logo and so on. Check with different experts online as well as offline to find the most suitable one.

Finding a good business name may be brainstorming for you. It is the step to start with. It is, however, indispensable, as it will target potential customers to your business. Hope you find a business name that will do good to your business.

Ways to Find Quality Hires Who Contribute to Small Business’s Success

For small businesses, it is important to have quality workforce. To get quality workforce, they have to search considerably in order to find the best. If the workforce is mediocre or less efficient, they find it hard for them to survive in the real competitive world. This article seeks to discuss the channels by which small businesses can find quality workforce.

Have an effective job description

To attract good quality candidates to your company, you need to advertise the job position in different means such as, news dailies, television, radio and the Internet. You should, however, see to it that it is effective to attract the best candidates. For this, you should make the job description attractive by stating clearly the job requirements, benefits, etc. briefly.

Hire skilled and experienced candidates

It is advantageous to recruit skilled and experienced applicants, because unlike freshers, experienced recruits have better grasp of work environment. Also, you need not train the new recruits to make them get to know the work culture. While evaluating candidates, frame a quality attribute measuring matrix with different criteria that are essential for the job.

Use the social media

Social media has become one of the most effective ways to publicize small businesses. They are cost effective and far reaching. Through social media, you can also contact other small businesses regarding the recruitment to different positions. Using social media, you reach more respondents than through any other means, online or offline. Reaching more people you would have a set of larger and diverse candidates’ profile.

Post ads on the Internet

The Internet is an effective medium to propagate small business news. The Internet is finding increasingly used in diverse sectors. Small businesses can leverage it to their advantage. Post your recruitment ads on the Internet to reach the target audience faster, and at low cost. It will enable you to reach the local audience easily.

Publish in local news papers

Publishing your recruitment ad in daily news papers, would attract applicants from different localities. For this, you need to get the ad published as many times as you need. Make an effective description of the job to attract skilled and experienced new applicants. If you are looking for people exclusively from the locality your business is in, you should opt for local newspapers to advertise the job.

Referrals from friends, relatives or previous colleagues

When recruiting candidates for your company, reliable sources you can approach are friends, relatives or previous colleagues. You can judge the essential attributes of the candidate like the suitability, caliber and the social and criminal background of the applicant by approaching them easily. It is also helpful when you desperately need candidates for a job role. Word-of-mouth could also help.

Search into local colleges and universities

Locals are considered to have more acquainted with business ethos in a particular geographic location. In this respect, make arrangements with local colleges and universities to cull out suitable candidate(s) for your business. Choose these sources to recruit freshers with good and consistent academic record for your company.

In the process, choose some suitable candidates who are in the final stage of their learning for the job. Impart some training related to the job and make them work for a brief period. By this, they would get the minimum skills. When they finish the studies, you can train them and take them as full employees.

Job portals

Use job portals for employers on the Internet. You can get linked to many agencies with pool of candidates, from which you choose the suitable one. You can get a suitable candidate effortlessly by posting your ad on job portals. You have, of course, to screen the profile including past experience of the candidate. If you feel the candidate is fit enough for personal interview, go ahead. Placing the job ad in job portals is economical.

Job portals enable you to post the job in several websites in one go and hence is fast.

Consider outsourcing to consultancies

Human resource consultants are another source to get a pool of recruits from which you could select. These consultants have candidates who are done with preliminary scanning which weeds out the less competent people. Thus, they give a set of candidates with the requisition skills and experience. When the set comes to you, choose the best one(s).

Getting quality hires for your small business is critical to its efficient management. You should have a workable plan regarding the job profile, posting the ad with different media, planning the interview to finally offering the job to the best candidate. (more…)

Essential Components of a Successful Small Business Marketing Plan

By: Sophia

Planning is essential for small businesses, especially, for start-up enterprises. The marketing plan for a small business is a document that throws light on your business goals and strategies. You need to have a well structured plan based on thorough research, with the single object – to target your potential customers. Before starting your business you should follow a strict business plan and include most of the key elements to achieve your goal.

This article discusses the essential components of successful small business marketing plan.

What the product is all about?

Describing the product is one of the most important components of a small business marketing plan. Your plan should have a detailed description of your products/services, and the market it will serve. The plan should also include how your products/services are different from competitors, and why customers should buy your product and how you will promote your business.

Analyze the market

In this section, you should describe the marketing strategies of your marketing plan. You need to identify your competitors who offer products/services that are similar to what you offer. You should list a few things while analyzing the market such as, things that make you stand apart from your competitors and the features and benefits of your product. This will help you develop your own marketing strategy, which will help you reach the target audience.

Financial analysis

While implementing your marketing plan, you need to describe the pricing of products/services. The prices should be set in such a way that they will allow your business to earn profit, but if the prices are high, customers may not be interested in purchasing your product. It is, therefore, important to create a detailed analysis of the costs associated with the products/services, the pricing strategy and the total cost of production to get the final products/services to the market. This will help you have a clear account of sales, cash flows, profits and return on investment.

SWOT analysis

An effective SWOT analysis will help you in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business. You can view all positive and negative factors for your business that affect the success. Strengths include characteristics of business and the state of the art technology you use in your business, while weaknesses are limits on your budget or your employees not being familiar with the technology.

Opportunities are possibilities of higher profitability, while threats are your competitors who offer products/services as same as yours at more or less same price as you do. A SWOT analysis will make you aware of where your business currently stands and where it needs to improve, and how to move ahead in future.

Take help of different marketing methods

Every business requires different marketing methods to promote their products/services. Some of the cost effective methods are flyers, brochures, business cards, newsletters and word-of-mouth. You can also consider traditional marketing methods such as TV, newspapers, radio, etc. These are, however, expensive and initially it might be difficult to spend on these, keeping your budget in mind.

Of the many marketing methods, Internet marketing is preferable as it is less expensive and is an ocean of different online marketing strategies like social media, article marketing, blogging, press release, etc.

Internet marketing gives your business global exposure, targets a wider range of potential customers, is a fast way of promoting your business, gives quick results, educates customers about your products/services, promotes products/services 24/7 and last, but not the least, allows you to measure the number of sales generated. Therefore, considering all these advantages, it is evident that Internet marketing forms one of the best methods of small business marketing strategies.

Thus, the marketing plan for a successful small business should involve a comprehensive strategy to survive the challenges encountered in business. (more…)

How to Set Goals and Objectives in Your Business Plan

A business plan is a formal written document furnishing every information of your business and helps you set goals and objectives of your business. It is a guide for business owners to develop and grow their companies. Without setting goals and objectives clearly, organizations may face troubles in coordinating activities and forecasting future events. This article helps you set goals and objectives for your business.

Create a Mission and Vision

Businesses without mission and vision are vulnerable and may succumb to any eventuality. A mission aims to describe the organizational purpose, that is, why your business is in existence. It also provides a strong foundation to your business plans and marketing efforts.

1) Mission:Mission focuses on current operations of your business and the industry in which it operates.

  • What is your business all about?
  • Why are you in business?
  • What is the nature of your products and services?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What level of service do you provide?
  • How do you differ from your competitors?
  • How will you use capital, technology, processes, products and services to reach your business goals.

The mission statement focuses on a company’s present state of business, whereas the vision statement focuses on a company’s future.

Vision of the business gives you a clear picture of your future for you and your business.

2) Vision: Vision statement indicates where your business wants to go in next years, that is, how it would perform in the time ahead. Thus vision address issues like:

  • Where do you want to see your business in future?
  • What would you hope people say about your business in future?
  • What do you not want people to speak about your future?
  • Focuses on non-financial topics.

Once your mission and vision are clear, you need to set your business’s goals and objectives. Keeping your mission and vision in mind, start generating ideas to execute them. Think holistically and list out a collection of ideas. Here are some examples.

Create a list of ideas

Here is a list of ideas that enables you to achieve your business mission and vision.

1) To be world’s leading company.
2) Low cost provider relative to key competitors.
3) To provide best customer service.
4) Higher level of customer satisfaction.
5) Make your business run for 20 years (not applied to all businesses).
6) Increase your company size with 500 employees.
7) Geographic expansion of your company: locally, nationally, internationally.
8) Reduce inventory costs.
9) Make your business popular.
10) Introducing existing products in to a new market.

Top three ideas that will become your goals

The top three ideas in the preceding list can become your goals. Business goals set the tone and tells what is important to business so that work is directed to achieve it.

1) Make your business run for 20 years.
2) Increase your company size to around 500 employees.
3) To be a leading company in the world.

Break the Goals into Milestones

Breaking your business goals into objectives (or milestones) would guide you with a clear picture for success. Without objectives, it is hard to know whether you are on the right path. Set your objective, therefore, to ensure that if you complete each one you will achieve your goal. However, goals are typically described in words, whereas milestones often come with numbers and specific dates.

Following are some goals that can be broken in to objectives to achieve them.

1) Make your business run for 20 years: First plan your vision and document it precisely. It should include all the information of your business such as how much profit to be expected from the business, what are the manufacturing and delivering costs of the products/services, etc. Then, control your finances by optimizing cash flows by implementing procedures for handling delinquent accounts.

Business sales revenues to be monitored, evaluate your market, manage and motivate your employees, comply with all legislation governing rules and regulations, conduct ongoing risk appraisals and identify areas of vulnerability, care for your customers, avoid self-satisfaction and know your limitations.

2) Increasing your company size to around 500 employees: To begin with, recruit a few members in your company according to your needs. When these people are not sufficient for completing tasks, you opt for automation systems in your company. For these systems to operate, you need more employees. Therefore, recruit a few more people. When more number of employees are recruited, you cannot manage them. Divide them into groups to work in different departments and assign one employee to each group to manage. You can, thus, increase the size of company. However, company size also matter in growth of a business.

3) To be world’s leading company: For this, you should have a very clear vision for company and you should follow strategies in the long run, and strive to maintain an excellent customer relationship. You should provide high technology products and reliable service to the consumers.

Note: Goals and objectives are not same. Business goals represent the list of achievements that it wants to reach. Setting goals helps you to take a direction to reach them. Whereas objectives are the exact steps your company must take to reach the goals. They are tangible and quantifiable. Objectives are necessary for businesses to measure their success and progress towards their goals. Without objectives, goals appear out of reach.

Objectives are required in each key area

Objectives tell you exactly how to reach the business goals. Setting objectives involves continuous process of research and decision-making. They are essential in every key area like finances, strategic market objectives, internal operational objectives, innovative and learning objectives.

Goals and Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T

Business plan should be very clear about the products/services they will be set up. Setting goals and objectives is very important because it directs the company to it’s specific aims. of a company over a period of time and motivate staff to meet the objectives set. SMART is a form used to set goals and objectives to the business.

  • S for specific: Goals and objectives should be specific and know what exactly you want to achieve from the business, so that you can reach it in a better way.
  • M for measurable: You need to measure and track how much you have progressed at the end of your business outcome.
  • A for attainable: Your goals and objectives must be attainable. You need to be practical and realistic.
  • R for relevant: Able to obtain the level of change reflected in the objective.
  • T for timely: Goals and objectives should be time-bound. You should have a deadline for your business to reach desired goal.

Having understood what mission, vision, goals and objectives are and how to execute them confidently is the key to success. They will help you grow and have a successful business. All the best! (more…)

Things You Need to Consider for a Successful Business Plan

It is very important for every business to have a business plan. It is indispensable, whether the business is small, medium or large. It is important to structure or design the business plan, for business growth and development.

What is a business plan
It is a plan (for starting or existing business) that defines your business, identifies your business goals and works for your entire business which is to look ahead, allocate the resources, focus on key points and also prepare for future problems as well as opportunities.

Many people think, the business plan is for start ups. A business plan is, indeed, needed for every business, whether it is a start up or an established one. Whether you need new loans or you need to optimize the growth of your business, you need a business plan.

Things to consider to write a successful business plan
Consider the following while writing a business plan:

Be clear about what you want to do: While writing the business plan, first you need to be clear about what you want to do. Think out and spend as much time as you want to clarify or to determine what type of business you want to do, and what the products/services are, whether you want to sell or deal with. If necessary, ask your friends who are dealing with the business, similar to yours. There are certain companies which can help you in discovering, who you are, what your company would be doing.

Collect the required information: Now that you have a clear idea about what type of business you want to do, and what type of product/service you want to deliver into market. The next thing you need to do is collect the required information from as many resources as possible, analyze the information to get clarity on your business objectives and consider the following.

  • What goods or services do you want to offer?
  • Are the goods/services already in market or introducing any new goods/services to the market?
  • Consider the various ways to offer or deliver of goods/services to your customers.
  • Is there any market for your goods/services?
  • Know who your competitors are, at present what the level of competition is for your product/service.
  • How much finance you need to start a new business or to expand the existing business, what the resources are and stock you need, what type of skilled workforce you need and what reporting and operations will best suit your business.

Be ready with your goals, objectives, mission and vision: After collecting the necessary information, you should be ready with your mission, vision, objectives and goals. Of course, they look alike and hence many think, they are same. But, each is, however, distinct.

  • The mission represents the operations and the values which are underlying object of the company.
  • The vision represents the framework for your strategic planning, it is a long term plan, which provides the directions to make a significant impact.
  • The objective represents the opinions or the definitive goals for different purposes within the company.
  • The goal represents the measurable end result within a fixed time frame.

Plan should be clear and concise: The business plan should be very clear and should be easily understandable. It should be specific, straight forward and should emphasize on what you want to do. That is, plan should be written in an easy to understand language and clearly define what you are going to do in business and it should enable you to achieve business objectives.

Take help of right people:
After you have clear and concise specific goals, you could take the help of people smarter than you. Do not tell any unknown person the ideas. You need to do things smartly, so open up to share with right people and get help from them. Sometimes you may not need help from others, for example the engineer does not need another engineer’s support to view his point.

Research your competitors: Research what your competitors are offering. Of course, they may be in market for long, but you should focus on doing the things. There could be a difference between you and your competitors. You should address customer needs, make better product than your competitor.

These points would be useful while considering successful business plan.