Business Plan Writing Plan

A well structured business plan can provide in-depth understanding of your existing or proposed business. A wide vision will be provided, showing your own goals, objectives and information regarding your available finances and additional funds you will require. When drafting your own business plan, there are four key areas that require specific attention:

- The nature of your business /niche market

- Management of the business and entrepreneurs involved

- Market conditions in which the business operates

- Financial management, planning; risks and rewards associated with the total investment in the business

A professional business plan should incorporate a cover page which will include an executive summary and a business overview which identifies the business’ profile and the product or service associated with the company. This is then followed with a management section which presents any entrepreneurs involved and the management structure, after which comes the Market section made up as follows:-

- Industrial and marketing analysis

- Sales and marketing strategy

- Financial Statements and Projections

- The Legal and Regulatory environment

- “SWOT” analysis and risk/reward assessment

- Appendices with documentation in support thereof

An Executive Summary is arguably the vital part of any business plan. It is the media by which your strategy will be sold to the investor and is an overview of the entire business plan which should highlight the main objectives and provide summaries of each section associated with it. Therefore, even though it is set at the beginning of the document, it is presented at the end to rehash the essentials of the plan.

The business overview will require a business profile with thorough information on the background and history of your business, i.e: how was it formed and whether it is a new business or not. A mission statement must be also presented, as well as the long and short term objectives relating to the business’ growth. Development and possible exit strategies, such as going public or buying out investors are listed among these options. The second part of the overview will describe in detail, the product or service marketed by the business and any innovative features offered that give an advantage over the competition. Include the key technologies being employed, together with any current and future research and developments. The location and premises particulars are important factors and if applicable, any production facilities. These should be fully presented, with any relative and associated information.

All aspects related or associated directly or indirectly, are to be listed and an organizational chart should be included. Payment, incentives, share options, and conditions of employment relating to key management and directors, together with any management deficiencies, should form part of the presentation. A further highlighted aspect for inclusion, relates to the situation concerning current levels of employment, labor relations and union membership. All other pertinent facts involved with the operation of the business should be revealed and explained comprehensively.

The Market presentation should summarize the industry in which your company operates. Most of the facts you will present, may be researched from government statistics and trade organizations. Your summary should describe current trends and developments within the industry, including the major influencers and any industrial problems. You should also review influencing events, nationally and globally, together with the effects of legislation on the industry generally. The Market analysis and Sales Strategy will be given a full and in-depth presentation. Show future growth potential, with a complete analysis as to the overall trends and expectations. Your existing customer base must be listed and any orders or letters of intent must be shown in support. A comparison should be presented with your competitors, as to pricing structures, product quality, their service delivery and expectations regarding their reaction to your business activity in the marketplace. Adding to this is your strategy to increase and develop the present customer base, advertising and targets.

Your financial statements and projections should be summarized within the body of the business plan. A detailed analysis as an appendix should also be attached. This should show a historical finance performance with at least three sets of audited annual statements in support. It would be advisable in this respect, to consult your accountant or auditor. Legal and Regulatory Environment should display all legal documents, including licenses, copyrights and certificates associated with your business. “SWOT” Analysis and Risk/Reward Assessment, will provide definite information on possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Review the strategies carried out in respect of the risk factors and end your Business Plan document with Appendices and Support.

In order to get your business off the ground and see it reach its full potential, a professionally drafted and presented business plan is a must. In a society where competition within business is fierce, it is important that we do all we can in order to get our business off the ground and thriving as soon as possible.

Unique Shinning Points, USPs for Your Business in Tough Times

It doesn’t take a downturn in the economy to create problems for your business. Every business has its ups and downs even in booming markets. The question is; Are you and your business well prepared and equipped to face the challenges of a soft or hard economy?

Many entrepreneurs fear the downturn, and dread the prospects of losing their customers, their people or their profit. They reason that if the economy is weak, clients and customers will cut back on projects, stop spending and might even seek cheaper alternatives from the competition.

All of this is true, but only to certain extent. Sure, an economic slowdown and negative consumer sentiment can be challenging for your business. Or on the other hand, it can present you with an opportunity to gain new customers and boost your sales by developing effective strategies that can work best in a declining market, and brilliant for the boom times.

Depending on the industry you are in, there are numerous strategies that you can deploy to maintain and even increase your sales, while your competitors struggle to stay afloat.

The following USPs “Unique Shinning Points”, define measurable objectives and recommend key strategic initiatives that will assist you in steering your business effectively through uncertain economic times, while others struggle to get by:

USP No. 1: Utilize the slow down time to enhance your business’ basics and fundamentals

Like a machine that needs fine-tuning, after a long period of operation, so does your business needs tightening of its knots and bolts, and greasing of its parts so as to stop the squeaks. Start from the top by revisiting and re- enforcing your company’s values, vision and mission. Ensure that your people are motivated to keep the torch of the company’s spirit alight, by demonstrating a clear understanding of the business challenges and by articulating their contribution to uphold the company’s values at all times.

Most importantly, align your company’s objectives and values with your team’s incentives and rewards. Share the information across the whole business so as to allow your people the opportunity to show initiative. Involve your team in problem solving and ask them to come forward with innovative ideas to increase profitability, enhance productivity and reduce costs.

USP No. 2: Out think your competition

Pause for a moment and ask yourself the following question; if what I sell or offer is essentially the same as my competitors, what do I need, to be different and better in many aspects including my level of customer service, my approach to marketing, promotion and sales?

The answer to this question goes beyond creativity and innovation, to positively differentiating your company from your competitors utilizing “thought leadership” with inspiring ingenuity, which will have to become a second nature to you and your business in challenging times. Your ultimate objective is to truly stand out in the minds of your customers by utilizing visionary sales and marketing strategies to create a Unique Shinning Points (USPs) that are exclusive to your company and unique to your industry. In other words, differentiate your company positively from its competitors or die.

USP No. 3: Reactivate old leads

With just little extra sales effort, old leads can be converted into profitable business. Many leads that you gave up on in the past can be reactivated and turned around, you just have to persevere. A study by Harvard School of Business in 2007 revealed that most sales people regardless of the industry give up too early. According to the study, 75 percent of sales to business or clients are made on the fifth sales call, 25 percent of salespeople call beyond three calls!

USP No.4: Give superior level of service to your clients

Holding on to your existing customers during tough times is like holding on to fire in your hand, it is therefore of paramount importance to your business’ survival and longevity. Going the extra mile, pleasing your customers and giving them more than their money’s worth by maintaining a sales- service excellence culture, is a sure way to sustaining the impetus in your business. Now is the time to do that extra bit that can mean the difference between just merely satisfying your customers and flabbergasting – dazzling them.

USP No. 5: Plan and Implement an aggressive new marketing strategy

The truth of the matter is that, to prevent a lull in your business from ever happening in the first place, you should market consistently and aggressively all year long and every week. Not just when you need the business. Planning an ongoing marketing strategy ensures a steady stream of new business leads. Marketing done today begins a selling cycle that will result in new business when you need it six months down the track.

USP No. 6: Add value to your existing products or services

In a downturn, customers are more concerned with price than ever before. So address their concern by making sure you give them the best value for their dollar. There is no need to “give the store” or to provide an excessive level of service. Just a little extra effort or service will be perceived as a significant increase in value by your customers. Utilize technology and social media to drive business growth and in the meantime as an added value to customer service, communication and follow up.

USP No. 7: Be positive and enthusiastic

It is imperative that you stay positive and not to become depressed in slow business periods. If you are depressed, your people and your customers can sense your depression which might have negative effect on your internal and external business. Don’t despair, be enthusiastic, believe in your people, your products and your services, and transfer that energy of enthusiasm and belief to your people and your customers. Don’t give up too soon, remember that you are not alone, because in a downturn everybody in the market place are under the same umbrella and going through the same conditions as you are.

Seek the help of a professional coach and mentor who can assist in addressing your strengths and weaknesses while helping you discover your inner motivation and refocusing your efforts on the big picture

USP No. 8: Suspend any planned price increases

Needless to say that a business downturn is not the ideal time for you to increase your prices, even if you feel you deserve it, and that an increase is long overdue. Rearrange your prices during this transient period of business respite to accommodate a wider range of customers.

USP No. 9: Control negative and incompetent people in your business

Negative people at the best of times can be detrimental to your success. The last thing you need during tough times is a negative or incompetent person that does not “buy-in” to your values and your enterprise culture. Control and handle these situations with courage promptly and swiftly, and remove any one who does not “buy- in” to your business culture, as it takes just one incompetent or negative person to hold back the entire team.

Finally and simply put, in every business cycle, and in every businessman’s life term there are defining moments that require remarkable actions congruent with the task at hand. However, due to the pressures of the challenging moments, business people tend to overlook the big picture. Ensure the right coaching for yourself and your team so that you can focus on “back to basics” and take your team to the next level where everyone in your company is proficient at the basics and the fundamentals. Above all, keep sight of the big picture while defining the best strategies, programs and services that will boost your revenues, position your company for continued success, and most of all, that will truly differentiate your company from the others in your marketplace.

I would like to leave you with this thought from my Mentor, Peter Drucker; ” Don’t tell me what you have learned, tell me how you are going to do things differently”

How to Start an Ice Cream Business – A Simple Guide to Would-Be Entrepreneurs

Starting with a small business is indeed a good idea if you want to venture into being an entrepreneur. However, one of the most common dilemmas of many people is the type of business that you want to start with. If you want to start with something small, putting up an ice cream business may be one of your best choices.

If you are interested in an ice cream business, you can start by learning everything you can about the business. To help you have a good start, here are a few things that you may find useful in learning how to start an ice cream business.

- Decide on your product. Yes, an ice cream business sells ice cream but you have to create a product that can make your ice cream business stand out from the rest. You may want to put some distinguishing style, taste or packaging to your ice cream so you can offer something different to the market. Of course, one very important thing is to decide on a product that people would surely love.

- Research and study your target market. If you want your products to sell, you have to make sure that it is what your target market wants. Of course, putting a product for sale with only very few demands of it may make your business not so lucrative. A simple market research could be of great help especially if you are just starting. Competition is already there and getting into the picture without any preparations can be disastrous to your business.

- Make your business plan. Put into writing everything that you need to carry out for your business. From your budget to your marketing, it is important to put them in one document called your business plan. You also have to put your vision and goals in there to help you set the direction that you would want to bring your business to. Remember that this is one of the very important elements on how to start an ice cream business and make a good start as well.

- Decide on your budget. You can actually make a feasibility study as well and jot down everything you need for you to put up the business. If your financial resources won’t suffice, find ways to raise the needed budget for your business. You can apply for a small business loan, borrow from friends, or you can also opt for partnership in your business where you can share the cost as well as the profit with you partner.

- Plan how to market your business. Marketing is one very important element of any business and if you want to make your business grow, you have to plan and focus on your marketing and find ways on how you can reach out to your target market. If your plan does not work, find other strategies in marketing. Keep abreast of the competition in the industry. This will help you make plans and strategies that will allow you to make your business grow.

These are just a few of the things that you need to keep in mind on how to start an ice cream business. keep in mind though that in any business, there are risks and uncertainties that are involved and you must also prepare to face them as well.