By, Kristen Winterton
Starting your own business is a terrifying, exhilarating experience. There are so many things to learn and do, with learning experiences coming at you from all directions. As you tackle the challenges you encounter, it is easy in the beginning to shrug these challenges off and keep moving forward; however, as it wears on, it may begin to be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is at these moments that your work ethic and passion for entrepreneurship is defined.
Many small businesses fail in the first five years not necessarily because the ideas behind the businesses are bad ideas, or that the entrepreneurs are poor business people, but because people get discouraged when they face obstacles. When you are able to see past these problems and work through them, you become stronger and better able to face the next challenges. Challenges in life are a constant; there is no easy road to travel that makes life worry-free because of the fact that the business world is an ever-changing landscape. Businesses that can adapt to the demands of the fluctuating economy will survive, where others who are complacent will fail.
This comes with a caution, however. It does not mean you should hang on to every idea that you have, or that everything will succeed if you try hard enough. It simply means that you should not give up on a sound business idea just because there are bumps in the road. For example, there is an individual in Peru who wanted to start a business, and decided to start a farm to raise cuy (cuy are guinea pigs, which are a Peruvian delicacy). It took a year for this gentleman to even begin laying the first bricks for his farm, during which time he struggled with getting permits for raising animals, securing land, working a second job, and family and health issues. It seemed like every challenge in the book was thrown at him, yet he continued working through it. Today he works with his family and maintains a successful cuy farm. The challenges are not over yet, and never will be, but he faces the obstacles head-on with a determination to succeed.
From the story of this man, we can all learn that patience is critical, and that having a good attitude and being able to see past the current challenges to the goal ahead will help us to achieve success in the long-term. Starting a business will never be easy and should never be easy, but there will come a time when running it will become easier, and you will be able to see the fruits of your labor if you keep pushing on. I share the same advice to you that my mother taught me years ago: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” You can succeed; just work patiently and diligently and somehow it will all come together.
By Kristen Winterton
While writing a business plan is commonly referred to in the entrepreneurial world, there is often little clarity in what is expected in the business plan, and what elements are usually found within the pages of a business plan. To help with this, I have compiled a general outline of a business plan, with the details of what to include. The business plan includes: an executive summary, a company description, an industry analysis, a marketing plan, and a financial plan.
A business plan begins with an executive summary. This summary includes a brief overview of who the stakeholders in the business plan are, the nature of the product or service, how the product will be sold, expected financial requirements, and growth expectations for the company. This is meant to be relatively short, and will follow the outline of the rest of the business plan. If there were only one page through which you could convey your business idea, this would be it. The rest of the business plan is an extension of the executive summary.
This is generally followed by a general company description, through which you can thoroughly describe your product or service, who you would like to sell to, your “target market”, organizational type and structure, and the general administration items of your business.
The next section will be the market research portion of the business plan, and is called the industry analysis. Throughout this section, the business idea is constantly reevaluated for viability. The section will have a SWOT analysis which details out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of this business idea.
Strengths are the established internal factors that will help the business succeed and can include such things as previous experience in the field or connections to necessary resources, among other things. Weaknesses are the internal factors that could cause a business to fail, and could include such things as financial limitations, lack of experiences or knowledge, other resource restraints.
The other two factors are external factors, meaning that they have to do with outside influences; it allows you to think beyond your current status to what could happen in the future. Opportunities are the positive movements that could be made and could include expectations of advancements in technology, decreased governmental regulations, or similar events that a company could take as an opportunity. Threats are the opposite factor, and could include increased regulations, increased competition in the industry, or consumer substitutions for your product in favor of another product, among others.
The marketing plan is developed to state how a product will be introduced to the marketplace. It can be brought to consumers in many ways from social media, to word-of-mouth, to networking, to televised or broadcasted media, or through printed banners, billboards, signs, or fliers, depending upon the unique needs of a business. The marketing plan is developed to outline who will be contacted, the medium through which to contact, how many people will be contacted, and the frequency of contacting.
The final step in the business plan is the financial plan. This section states how the business will be funded, the necessary requirements for funding, and includes preliminary, or pro forma, financials which are the anticipated results of the business. It includes income statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flow. These financials will include how many units will be sold, anticipated costs and liabilities, anticipated growth based on the availability of customers, and the analysis of the business idea from a purely financial perspective which will allow an investor to see how the business has the capacity to perform. If necessary, a section for appendices may be included at the end, which contains tables, graphs, and charts and which can be referenced in any of the previous sections.
When developed in this manner, a business plan can be coherently and completely compiled, allowing a company to see potential pitfalls and allowing them to proactively develop a viable business. Many failures can be avoided in businesses when the business plans are taken through these various steps, as it takes a multitude of concerns into account. When these mistakes are avoided, the odds of succeeding in business ventures invariably increase.
By Jayme Mendenhall
There are many factors that influence the long-term success of a business venture. If you are thinking about starting up your own business or already have a business of your own, consider the following ideas:
Passion is the number one ingredient in a successful business venture. Passion turns a business into something more for the business owner. A passionate businessman is able to reach not only his client’s pocketbooks, but also their hearts.
A solid business is built on a well-considered, strategic foundation. This foundation is found in the business plan.
The hallmark of success is found in excellent customer relationships.
Quality, reliability, integrity and service are essential values for a successful business.
Products, pricing, and procedures are regularly checked by the owner.
A flexible business is a successful business. Business owners who are able to adapt and change with the industry, technology, and the market are able to survive many market swings and fluxuations.
A good business owner also knows the value of delegation.
If you are in the process of planning your own business venture, take a few minutes to ponder how implementing these ideas at the onset of your business can maximize your bottom line and minimize hassles and headaches down the road. These ideas might seem obvious, but often times it is the obvious that get overlooked. It is easy to get caught up in the busy routine of keeping a business afloat; no one knows that more than a business owner. Use this list to periodically evaluate where you or your team is at and make the necessary course corrections. Now more than ever, America and the world need entrepreneurs who have passion, integrity, and the discipline to keep their values in check while maintaining quality products and services. Let freedom as well as the free market be safeguarded within the small businesses!