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
It has been said of bees that they are the most perfect of any insect in the way they live, and the most valuable on account of the work they do. There are thousands of plants that rely on the bees to perpetuate them and bring forth fruit. About 30-40% of the food we eat is dependant upon bees for their pollination. As many people know, bee populations have dramatically decreased over the last 20-30 years. Farmers often rent hives of bees from beekeepers to ensure pollination of their crops. The price of honey is increasing and the demand for raw honey is increasing as people learn of the many benefits and uses for good quality, local, raw honey.
As a micro-business idea, beekeeping is one that may work for some. To start up a hive, the cost could range from a few hundred dollars to just under a thousand- depending on how resourceful one is as well as how much equipment is desired. It is a good idea to have a mentor, someone local who could help guide a new beekeeper in this adventure. There are many books on the market for beginning beekeepers as well as a lot of material online. In some areas, there may also be a beekeepers club.
One hive can grow into two or three hives in a year, thus making it possible to easily grow the business. One hive yields about 75 pounds of honey, as well as wax and propolis- other saleable bee products. Renting out beehives is actually where the money is mostly made. One hive could yield between $10-$180 depending on the season as well as the crop that needs to be pollinated. The California almond crop alone requires more than half the commercial bee colonies in the nation.
Some excellent books for beginning beekeepers may include: The Beekeepers Handbook, Beekeeping for Fun & Profit, and The Backyard Beekeeper. Any of these books will give you an excellent description of bee anatomy, hive life, pests and other problems, beehive equipment, and beehive maintenance along with other important information. These books can be found on Amazon, at bookstores and maybe even at your local library.
Beekeeping is not for the weak at heart, however. Those with allergies or phobias need not apply. It also takes dedication and hard work. Beekeeping is usually taken up as a hobby (micro business). However, if you are considering a micro-business and have a place to keep bees, consider beekeeping. Below are some excellent links to further beekeeping resources. http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G7600 http://www.beehiverules.info/category/beekeeping http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/news/ent41.pdf http://www.dadant.com/catalog/ http://www.mannlakeltd.com/