Tag: Business plan

A Better, More Effective Approach to Business Planning 6 Jun

A Better, More Effective Approach to Business Planning

The real purpose of a business plan is to create a well thought out document that states, in detail, your business dream and how you plan to develop and finance this business. Your Business Plan is, in fact, the roadmap to your future.

Additionally, a written business plan is usually required by investors and lenders. Just as important, stakeholders such as suppliers, customers and potential key employees want to know who you are and what you are all about.

The real value of planning lies in the process itself. This focuses your thinking and keeps you on track, in other words the key to success is going through the process. Thus it is the process itself that leads you to those issues that are required for your ultimate success and their appropriate resolution. In other words planning is the methodology by which you determine the key steps necessary to garner the information required to develop your successful business. In fact, for many situations, the planning process is actually more important then actually writing the plan,

Currently leading experts in business planning such as Alexander Osterwalder and Steve Blank suggest development of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) as the key to the process. From their point of view a BMC is actually a prelude, a precursor to the creation of your Business Plan.

Here is an example of a simplified BMC:

A Better, More Effective Approach to Business Planning

Fully understanding each of these questions and developing appropriate responses will lead you to a clearer, better understanding of all of the elements essential for the success of your enterprise. Note the importance of starting with the value proposition and matching this with the customer segment. Once that benefit fit has been established all else follows.

As an example, let’s create answers for a hypothetical BMC for MacDonald’s:

  • Value proposition -> quick, inexpensive meal
  • Customer segment -> public         / seniors / families
  • Customer relationship -> personal face to face service
  • Distribution channels (paths to customers) -> in store / drive through
  • Revenue stream -> company store sales / royalties / franchise fees
  • Key activities -> training staff / marketing
  • Key resources -> employees / locations
  • Key partners -> franchisees
  • Cost structure -> staff / locations / supplies /marketingBusiness Model Canvas - Business Planning

In other words, the BMC guides you to focus on all the key factors necessary to create the roadmap to the attainment your dream.

Note, developing a BMC is not something done all at once. It is an iterative process by which you are systematically testing out your ideas. Think in terms of this graph developed by Eric Reis.

About the Author:

Roger_RobinsonRoger Robinson, PhD has been a SCORE mentor for over 16 years. His specialties include non-profits, business planning, specifically in restaurants and hospitality, recreational and arts and entertainment verticals. Read more about Roger here. Click here to schedule a free mentoring session with Roger or another SCORE mentor.

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12 Steps to Creating an Inspiring Strategic Plan 9 May

12 Steps to Creating an Inspiring Strategic Plan (Part 1 of 2)

Energize and engage your employees with an inspiring strategic planning process the helps everyone get clear, get organized, get going, and get results. That’s what successful businesses do.12 Steps to Creating an Inspiring Strategic Plan

Here are the first 6 of 12 steps of the strategic planning process cycle that, done right, tends to amplify and accelerate the success of any organization:

Plan to Plan…

  1.  Set the Right Energy –It all begins with “planning to plan” (the invisible 12th step) which lays the foundation for a successful strategic planning process. Before you take the first step, it is crucial to select the right facilitator, design the right process, send the right message, and create the right atmosphere that resonates with your organization’s culture.

Get Clear…

  1.  See Where You Are –Many leaders are trying to run their organizations with “flat spots” that decrease productivity, produce inefficiencies, and impede growth. A strategic plan is vital for any start-up or seasoned business. It is like a trail map and compass for hiking in the wilderness. But to begin any journey, you first need to know where you are.
  1.  Remember Your ‘Big Why?’ –Knowing your core purpose keeps you centered on what’s most important—during good times and challenging times. The purpose of your organization is like the seed of an apple. No one knows the potential yield of your organization and how much can be produced in the lifetime of your company.
  1.  Infuse Your Culture –Values are your guide for weathering ethical dilemmas. They become the fabric for weaving good sound decisions. Values should be at the core of all the decisions employees make. They show what your company stands for.
  1.  Know Your Business –Clearly defining your mission helps you know what opportunities to say “yes” to and which to say “no” to. Once you have created your mission statement, you will have defined the limits of what you will focus on as an organization. W. Clement Stone said “When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”
  1.  Envision Your Future –When you create a clear vision, it expands the collective thinking of your organization to encompass greater possibility and influence. A lofty vision is energizing. It excites everyone involved. It generates hope for the future. Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Ray Madaghiele is Chief Inspiration Officer at Business Energizers, a division of TLC, an organizational and human excellence company.

On May 26, 2016, Ray will be facilitating a powerful SCORE workshop titled “A Strategic Planning Process that Energizes your Business” where he will teach how to engage your employees in this 12-step process. Register and learn more here.

About the author: Ray Madaghiele

Ray MadaghieleRay Madaghiele is the author of the book Energize Your Business: Engage Your Employees with an Inspiring Strategic Planning Process. Learn more or purchase at www.EnergizeYourBusiness.biz . Ray is donating 10% of profits from book sales to the SCORE Foundation.

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6 things you need to think about for successful strategic business planning. 29 Feb

6 Things to Ponder when Creating a Successful Business Strategy

Creating and sustaining a valuable business enterprise is a difficult task under the best of circumstances. Strategic planning is a key to facilitating superior performance and value creation, yet businesses tend to ignore strategic planning, often relying on seat-of-the-pants management and/or business folklore. Even businesses that begin the strategic planning process get distracted by the latest crisis and put planning on the back burner. As Benjamin Franklin said,

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.  

Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy in their book Now…Build A Great Business!, note that…

“people and organizations with clear visions, values, and plans tend to accomplish far more and do it faster than their competitors. When everyone in your organization is united by a clear strategic vision of your desired future state, you create a powerful mental synergy that will move you toward your goals and move your goals toward you”.

Thompson and Tracy cited six key questions that should be asked when creating or revising business strategy:

  1. Where are you now? What is your current situation?
  2. How did you get to where you are today?
  3. Where do you want to go from here?
  4. How do you get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future?
  5. What obstacles will you have to overcome? What problems will you have to solve?
  6. What additional knowledge, skills, or resources will you require to achieve your strategic objectives?

The answers to these questions are critical input to strategic plans that identify the vision, mission, goals and objectives of a business and how resources will be managed to achieve those objectives. Management of resources is facilitated by action plans, milestones, accountability and time sensitivity.

Management theorist Peter Drucker defines strategic planning as…

“…the continuous process of making present risk-taking decisions systematically with the greatest knowledge of their future; organizing systematically the efforts needed to carry out these decisions; and measuring the results of these decisions against the expectations through organized, systematic feedback”.

Questions to ask for a success business strategyStrategic planning is the alpha and omega of business processes and performance. All business activity should flow from the strategic plan. Effective management and performance of resources, including human, financial, technological and time, are a function of the strategic plan. Profitability and value creation are facilitated by a strong, flexible and well executed strategic plans.

We have been inundated with statistics regarding business failures at every stage of growth of the business. There are those who credit factors other than planning to the success of their business. However, as with anything in life, one must avail themselves of all relevant resources to provide the best opportunity for success. A critical resource is preparation, including education, experience and planning. An effective strategic plan is not a guarantor of a viable, valuable business enterprise, but it can better facilitate the realization of that viability and value, and it is clearly superior to reliance on seat-of-the pants management or folklore!

No time like the present to put together your business strategy! Greater Phoenix SCORE holds workshops regularly to help you no matter what stage your business is in. Click here for the schedule!

About the Author:

Michael Mobley, business strategist

Michael Mobley is president of CEO Focus and Managing Partner at Impetus Solutions, LLC. 

Michael is a seasoned business executive with extensive experience in finance, planning, operations and marketing with both large corporations and small businesses. He served as an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at a Maryland community college and an adjunct professor of business in the MBA program of a Maryland university. Michael received his BA in Economics and his MBA in Finance from Columbia University.

Michael Mobley will be one of the Breakout Session Speakers at this year’s SCORE Symposium! It’s free to attend – registration required. Click here for details!

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Do you Have an Exit Strategy?

What's your business exit strategy?As an entrepreneur, you had to create a business plan for your business when you started up. It included an executive summary, financials, marketing plan and some forecasting. But how far into the future did you go? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

A question you need to ask yourself — and many business owners overlook this — is What’s Your Exit Strategy?

  • How long are YOU planning to run your business?
  • When do you see yourself exiting the business?
  • What happens when you retire or can no longer run it?
  • Does it go to your children? Would they want it?
  • Are you going to sell it?

In this video from Lynda.com, author David Crenshaw explains some of the options you have. Watch it, then look at your options below…..

This probably got you thinking and you have more questions than answers. So, attend…

The Integration of Financial Planning with Business Management for the Entrepreneur

Thursday, October 15, 2015, 1-4 pm at Greater Phoenix SCORE. $25. Click here to register and for details.

If you need a business coach, a Greater Phoenix SCORE mentor can help you for free! Click here to schedule an appointment.

Who Needs A Business Plan?

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Is it the Right Time to Expand Your Business?

Is it the right time to expand your business?Have you begun to wonder if your business is ready to expand? It’s a tough question to answer. Even if all indicators point toward making this move, you don’t want to jump the gun. This is a big decision that will impact you and your company in a number of ways.

Here are some of the questions that will continually run through your head:

  • What are the financial benefits of expanding?
  • What are the potential risks?
  • Do I have the time to take on the added responsibility?
  • Will I need to hire additional staff?
  • Will it require a large outlay of cash?

At some point, you need to make a final decision: Are you going to expand, or will you wait?

Expand now or later?

You may have come to the conclusion that your business will expand at some point. But that doesn’t mean you have pinpointed when this will happen.

There is a big difference between expanding just to expand and expanding at the best time.

Here are five points that will help you identify the best time for expansion:

  1. You have reached your original goals

Take a look back at your business plan. What do you see? If all your original goals have been met, it may be time to set new goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to expand, but you are in position to take on the challenge.

Furthermore, and most importantly, if you have reached your original goals, you now have the experience and confidence necessary to take on this process.

  1. You recognize the demand

As an example, let’s assume you are in the restaurant business. You have a single location that continues to perform well. Customers always provide positive feedback, with many noting they would love to see another location in the area.

Sometimes, the best way to determine when to expand is to ask your customers or clients for feedback. If they think it is a good idea — and if they can back up this sentiment with solid reasons — you may be onto something.

Pro tip: You can also enlist the help of these same customers during the expansion process. Sticking with the restaurant example, ask for feedback related to location, menu, hours and similar details.

  1. You have researched the opportunity

It is easy to believe that you can expand your business and continue to achieve the same level of success. But is this guaranteed? Definitely not.

You have to research every angle of the expansion, ensuring that no stone is left unturned. Some areas of interest should include:

  • Personnel
  • Capital
  • Time requirement
  • Location

For some companies, expansion means nothing more than adding employees. For others, this means renting additional office space, sometimes in a different part of the country.

Regardless of your expansion plan and goals, there are details that deserve your attention. Have you researched the opportunity, inside and out?

  1. You know the capital requirements

Biting off more than you can chew, from a financial perspective, can kill your expansion plans before they ever get up and running. Worse yet, the wrong approach could put your company at risk for real financial trouble.

You need to know, down to every last dollar, how much you will spend to expand your business. This includes everything from the cost of hiring new employees to rent and everything in between.

Additionally, make note of how you plan on paying for the expansion. Do you have cash in the bank? Do you need to raise money from investors? Do you require a small business loan?

  1. You have a sound business plan

When you started your company, you created a business plan that touched on a variety of topics, such as your mission, marketing analysis and financial details.

You should do the same before expanding. As you work through the plan, you will get a better idea of whether now is the time to expand. The questions you answer will give you a clear idea of where you stand.

Pro tip: Copy your original business plan (to a certain degree). This served you well once, so it may be able to do so again. Focus on the same core areas, with the idea that you are not starting fresh but instead expanding on your current operation.

Pros and cons of expanding

Just because you feel good about expanding doesn’t mean you have to take the leap. Now may seem like a good time, but you should still understand the pros and cons associated with such a big decision.

The pros:

  1. Ability to reach new customers
  2. Ability to generate more revenue and profit
  3. Opportunity to hire more employees, thus helping the economy

The cons:

  1. Capital requirements
  2. Potential to spread your company, as well as yourself, too thin
  3. More money, more problems (Yes, this can be true.)

Final thoughts

It’s not always easy to identify the best time to expand your business. Let the five points above guide you on your journey. When you rely on these tips, and compare the pros and cons, you will find yourself in position to make an informed and confident decision.

Do you have any additional business expansion advice to share?

About the Author:

Meredith WoodA regular contributor to the GoDaddy Garage, Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Fundera is an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Meredith is also the Senior Financial and B2B Correspondent for AlleyWire.

A Greater Phoenix SCORE mentor can help guide you through the business expansion or “growing pains” with everything from business plans, budgets, feasibility, and just a good, honest objective opinion. Click here to schedule a free meeting with a mentor near you!


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Video: How to Create a Successful Business Strategy

How To Create a Successful Business StrategyHas your business strategy gotten lost? Many times you create a strategy for your business plan as a start-up and it gets filed away and never looked at again. Not good. In this video, business experts, Jesse Torres and Aaron Michael Sanchez explain how to create a successful business strategy. From their YouTube Channel, Two Men in Your Business.

  1. Set clear priorities
  2. Collect and analyze data
  3. Keep in touch with your employees
  4. Evaluate your strategy

 If you need help with your business strategy whether it’s for a start-up or reviewing your original strategy and helping your redo it, a SCORE mentor can help you for free! Click here to book an appointment.


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