Writing a Business Plan

May 4, 2011 at 9:30 am (Uncategorized)

I have been working on a business plan for a dear entrepreneur friend of mine who is working on opening his own business. I am very proud of his achievements and love that he is looking forward enough to know what he is going to need in order to make his business a success. Many business owners and entrepreneurs are so focused on what they know, or try to do it all, that they miss some very important steps. If you are not good at bookkeeping, hire one. If you need a business plan, but are not good at writing, find someone to help you. A very important part of a successful entrepreneur is that they know what they don’t know (or don’t like) and find people who are good in those areas to help them run a successful business.

Why should you have a business plan? There are several reasons. This is a roadmap to the success of your business. An “Owner’s Manual” if you will. It will help you define how you want to run your business so you know what you plan on do instead of making it up as you go. It will also help you review the financial status of your company. By researching the market and industry you can create an overview and estimates and see if it will really work out before you invest your time and money in this new business.

To get a small business loan, you will need to prepare this document because before anyone else is going to invest in your idea, they want to know if you have what it takes for their investment to be returned. No one is just going to hand you money for an idea if you cannot define it and validate it.

After your business has been established, you can go back and review your business plan to see if you have strayed from your original plan and whether or not the deviation from your plan have been helpful or harmful. If they have been harmful, then use your business plan to get you back on track and repair your business plan before it is too late to fix it.

Some tips and tools for preparing your business plan:
• Information must be accurate.
• Show your excitement about your ideas. Own them!!
• Acknowledge, but do not dwell on risks. If you say there are no risks, your business plan will not be taken seriously.
• Keep the tone professional.
• Keep in mind that your business plan is NEVER finished. You should constantly be updating this document and making it better. Market and industry are constantly changing. You will either have to adapt, or fail. One of my favorite history teachers used to tell us, “If you don’t learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat it.” Learn from your mistakes. Even better, learn from other peoples mistakes.
• If you have someone else help you prepare your business plan, you should still be an active participant in this process. Get the help, but this is your baby, your business, and your passion. Don’t sit back and let someone else run the game for you. You might not like the outcome.
• Be prepared to answer additional questions if you are looking for investing. This is why it is important for the owner to have an active role in the writing of the business plan.
• Remember that it is a confidential document and should not be distributed to individuals outside of those who NEED to see it. Create a confidential agreement and have all recipients sign it. Your business plan is an asset, protect it.

Sections of the business plan should include:
1. Executive Summary – In public speaking or essay writing we are told to a) tell them what you are going to tell them, b) tell them, and c) tell them what you just told them. The Executive Summary is the “Tell them what you are going to tell them” portion of this process. This is the first section so it is important to capture their attention here and give them the desire to read the rest of the report. It is kind of like the teaser on the back of the book or movie cover. How many times will we put a book or movie back on the shelf when the summary sounds boring or uninteresting?
2. Company Description – What do you do? Who will you serve? Where are you going to do business?
3. Products and Services – Physical Description, Use and appeal.
4. Marketing Plan – How are you going to advertise and let people know where to find you? Create the demand for your product or service.
5. Operational Plan – How you will create products and services.
6. Management and Organization – Investors want to be comfortable with those involved in the business so this section is important so that they can get to know you. Who are your key players and how are they related to the success of your business?
7. Major Milestones – identify major events in the growth of your company.
8. Structure and Capitalization – This is where you define or determine what type of business you will have such as Sole Proprietorship, partnership, LLP, LLC, etc. You will also address where the funds to start the business are going to come from.
9. Financial Plan – Budgets and Forecasts of what the finances of the company will look like. Income Statements, Balance Sheets, Etc.

This is the most important document you will create for your business. Be as passionate about creating it as you are about your business.

While preparing this blog I was reading “The Ernst & Young Business Plan Guide” and included many of their concepts in the above blog. This book is a GREAT resource if you are a do it yourself entrepreneur.

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Tax Day – April 18th

April 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm (Uncategorized)

This is your last weekend to get your taxes done for all you procrastinators out there. Taxes are due Monday April 18th. I am not kidding, the date really was moved. I know today is Friday and is not a holiday. So why was tax day moved out??? Well, because Emancipation Day is on the 16th which is Saturday so Washington, DC will be observing this holiday today instead.

If you will be filing an extension, please make sure you are aware of the future due dates as just because this due date has been moved, does not mean the following ones have changed!!

History lesson: Emancipation Day is the anniversay of the day that President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act. This act freed 3,100 slaves in the District of Columbia.

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What to Expect

April 7, 2011 at 5:49 am (Uncategorized)

Coming soon – a new blog about business plans!! It is riveting. Stay tuned.

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Unemployment and ID Theft in AZ

March 28, 2011 at 1:35 am (Uncategorized)

Reading the newspaper can be dangerous for me. We got a temporary subscription so on this beautiful Sunday, I am out on my patio reading the paper. The first section I grabbed was the business section in Sunday’s edition. The first two articles I looked at are regarding the unemployment status in Arizona.

Arizona Economy Uncertainty talks about how Arizona companies are still hesitant to hire. They are making efforts to increase productivity and being very selective of the people they do hire. At the peak in 2007, there were just under 2.75 Million non-farming jobs in Arizona. Today there are 2.38 million.

The next article I read talks about temp jobs and states that they are not filling the unemployment gap in Arizona. The current unemployment rate has been 9.6% for the last 4 months.

I am thankful that I have a job. I found my current job through a temp agency in 2004. That was the first time I had used a temp agency and it worked out well. However, until they were able to hire me full-time, I was a nervous wreck. I did not like the uncertainty. But it is a great way to get to know a company before committing.

The third article in this section of the newspaper talked about 16 restaurants being closed because they were busted for hiring illegal immigrants. They did not have enough employees to fill the gap.

Arizona has been on the news lately because of the scrutiny of our new immigration laws. Whether or not you agree with them, illegal immigration is an issue in our state. 16 restaurants were closed because they were employing illegal immigrants who were using stolen identification. Let’s take a few statistics and put them together to see if they add up.

Arizona has the highest rate of identity theft in the nation. Illegal immigrants use stolen identifications. Could it be that we actually do have an issue of illegal immigrants? I think so.

All that being said, consider this a friendly reminder to stay diligent with your credit checks. There are several companies out there who will provide monthly or quarterly credit reports. Take advantage of them. The fees for these services will save you a ton of money if someone does get ahold of your identity. Early detection is one of the best forms of prevention and can save you a considerable amount of money.

There are also several other options to protect yourself.
1. Check with your insurance agent. I know my insurance company provides ID Theft insurance.
2. Check out prepaid legal. If you are interested in learning more about prepaid legal, you can contact Karyn Black at 623-271-0151 for more information. Prepaid Legal offers so much more so this is a great option to cover several areas!
3. Check your credit scores diligently. These services usually will also include reports that will tell you if your credit has been checked for loans or credit cards.

If you have any other ideas, please add your comments. If you have ever had to clear up the mess from Identity Theft, you know what a hassle and expense it can be!!

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Leadership and Self-Deception

March 17, 2011 at 4:08 am (Uncategorized)

They mentioned a discovery that solves “people problems”, how no one really focuses on results, and that something about the “Bud Meeting,” as it was called, and strategies that evidently follow from it, is key to Zagrum’s incredible success.

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Positive Reinforcement

March 14, 2011 at 5:33 am (Uncategorized)

One of my favorite mentors started telling me years ago to get rid of negative statements in my life. Instead of saying “Don’t do that.” give a positive alternative. Get rid of the words “don’t”, “no”, and “not” wherever possible. I remember playing a game with myself where I would make a conscious effort to change my vocabulary accordingly. One of her sources for this type of positive thinking was her introduction to Michael J Losier and his book “Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don’t”.

Since she brought this to the forefront of my conscience, I see this type of advise more and more often. I have been reading “The Search” by Nora Roberts this week and one of the characters is a dog trainer. She keeps telling the dog owners to “correct and replace”. For instance, when a puppy is chewing on your favorite pair of shoes, you don’t just yell at the puppy. You tell them no, then replace your show with something that they can chew on, or something that belongs to the puppy.

Today I was cleaning out my inbox and came across another article on this topic. The article was talking about relationships and how couples focus on don’ts. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t nag. There are a lot of “Don’ts” in relationships. The article suggests that instead of focusing on what you are not supposed to do, focus on what you should do. Based on the game I used to play with myself, “Don’t go to bed angry” would become “Resolve conflict before going to sleep”. It take practice and can be done in most cases. Here is a link to the article I was reading. .article

In recent years I have gotten away from this practice and the change in how I see things is evident to me. One of the ideas behind the Law of Attraction is that you get what you give. The more positive you are, the more positive things will happen. We tend to want positive friends and people in our lives. Why not have positive vocabulary too?

I want to challenge you to replace the words or statements using “no”, “not”, and “don’t” this week. Let me know what kind of difference you see. Even if it is just in the reaction from the people you are talking to.

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Let’s Get Started – No Time Like the Present

March 4, 2011 at 12:36 am (Uncategorized)

March Madness is here. Time seems to fly so fast! Year end for Calendar year companies is winding down and 2011 can finally begin. It is a new year and a new start to your financial life. Are you starting a business? Starting Over? Or just trying to get organized? Now is the time to focus on the present.

Tax time is just around the corner for most of us. As you gather your 2010 information, evaluate how this process makes you feel. If you are frustrated, then sit down and take a look at your office set up. Do some serious searching and pin point the most frustrating part of this process. Once you have found that point of pain, take a look at what you can do to make a change.

Change is good and possible. If you need guidance on how to change, call in the professionals. Talk to someone who had great organizational skills or a professional organizer. But now is the time to start. Break the cycle. If getting organized was one of your Resolutions this year, remember it is NEVER too late to start. But keep in mind the longer you wait, the harder it gets so get started today. Start from today and move forward. The old stuff can get caught up later, but start from today and move forward. Trust me, that will make next year so much easier!!

Don’t know where to start – – – Call ME!!!

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Hello world!

January 12, 2011 at 1:47 am (Uncategorized)

I am starting to get it together.  Thanks to Leila, I have started this blog to stay connected with the Networking Group and build myself as well.  I am excited to get going with this and to see what kind of great tips I can share with you all!!  Hope to see you all soon and often this year.

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