Adding Internet Marketing to Your Business Plans

Incorporating internet marketing in business plans has become an imperative as opposed to an option. That probably became true when even the large storefront businesses began to do internet marketing. Judging by the number of websites, online accounts and emails sent with discounts for online shopping, the internet is playing a larger and larger role in all business models.

The implication is that internet marketing should not be a separate strategy. It needs to be integrated in the total marketing plan. It should not be a standalone subsection in the marketing plan. It needs to be weaved into the various marketing efforts, in addition to be being a unique effort.

For example, the business plan can include the development of a website and a discount campaign. However, the offline marketing efforts need to incorporate the website and the discount campaign also. For example, direct mailing of advertisements can be integrated with online marketing by developing the tactics the big department stores have successfully developed. The offline direct mail advertisements encourage online shopping by offering discounts, and the online emails encourage offline shopping with special discounts.

Of course, you can have a description in the business plan for specific internet only strategies. For example, you can discuss strategies for obtaining client leads and set goals for the lead-to-customer conversion rate, the number of transactions and the targeted average dollar sale. Yet there is still integration needed with offline marketing needed. Offline marketing will play a supporting role in driving people to the website to find the online-only discounts.

There are a number of online marketing strategies that can be addressed in business plans. They include developing the business website, participating in social media and blogging, and so on. The important point to keep in mind is that the marketing plan needs to be a cohesive integrated plan and not a disjointed set of offline and offline activities.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at www.funded.com.  Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions.  If you need to access a vast network of business people, entrepreneurs, partners and service providers to help you start, finance and run your business, check out our website.

 

Preplanning the Business Plan

The Small Business Administration contracted with William B. Garner, a Spiro Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership at Clemson University and Jianwen Liao, Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Illinois Institute of Technology to study pre-venture planning and entrepreneurs. Published February 2009 by the SBA Office of Advocacy, the article titled Are Planners Doers? Pre-Venture Planning and the Start-Up Behaviors of Entrepreneurs reports some interesting findings that all entrepreneurs should know.

First, the professors reported that, indeed, “…early formal planners are doers. We believe that challenging prospective entrepreneurs to accomplish a formal business plan early in the venture creation process will likely enable them to engage in additional start-up behavior that could further the process of business creation.” In other words, the business plan is informative and motivating.

The reasons given in the report for the importance of business planning include:

  • Entrepreneur can identify what he or she doesn’t know
  • Early identification of needed resources and when they will be needed
  • Identification of specific problem solving actions
  • Identification of actions needed to attain goals
  • Ability to communicate objectives, purposes and activities to others
  • Assessment of accuracy of business assumptions concerning resources, knowledge level, potential customers and beliefs
  • Reduction in organizational delays
  • Reduction in delays in acquiring plant and equipment, and goods and services
  • Keeps entrepreneurs on track
  • Provides benchmarks

In fact, studies show that even the presence of planning benefits entrepreneurial success. Presence refers to the whether a business plan is completed, while formality refers to a documented business plan. A written formal business plan was found to significantly influence a positive business start.

A lot is written about the benefits of writing a business plan in general terms. It’s good to know that studies of specific companies backs up the generalities. A business plan is a tool for success any way you look at it.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Showcase Diversity In Your Business

Some investors aren’t just interested in your business ideas. They also want to know that you embrace diversity. A business can have diverse employees or focus on supplier diversity, or encompass both in the business model. As globalization becomes standard practice for all businesses from the large corporation to the sole proprietor working at home, diversity of people and spend becomes more important.

Why do investors care? They care because the makeup of the population and the marketplace are changing. In the U.S. alone, the highest birth rates are among minorities and every state has increased in racial and ethnic diversity since the year 2000. However, the U.S. is just one segment of the total global marketplace, albeit the largest single entity. As businesses go online to find rapid business growth, they must attract a diverse customer base. It only makes sense that the business would add diversity to its internal operations in order to better compete.

When investors are considering funding a business, they want as much assurance as possible that the internal culture, systems and processes mesh well with the reality of the marketplace. An organization that is committed to diversity and has a definitive strategy for ensuring diversity becomes a reality is one that proves it fully understands the complexity of the global marketplace. In other words, diversity can be leveraged into enduring success, and that is what investors want to fund – a business that is on the path to lasting operational success.

Before approaching investors, it’s important to analyze the diversity of your organization. Awareness, alignment and sustainability of diversity in employees and suppliers are concepts that should be put into practice.

Browse http://www.funded.com for more advice about getting your business funded.

The Typical Angel Investor? No Such Thing!

Have you ever wondered where angel investors come from or what type of people you are going to present a business plan to? Is it a Donald Trump type of person – flamboyant and quite wealthy? Or is the investor someone more like your neighbor down the street who has quietly amassed a small fortune yet lives frugally? The truth is that the angel investor could be either person or a group of people.

The stereotype of an angel investor is someone who is a hardened business entrepreneur who has amassed great wealth but is always ready to create more. The image is of someone who swoops in, evaluates the business plan, does some inquiries and then funds a startup with the expectation of high returns. In reality, the angel investor may not be wealthy but is financially savvy.  Many are still employed but looking for a way to grow their money by promoting innovative new businesses.

Angel investors fill a gap that exists between the venture capitalist and the commercial lender. Venture capitalists and financial institutions lend larger amounts with the former willing to accept high risk and the latter expecting minimized risk. Many angel investors invest smaller amounts of money, $20,000 instead of $200,000, but there are no limits so $500,000 up to $2 million is possible. They don’t want to play an active role in the business, but do have business savvy. Mostly they just want to make money.

Angel investors are also groups of people who pool their money to fund startup businesses. They include investment clubs, professional groups like doctors or lawyers and even other entrepreneurs. The reason there is a bit of mystery surrounding angel investors is simply because they keep a low profile, so are difficult to categorize. What you do know is that they are financially savvy, thorough in their evaluation of businesses and hopeful of earning a high return on their investments. So don’t stereotype angel investors because they can be anyone.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at www.funded.com Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Enter the Angel Investors at the Startup Stage

Financing a small business is done in stages with angel investors usually funding startup expenses. The amount of startup funding needed is figured in the business plan financial section along with projected revenues. Startup funding is actually just one stage of business financing because a new business must be funded from idea conception to expansion.

Businesses operate on a continuum. Initially, seed money is needed to do the original product development, business filings, research and market survey. The  entrepreneur often gets the seed money from personal savings, family and friends, or personal loans. Some even use their credit cards or house equity. In other words, seed money usually comes from personal resources because at this stage the business is only an idea and the risk of losing the money is too high.

Once it’s determined that the idea can be turned into a solid business, the picture changes. The business plan is prepared and the enterprise begins operating. At this point, the first revenues are generated which establishes the fact that the products or services are market viable. It is at this stage, often referred to as the series A or first round investment, that angel investors are approached. However, sometimes entrepreneurs will look for outside investors who will actually pay for startup. In other words, the business doesn’t begin operating until funding is obtained from venture capitalists willing to accept higher risk investments.

Angel investors can also be approached during the second round or series B investment stage. This is the stage at which initial expansion after startup takes place and funding is needed for inventory, staff or marketing expansion.  Later expansions using angel investments would be referred to as series C, series D and so on. In this way, each investor knows by investment reference how their investment ranks in the history of the business funding.

Eventually, a successful business will look for a larger funding source like a bank to finance a major expansion. Angel investors play an important role in the launch of new businesses and enter the business at one of its most critical stages. It’s no wonder they are called “angels.”

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.funded.com/ Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Writing Business Plans that (Really) Matter

Business plans are not all alike and neither are angel investors, venture capitalists and loans. Then why do so many business plans seem like carbon copies of each other? Rubber stamping, so to speak, a business plan and only changing the names isn’t going to generate much interest among savvy investors. How many small businesses are ready to become the next corporate success story, but can’t seem to get investor interest? There are plenty, and many will never get a chance to find success because their business plans don’t pique the interest of angel investors or any other investor for that matter. The business plans are just too ordinary and fail to convey the uniqueness of the new idea, concept, product or service.

If you took a test and it said to name the most common mistake made on business plans, would you know the answer? The answer is: The business plan begs for money but doesn’t beg for understanding. A business plan is much more than a plea for money. It’s a driver’s manual that defines goals and objectives while providing the road map to a new destination. If the directions are clear and point right towards what makes your idea market unique, investors can’t get lost on their way to the endpoint. That’s where the financing waits. Focus on what makes your concept unique and prove you have carefully thought through the components of success – people, opportunity, context or relationship to industry and market, risks and rewards. In other words, write a business plan that really matters and not just one that fills in the blanks and makes a pitch for money. Don’t be ordinary…be unique. It’s what entrepreneurship is all about.

More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.funded.com/ Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.

Checklist on starting a Small Business

Checklist on starting a Small Business

In today’s economic climate most probably having a small business maybe the best source of income. There are many good reasons to start your own business from the independence it can bring to your lifestyle to the noble role you can play in creating jobs to other, helping to grow economy and many others. In fact, the hardest part about becoming an entrepreneur is figuring out where to start. Whether you have some knowledge already or are going on a vague notion that this option may be for you, we hope this roundup will be a place to start.

Build a business plan

No small business expert would recommend starting a business without a business plan. There’s too much at stake, your money, other people’s money, the livelihood of your family and potential employees. Every business plan should include something about each of this area, Mission/vision, business name, marketing plan, competitive analysis, financial plan and products and services. In starting a business, your business plan will be your guide towards various phases on your new business and not only that; it can also attract potential investors and secure a loan. For investors this will show whether or not your business can make a profit. It requires a realistic look at almost every phase of business and allows you to show that you have worked out all the problems and decided on potential alternatives before actually launching your business.

Name your business

It may seem so simple to think of a business name, you also have to consider some things before deciding what’s going to be your name. Business name should sounds good and at the same time should be unique so that you have an impact against your competitor but not so unique that potential customers won’t know what you’re selling. However you go about it, spend some time with a thesaurus and an empty sheet of paper and play around with name ideas. Once you have a few you’re happy with, test them out with family and friends. Before ordering letterhead, though, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to ensure that you legally can use the name you selected.

Choose a business structure

There are four primary ways to legally organize a business: a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company and a corporation. When organizing a new business, it is important to take time to review the pros and cons of each structure.

Sole proprietorship is the most common form in business structure.  The owner operates the business, is personally liable for all business debts, can freely transfer all or part of the business, and can report profit or loss on personal income tax returns. Common proprietorship includes part-time businesses, direct sellers, new start-ups, contractors, and consultants.

Limited partnership, a limited partnership consists of at least one general partner (controls the business) and at least one limited partner (investor).While General Partnership is a business owned by two or more people. The partners share ownership and control of the business. Partnerships offer more freedom for business owners with shared business tasks and the potential to earn greater profits.

Limited liability company, this is now the most popular business structure nowadays, Limited Liability Company or LLC is a type of business ownership combining several features of corporation and partnership structures Owners of a LLC have the liability protection of a corporation. All your business losses, profits, and expenses flow through the company to the individual members. Unlike general partnerships which are developed under common law, an LLC is created by filing a document (usually called Articles of Organization) with an officer designated by state law.

Corporation, A corporation is a business which is considered a separate entity from you; even having the legal rights of a person. A corporation is usually the most complex and most expensive way to organize a business. Records must be kept to document decisions made by the board of directors. There are two types of corporations; C Corporations (incorporate) and S Corporations (small business). Small business is the most common corporation; C Corporation is more complicated than forming a limited liability company or a sole proprietorship.

Set up and determine your location

Most people will tell you that location is the most important aspect of starting a small business. A good location can attract a large number of walk-by traffic while a bad location can hide you away from potential customers.

There are many steps in office set up including where to locate your office (home or office space), buying the necessary office equipment, designing your work space and getting supplies. Whatever location you choose, make sure you know all of the legal restrictions on your place of business.

Get business insurance

Any business is exposed to a variety of risks. A smart business one will take the necessary acts to ease the risk and one valuable risk manager is insurance. Like home insurance, business insurance protects the contents of your business against fire, theft and other losses. Liability insurance, Property insurance, Business Interruption, Key Man, Automobile, Office and Director are some of the type of insurance that are commonly used today and are merely a starting point for evaluating the needs of your business. In many cases, there is no requirement your business needs insurance unless you have a company automobile, employees or it’s a loan condition. Yet, this is no reason not to get business insurance. No business is immune to natural or man-made disasters and potential liabilities.

Create an accounting system

Financial Management, in general, is meant a set of measures aimed at reaching financial stability. In particular, a foremost aspect of financial management is efficient distribution of economic resources or, in other words, capital funds, as far as they contribute greatly to the company’s prosperity. Therefore, financial management is concerned with the questions of funds procurement and their effective use. Accounting is by far, one of most important aspects of starting and operating a business. It’s so easy to get caught up in the start up glamorous tasks of designing a business card or choosing a business name, yet without a solid understanding of the numbers you will not survive. The objectives of creating an account system is to organize survival in terms of sharp competition, prevent bankruptcy and other financial risks avoidance, increase in production volume, profit and wealth maximization and expenditure minimization. Without a firm grasp of your margins and cash flow, you can price yourself right out of the market.

Starting and managing a small business takes motivation, unrelenting desire, and talent. It also requires a lot of research and planning. Try as you might, it is not possible to know everything in the beginning. Research and planning will help minimize the unknowns and make you better prepared. Remember, lack of planning is one of the leading causes of business failures. When you start a business, your only goal is to make it succeed. And to succeed, you must be able to control all the variables along the way.



More detailed information and useful advice can be found at http://www.funded.com/ Created by Mark Favre, it offers expertise and assistance with developing and funding your concept, including a private forum for queries and discussions. If you need access to investors and funding providers, please do check our website.