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4 Things to Remember When Writing a Business Plan

You need to write a business plan before you get started with your business. It’s not just a document to pitch your idea to investors. It’s a way you get set goals and PLAN for the running of your business (funny how that works, isn’t it?). If you’ve never written a business plan or you’ve written three dozen, here are our 4 tips to remember when you write your business plan.

1. Cut the fluff

Remember when you were in high school and had to make that 5 page count? Remember how you pulled out the thesaurus and made every word as long as possible just to make the requirement? Even if you didn’t, somewhere in your past, you are guilty of pumping a paper with fluff. Be concise. Get to the point.

Plus, any potential investor will see through the fluff anyway. Don’t make them hunt through the clutter.

2. Be realistic

We all know that you have great expectations for your business. Great expectations don’t belong in your business plan. You need realistic expectations. I’m not trying to knock you off cloud 9, but if you’re putting your plan in front of potential investors, they’re going to want to see something plausible. Don’t try to sugar coat your numbers. If a realistic business plan looks like a mess, maybe you need to rethink how you’re organizing your company.

3. Break the template

It’s easy to go online, find a nice business plan template and fill in the blanks.

Don’t.

It’s okay to start with a template, but at some point, you need to incorporate some aspect of what makes you, your company, and your brand unique. Find a way to get that unique feel without pumping your plan with fluff.

4. Do your research

When you have the next big idea, you’re excited and want things to get moving. Don’t just jump into a business plan without doing your research. What are other people in your market doing? What do their numbers look like? What’s their business model? Another thing you can benefit from is looking to similar businesses that have failed. What did they do wrong? How do you plan to tackle the same monsters that defeated them? Even if answering all these questions doesn’t fit in a business plan, it’s still a good thing to know.

What are your business plan tips? What are things you would avoid? Share in the comments!

3 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out

These days, we’re all looking for a quick way to get our business noticed. But, what if there’s a more lasting way to keep your business on the map? It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are our top three ways to make your business stand out and keep it that way:

1. Upgrade your website…and keep it updated.

You need to have a website, it needs to look like you made it in the last year, and you need to keep updating it. On the most basic level, it keeps the search engine bots happy. Your ranking in searches would be improved. Another reason you need to update your website is to make sure it is mobile ready. In January, 55% of Internet usage was on mobile technology. People will search for your business on their phones and mobile devices. You need to be where they’re searching.

2. Figure out what your customers want and give it to them.

I’m not talking about your products. You know what your customers are buying. In this instance, I’m talking about content marketing. If you make air conditioners, your customers might want to know about air conditioners, specifically the air conditioners you sell. Another way to do it is figure out what questions your customers are asking. How often have you typed a question into Google? Consider all the questions people are asking and see which ones you can provide an answer for.

3. Ask your customers for reviews

Your customers are your best advocates. If you have someone who is satisfied, you want them to shout your praises from the rooftops. Give them a forum to do that. Whether it’s a short video, a place on your website, or your Twitter account. Ask them to talk about you on Yelp or Foursquare. Get the stories out there.

How do you get your business noticed? How would you be an advocate for a business? Share in the comments!

 

Inspiration: The A-ha Moments [INFOGRAPHIC]

the-aha-moments-of-entrepreneurs-infographic

Inspiration: Cameron Herold: Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs [Video]

Bored in school, failing classes, at odds with peers: This child might be an entrepreneur, says Cameron Herold. In his talk, he makes the case for parenting and education that helps would-be entrepreneurs flourish — as kids and as adults.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod

ignoreWhen Hugh MacLeod was a struggling young copywriter, living in a YMCA, he started to doodle on the backs of business cards while sitting at a bar.

MacLeod has opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main subjects is creativity. How do new ideas emerge in a cynical, risk-averse world? Where does inspiration come from? What does it take to make a living as a creative person?

Now his first book, Ignore Everyone, expands on his sharpest insights, wittiest cartoons, and most useful advice. A sample:

* Selling out is harder than it looks. Diluting your product to make it more commercial will just make people like it less.
* If your plan depends on you suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail. Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain.
* Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether. There’s no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one.
* The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours. The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.

After learning MacLeod’s 40 keys to creativity, you will be ready to unlock your own brilliance and unleash it on the world.

Inspiration: America The Land of Entrepreneurs [INFOGRAPHIC]

landofentreprenuers

Inspiration: 9 Strange Rules of Ultra Successful Entrepreneurs by Robin Sharma

Robin Sharma shares the 9 Strange Rules of ULTRA-Successful Entrepreneurs. If you’re worried about the financial crisis that’s getting a lot worse and are ready to protect the businesses they’ve worked so hard to build then this video is for you.

For more from Robin Sharma, check out his website.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: The Zigzag Principle by Rich Christiansen

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: The Zigzag Principle by Rich ChristiansenZigzag Your Way to Success!

Have you ever set your sights on the top of a mountain and then started your ascent by heading straight through the trees and up the sheer cliffs? Or driven in your car to the other side of town—as the crow flies? Of course not! Because you instinctively know that, just as a river has to wend its way around obstacles, the best route is never actually a straight line!

In The Zigzag Principle, Rich Christiansen applies a foundational law of nature to business management, entrepreneurship, goal-setting, and life in general as he explores why zigzagging toward our intended outcomes is more effective than trying to bulldoze our way through whatever stands between us and our objectives.

Christiansen helps you get started, make your way over the big hill to initial profitability, and minimize risks along the way. A s the head of well-established corporations and as the brains behind numerous start-ups, Christiansen has been through it all, and he’s charted all the zigs and zags you’ll encounter. In The Zigzag Principle, he documents everything he has learned, including how to:

  • Identify your destination
  • Create a defined set of values to help you as your business finds its way
  • Add resources and hire the right people, as you turn the cash you have into fuel for more
  • Replicate your successes to bring your product to the masses
  • Protect your resources, your family, and your sanity

The simplicity of a straight line can be seductive. But it’s not a realistic way to go about achieving your goals, because you will always come upon unexpected obstacles in the road. Zigzagging requires you to be nimble and flexible, to “bootstrap,” and to be able to take advantage of multiple opportunities. What it delivers is success—in business and in life—far beyond your initial plans and dreams.

Use The Zigzag Principle to assess your resources, use them to their fullest, and keep yourself and your team motivated—all while living a life of balance.

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Give and Take by Adam Grant

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs: Give and Take by Adam GrantAn innovative, groundbreaking book that will captivate readers of Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, The Power of Habit, and Quiet

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own pioneering research as Wharton’s youngest tenured professor, Grant shows that these styles have a surprising impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Combining cutting-edge evidence with captivating stories, this landmark book shows how one of America’s best networkers developed his connections, why the creative genius behind one of the most popular shows in television history toiled for years in anonymity, how a basketball executive responsible for multiple draft busts transformed his franchise into a winner, and how we could have anticipated Enron’s demise four years before the company collapsed-without ever looking at a single number.

Praised by bestselling authors such as Dan Pink, Tony Hsieh, Dan Ariely, Susan Cain, Dan Gilbert, Gretchen Rubin, Bob Sutton, David Allen, Robert Cialdini, and Seth Godin-as well as senior leaders from Google, McKinsey, Merck, Estee Lauder, Nike, and NASA-Give and Take highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. This landmark book opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.

Inspiration: How Many Times Will You Try? [INFOGRAPHIC]

howmanytimesThis is from Funders and Founders. The info was assembled and animated by Anna Vital. Make sure you check out the original post to hear the podcast about the data!

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