Tag Archives: business plans

Business Plans & Branding

Developing your corporate brand begins with your business plan.

Circle B brand

Some professional advisers insist that business owners should complete their own business plan.  We agree – to a certain extent.  The business owner must provide the input to a business plan.  Without the owner’s commitment to completing and implementing a plan, however, the process is a waste of time.

A business owner knows what they want to do but may need the skills of a more experienced planner to compile the plan more effectively and obtain financing.  Many people in business also don’t know what they don’t know, which means having someone with the expertise in many different areas to assist can save time and money.  Expertise in leading a sales team may not translate well to budgeting and financial projections.  Being proficient in production techniques may leave something to be desired when it comes to choosing advertising channels or defining consumer markets.  Professional consultants earn their fees by having the knowledge that proves beneficial in a variety of areas.

The first step in starting a business involves some soul searching and market research.  When Brand Irons meets with a prospective client, it is essential to be open and honest in the discussion.  We look for commitment to the process of planning as well as to the long-term success of the business concept.  We also recommend a feasibility study to assess the economic and market conditions, potential profitability, and other financial considerations before deciding to proceed.

Spending a little money up front to know the idea has merit is a wise investment.

While the cost of a feasibility study may be daunting, if the results indicate a better-than-average potential for return on investment (ROI) and the owner decides to go forward, the foundation of the business plan has been put in place.  Assembling the rest of the plan and crafting a strategic model to implement is relatively simple once the decision is made to proceed.

What few people who want to start a business realize is that only one out of every 50 business ideas is commercially viable.  That’s a 2% success ratio!

With the proper guidance from business and marketing consultants such as Brand Irons, you can craft a brand identity for your business based on the foundation provided by your business plan and strategic model.  Your business is unique, which is one of the reasons you need professional assistance in compiling a brand strategy that is consistent with the unique nature of your business and capitalizes on your assets.  The result is a more focused approach to marketing your business and reaching your desired audience.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Stay Focused

In this age of ever-changing technology, it is more easy than ever for a business owner to lose focus.  Yet it is even more important that you stay focused on your business to avoid being side-tracked.

The new insurance mandates from the federal government are a good example.  Most business owners know that changes are coming, but have little comprehension of what those changes mean to them.  There will be workshops and seminars and E-mails about the changes, including the implications once a more clear picture is developed.  Either way, this mandated change will require time away from your business and your customers.

So how do you stay focused? 

If there is someone on your team you can dedicate to learning the ropes about the insurance laws, get them on it now so they have time to gather the information and assimilate it.  Their challenge is to ascertain how it will impact your business and employees, if at all.

Another option is to rely on professionals you trust who are up on the changes, such as your CPA, legal counsel, tax preparer, financial planner, or insurance agent.

The 3rd option is to spend the time to understand it yourself.  Certainly the first two are better choices.

Another distraction facing business owners are employee issues.  It would be a perfect world if every employee showed up on time, knew what they were supposed to do, exceeded those expectations, and spoke highly of the company all the time.  If it were a perfect world.

So how do you stay focused?

It is improbable to think that employee issues won’t arise in your company, so the key is to be prepared for every eventuality.  Have a professional such as legal counsel prepare an employee handbook that stipulates employment conditions, expectations, and consequences.  Relegate that responsibility to your human resources department if you have one, and make sure they take time to keep you apprised of their actions.  You’re the one with ultimate legal responsibility – along with your Board of Directors and others with liability.

What is critically important when it comes to these types of issues as well is how clearly you convey the company’s mission to employees and share your vision with them.  The more closely they are aligned with your line of thinking, the more productive they are likely to be.

Your business plan and market strategies are also methods that enable you to remain focused on your objectives.

Cats, for example, are hunters.  When they have identified potential prey, they are focused on getting that prey over everything else.  They will stalk, crawl, sneak, pounce, or chase that object of desire until it’s caught.  They are focused.  When the prey is caught or becomes unattainable, the cats move on to other tasks.

Your business and marketing strategies identify your target consumers, what you will deliver to them, how and why.  Your company should be focused on accomplishing that objective.  If you lose sight or interest in that goal, it’s easy to move on to other tasks and later wonder why the business failed … or you went hungry in cat language.

Professional consultants are there to help you stay focused.