Do You Have a Business Plan

Starting a business, whether big or small, is all about direction and planning. Developing your home based business plan ought to be the first thing you do when you decide to start an online business-or any business for that matter. The plan lays the foundation and guides everything else that will follow. This is because, in order to get anywhere with your business, you have to know what you want from the business and how to achieve it.

That is why setting your goals is usually the first step towards getting where you want with your business. Every entrepreneur should have their goals in mind when starting a business, and even established business owners would do well to regularly revisit their goals so as to stay focused on their purpose. The goals-or objectives-are a part of what is generally referred to as the business plan.

The plan defines the business, its goals, whom it will cater for, as well as what and what activities need to performed at clearly stated times in the life of the business. This step will set your home business on the path to success. It surely shows you as organized, responsible and committed to what you have set out to do.

And should you need additional funding from external sources (including even close friends and family members) your business plan impresses it on onlookers that you aren’t going to throw away the funds.

But to get the best out of your business plan, you have to do it right. This naturally begs the question: What exactly is a business plan? And what goes into it?

To begin with, any business plan must serve as a guideline and as an outline of goals that need to be executed for the success of the business. It is a document that allows you and any observer to easily see the direction of your home business, and the processes through which things are done. A plan also helps you to understand at any point in time the progress of the business and its future.

Now this may sound a bit too official. But just bear in mind that the mere fact that you are now working from home does not remove the need to imbibe several of the tried and tested strategies that help medium and large-scale businesses to succeed. Second only to inadequate capital, the absence of any clear plan for their businesses has been identified as a major cause of the high failure rate among home business owners-less than 30% of those surveyed admit to having developed any realistic business plan for their business at the outset.

Having a plan includes setting and assigning responsibilities for the objectives you want to achieve, as well as setting the target dates for achieving them. If your home business has grown to an extent when you cannot possibly perform all tasks, assign a person to take charge of each action, but you should be the one to determine when that action should be completed.

It is also important that you follow through on your plans and assigned duties. Otherwise you would’ve wasted your time planning! Build some sort of checkpoints into your schedules to help you monitor your progress on a regular basis.

Having a clear plan to guide you as you run your home business is the surest way to stay focused on your business goals. It also increases efficiency by keeping you away from non-essential tasks that rob you of your time and money.

It Can Kill Your Business

That’s right! Growth can kill your business. As a self-employed business owner, entrepreneur or solo professional most of you are compelled to seek small growth business.

Small Business Growth: Does The Growth Fit?
In my personal business coaching practice one of the roles I take on for many businesses is that of a marketing business coach. As a marketing business coach I look at how we can promote the business and where to promote it.

If small business growth is not consistent with your core expertise you can be setting yourself up to fail. For example, there was a business that was exceptional at house cleaning. Running a business had been very successful for the owner. One of his customers happened to be an executive with a large grocery store chain.

As the relationship developed the executive wanted the home cleaning business to bid on cleaning and buffing the floors of large grocery stores. Talk about small business growth. To the owner this was the opportunity of a lifetime.

The owner went ahead and successfully bid on the floors for the grocery store chain. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the cleaning expertise and organization to do a good job. The grocery store floors took him away from his core business. Within a year he was out of business.

When you are looking at business growth the first question you must ask is does is fit with what I am already doing? The grass and the money may look greener on the other side. But, getting to the other side may force you into an abyss that you will never crawl out of.

Small Business Growth: Is It Profitable?
As a marketing business coach we must look for a level of profit that will sustain the current small growthbusiness as well as any future growth.

Back in the 1980′s there was a company poised for small business success that came up with a retractable battery cable box. If you were starting your own business this looked like a sure fire idea for business success. For those of us who have used battery cables we know how it seems virtually impossible to put them back in a nice, neat format.

This was an ideal product for small business growth. If small business growth can fulfill a need that no one else is, then the growth can be exponential. In starting your own business there is nothing better than a product that excites a lot of people and is something they want.

This company had it all except their marketing business plan was flawed. It cost them $14.00 to make and deliver the product. They knew to recoup their costs and to have the correct profit margin that they would need to need to have a wholesale price to retailers of $24.00.

They had only one marketing strategy. They wanted to be in Walmart. They figured that if they had distribution from Walmart that they could become wealthy quickly. They went to Walmart and Walmart loved their product.

There was only one problem. All Walmart was willing to pay them was $16.00. If you have ever worked with large chains, unless you have built a demand before you go in, they will tell you what they are going to pay.

This company accepted Walmart’s terms and figured that somehow they could make it work. Running a small business and seeking small business growth on a hope and prayer doesn’t work.

The company got its original shipment to Walmart. It sold well. The problem was that they weren’t making enough profit to sustain their business. Within six months they were out of business.

Small Business Growth: Grow With Care
As a small business coach my most successful clients have grown with care. They have a marketing business plan that makes sense. They have grown in alignment with their core business.

They have a profit structure that will enable them to grow and survive. And, they refuse, no matter how enticing the prospect of small growth business, to be seduced into compromising their profit principles.

Small business growth is desirable. But small business growth is like planting and tending a garden. You must plant and grow with care. Always know your marketing business plan and your profit goals and your small business growth will take you where you want to go.

Keeping Your Family Business Running Smoothly

Family Businesses are the economic engines that drive America, and whether or not you operate a family business, in all likelihood, you and your company rely on one for services, in one form or another. Because of the unique dynamics inside of a family business, there are hurdles they face that other business owners typically don’t have to deal with. These challenges not only affect the family business, but also those they serve.

If you are reading this as the owner/leader of a family business, check out the following and see what you can do to sharpen the edge of your business. If you are reading this as a business owner who is served by family businesses, be aware of the complexities they face, how these issues impact their businesses, and be present to the potential for difficulties in these areas.

Assumptions: The biggest problem family business faces is the constant assumptions they make with regard to “knowing” what their family members inside of the business are thinking, what they are going to say, and how someone is going to react. It is these assumptions that create the communication problems frequently seen in a family business. What is the resolve? a) get present to the fact that they do assume, b) be committed to not assuming, and c) be in full and complete communication at all times, everywhere.

Gossip: Another issue is gossip within the family about either each other or those that work with or for them. Gossip is an insidious habit. A conversation over the dinner table in this regard can have a dramatic impact on the dynamics in the work place. So, unless those taking part in the conversation have a direct say in the resolve of the matter, these issues should not be discussed amongst family members.

Family Member Expectations: In multi-generational businesses there are often unspoken expectations that other family members will eventually be given their “rightful place” in the family business. However, this doesn’t always correspond with what the business needs, nor is the family member always the right person for the job that the business needs to have done. Therefore, partners in multi-generational businesses need to honor the job, not just the person, and make sure they don’t have family members in a job that they are not qualified to do.

Paper Trails: Family business owners need to keep a precise paper-trail, just like any other business. In a family business, the temptation to by-pass certain processes because “it is family” is often great. This, once again, goes back to the land of assumptions, and assumptions need to be avoided at all costs!

Teaching vs. Telling: The senior member of the family needs to resist the urge to continually tell the younger family members what to do inside of the business. As leaders they need to instead be the question instead of the answer. This is the only way the business can continue on smoothly and successfully once the senior member of the family is no longer part of the business.

Changing of the Guard: When a senior family member is resisting change – not wanting to step down and unwilling to acknowledge that their time has come to step aside – the up and coming generation inside of the business needs to ask them to become their mentor instead of the on-site manager. Done with love and appreciation for who they are and what they bring to the table, the senior generation can be helped to learn and see how their lives can be enriched with other opportunities.

Separation of Family and Business: Finally, personal family stuff has to be kept out of the workplace. This tip is last because it may be the hardest one to actually do! We are all human. However, if allowed a disagreement at a family dinner can significantly impact the communication and effectiveness in the workplace. As a result, the business is going to suffer, their own productivity is going to suffer, and ultimately the productivity of their team will suffer too! There is already enough impact on the business from outside circumstances. Do not bring any others in the door with them.