Business Planning



What holds back a business from Scaling UP

What prevents most businesses from scaling up? Here are a few things: A personal service business where the owner IS the business. A business which is only successful because it has a unique location A business which has a limited supply of product. A business which can’t overcome the logistics of multiple locations/ increased sales either because there aren’t enough qualified humans or the business processes can’t or shouldn’t be automated. A niche business which serves a limited niche. Inadequate, ill-defined, or unworkable business systems, especially marketing, sales and customer service. Inadequate vision – owners can’t imagine scaling or comprehend what that involves. Inadequate funding Owners who know that being “big” doesn’t mean being better, and in fact being the “right size” is the best success a business owner can achieve.

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Key Factors for Success of a New Business

What are the key factors for the success of a new business? Everything you learned in Entrepreneur and Fast Magazine is probably wrong. Those magazines are pornography for business starters. This is going to be damn hard work. Harder than you figured, by a factor of 5. You can’t go home at 5. Most people just give up, exhausted and spent. Burn-out within 15 months is common. You are going to feel a lot of pain, anxiety, fear, angst and dread. If you can’t deal with it, if you’re not tough enough, it’s all over. Flame out comes sometimes within a year, most often after the 2nd year. You are going to have to plan things out. Which means you better do your research. Most available research is rubbish. You have to dig, hard. The vast majority of business plans aren’t worth the paper they are on. Business starters have to understand the dynamics of their businesses, and the key elements to success. Nothing happens until something is sold. Having the perfect product but no sales is guaranteed failure. You must sell, sell, sell. Oh, and did I mention, sell? You have to understand the 5 factors that make any …

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How does a New Business get Customers?

How does a new business get traction, get known, get customers? The answer is it depends upon your business… each business has a “most effective” marketing strategy. No two businesses have exactly the same approach. What you are in need of is a marketing plan. What follows is just a broad overview of some elements of a good plan. How do you attract customers? That’s the key. First, you have to know who your customers are or will be? Who are your target markets? What things are on their minds? What are their problems? What do they pay attention to? What are their habits? Demographics. Psychographics. How does your product or service solve their problem or need? Exactly. For example, you might say your coffee shop satisfies their thirst for coffee. WRONG. Your coffee house provides a certain ambiance, a place to meet people, relax, and enjoy a respite from the demands of the world. Ah, it is a refuge. You provide stress relief! ( I’m just making this up as I go along, the idea is to get you to thinking beyond the simple and into the subliminal and inferential.) Now that you know, what, figure out HOW. How …

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Can a Small Business Win Against National Companies?

How can small business owners compete & win when they are up against national companies? Direct, head on product to product competition: you can’t. They will smash you like a bug. Indirect, guerrilla marketing, niche specialty, solving un-met demands, appealing to consumers’ unique needs and desires: you’ll run circles around them, but you’ll have to be agile and nimble because if you are too successful or visible they will adopt your successes and roll over on you. (squished bug analogy again) You have to be clever. You have to be resourceful. You have to out-think them and out maneuver them. You have to go where they aren’t, whether it be location, product, service or customer demographics or psychographics. You also have to be constantly evolving. The only way same-old-same-old works is where the big guys are not interested in going. Example: a small retail store in a resort destination. You must keep your customers close to you, know them, understand them and market to and with them. Successful small businesses often share one thing in common: they have enthusiastic customers.

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What happens to Expenses Incurred before Incorporation?

What happens when you incur expenses before you have incorporated your company? There are three basic types: organizational, startup, and operational. 1. The organization costs and start up costs. These are the costs of setting up and forming the corporation. They have to be capitalized, a certain portion of each can be deducted, the balance having to be amortized. See In basic terms, up to $ 5,000 of organization and $ 5,000 of start up costs can be deducted in the year incurred, the balance amortized over 15 years. If the amount of either type of costs exceeds $ 50,000, then the 1st year write-off is phased out, $1 for $1. At $ 55,000 of costs, the particular costs ( start up or organizational) are fully phased out and can only be amortized. 2. The operational costs of running a business which existed before incorporation. In other words, you and some friends or you by yourself start a company. It’s an unincorporated entity that has expenses of operation before you decide to incorporate. I think your question is, what do I do with these expenses that aren’t start up and aren’t organization expenses. Expenses which aren’t start-up expenses, which …

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What do I Need to Know about Finance and Accounting for my Startup?

Knowing a number of basic finance and accounting concepts is essential to the success of your startup. At the bare minimum, you need to understand basic bookkeeping and preparation of financial statements, even if you are going to hire an accountant (recommended). You also need to understand the basics of finance and financial markets, as they impact the economy. Without this knowledge of finance and accounting you are running your startup blind. So, as a bare minimum, you need to master a beginning accounting and business finance class at the college level. I would suggest a local community college. You should also take a course in basic taxation, because you need to understand that. To be effective in running a business, you need these skills: (1)basic bookkeeping (2) setting up and monitoring internal controls (3) banking and credit including the way credit works, how to balance your checking account, managing cash (4) payroll, and payroll tax compliance (5) Sales, GST and VAT tax compliance (6) the basics of income tax (7) cost accounting, to the degree necessary to figure out what your product/service costs are, your overhead, and your margin under varying circumstances (8) how to read a financial statement, …

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Should I Go All-In and Invest All my Savings into my Startup?

All in? Invest everything you have into your Start-Up? No reserves except credit cards? Throw caution to the wind, jump onto that boat and make it float? If it springs a leak, use credit (borrowings) to float it for a while, until it finally floats? Eventually, sail off into the sunset with the gentle wind at your back, the beautiful girl at your side. I like the idea. Reality might be something entirely different. Do you have a business plan? Have you thought out what can ( and probably will) go wrong? Have you figured out how your competition succeeds? Have you really done the research to know what your costs and risks are? Remember, you are about to put real money into this… A true story may clarify. I have a good friend who started a business. At first they did very well. He upped the ante and put all his cash into it. Then the recession hit, and he weathered the storm, but incurred over $ 90,000 of credit card debt to keep it afloat. Limped along for several very stressful years. End of the story is he got lucky and found someone to buy the business for …

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How do I find the Right CPA?

Finding the right CPA or the right accountant is really important. Important because the results depend upon who you get, and it’s an area where you, the client may not be aware of whether you got the best advice or not. There are a lot of stuffy accountants (CPAs) out there who have very high opinions of themselves. They talk about “the firm” and act like they are something special. They tend to be rigid, unimaginative, high priced and advocate for themselves. There are also a lot of very friendly nice guys who are not very competent. They talk a good spiel, but they have neither the resources nor the experience to handle your problem. So how do you find the right CPA? What are you looking for? Lets see: 1. A hard-bitten no nonsense negotiator who can deal with the IRS at their level, knows all the audit tricks, has been there many times, a street fighter. 2. A clever innovative thinker who knows all the ins and outs of the law, understands the difference between light gray and dark gray, wants to take you to the limit of tax savings, but without crossing the line. 3. A plugger, …

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How do I start a business with no experience?

How do you start a business with no experience? Maybe you haven’t worked in a job, other than maybe a temporary job in school. Becoming an entrepreneur, doing a start-up, and being successful is not as easy as it might be portrayed in Entrepreneur or Fast Company, or Inc magazines. They highlight the .1%, not the 95% who didn’t make it. My suggestion is that you shouldn’t start a business just yet, because you really need to have a lot more experience working for someone before you start your own business. Starting a business is hard. You have to know a lot about business, taxes, employees, marketing, organization, etc. Yes, you can learn a lot about these things at school, taking the appropriate courses, but as the saying goes, “in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice, there’s a big difference.” Truer words have never been spoken. Now a lot of people are going to jump all over me saying “you don’t need any experience, just do it! There are many examples of people who did exactly that and succeeded.” Right. And for every one of them, there are 100 you don’t hear about who tried …

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What Should You Know to Analyze a Financial Statement?

What do you need to know to analyze a financial statement? The answer is a little complicated. Here are the things you should know: A basic understanding of accounting. You need to be able to appreciate what the various components of a financial are, and where they come from. You need to understand the pitfalls of financial reporting, and the limitations of GAAP. A good understanding of the tools of financial analysis, how they are used and what they reveal. Things like ratios, trend lines, scatter charts, and the like are important tools, if you know how to use them. A good understanding of the industry. You need to know what is expected and what is unusual. Without some comparative information and background, your financial analysis of the company is in a vacuum, and probably meaningless. A good understanding of the business. If you don’t know anything about the business except what you see in the financial statements, you don’t know very much. When I read an annual report, I spend far more time reading the explanatory material than actually looking at the financials. I do a web search on the company, try to understand what their products are, their …

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