Business Plan Basics: 5 Steps to Your Best Business Plan
1 April

Business Plan Basics: 5 Steps to Your Best Business Plan

When starting your own business, there’s one detail all successful business owners can attest to: create a solid business plan. While this may not be groundbreaking news, your business plan is a crucial step and needs to be taken seriously.

A solid business plan will help you with more than investment pitches (though that is a critical point for most). It will also help you outline everything you’ll need to be successful and will illuminate any potential problem areas.

Creating the detailed plan can be a tedious task but avoid being tempted to rush through it. This piece will be the backbone of all your future business’s endeavors; approach it with commitment.

With your future success riding on a solid business plan, prep work is imperative. To help make this happen, here are 5 steps to your best business plan:

1 – Create a Space

You might be ready to dive into writing, but the very first step should be to create a space. Before you begin your plan, you must make sure you’re prepared to work!

Whether it be a home office, a co-working office space, or an on-site building, you need to have a location that is specifically for working on your future business. Why? Not only does an office space give you a chance to work undistracted, it reaffirms your commitment to future endeavors. By designating a work space for yourself, you’ll be able to cut down on distractions, focus on your commitment to your future success, and get down to business.

2 – Do Your Research

Once you’ve created your working space, it’s time to begin researching. Since a bulk of your business plan will revolve around outlining your intentions, you need to be able to back up your words with action. Research similar businesses, speak with local business owners for tips, and use your research to formulate your intended actions.

3 – Do More Research

When it comes to a business plan, knowledge is key. The more you research, the higher your chances of success. It’s not enough to simply have a dream – you need to be able to make it a reality. You do this by fleshing out an outline of your path. You’ll need to know your market, competitive pricing, thoroughly define what you’re offering and how you’ll stand out from competition.

4 – Business Plan Outline

After you’ve begun your research, create a basic outline of your business plan. You shouldn’t begin writing it entirely, but create a skeleton outline of what to expect. For some, this can come in the form of a generic business plan template. An online search will help you locate one if you’re having trouble and want a basic template for reference. This outline will help you to organize your research and understand what’s needed before beginning your polished plan.

5 – Keep Focused

Lastly, while you want to make sure you have a fantastic business plan to present to potential investors or partners, do not let your determination be swayed by perfection. In other words, no matter how many times you review your plan, know that you’ll likely always find something to tweak, but don’t let that cause you to lose sight of your goals and miss your opportunities. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be detailed and concise. Stay focused.

“Don’t wait until you think your business plan is perfectly polished and cannot possibly go any further in depth. Otherwise, chances are you will have missed your window of opportunity…” Forbes.com.

Overall, the most important rule to remember when creating a successful business plan is to do thorough research and keep plugging away at it until it’s finished. It all begins with your preparation, so get yourself prepared for success!

7 February

Marketing 101: 5 Essential Steps for Jersey City Small Businesses

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Marketing for small businesses may seem like an endless and confusing concept, but there are some basics that can help simplify the process for anyone. In fact, if the idea of marketing your brand or product has you believing you should leave it to the professionals, rest assured, it’s not as complicated as it seems.

Many small business owners simply don’t know the basics of getting their brand out there and are lost as a result. By learning just a few fundamental steps, your small business can boost sales and generate buzz with the best of them. Sound too good to be true? It’s really not. Optimizing the marketing tricks of the trade for your business boils down to a few key components:

1. Know Who You’re Targeting

For starters, the most important aspect of business marketing is understanding who makes up your client base. In other words, your “Target Audience.” Is your product or service focused on a local audience or is it a national or global product? What generational group (Boomers? Millennials?) is most involved with your product or service? Knowing who you’re going to be targeting is the first step and shouldn’t be too difficult to pin down. Chances are, you already know your target audience.

2. Create a Platform to be Seen

So, you know your target audience – now what? Now you need to be seen (and heard). A good marketing 101 rule to keep in mind: “people need to hear or see your message at least seven times before taking any action” (Forbes.com). How are they going to see your message? Set up a website. Create social media pages (Facebook is a great place to start if you’re not familiar). Register with local organizations (set up at community events, register with local groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, etc.). These are all essential to being seen.

3. Run Specials and Promotions

Once you have established an online presence and set up local connections to your community, this is when the marketing fun begins. You can grow your online audiences (and convert them to physical customers and clients) by running promotions, sales, special events or any other form of meet and greet that entices potential customers to check out your business. Try running “Like and Share” contests on Facebook which ask users to like and share your posts for a chance to win a free service or product. Doing this will help expand your presence both online and in the community by generating buzz and giving way to a greater audience for future promotions. (Remember the rule of 7!)

4. Utilize “Brand Ambassadors” (i.e., Family and Friends)

Another great (and simple) way to spread the word about your business for a minimal cost is word-of-mouth. Having family and friends lend a hand with your networking and marketing efforts can be a fantastic resource. Forbes suggests having t-shirts and swag created with your company logo to hand out at any opportunity, but there are endless ways you could utilize swag to create buzz. Family and friends wearing your company logo on a t-shirt all over town can boost interest as well as other items you can hand out during events (think pens, small notepads, portable chargers, coffee mugs, etc.).

5. Be Consistently Present

We can’t stress this part enough: an online presence can make or break businesses in all genres today. No matter what your target audience looks like, the vast majority of the world’s population will first turn to the web when researching any form of service or product nowadays. You need to ensure they can find exactly what they’re looking for (you!). This is done by continually updating your online presence with new promotions, new ads, new photos, new ratings and anything else that will begin to build once you’re out there.

As a general rule, the best way to build your brand is to network and be seen. Add your presence on any and all relevant platforms (local events to websites and social media) and utilize your family and friends to help spread the word too. Remember, customers will be looking online for what they need, so make sure your business is seen and give them a reason to choose you! That’s marketing in a nutshell, folks.