Launch Your Dreams!

Just about everyone has dreamt of one day being their own boss, owning their own business and doing what they love to do. Whether you love to cook and want to open your own restaurant or you have designers eye and would like to open a staging or design company. The only thing stopping you is YOU!

All great businesses start with an idea. However a great idea cannot be set into fruition without drive, motivation and perseverance. I know what you’re thinking; what about capital, cash, dollars, dough, funds, greenbacks, money, moo-la. Well, some capital maybe necessary depending on what type of business you’re launching. We will get into creative ways to get started with little or no capital as well as some ways to generate capital in other articles. Just remember that the most important capital in your business is you. If you’re driven, passionate and focused it will overflow to your partners, employees, colleagues, and so on.

So, what do you love to do? What are you passionate about? What do you have a lot of knowledge and experience in? What do people ask your advice for? Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20, years? What can you see yourself doing as an Entrepreneur? Think about these questions and create a business plan. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate one at first but consider it a roadmap and try to take all things into consideration. First and foremost, start up costs if applicable: rent/occupancy, website, payroll, taxes, utilities, phone, internet, equipment, inventory, supplies, loans, professional dues, insurance, advertising, gas/transportation, shipping etc… It’s no secret that many businesses fail in the first few years and in my view it’s mostly due to poor pre-planning. Some prospective entrepreneurs plan their vacations more thoroughly than they plan for their business. They plan for what if scenarios and have alternate plans prepared. The same approach should be applied when starting a business but it should be much more thorough. A good business plan is not only to help your banker understand your vision, which is critical to any financing request. It also helps you focus ideas and strategies, and measure their effectiveness down the road.

Make sure you do your due diligence, research what needs to be completed before you can conduct business legally and properly in your city / state or contact an online incorporation service that can prepare the proper documentation for you. Know your competition; you should know your competition better than they know themselves. This is going to go a long way in marketing your company as well as overall customer satisfaction. You might gather vital intelligence on what they’re doing during a slow economy and be better prepared to respond. If you plan and prepare more effectively than your competition, you could benefit if they can no longer meet their customers’ needs or keep them satisfied.

Know your customers, find out who any and all of your potential customers can be and plan or market accordingly. Customer relationships are everything in business and will keep you going when things get tough. In fact, the bonds of enduring relationships are forged in hard times, so here are three important steps to take: First, engage your customers in regular dialog on how an economic downturn is affecting them or their business, how they might respond when things slow down, and then be prepared to offer solutions. Second; provide unparalleled customer service. Being honest and responsive will help set you apart from your competitors. Last but not least; reward your best customers by adding value to the relationship, e.g., more lenient payment terms, employee or referral discounts, loyalty rewards. Plan for long-term success with longer term contracts (if applicable); ask your satisfied customers how you could increase the business you do with them. You might propose a discount to customers who agree to sign a long-term contract or who are willing to pay cash up front for contracted products or services. The notion of receiving cash up front is attractive because it feeds your cash flow and can make it easier to receive favorable financing from a bank. If you are willing to trade some income for some security, then both parties win.

If you’re a startup be prepared for what Bankers look for when you approach them for financing. As a startup, you must convince your banker by your Business Plan that your business will be successful. We will get into that in more detail in the next paragraph. Since your business is new, the bank will look closely at how you’ve repaid personal debts. Get a copy of your credit report. Address any problems up front. A bank doesn’t want to provide all the money to start your business. The amount you invest from your personal assets shows how confident you are in your ability to manage a profitable business. Collateral, the bank needs to have something with which to secure the loan. You can provide information on this in your financial statements. This will show assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. Show how you’ll repay the loan with a monthly cash flow projection. Include details about the assumptions you used. A Business plan will help the banker understand your vision, critical to your financing request. It also helps you focus ideas and strategies, and measure their effectiveness down the road. Last but not least; You should have experience and expertise to success in your industry. Prepare a professional resume or biography that demonstrates this.

As mentioned previously you must create your most valuable Document, Your Business Plan. You should know, Your Business Plan should not be created just to obtain a loan. The Business Plan should keep you focused, get your employees and partners engaged, and should be flexible so that you can make adjustments and modifications as things change. It can also determine whether you are ready to go into business. You may not think you need a business plan or just don’t understand why it is so important to have one. A sound business plan will help build your business, weather market fluctuations, manage sudden growth, and prepare for changing business conditions. It will help you manage your business better. Here are three reasons why:

First: Objectivity – You will be better able to identify areas of weakness and strength, identify needs you might otherwise overlook, find opportunities early, and starts planning to best achieve business goals.

Second: Efficient Management – If completed properly, the finished product will help you manage your business and work effectively toward its success. But only if you implement what you’ve written, and measure results against projections. Don’t put it in a file and forget about it. Lack of planning is why more than half of all new businesses fail in the first five years.

Third: State Your Vision – Your employees, investors, and lenders will understand your vision if you have a well written plan that provides the basis for your financing proposal. If your venture is marginal, the business plan will show you why, and help you steer clear of the high tuition of learning through business failure.

Every Business Plan should include: Cover Page, Overview, Business Description, Product/Service, The Market, Your Competition, Business Location, Management, Personnel, Intended use of Financing, Desired Results from Financing, Financial Data/Accounting System, Risk Analysis and Rationales for your projections.

Good Luck!