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Writing a Marketing Plan

Writing a marketing plan is usually the most fun portion of developing a new business and writing a complete business plan. One of the nice things about writing a marketing plan is that it is not overly technical in nature given that you’re discussing the ways in which will target your potential customers. Foremost, it is imperative that the entrepreneur develop a expansive demographic profile that showcases the exact customers – whether business or individuals – it will be targeted via the company’s marketing campaigns. As it relates to individuals that are targeted, common characteristics including median household income, median family income, age range, gender, profession, and psychographics are included in this analysis. It is very important that the marketing plan provide a laser focus on the individuals that will be targeted given that marketing is a very expensive proposition and it is imperative that a new business has a clear sight of who they want as their initial customer base. Of course, if individuals are targeted outside of that demographic base that is great however it is very important that the marketing budget is properly allocated towards specific demographic profiles. If the company is a business to business provider then expensive demographics need to be provided regarding the types of companies will be targeted for the company’s products and services. This includes an overview of the anticipated annual revenues, annual profits, industries operate within, and how much these businesses will spend with the company any given year. These demographics at times can be extremely broad, but it is again important to focus specifically on the customers that are most likely to enroll or purchase the company’s products and services.

Given the number of channels in which marketing and advertising can be carried out these days – it is important to develop a number of different sections of the marketing plan to focus not only in traditional marketing, print marketing, as well as online marketing. Online marketing is of the special importance these days as most people now find product and service providers via the Internet on their desktops and mobile devices. One of the ways that many new businesses will often develop a customer base is by establishing a large social media presence. This includes maintaining profiles on networks such as FaceBook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and third-party platforms such as Yelp.com and Reddit.com.

Given that these are low-cost ways to reach an audience, many new entrepreneurs have found that this can provide a expansive return on investment as it relates to each marketing dollar spent. Of course, these platforms are highly competitive for an individual’s attention. As such, many firms will make the decision to hire a social media consultant or similar marketing firm that can assist in guiding them with how to properly carry out a social media marketing campaign. It should be noted that the cost of advertising on social media is increasing given the ability to highly target companies and individuals on these platforms. As such, a cohesive marketing plan that focuses specifically on social marketing should be one of the major components of the overall marketing plan.

Other ways that businesses advertise via the Internet is through the use of pay per click (“PPC”) marketing. This allows individuals to have their websites showcased immediately on the first page of search results given that they are sponsor advertisements. This can be an extremely expensive form of marketing given that a fee anywhere from ten cents all the way to $20 can be charged each time a person goes to a website. Given this high expense, a very specific focus needs to be implemented so that only the most proper demographics are targeted when engaging in a PPC advertising campaign. It should be noted that there are a number of different firms out there that can assist with developing the keywords and target audience specific to the company. These companies typically charge a monthly fee ranging anywhere from $200 all the way to $2,000 depending on the scope and scale of the pay per click marketing campaign. However, usage of this type of marketing on Google, Bing, and Yahoo is generally pretty straightforward. As such, the few hours work – most entrepreneurs are able to develop their initial paper click marketing campaigns on her own. These search engines also have a number of experts on staff that can work closely with the entrepreneur in order to get this operation up and running.

Beyond pay-per-click marketing, many firms will seek to use search engine optimization so that the pages can be found in natural search results over time. This is an expensive proposition and the results can take upwards of eight months to a year before the business sees a return on this type of marketing investment. Search engine optimization is generally considered to be a long-term marketing strategy for most new businesses. There are a number of companies out there that can render the service to a company, but they are expensive and again they do take a significant amount of time for the results to take hold. Generally, a search engine optimization firm will charge a fee ranging anywhere from $100 all the way to $20,000 a month depending on what needs to be done in order to have a website found organically through search engine results. This is usually one of the last types of marketing that a new business carries out given that they want to generate him immediately through the use of pay-per-click advertising and social media campaigns.

Print advertising and television advertising is also extremely popular still. Although the rates of these types of advertisements have declined, they can still be an outstanding source of marketing for any new business. Print advertising and television advertising usually carries more weight for consumers as people put a greater level of trust in a televised advertisement rather than an online advertisement. One of the nice things about developing a television advertisement is that it can be concurrently run on other platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo.com, and other platforms that allow for the sharing of online videos. As such, many television commercials that can be run cost-effectively on cable TV networks can concurrently produce a significant amount of interest the online channels as well. The cost of developing a small commercial advertisement that is appropriate for cable television or online marketing typically is about $2000 to $5000 depending on the videography company used. Extremely high quality videos typically run anywhere from $10,000 all the way to $50,000 depending on the production value of the commercial.

Print advertising is usually one of the ways that most local businesses promote their companies to the general public. The use of flyers, advertisements in local newspapers, advertisements in local circulars, and related print advertising activities typically are low-cost form of marketing that can potentially rates reach tens of thousand households on a monthly basis. However, the return on investment for print advertising is typically in the lower end of things given that the very large amount of mail is sent out to a broad base of demographics. These types of advertisements remain popular with service-based businesses including contractors, restaurants, and highly local retailers. Print advertising is going by the way when someone as more and more newspapers go online and as less mailers are sent out on a yearly basis.

In closing, having a well-defined marketing plan can be a make or break for most businesses given that there can be no customers if people are unaware of the business and what it provides. As such, it is important that the entrepreneur take a significant amount of time when developing the marketing campaign so that they have a complete understanding of who their customers, how they will reach them, and the cost of acquiring each new customer.

Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan is a very difficult process for most people. This is primarily due to the fact that an individual entrepreneur always has a number of very good ideas in their head, but often has trouble putting together the documentation that clearly expresses their vision to a third party. Most importantly, many business plans are written specifically for raising capital. As such, entrepreneurs are looking to put their best foot forward as it relates to showcasing with their business intends on doing, how much capital they need, where the business will be over a five-year period, and other information relating to the day-to-day operations of the company.

One of the things that most people have the most trouble with is developing the financial model. It is no secret that forecasting with the potential revenues of a business can be can be excruciatingly difficult given that it is very much uncertain. Even for small businesses that are able to examine a retail space – the revenues and profits can difficult to estimate. In some cases, entrepreneurs have either been spot on were drastically off as it relates to their anticipated revenues. In most cases, it is very prudent and conservative to underestimate what the expected revenues will be while concurrently overestimating with the expenses. One of the common mistakes that many entrepreneurs make when developing a business plan is at the drastically undercut with their ongoing expenses. This is especially true as it relates to salary and ongoing operating costs.

It is important that an entrepreneur that is developing a business plan for a new venture understand with their personal month-to-month capital needs are as it relates to their living expenses. This needs to be heavily factored in into the business plan and the financial model so that an entrepreneur can focus on growing and developing the business rather than making their month-to-month salary needs. Generally, it is wise to seek an amount of capital that will allow the entrepreneur to develop the business over a 12 month to 18 month timeframe. It usually takes most businesses one year or more to reach profitability. As such, this needs to be factored in as it relates to the start up cost as well as the profit and loss statement.

One of the other more difficult challenges in developing a business plan for a new or expanding venture is sourcing the industry information. If you go on the Internet there are literally thousands of sources that focus on providing industry research, local market research, and related information to the general public. As such, it can be difficult to discern which information is credible and what is not. Most importantly, when sourcing information from a private research source this organization should have an extensive amount of usage as it relates to NAICS and SIC codes. The United States government maintains extensive databases of the amount of revenues that are generated for any given industry. As such, this can be an excellent place to start if an entrepreneur that is developing a business plan is stuck trying to source the industry research. One of the nice things about using these research sources that they are completely free and open to the general public. There are times when purchasing a private market research report is important given that the government simply maintains an overview of the number of people operating with any field as well as the amount of revenues that are generated on a yearly basis. More in-depth research regarding industry trends, market trends, and other relevant information can typically be sourced from a private company.

As it relates to the actual writing of the business plan this is something else that many entrepreneurs go with given that they are not good writers. In many instances they will turn to hiring a professional business plan writer in order to ensure that their vision is encapsulated in a document appropriately. This is always a smart move, and as the owner of this business we develop a number of business plans on the customized basis. This is primarily due to the fact that the entrepreneur were struggling with writing their business plan and then turn for professional advice. This website also has a number of templates that will give an entrepreneur a running head start as it relates to the development of their profit producing project.

While it may seem daunting, writing a business plan is not as difficult as it seems. Although it can usually take anywhere from 40 hours to 100 hours to produce a highly polished document – the effort is worth it given that it will provide the entrepreneur with a clear understanding of what they can expect in terms of revenues, profits, and as a guide for business over a three-year to five year period so that they can follow the plan exactly as needed.

Using a CPA

A certified public accountant (“CPA”) can quickly become your best friend as it relates to starting and expanding a new business venture. Any business, regardless of its size, is required to fill out a number of forms each year that are specific for tax reporting, as well as general accounting. This includes tax returns, employee withholding income tax returns, sales tax returns, use tax returns, and other documents that are frequently requested by municipal governments, state governments, as well as the federal government.

These forms are extremely complicated and only someone who is qualified as an accountant can assist you in determining which reporting agencies you must submit documentation to on an ongoing basis. The penalties and fines for missing these types of deadlines can be substantial. As such, having a qualified certified public accountant ensures that your business will remain within the letter of the law at all times especially as it relates to tax filings.

One of the common debates within the United States as it relates to ongoing government issues is tax reporting. Many people within the state legislatures as well as the federal government want to see simplified tax forms available given that it is a substantial administrative burden on all businesses. Most small business owners do struggle with having to spend a substantial amount of time filling out these forms and providing the necessary information to government agencies. A certified public accountant can be a major expense for any business, but they can also be an invaluable resource as it relates to making sure that these forms are filled out and submitted correctly and in a timely manner.

A certified public accountant can also assist as a relates to acting in a consulting capacity with your business. These individuals typically work with hundreds of small business clients and they can provide substantial insights in as to how your business can grow and expand. This is especially true for raising capital given that most certified public accountants work very closely with you when a bank or financial institution requires ongoing tax forms, profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and personal financial statements. Most certified public accountants operate in a dual capacity by not only providing outstanding advice relating to taxes but also as a small business advisor.

Many small businesses will quickly work with smaller CPA firms given their personal nature. As it relates to the cost of working with a certified public accountant, you can expect that a tax return for a corporation run anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per year. Depending on the complexity these fees may be higher or lower but for a standard size small business typically this is the normal range. Most of these accounts also have a billable hour rate of $150 to $250 depending on their expertise. However, it is somewhat unusual for certified public accountants to generate a substantial amount of the revenues from billable hour services.

During any type of tax dispute, a certified public accountant can also be an important resource given that they can often represent you as it relates to state government taxing agencies as well as the federal government. This type of dispute can be highly nerve-racking and a qualified CPA can ensure that this goes as smoothly as possible for you.

In closing, a certified public accountant is a great resource for any business that is looking to start or expand.

The Sections of a Business Plan

Business plans are complex documents that usually have anywhere from seven chapters to nine chapters of information that are presented to a potential business partner, funding source, or a related entity that is going to be reviewing a business. This article is going to focus on the varying chapters of the business plan and certain points about how they should be developed so that the business can be clearly understood by the reader of the document.

First, every business plan starts with an executive summary. In this portion of the business plan and overview of how much money is looking to be raised or the nature of the business plan is provided. Beyond that there should also be a discussion regarding what products and services offered by the business, how much capital is being raised if any, a brief overview of the anticipated profit and loss statement of the business over a three year to five year period, and an overview of the management team. Usually, a well-written executive summary runs about two pages to three pages in length. This is the most important section of the business plan given that many readers will go through the section and depending on what they see will continue to go through the rest of the business plan. In fact, the way that most people read a business plan is that they first start with the executive summary, flip to the financial section, and then read through the rest of the document once they see the potential growth of the business. An executive summary should focus modestly on the products and services being offered unless this is a business that offers a highly unique and patented piece of technology or related product.

The second section of the business plan should discuss the amount of money that is being raised by an entrepreneur. Here, many business plan writing firms will insert a table that clearly showcases the usage of the funds being sought. This section of the analysis also provides preliminary terms as it relates to the amount of the business being sold in exchange for the capital, the management teams equity positions, who sits on the board of directors, and the potential exit strategies that can be used by the business. Most importantly, the exit strategies should be reasonable in length and should discuss with the potential value of the business would be over a three-year to five-year period. Some businesses will side to take a ten year approach to this, however – usually a five-year valuation overview is sufficient as it relates to varying exit strategies.

The third section of the business plan often encapsulates H the products and services that are being offered by the business. Usually, this section shouldn’t range anywhere from one page to three pages depending on the number and types of services being offered with the products being sold. For proprietary products this section can include images of prototypes and schematics for the actual production.

The fourth section of the business plan usually discusses the overview of the organization as it relates to its corporate structure. Common corporate structures that are used for these types of for profit making entities include limited liability companies, corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, limited liability partnerships, and related corporate entities in order to carry out business operations. As always, if an entrepreneur is determining what type of entity to use than it would be in their best interest to speak to a business attorney or a certified public accountant as to what types of corporate entities are appropriate given the backgrounds of the management team, investors, and the nature business operations. This section of the business plan often discusses the mission statement and vision statements of the business as well is well as any organizational values and objectives.

Fifth, this section should outline the industry research, economic overview, customer profile, and competitive issues that the business will face on a day-to-day basis. For many people, this is the most difficult part of the business plan to write as a number of reports and information must be sourced in order to complete the section. This is especially true as it reads relates to local and regional demographic profiles of individuals that are going to be the customers of the business. However, as it relates to industry research a substantial portion of this information can be found online through both private and publicly available information sources.

The sixth section of the business plan often focuses on the competitive advantages that the business will have over other market agents. This section usually lasts about one page and is usually in a bullet point format showcasing why people will use this service over other competitors in the industry. One of the things is also frequently included in this section is an overview of the ways of the business will grow over the first five years of operation.

The seventh section of the business plan discusses marketing. Here, organizational objectives as it relates to increasing the brand-name visibility of the business can be provided in-depth. A three page to four page overview of the different marketing strategies that will be used should be included as well and this should discuss print advertising, social media management, online sales operations, and the relationships of the business were developed with potential customers over a significant time frame. This is usually one of the easier sections of the business plan to write given that the owner typically has a number of ideas that allows the business to easily reach its potential customer base very quickly. In some cases, an entrepreneur that is developing a business plan will also have the section of the document overview the pricing for any products and services that are being sold.

The eighth section of the business plan should include a discussion regarding the personnel and employees of the business. Here, an organizational chart is provided to showcase the varying hierarchies of management within the organization. A table showcasing the employee headcount, payroll per employee, and total payroll expenses should be included here as well. In some cases, an entrepreneur will also provide extensive job titles and job descriptions within the section so that the reader understands exactly who is being employed and what their role will be within the organization or corporation.

The ninth section of the business plan is the financial model. As has been discussed at this website thoroughly, the financial model is usually the most difficult section of the business plan for most entrepreneurs to create given that pro forma financial models are forward-looking. This financial plan should include a three-year profit and loss statement, common size income statement, cash flow analysis, balance sheet, breakeven analysis, and business ratios page. General assumptions regarding the growth of the business as well as underlying information regarding federal tax, estate tax, and personnel taxes should be included within this section of the document as well.

Once the nine chapters are complete usually many business plan writers will include 3 to 4 appendices that showcase where the information for the business plan came from and other relevant statistics. Usually, the first appendix is the SWOT analysis. Here, there is a focus on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are normally faced by any organization. This portion of the document is about 1 to 2 pages in length and is done in a bullet point format.

The second appendix is usually the critical risks and issues page. It is naïve to think that every business is going to run smoothly at all times. As such, many entrepreneurs take to developing this section of the business plan so that the reader understands that the individual comprehends that there will be ongoing issues and problems that must be dealt with on a day-to-day basis. In this section of the document there is also a risk scoring table that discusses any of the issues on a points based system so that these more important matters can be dealt with as a priority.

The third appendix usually focuses on the reference sources that were used in the business plan. This includes appropriate citations and other information that should be included.

The last appendix of the business plan is usually the expanded profit and loss and cash flow statements. Generally, most business plans provide for month-to-month profit and loss and cash flow analysis statements while the remaining years are done on a quarterly basis. For an entrepreneur or business person that is looking to raise capital this is imperative given that most financial institutions want to see a month-to-month and quarterly financial statements is a standard yearly profit and loss is showcased within the business plan.

Overall, a well written business plan will contain all of those elements in one way or another. Usually, if all these elements are included within a business plan appropriately the length of the document usually ranges anywhere from 35 pages to 45 pages. However, there may be times where it is appropriate to have a shorter business plan or longer business plan depending on need. The key is not to make it too short for any longer than it has to be.

SBA Loan Overview

A small business administration loan can aggressively assist a new entrepreneur or an established business owner with expanding or developing their operations. The SBA was founded to provide loans to smaller businesses given that many banks have in the past reluctantly shied away from providing large amounts of credit to small business owners. This is primarily due to the fact that small businesses do carry a significant amount of startup risk and operating risk. As such, the government created the small business administration in 1953 with the intent to provide guarantees to individual borrowers so that a bank would feel far more comfortable providing capital to them. Most financial institutions love SBA loans given that approximately 80% to 90% of the total amount of principal is guaranteed by the federal government. As such, banks are able to generate a extremely high return on their investment as it relates to the capital was at that is at risk. Generally, most SBA loans carry a premium of two to five points over the prime rate. If there is a tremendous amount of collateral involved in the loan rate is typically two points over prime. One of the most important things as it relates to obtaining an SBA loan is that a properly developed business plan is going to be required. In almost all instances, lending banks require that a three-year financial statement is provided. This financial statement needs to include a cop and loss statement, cash flow analysis, balance sheet, breakeven analysis, and business ratios page.

Small business administration also requires that a complete demographic and competitive analysis is submitted as part of the overall loan application. One of the important things as it relates to developing a SBA loan package is that the owner is going to need to not only develop a comprehensive business plan but is also going to provide comprehensive financial statements as it relates to total assets, total liabilities, income in each of the last two years, and the anticipated revenues and profits generated by the business during the three-year period. This is one of the things that many entrepreneurs struggled to develop given that it is very hard to determine what the anticipated revenues and profits of the business are going to be when it is done on a pro forma basis. One of the ways that this issue can be remedied is that a business plan writing firm can be hired to assist the owner with the developing the documentation that is going to be required by the bank.

SBA loans are going to continue to increase in popularity over the next 10 years given that more people have turned to entrepreneurship rather than working for another individual. The Congress and federal government have worked to ensure that these loans can be provided quickly and with. One of the things that is interesting that has been developed over the past 10 years is the SBA express program which allows for much more streamlined lending protocol for companies that are seeking $100,000 or less. If these types of financial instruments are completely appropriate for individuals such as freelancers, attorneys, people starting small retail locations, and service-based businesses that do not need a substantial number of assets to commence revenue-generating operations. A CPA can be consulted in order to have a good understanding of what loans may be appropriate for any specific financial situation.

Prior to submitting a package to the SBA lending bank, a CPA should review all documentation including prior tax returns to make sure that they are accurate. The SBA typically takes about 60 days to 90 days to render their decision as it relates to issuing a guarantee for the business. Once this guarantee is acquired and then the individual can take it to any number of SBA enrolled lending banks in order to obtain a business loan. These financial institutions may require additional documentation beyond what was requested by the small business administration. As such, it is important to have all of your financial matters in order so that if there are additional requests for information they can be fulfilled very quickly. Generally, from start to finish it takes about three months to four months to acquire a SBA loan for a new business or for expansion purposes. These financial instruments are also available for individuals who are purchasing existing businesses.

Banks and the small business administration love to lend to individuals that are looking to acquire an existing business given that the risks related to a startup are eliminated. In the event that an entrepreneur requires a company they’re going to required to submit tax returns as well as a business plan. Beyond these two documents, full tax returns for each of the last three years for the company that is being acquired needs to be provided as well. The owner of the business that is being sold should furnish either the entrepreneur or the business broker with all necessary documentation so that an SBA guarantee can be acquired quickly once all other documentation has been produced.

The small business administration has developed very good programs that actively assist entrepreneurs with launching new business operations. They will remain as one of the mainstay government departments that assists with entrepreneurship and the development of small business and employment within the United States. Although control of Congress and the presidency changes hands quite frequently – almost all politicians are committed to the continued advancement of small businesses given that they create jobs in local communities.