BUSINESS PLAN CONSULTANT
YOUR BUSINESS PLAN: IT IS A PROCESS
All companies, whether it is a business enterprise, professional practice or non-profit organization, will be required to have at least one business plan during its business lifetime.
A business plan is your blueprint for creating a new business or expanding an existing business. Just as one cannot build a solid, sustainable structure without a blueprint, an entrepreneur should never build a new business or grow an existing business without a good business plan. The absence of a business is the statistical likelihood that the business will either be a hobby business or be closed for good within 24 months.
When faced with preparing their own business plan, most people are uncomfortable with their writing skills. When meeting prospective entrepreneurs for the first time during our initial consultation to discuss the business plan process, we have been provided with penciled drawings on napkins, pages and pages of handwritten notes in a spiral notebook, and sometimes folded up sheets of paper with handwritten thoughts. This is what creativity looks like, which is the first stage of the business plan process!
Some, simply don’t have the time or patience to do the research, go to the library and acquire the necessary demographics, industry trends, or work on excel spreadsheets to figure out possible revenue figures or anticipated business expenses.
Others who purchase a business plan template or use a business plan writing software program, find that these resources lack the specific details that are expected by investors, lenders, and government agencies who may be working with you.
As your business plan consultant, the process begins by listening to you as you describe goals, vision and purpose. Our role as your mentor is to give you guidance, ask difficult questions, point out vulnerabilities and risks, as well as to document specific details about your business. While the business plan is a document, it is the process that is most valuable to those clients who are starting a new business.
Depending on it’s purpose, a business plan that is prepared to acquire a loan or government support will contain a heavy financial component, including profit and loss statement, three to five year sales projections, break-even point, business start-up costs, and statement of net worth. Depending on the scope of your business, a feasibility study may be required, environmental impact study, and presentations to local town boards and other agencies may be necessary.
As your business plan consultant, your business plan will:
ASSURE the lender that there is a need for your business, service or product, and that you have the necessary experience and resources to keep it financially sustainable.
DEMONSTRATE that your business can repay the loan or line-of-credit in full and on time.
SPECIFY details about you as the borrower, such as your attitude about financial responsibility, credit history, determination to succeed, ability to align yourself with key people to help you, your proven degree of self-discipline, as well as the collateral that is being used to back the loan in the event of non-payment.
EDUCATE the reader about your industry, market trends, who your market is, why you think there is a need for your business or service.
INFORM the reader of about experience and resources, what monies from your own pocket that you have already put into the business.
BE MORE THAN JUST A BUSINESS OWNER.
BECOME A PRINCIPLED LEADER
As your business plan consultant, we believe that to have a successful company, it begins by having a blueprint of how you will build your business. Owning or managing a successful business also requires you to possess certain qualities, knowledge and mastery of certain skills.
Your company has to be better than your competition.
You will be faced with setbacks and disappointments.
You will be forced to address multiple problems.
You will be required to juggle numerous responsibilities without making devastating mistakes
You will have people look to you to handle matters with integrity, honor and respect.
Your clients, and most of all, your employees expect from you: maturity, kindness, patience, wisdom, good judgment and consistency; always.
You have a choice between two ways of being a leader: leading by force and leading by power:
Leading by force is a way that embodies fear and intimidation.
Leading by power is a way that embodies inspiration and principles.
Leading by power is a form of leadership that Dr. Stephen Covey describes as “principled leadership,” As your consultant, ADDENDA espouses principled leadership in everything we do. So, as we proceed with describing the following ways in which we help you grow your company to the next level of success, we are also coaching you on how to be great leader, one that your peers, employees, customers and community will respect.
Defining your leadership qualities, sense of organization and ability to motivate others to work for you, buy from you, trust you is among the many outcomes of the business plan process. Our clients understand full well that the business plan is much more than a document of words, figures and numbers; it is the process by which the entrepreneur is tested to see whether he or she has the gumption to achieve true success.
PREPARE A 90 DAY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PLAN
This is not to be confused with a marketing plan or advertising campaign. Rather, a business development plan is a blueprint of who, what, where, when, why and how new or repeat sales will be attained.
As your business plan consultant, we help you clearly define what it means to “bring in more business” or to “get the phones to start ringing again.” This begins by defining who your ideal client is and where your ideal client is located. Discussion will occur about what has worked or failed in your previous efforts, how you will make initial contact and what the “call-to-action” is going to be. Efforts need to be measured, so that if a particular strategy is ineffective, we can adjust and try a different approach.
We have career sales people who have reached a plateau in their sales results, or have fallen into slump in their sales efforts. A few are just burned out. Our job is to get you jazzed up, with a structured plan, daily goals, presentation tools and well-rehearsed script and a road map as to how to get there. We will work on sales skills, do role plays, practice and, if applicable, even do presentations with you.
As your business plan consultant, our role is to help you put the V8 Juice back into your veins and help you set a course of action and direction that gets you the results you need to have. For those who are new to sales, we have even been known to go out on field calls with the salesperson and coach, mentor, work one-on-one to help develop skills, learn some tips and tricks, and most of all, build-up self-confidence, similar to what a Sales Manager would do if you worked for a large corporation.
Many of us envision becoming a successful entrepreneur. Others dream of becoming a wealthy, highly sought lawyer, or an affluent accountant. Others seek the position of CEO of a prestigious Fortune 50 corporation. Regardless of our goal, we prepare by earning our degrees, working up the ladder and meeting key people to help us advance to the next position of leadership.
However, there seems to be very little time, effort or commitment to actually develop our inner-selves. Yet, it is only when we become aware, disciplined and committed to living a principled life that we become a great parent, an exceptional teacher, an inspiring leader. True leadership is not one that is driven by our egos, by making a lot of money, or satisfying a need for power and control over others. Rather, it’s about leading by certain principles that inspires people to want to follow you.
ADDENDA incorporates the principles defined by Dr. Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, when we are coaching or mentoring entrepreneurs, professionals and managers. The key to a successful company begins with principled leadership that is grounded in putting the needs of others before one’s own.
Simon Sinek recently wrote a book about characteristics of a great leader. He points out that extraordinary leaders stand at the back of the line. This is to ensure that the needs of his/her soldiers, staff, employees are met first. In turn, his/her soldiers, staff or employees always take care of their leader.
As your business plan consultant, we embody leadership principles, such as these while working with you.
MENTOR NEW ENTREPRENEURS
We enjoy working with new entrepreneurs who come to us with fresh ideas, excitement and their “can do” attitude. As your business consultant, the process begins with a thorough worksheet that serves to ask more “why” and “how” questions, that most times, entrepreneurs have not yet thought about.
As your business consultant, you will receive guidance, as you transform your vision into concrete specifics and details. You will have resources and learn things you need to know about, such as the various ways to structure your company, tax matters, employment mandates, insurance requirements, setting up your bookkeeping, payroll, computers and software, competition, pricing, goals, timelines and milestones. As consultants, we:
coach you as to how to communicate more effectively
educate you about financial, tax and legal matters
help you realize certain realities, obstacles and opportunities
identify solutions to those obstacles or problems as they occur
MINORITY-WOMEN BUSINESS ENTERPRISE CERTIFICATION (MWBE) – and U.S.A. VETERANS
Did you know that there is legislation that mandates State and Federal Government agencies, as well as corporations to allocate a specific minimum percentage of their outsourcing to outside consultants who are minorities or women? To qualify for government procurement bids in New York, there is a program for certified women and minority-owned entrepreneurs. As your business plan consultant, we can help you get your existing business up to compliance, as well as assist you with the application process. To be eligible, you must be a minority with 51% or more shareholder ownership, and to have been operating for a least two years.
There are also franchises who cater specifically to U.S.A. Veteran’s who want to start or own a business. Many of these franchises heavily discount their franchise fees if you are a United States veteran. The process begins by calling us to begin your business plan process, which is determining what kind of business you want to own.
Again, the business plan process sets the stage for the new entrepreneur to build confidence as he or she begins a new chapter in his or her life.
Lawyers graduating from law school seek out business plan consultants to help them get their new law practice off the ground. In law school, they learned about practicing law. Now that they have passed the bar exam and have their license to practice, they know little about how to open and operate a successful law practice. We use the business plan process to educate, mentor, assist and guide the new professional into the world working for themselves.
In fact, many professionals, whether they are lawyers, engineers, dentists, veterinarians, accountants, financial planners, real estate agents or health care professionals, such as chiropractors, or partners of a medical clinic, are great at what they do. However, they often are short in the self-confidence needed to manage a business. They describe themselves as not being “business savvy.”
We have often been asked, “Can I just hire you to run my business?” Our answer is, yes!
Executives from non-profit organizations, government agencies and large corporations come to us for confidential coaching in business management practices. In these instances, we apply the same business planning and leadership development principles in the context of their workplace environment. We have even provided counseling to those who wanted a career change or a chance to create a “professional and personal life plan.”
COUNSEL SEASONED ENTREPRENEURS
Entrepreneurs come to us for consultation, coaching on interpersonal skills, communication skills, or leadership development. Supervisors come to us for advice about how to handle a difficult employee. Professionals ask us to help them address highly sensitive situations at work, or to help them with a private personal matter that they dare not talk with colleagues or family about.
Sometimes the client has fear of retaliation or severe consequences if the matter is not handled appropriately. We’ve even had professionals ask us about how to handle highly sensitive and private matters that they just can’t divulge to anyone else. As your business consultant, it is about helping you address those matters that hold you back and your company back.
Succession planning and retirement planning has been a growing trend. In this case, a well-seasoned entrepreneur or licensed professional is in their 50’s, has built equity in their company, and now wants to begin identifying someone to come in and be mentored into eventually buying into the practice. This form of planning requires considerable thought and planning. If the plan is not executed properly, it could actually be detrimental to the business or professional practice. Not all consultants know how to do this properly.
MEDIATE FAMILY BUSINESS OWNERS
Family farms, multi-generational grocery stores, family-run law firms and investment firms, restaurants, and specialty retailers are in nearly every community. While it often appears to be amicable and charming in the eyes of the public, seldom are there scenarios whereby the family members are truly getting along. A more common scenario is when mom and dad are ready to retire and decide to pass the family business on to their child or children. Mediation is the perfect venue to facilitate discussions.
MEDIATE PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS
Time and time again, an entrepreneur has a great idea, talks with a friend or colleague about it, invites the person to become a partner and the two proceed with vigor and enthusiasm. However, nothing is written and there is no formal document that memorializes their intentions, expectations, roles, promises or contributions, including “sweat equity.” There is no protection or safeguard in the event that matters between them go awry.
Before anyone initiates the first business transaction, all mutual expectations of each party needs to be negotiated. Ideally, a neutral mediator will facilitate the discussions, explore ideas and possibilities, negotiate an agreement and then memorialize their terms in a document called a Memorandum of Understanding. It’s relatively easy, very inexpensive and generally takes a few hours.
We have seen far too many partnerships end in disaster, simply because the parties didn’t want to spend the few hundred dollars to have a Partnership Agreement prepared.
The purpose of the Partnership Agreement is to hold parties accountable to the document during their work together, It includes details of what happens in the event that the partners separate. The purpose of the Partnership Agreement is to be your body armor, in the event that your partnership goes awry. Think of it as a prenuptial agreement but for business owners.
MEDIATE EMPLOYEE | MANAGEMENT DISPUTES
Do you realize how much a workplace dispute costs an employer?
A major U.S. study reported that employees spend an average of 2.8 hours per week dealing with non-productive conflict
25% of employees report that conflict or the avoidance of conflict has resulted in sickness or absence from work
85% percent of all employees experience interpersonal conflict in the workplace.
78% percent of managers admit that they are suffering from workplace stress.
Other research found that managers, on average, spend 30% of their time dealing with conflicts among their employees.
Bottom line, every hour of every day that employees (there are always a minimum of two disputants) are engaged in an unresolved dispute, (plus their supervisor’s time for being in the middle), it’s costing your company at least $161 per day, actual costs.
With an average of 20 workdays in a month, that totals $2,820 per month. This does not include hidden costs, such as:
Cost of slowed productivity by gossiping, non-participating employees
Cost of an employee covering for the disputing employee called-in sick
Cost of recruiting, hiring, training of a replacement employee
Cost of a dissatisfied customer(s) not serviced well by disputing employee(s)
Through our sister company, ACCORD Mediation Services, we can mediate such matters, swiftly and cost-effectively. The process begins by calling and providing us with contact information for each employee involved in the conflict. ACCORD will contact each party, describe the mediation process, acquire the necessary information, and schedule a mediation session in a private and confidential setting.
Since mediation is always confidential, the human resource manager or immediate supervisor generally does not participate in the mediation session.
The role of the mediator is to be neutral, non-judgmental and focused on facilitating a dialogue between the parties so that each side has a chance to express their concern, hear each other’s perspective, brainstorm possible solutions and negotiate an outcome that is mutually agreeable.
We apply the same process for those in management who don’t agree on the direction of the company, or feel that there are disparities in work efforts among other managers, work responsibilities and equitable contributions to the company, whether defined as time, effort, performance or results.
FACILITATE STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSIONS
When was the last time your management had a strategic planning session? Did you include your employees, or at least your supervisors and middle managers?
Employees are among your greatest resources! Being in the front line, they have insights, feedback from your clients, perspectives on how to provide better service and yield more satisfied clients; these same clients are a likely source of referrals for your business or practice.
A strategic planning session, usually held every two years, and often in the context of an all day or two-day organizational retreat, is an opportunity to gather management AND staff outside of the office environment, usually at a remote location, conference center or mini-resort. Well-planned in advance between the facilitator and managing coordinator, an agenda with goals and objectives is completed. Planning sessions are structured, have objectives and interactive activities that involve every participant.
A similar process is used for team building, especially when there may be discord among management or there is a new CEO or senior manager in charge.
Many organizations use this process to:
Identify the future direction of the company, goals, milestones, action steps, etc.
Identify products or services to be added and/or dropped, goals, milestones, action steps, etc.
Define the company’s vision statement and how to attain/measure its success/failure
Address discord among employees, discord among upper management, or both as a whole
Address rumors and other destructive activities/attitudes/perceptions within the organization
Get to know a new CEO, his/her vision, leadership abilities, between management and staff
Satisfy any other objective or purpose set forth by upper management.
CREATE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM
No more, do company management training or apprenticeship programs need to be made available exclusively by Fortune 500 Corporations. ADDENDA contends that any size company can have a program that entices qualified employees to enroll and participate in a mentoring/apprenticeship program that serves to cultivate their skills, knowledge, leadership, ingenuity and maturity as they advance through the company’s ranks, while also advancing the company itself to the next level.
After considerable research, ADDENDA Solutions has found no other organization that offers an affordable benefit that smaller employers can offer to ambitious and aspiring employees who see themselves as a Vice President or CEO of a big company some day. So, why not set yourself apart, become involved in our trend to bring back the concept of apprenticeships but with 21st century methods and applications.
Decades ago, a young person entering an apprenticeship or management training program was afforded an opportunity to learn how to become a leader, learn a trade, like carpentry, stonework and masonry that would enable him to master a certain trade and support his family for the rest of his life. A master tradesman would mentor an apprentice by teaching him by watching, practicing, doing, perfecting and mastering the work to be done.
Today, apprenticeship programs are becoming more popular, as it helps those who learn by seeing and doing, under the guidance of a mentor. Many students, traditional and non-traditional students alike, are yearning for opportunities to enroll in a management training program or apprenticeship program where they are afforded on-the-job training, but on a much deeper level; one that includes one-on-one learning and mentoring from the best in a particular line of work. Examples include programs in IT networking, auto mechanics computer technician work, carpentry, crafts, copy-writing , counseling, ministry, accounting, child care, culinary arts, pottery, entrepreneurship… anything that requires the personal, professional, educational and skill development of the apprentice.
Of course reading, completing assignments, journal writing, one-on-one learning sessions with the mentor, is an important component of any apprenticeship program. ADDENDA encourages entrepreneurs to recognize this as a very special opportunity to involve prospective employees in an apprenticeship program. What a great way to cultivate the next generation of professionals who have had the opportunity to learn from you.
CREATE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Similar to an apprenticeship program but for a shorter period of time, is a company internship program. This is popular among college students, traditional and non-traditional alike who may be wanting to try a new profession or career change. This is a great way to recruit potential employees who show promise in management or your particular line of work. We especially enjoy creating internship and apprenticeship programs for our clients.
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