Buisness Planning for Hard Times

Overview

When you start a business you want to make sure that it grows to be as successful as it possibly can. Which means that no matter whether you’re just starting out or if your company has lasted for years, you want to make sure that should hard times hit then your business will not only be able to bounce back but thrive. You can check out a compiled list of methods and applied scenarios in the book Business Planning for Turbulent Times. In the meantime there are a few steps that you can look at now before you decide to buy the book.

 

The Fundamentals of Building a Business

 

As you’re most likely aware the best chance to make sure that a business hold strong through hard times is to make sure that’s it’s built that way from the very beginning. So the obvious step to take, if you didn’t start out that way, is to go back and look at the fundamentals that make up your business. The planning is actually more important than the plan itself. If your final plan backfires that’s alright since it’s to be expected. The important aspect is the process by which you reached it in the first place. Planning takes reviewing, revisions, and corrections a process that is repeated over and over again.

 

This allows for the chance to watch how conclusions change which is an important step when looking at the development and future changes in your company. Also pay close attention to your planning process so that you can pick up on any changes or unexpected surprises that might pop up. Planning can act as an early warning system which is invaluable when planning not only for the short term but the long term as well. Watch the flow of cash in and out of your business. Profit isn’t always cash and any changes in the cycle of your money (customers having to wait longer to pay their bills etc.) can be detrimental since a business requires an extra financing every 30 days that customers hold off payments.

 

Your next step would be to watch the metrics. Since you’re looking for early warning signs then sales, costs, and expenses can be used as metrics. Measure what you’re able to and watch for any sign of changes. Improve your communication with your customers, employees, and vendors. If your payments will be made slower than usual then let your vendors know when they’ll get paid instead. Making sure that you’re your customers know that they’re appreciated keeps them coming back. Never let anyone working with you or for r you have to guess what you’re thinking or what you intend. These assumptions could cause problems later on that you don’t need, plus a steady flow of communication can make your employees and customers happier to be involved in your business. Also be aware that your business plan will usually be wrong, but even so it is never done which brings us back to our first point.

Business Ideas: Hobby Services: Service Industry Business Ideas

YogaIn today’s marketplace, convenience is key. Consumers want what they need, when they need it, without having to rearrange their busy schedules to get it done. That’s partially why service businesses are always in hot demand – if they can find a niche market and then serve it well.

What follows is a list of some service industry business ideas that will get your creative juices flowing while providing you with several opportunities to explore, brainstorm and research further to see if one of these business ideas is the perfect entrepreneurial venture for you.

Business Idea: Searching for Collectibles and Antiques

This is a highly specialized niche market, but for the right collector, it’s a business idea that can provide great financial rewards. For those who already have a specific hobby they are passionate about collecting – such as stamps, paintings, comic books, dolls and antique scales – opening up a service business that caters to similarly inclined shoppers may be a logical step. Continue doing what you normally do to find the items you collect (garage sale hopping, flea markets, eBay) but instead of merely looking for yourself, look for your clients, too. Finding clients isn’t that challenging either, as you’ll probably already know where people with similar interests spend their time: reading collectors magazines, in the eBay forums, searching the Internet and in flea markets themselves.

Business Idea: Cleaning Golf Clubs

If you are already an avid golfer, then you know how important it is to keep your golf clubs clean. Yet, how often to you actually make the time to keep them in tip top shape? That’s where a golf club cleaning service can step in. By giving clients a very specific service – cleaning their golf clubs – while they get changed after a game or at any other time that is convenient to them – you are saving them time, energy and probably the cost of a new set of clubs after their poorly maintained ones have rusted, pitted or become discolored with use.

Business Idea: Yoga, Pilates or Self-Defense Instructor

Although the services are quite different, the intention is the same: offer clients a way to get into shape or defend themselves by showing and guiding them in ways to take control of their bodies and minds. Your schedule should be somewhat flexible for these types of business ideas, since your intended audience will likely require classes at varying times, and you’ll need to take some intensive training before teaching anything at all. But once you’ve completed those necessary steps, contact either other instructors in town to ask them how and where they began teaching, or make a call to your local recreation center and find out what you’ll need to do to use their facilities for a course.

Business Idea: Seamstress

For those who already love to sew and have all of the necessary items in place, starting a sewing business is quite straightforward. Put up some flyers around town announcing your services, contact local tailors and dry cleaning companies to let them know you’ll work with for them as a contractor, and get a cell phone that is only used for work purposes. Then, create a list of set prices for all different kinds of sewing needs such as hemming, repairs or creating a prom dress from scratch. Before you know it, your phone will be ringing off the hook.

Business Idea: Personal Chef

There are as many opportunities for providing cooking services to clients in your community as there are types of cuisine to choose from. Elderly clients may want someone to come into their home and cook for them, and young families overloaded with responsibilities may cherish a couple of hours of cooking time off from a pro. Expecting parents may like to sit down with a chef to work out meals they can prepare in advance and freeze for when the baby comes, and busy singles who travel often may lust after a home-cooked meal. You could even teach a specific kind of cooking that normally takes a bit to master, right in the intended chef’s home. How’s that for convenience?

Planning your web site

HtmlBuilding your web site is a serious time commitment. Each business is unique, and therefore has unique needs for a web site. With this in mind, I will generalize the process to building your site by breaking it down into three stages: the Planning Stage, the Building Stage, and the Maintenance Stage. This article discusses the Planning Stage.

Stage 1: Planning it all out

Ultimately, everything we do in relation to our businesses comes down to making a living for ourselves. You know, that “bottom line” thing. While we enjoy our work and enjoy our independence, as business-owners we always need to remember that our time is important–at least, it is to us! Because our time is so valuable, careful planning will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Generally, when planning your site, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Decide your web site’s purpose. (Why do you want a web site?)
  2. Collect/create the information you want to include on your web site.
  3. Map out your web site.
  4. Pick your programs. (Which web creation tools will you use?)

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Purpose: Why do you want a web site?

You may have a number of reasons for building your own web site, and you should try to list all of them. (I recommend actually writing them down, and keeping this list for future reference.) Your purpose(s) will depend largely on the type and size of your business, and might include the desire to advertise your business, to sell your products, to reach a larger customer base, and so forth.

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Collecting your information

You’ll need to decide on the information to include in your web site. I suggest starting off with a brain-storming session that includes you, and possibly a few of your key employees (if you have them). Think about the questions your customers ask you most often, about the products/services you want to highlight, and about the information that is most related to your purposes (see #1 above).

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Mapping out your web site

This stage is also known as “story-boarding,” and is similar to the processes used in film-making, advertising, and other similar fields. The idea is to build a map of your site that you can use to visualize the entire system you’re working on. I find maps useful when working on web sites because they allow me to see my progress–to keep track of what I’ve finished and what I still need to do.

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Selecting your tools

The tools you use to build a web site are entirely up to you because there are so many available. Generally speaking, you’ll need an HTML editor (text or “WYSIWYG“*), an FTP program, a graphics editing program, and a server on which to house your web files. Some HTML editors come with the FTP and graphics functions within them. Most newer computers come with all the programs you’ll need.

After Disaster Strikes How Do You Recover

disasterIt has been a tremendously unnerving time during the last two weeks, and most of us will still be in shock forever. In every tragedy there is great triumph to be seen. In business as it is in life, we never really believe we will loose our precious comfort zone and all of its luxuries. Think again and be ever so watchful and vigilant for your country and your neighbor. In the business world you must pick up the pieces and go on, and as bad as this incident was it is entirely possible it could happen again. This article is about helping recover your business. It is a tough road to go down but if you have ever been in a disaster you know, so bear with me. Here goes.

Are your business managers and employees ready for a disaster? Say it with meYes we are!

In this article I will explore the world of disaster recovery for businesses. This aspect of business practice is rarely funded, not practiced, and oftentimes forgotten. Nothing could be worse than losing friends and loved ones to a horrific tragedy, but people in this world will tell you that if something happens to them, they would want you to carry on. So to grant their wish lets use that sad energy and turn it into mad energy.

Its especially hard when you loose a great deal of your leadership structure, like the New York Fire Department did in the recent World Trade Center tragedy. As a matter of fact during my research for this article I found that many businesses either did not have a disaster recovery plan or it was so outdated that only certain aspect of it were still applicable. Small businesses are the ones most often hardest hit. These small businesses are often unprepared for a disaster. With few employees, there is usually no one designated to create a contingency plan, and with small budgets, there is often no money to fund a plan even if it’s created.

I found that even though there is an absence of contingency planning in small businesses, it can also be found in larger companies, but it is not as widespread. For example, many of the large businesses in the Oklahoma City area had recovery plans in effect, which helped them stay in business following the bomb’s explosion on April 19, 1995.

The Social Security Administration, which was housed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, was able to continue client’s claims with no interruption, despite the fact that their business site was destroyed in the blast. Because of contingency planning, almost all information on Oklahoma’s 100,000 social security clients is stored at a computer center on the East Coast. When the disaster occurred, workers in Dallas immediately reassigned the workload to other offices and calls were routed to other offices where specially briefed staff members handled them.