Three Special Business Plan Types

Though it has undergone many changes, the business plan is still around. No longer limited to the traditional 12-15 page type-written document, a business plan can be exciting and engaging as well as useful. Many of us realize that it’s the planning process, and the associated research and soul searching, that is so valuable. The finished plan is just icing on the cake.

Just as there are many types of entrepreneurs and business ideas there are many kinds of business plans. Here are three that deserve some special attention.

The “Accidental Entrepreneur” Plan:

Believe it or not, it happens quite often. An impulse, a hobby, or a passing notion turns into a business without warning. One day you’re handing your extra back-yard tomatoes or homemade cake to the neighbors, and before you know it you’re filling out the forms for a booth at the local farmer’s market. Perhaps you create a unique bit of hand-crafted jewelry and wear it to school or work, and then find your phone flooded with messages like, “Where can I get one?” and “I’ll pay you to make one for me.”

When you’re writing a business plan in a situation like these, you need to address a few issues the intentional entrepreneur has already pondered. The first is do you really want this idea to become a full-blown business? Certainly it’s flattering when you realize there’s a market value for something you were doing anyway, but that doesn’t always mean you should launch a business. A lot of accidental businesses form around fads or seasonal items, and may not be robust enough to function as year-round, money-making, enterprises.

Next you will need to carefully examine what actually goes into your offering. How many hours does it take to create those one-of-a-kind bracelets? How much does it cost to bake a dozen of your special recipe cookies? How much research goes into “whipping up” a website? Making tangible goods requires space. Do you have room to grow enough squash to actually generate profits? Are these numbers you could sustain beyond the occasional personal or family use of your product or service?

The business planning process can be very helpful to “accidental entrepreneurs” as it allows you to decide which ideas are best left as hobbies and which ones could provide some real cash flow.

The “Back of a Napkin” Plan:

It is the source of entrepreneurial legend and lore, the million-dollar idea that was hurriedly scribbled on a bar napkin. Yet, for most potential business owners this option for business planning remains a fantasy. However, like any myth there is a tiny grain of truth inside. A quickie business outline can work as a launch plan under the right circumstances.

If you need to get going quickly to ride the wave of a fad before it fizzles, then fast, bare-bones planning may be all you’ve got time to execute. This works best when you’ve already got the infrastructure in place, perhaps from previous projects or an established business, and you can simply shift energy and resources to the new idea.

When you, and your partners if any, have all the core skills and industry knowledge you need to start right away without seeking experts, napkin notes may be enough to get going. Let’s say you are already an expert in technology and social media. Then you, and your team, probably don’t need a detailed plan to start developing a new app. You will draw on your knowledge and experience, and you understand that you might need to go back and do some more detailed and formal planning later.

Certainly when you reach the point where you are looking for investors or lenders, you will move beyond those first casual notes. Until then, drawing upon your expertise can allow you to quickly jump into the market and perhaps gain a competitive edge by using a minimalist plan.

The “One Pressing Issue” Plan:

Business planning does not stop the day you open for business. Under the best of circumstances you should be revisiting your plan once or twice a year to see how things are going, and where perhaps you’ve veered away from your original goals. Remember, changing the direction of a business isn’t always bad, but it should be intentional.

Then there are the moments when something seems to be going wrong, when one or more areas of the business just don’t seem to be working. Cash flow is anemic or the marketing message is flat. Perhaps customers have shown a marked interest in only one particular product or service, ignoring all your other offerings. This means it’s time to revisit your business plan, more precisely it’s time to revisit the questioning process that helped you craft your plan.

Look at the assumptions you baked into your original plan. Did the city follow through on opening that new park across from your location? Were insurance rates what you expected? How many hours of accounting or web design help did you really need? Are your online inquiries out-stripping your face-to-face sales? Or vice versa?

Sometimes no matter how much you research, plan, or test, things don’t go as expected in a business. This isn’t necessarily a herald of failure or a sign that you’re not cut out for entrepreneurship. Life and the marketplace are both unpredictable, and plans need to be fluid and responsive. The “One Pressing Issue Plan” is simply a reflection of a normal evaluation process.

While I still recommend the business planning process, I caution you to realize that a beautifully crafted document does not always equal business success. I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs who successfully launched without a plan, and some with beautifully written plans that never materialized. You and your business idea are unique. Your planning process will be unique as well. Be wary of one-size-fits-all advice or pronouncements from experts about how you should proceed.

No Marketing ROI in Your Small Business? Here’s How to Fix It

No Marketing ROI in Your Small Business? Here’s How to Fix It

If you are a small business owner, you know how hard it’s to manage all aspects of your business. Marketing is the backbone of any business as far as growth is concerned. Unlike large companies, small startups have to work with smaller budgets. As a result, the owners have to try their best to get the maximum return on their marketing investment. In this guide, we are going to give you a few secret tips that may help you get the highest ROI.

1) Make sure you have Realistic Goals

Having solid goals is the first thing you need to do. This is important if you want your marketing plan to be effective. You can have different goals and ways to achieve them. For example, you can find a way to spur on your customers or clients to sign up for your weekly or monthly newsletter.

In the same way, for better revenue growth, make sure you have an eye-catching call-to-action in your newsletters. This will increase the click-through rate.

2) Choose a Suitable Channel

Not every marketing channel can work for you. So, you need to choose a channel based on real data. This channel can be a platform that can help you exchange information with your customers, such as social media.

Of course, you may have to spend the time to get familiar with these channels. As soon as you have learned to use them, you are good to go.

3) Run Optimized Marketing Campaigns

This is one of the best cross-platform technique. With this approach in place, you can make your message more effective whether you are using ads on newspapers, TV or the Internet.

It’s good to have an integrated marketing campaign as it may have a positive impact on the visibility and efficacy of your message. In fact, experts say that 70% customers lean toward the integrated marketing method. So, an optimized campaign can give better results.

4) Write Content

Marketing can be done in more ways than one, and content marketing is on top of the list. Writing content for your blog or website can help you get a number of benefits down the road. The fact of the matter is that content is king as far as getting your site listed on the first page of Google is concerned. Once your site is listed on top of the search results page, your ROI will go up.

5) Use task Automation Platforms

With the help of digital marketing, you can reap many benefits. Digital marketing has a lot of tools and platforms that allow you to do the automation of your marketing tasks. Some of the platforms are MailChimp, Facebook, and WordPress. The automation of tasks can save you a lot of time and investment dollars. At the same time, it will boost your marketing ROI.

Conclusion

If implemented the right way, these secret techniques can help you increase your marketing ROI significantly. So, make sure you give them a go if you are a serious small business owner. Hope this helps.

To get your free, no-obligation ‘Explosive Business Results’ coaching call, contact Suresh Iyengar by scheduling it at http://buexecution.mypaysimple.com. Set aside just 25 minutes and you’ll discover: 1) a clear emboldened business vision 2) new awareness of how to solve your nagging business issues 3) revitalized energy to take your business to the next level 4) prepped action plan to take the business to the next stage of profit, growth and freedom.

Enterprise Guide – Maintaining the Right Balance Between Cloud and On-Premises

Enterprise Guide – Maintaining the Right Balance Between Cloud and On-Premises

Striking the right balance between the cloud and on-premises technology is a never-ending debate. It’s not really about the better fit for business or conquering scalable IT infrastructure for the future. Instead, it’s about “the cloud boosts performance” versus “the cloud brings latency.” It’s about “moving ahead with the modern world” versus “making management a nightmare.”

Talking about real cases – there are lots of enterprises who are unable to decide over whether Cloud-based QuickBooks is a good option for their infrastructure, or they can stay dependent on the desktop version. However, very few of the businesses are convinced with the usage of both- the cloud and on-premises.

Some find it more reliable to prefer one over the other, and it’s also true to accept that there comes plenty of situations where either will do. Whereas for some, a hybrid infrastructure carrying the perks of both makes the most sense. So, it’s all about the need of time; the cloud and on-premises both have their times to shine.

According to senior research director and adviser for cloud and data center at IHS Markit Clifford Grossner, Organizations and other IT experts need to look at the proper use and application architecture of both the available technology options. He also added, “Nothing in technology is either all good or all bad, and that’s true for everything.” However, the silliest mistake that almost all out there commit is applying one same approach to every technology.

Both Cloud and On-Premises Offer Benefits

The cloud technology has been growing very steadily, but we should consider on-premise data centers for organizational betterment and enhanced productivity. People constantly have talked about how everything is shifting towards cloud and transforming into more sustainable form ever possible. But what we actually need today is to establish an equilibrium so that we can access computer resources in both the platforms.

It is also beneficial to keep some per cent of computer resources in the cloud, and some per cent of the resources in on-premises. Then the combination of use case and current infrastructure will help businesses to determine, which out of the two is a better fit to handle the workload at hand.

There are also some organizations who like to keep their infrastructure in-house due to a large number of file sizes. On the other side, some organizations keep their files local as some applications do not run friendly on the cloud. In conclusion, it is better to half the load over in-house infrastructure by transferring some elements to the cloud.

The cloud-or-not decision

Sometimes, it’s hard to make a call from two as the decision purely depends on the type of use and requirements of an organization, which varies with time. Asking an expert “what benefits organization the most- cloud or in-house infrastructure?” seems to complicate things for your own self. As there’s no right or wrong answer in the light of each organization. The journey to the cloud possibly not always that quick, instead need proper time to plan the shift.

There comes a time when everyone around you says, “We don’t own any in-house servers, it’s all in the cloud.” which leaves you in a big shock, and force you to think that only you’re in the stone age. The sudden enlightenment often leaves you in a puzzle that you ends with a cloud shift. But, that’s not how it should work. You must need to research your business requirements in order to justify your switch and investment. In my opinion, being with some kind of hybrid situation is comparatively better than relying on one.

Tina Smith is an accountant with SageNext Infotech. She is having expertise in project management, accounting operations. With SageNext, she consults the client accountants about the benefits of QuickBooks hosting. SageNext is a leading tax and accounting application hosting provider like Sage 50 Cloud Hosting, Drake hosting and so on.

Hire Warehousing Companies in India for Better Business

Hire Warehousing Companies in India for Better Business

All the firms have their own reasons and strategies to expand their ventures and reach maximum number of clients. One of these includes management of goods and their supply. Handling the storage of goods, that too, in excessive quantities, is indeed one of the most challenging tasks in business management.

Mostly, businessmen prefer renting warehousing companies in India to keep their products safely and conveniently. These firms manage the storage of materials till they are delivered to the customers. Such companies consist of several experienced employers that work efficiently to ensure timely delivery of all the products tasked to them. Besides this, they provide insurance in case of any damage and hence, reduce the stress on part of the company owners regarding the safety of their goods. 
In a business, the most crucial part is attaining goals through hiring warehouses. So, it is important to consider a few factors before finalizing one.

Business Objectives 
There may be many motives behind expanding a venture with making more products available to the customers, enhancing brand identity in all the prominent regions, etc. The head of an organization must identify the purpose of hiring warehouses for his or her company as it makes easier for them to choose one as per the requirements. For instance, if a person wants to improve the brand image, he or she must rent the most experienced firms. With this, they will be ensuring their customers with quality services within given deadlines and hence, boost the brand reputation in the market.

Budget and Location of the Firm 
Another factor to consider while renting a warehouse is the budget and location of the company. It is better to choose one after comparing it with its competitors. Through this comparison, a person will get to work with the most suitable organization within a set budget. Also, a person must hire a warehouse that will provide all its services at his or her location. For example, if a company owner deals in sales across many cities of the world, then, the firm must hire a warehouse in all the cities with most demands. This not only ensures perfect customer service but also minimizes the delays caused due to delivery at distant locations.

Products and Services Offered 
Besides the business goals, it is crucial to look for a warehouse company according to the products or services provided to the clients. For instance, if a firm supplies goods that corrode easily, it must hire a warehousing company that is situated at an isolated, pollution-free site. With this, the brand owners can retain the quality and new appearance of their products for a longer duration. Also, it will enable a person to determine the warehouse size required to store his or her products. 
A warehouse helps businesses to attain all their goals and expansion. Therefore, a company must hire warehouses to gain a good clientele and hence enhance its brand image in the commercial market.

5 Uses Of Travel Expense Management Software

In today’s competitive era, a lot of organizations still manage their travel expenses in a very unorganized manner. The traditional way wastes employee time and productivity and increases the stress of Account payable and Finance team in managing the process manually. To gain competitive advantage, organizations need to move to travel expense management platform that integrates travelers, approvers, travel desks, travel agents, accounts payable and finance on one portal to reduce miscommunication and streamline the process. Unnecessary trips and wasteful cancellations are decreased, travel is only with authorized vendors and travelers function within the recommended procedures and systems. This saves both time and money. Below mentioned are few benefits of an efficient Travel Expense Management Software:

Structured Travel Policy 
Earlier when accounting for travel expenses was done manually, it was difficult to keep track of all the expenses and cost incurred. With the travel expense management software, the travel policies will be very clear and erroneous payments can be highlighted. Common travel expenses including hotel and food ought to be written down clearly. This helps in preventing issues in the future.

Expense Visibility 
The finance and accounts payable team can get a clear visibility on the spend made. They will have all the related information available in the system with details of the same. They can easily know which department is spending how much and can put budget control wherever needed.

Efficient Processes 
Entering expenses manually into a spreadsheet can be really tedious and can tend to be inaccurate. It becomes difficult for the accounts payable and finance team as well if you have several hundred employees in an organization. This is where the travel expense management software comes into the picture. The software allows employees to report their expenses in the system which automatically follows the workflow and goes for approval. Post approval it goes to the relevant department for authenticating and processing the payment. The entire process is seamless, automated and quick for employees and internal departments.

On-Time Employee Reimbursement 
If you take too much time to reimburse your employee, it will lead to growing resentment. It could also lead to employees hesitant to go on business trips and maybe even flat-out refuse, which would ultimately affect the business. The software allows the employees to report their expenses on the go and it immediately goes for approval and payment. The entire process is quick and automated which saves a lot of time and helps to reimburse employee expenses on or before time.

Employee Travel Expense Trends 
With a spreadsheet, it is difficult to say if a particular employee’s expenditure is atypical to the normal pattern. The software helps to capture data and analyse the trend based on historical data. Management can run multiple reports and get analytics to help them make business decisions. For ex. It is easy to look up different trips and find out whether inflation is bringing up the expenses or if the employee is skirting along the edge of allowed expenses. Both the Travel Expense Management Software and the Procure to Pay Software helps bring financial control in the organization saving a lot of cost and time.

Shabbir Imani, Founder & Director @Expenzing, an expense management software development company specializes in travel expense management software, procure to pay software, employee expenses management software and more with offices in India, USA, UAE, Argentina, Malaysia & Vietnam.

Shabbir is an industry veteran and Serial Entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience. He started his career with HCL Technologies and ventured on the entrepreneurial journey shortly after 2 years. Expenzing was founded with a view to creating a successful software product that is globally accepted and utilized.

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