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Start up business plans provide advantages far beyond gaining access to capital. The process of researching and compiling the information about your business provides motivational, organizational, analytical, and strategic advantages and these are the real benefits of writing a start up business plan.

Start Up Business Plan - The Benefits

Start Up Business Plan - The BenefitsStart up business plans are developed because the process of writing them creates huge benefits. A lot of people resist writing a start up business plan. They are under the false notion that start up business plans are an academic exercise that people are made to do in college or business school.Another common misconception is that start up business plans are only needed if you are going to raise capital through pubic share offerings, taking on private investors, or looking for angel investors. The fact is, there are a tremendous number of benefits to putting together a simple start up business plan regardless of the type of business you intend to launch.Even if the start up business plan will only be read by you or your spouse, the benefits are undeniable. The things you will learn about your business by going through the process of writing a start up business plan far outweigh the time you will spend writing it. The Benefits of a Start Up Business PlanMotivation: your start up business plan can help you get back on track with your original business concept giving you wisdom and guidance. It helps you see your original vision.Planning: your start up business plan is a map showing where you are today and where you want to end up. Following it gives you confidence that you know where you're going. Analysis: your start up business plan helps you to think about things you wouldn't normally consider. It forces you to analyze the relationships among different parts of your business. How sales ties together with lead generation, how that ties into services, delivery, profit margins, cash flow forecasting, etc...Strategy: your start up business plan highlights the relationship between your business and the local competitive marketplace. By writing it you will have tapped into the primary sources of information about the competition; sources that will be invaluable in the future.Overall, the act of writing a start up business plan puts your ideas and concepts down on paper. When things are in black and white like that you can see the inconsistencies and weaknesses much easier. Then you have time to address these issues and resolve them before you enter the marketplace. The Bottom Line On Start Up Business PlansHaving a start up business plan is extremely valuable. The process of researching and compiling the information about your business provides motivational, organizational, analytical, and strategic advantages. These advantages will continue to accrue long after your start up business plan is written.Copyright MMI-MMVI, Small Biz Tech Talk. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

How to Not Waste Money on Marketing

How to Not Waste Money on Marketing

If you own your own business, you're probably innundated with advertising and marketing opportunities and salespeople. You probably get asked to sponsor events and donate to organizations. Maybe you've even been hit up by the premium company trying to get you to buy pens with your company name on them.So how do you know what to spend your marketing dollars on, and what to pass on?How do you avoid wasting your money on marketing that isn't going to result in more clients and more sales? How can you ensure you'll get the "biggest bang for the buck?"The answer is to go back to your marketing plan and look at your goals and objectives. You'll also want to look at who you identified as your ideal prospects or target clients.Then you simply evaluate these potential marketing activities based on their ability to help you achieve your objectives, and their ability to put you or your company in front of your ideal prospects.While sponsorships and donations are in part a goodwill activity and can be very worthwhile for that reason alone, if you are evaluating them from a marketing perspective (and I recommend you do, especially if you get asked to sponsor or donate frequently) you need to make sure they will give you exposure to your ideal prospects and contribute toward reaching your objectives.The value of the exposure you receive should be worth the investment you are making. Consider what it would cost to reach those prospects in another manner to help determine the value of the exposure.As far as purchasing pens with your company name, the same tests apply. Ask yourself how you will use the pens. Will they provide exposure to your ideal prospects or clients?Will they reach your prospects in a manner no other marketing activity can? For example, if you are looking for repeat business from your clients, if they have a pen with your name on it that they see and use everyday perhaps they will be reminded to frequent your business.If you are planning to do a direct mail follow up to clients who haven't done business with you in awhile, a pen might be a nice premium to include in the mailing, and it will continue to serve as a reminder long after the direct mail piece is read and thrown away.But do NOT order the pens if you don't have a plan for using them and an objective for what you hope to achieve. Just having pens with your company name without these two items defined is definitely a waste of your money.Whenever you are questioning whether you should take advantage of a particular marketing opportunity, ask yourself these three questions:1) Will it provide exposure to my ideal prospects or target clients?2) Will it help me achieve my marketing objectives?3) Is this exposure worth the dollars I am investing?If you can answer "YES" to all three questions, and you have marketing budget available, then you'll want to seriously consider the opportunity.If your answer is "no" to the first two questions, and the opportunity doesn't put you in front of your ideal prospects or help reach your objectives, you'll want to "just say NO!" to that particular marketing opportunity.If the answer is "yes" to the first two questions, but "no" to question number three and the opportunity is well-suited to your "marketing plan" but the value just isn't there, you may want to go back and negotiate more exposure or a lower price.And, last but certainly not least, if you don't have a marketing plan to help you evaluate these kinds of opportunities when they come your way, my advice is simple: You NEED to get one.If you haven't identified who your ideal prospects are and what you want to achieve with your business you will most certainly waste valuable time and money on marketing opportunities that are not a good fit for your business. In fact you'll be in danger of doing this everyday.If you need help creating a marketing plan, The 10stepmarketing System is a great way to do it. When you create your own marketing plan using the simple, step-by-step 10stepmarketing System you are setting your business up for success and you can be sure you are not wasting valuable dollars on marketing that won't deliver you the results you deserve.(C) 2005 Debbie LaChusa

How Playing Poker Teaches Business Skills

How Playing Poker Teaches Business Skills

I have fun playing Texas Hold 'Em with friends. Did you know that playing the game or watching shows like World Tour Of Poker can help you succeed in business? I didn't realize that while I was learning to play, I was gaining valuable business skills that have translated into money in my pocket. No, not by gambling money away. :) Let me show you what I mean. I learned four things from playing poker.First, I learned how to make the best of the cards I was dealt. I learned when to play a hand, when to take risks, and when to throw the cards away and wait to act with better ones. This kind of discernment helps a business owner make sound decisions about working with assets and when to cut a project loose if it's not producing good results. I found that when starting your own business, you will invest 2 assetsyour time and your money. Depending on where you start, you'll use one of these assets more than the other. A realistic understanding of which asset you're working from can help you make the most of what you've got.The second lesson I learned from poker is that you've got to use a strategy to win. Good players spend years learning from each other and developing a strategy that's right for them. Their strategy is reliable and flexible enough to adapt to new situations. They learn something new from each game, and they actively look for the lessons when they lose a hand. They know how much they're willing to bet in an evening, and they aren't pushed off course by setbacks because their strategy takes the slow time into account. The third lesson I learned is that while I must understand the cards I've got, I must watch my competition and adjust what I'm doing accordingly. If I have a solid straight in my hand, I still need to watch my fellow players because one of them might have a straight flush. If you only focus on your hand, you may end up broke in no time flat. Even if you've got an awesome product, don't fool yourself into thinking you've beaten your competition. In business, there are always going to be people who want to move into your market. People are actively creating new products and services, and yours could be left in the dust if you aren't paying attention. The difference here is that you may find that good strategies include partnering with your competitors and funding joint ventures. Unlike poker, you both can win.The last and most important lesson I learned from playing poker is that risk isn't the four-letter word! Risk is a good thing if you have studied your competition and know you have a good hand. The reality of business is that you will have to do some things you've never done before or that make you feel nervous. This is a good thing because you become a better person once you push through your fear of taking a risk. I used to worry about what would happen if I lost a bet. I played to prevent losing instead of playing to win. There's a big difference between those things. Playing to win means putting yourself out there, letting people know you've got a good product or service. Playing so you won't lose usually results in you losing or barely breaking even because you can't do the very things that cause your business to sky rocket to the top.In summary, I learned to use my assets well, implement a winning strategy, to respond to my competition, and to push past the fear of losing. Think about other activities you've done over the years. What skills did you learn? How can you use them to build your successful business?

How an Entrepreneur Cut His Electricity Bills by $1750 a month with a $200 Product in 1 minute

How an Entrepreneur Cut His Electricity Bills by $1750 a month with a $200 Product in 1 minute

Copyright 2006 Martin PavionChris Johns is the founder of SupportSave a US company based in the Philippines. They offer business outsourcing to companies worldwide. His office may comprise of 200 employees for 8-10 hours a day.His electricity bills have been terrifying!In Manila the humidity means that we need to provide air conditioning at all times. We must keep the working environment comfortable so that our staff can be effective but it was always a worry when our monthly electricity bills arrived at the end of the month.Chris has been spending over $5,500 every month on his power costs. Each member of staff works in front of a computer, over 70 air conditions may work at one time and printers, photocopiers and faxes are constantly being pushed to capacity.Since February however Chris tested the Power Saver 7 to see if it really could cut down his costs.Power Savers are little boxes you plug straight into your plug socket at home, at work, or in a factory. As soon as you do this your electricity costs will decrease. You leave this device plugged in 24 hours a day and by the end of the month you will see a saving of up to 40% on your electricity bill. There is no need for maintenance, results are immediate and the unit can pay for itself in a few days of industrial use.Power Savers are completely legal, using strong scientific means of improving the efficiency of your electrical circuits. There are many models on the market catering to students in studio apartments to large industrial units suitable for factories. Power Savers cost between $100 and $200 for quality export-quality units. They are expected to last for over 4 years so they make a very effective investment for all users.Chriss average monthly bill has now stabilized at an average of $3,940 saving him 31% every month.The $1750 Im saving each month would enable my business to employ over 7 full-time workers. Im delighted with the results and expect this product is going to improve profits for a lot of businesses.Power Savers have grown in popularity in Asia however they have not yet become common in developed countries. Products such as the Power Saver require extensive testing before they can be sold outside of Asia and these tests have only recently been completed.Now that users are seeing immediate results from Power Savers it is likely that the popularity of Power Savers will continue to grow for many years to come and average costs for electricity will drop dramatically.

The Changing Pace of Advertising

Rapid advances in technology have changed everything from health care to communication. Now, as the latest technology becomes more accessible to a broader market, the advertising field is changing, too. Years ago, you could plan your advertising campaign around a few television commercials and print advertisements. And most companies would never have considered spending a sizeable portion of their advertising budget on the Internet. But in 2006, online ad expenditures are expected to reach over $16 billion. Advertisers who want to reach their target audience and remain competitive in this high-tech world have to change with the times. You need to keep up with emerging technologies, what media types are most popular, and how consumers use what's available to them. If you want to stay current and advertise your products and services in ways that reach your target audience on their turf, consider the following forms of emerging media.1. Blogs Blog is short for "web log," online journals that people without any HTML knowledge can create easily from any computer. They are frequently updated and usually include the owner's thoughts or musings on topics ranging from what's happening in the news to what they wear to work. Companies or individuals can keep blogs. Company blogs usually promote products in what is known as an "adverblog." However, those blogs started by individuals without a commercial affiliation usually have more credibility. About fifty million people keep blogs. And many different categories exist, including travel, health, and business. Blogs are popular because they provide a concise summary of news and information and give users power by providing information all in one place and on a timely basis. A blog dedicated to heart health, for example, will likely pull information from sources all over the Internet, so someone surfing for heart health information doesn't have to search several sites for the most up-to-date research about the topic; they can find everything they need on a heart health blog. As far as advertising on blogs, ads are generally related to the blog topic. That heart health blog could be an excellent place to advertise a health food or exercise product. If you're interested in advertising on blogs, first look for help from marketing companies that measure hot blog topics and provide market research based on blog content.2. Podcasts Podcasts deliver digital audio and video files to a user via the Internet. The name comes from the iPod, but they aren't just for iPod users. A pod cast is an audio file in MP3 format that a consumer can download to their iPod, MP3 player, or computer. Then the person can listen to it over and over again, share it with friends, and save it on a computer's hard drive. Six million people have downloaded podcasts, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And of the twenty-two-million iPod owners, twenty-nine percent have downloaded podcasts. Podcasts are an emerging media form that will continue to grow, and as this media outlet increases in popularity, the advertising possibilities will grow as well. Viacom, Disney, and Clear Channel all have radio-type podcasts, and even print media outlets use podcasts to broadcast interviews and other audio supplements to their print stories. For example, you can read an issue of a magazine and listen to an interview in its entirety on the magazine's website.3. Gaming Sixty-eight out of 108 million households currently play video and computer games, according to the "Digital Gaming in America" Ziff Davis report of August 2005. Advertisers can reach this market, which is mostly comprised of young males, in two ways. First, advertisers can use gaming technology to insert their ads in popular games. For example, say you are playing a football video game on your XBOX 360. You'll see ads placed on the sidelines and on the scoreboard just like you would if you were in a real football stadium or watching a real game on television. Video games are also played online, allowing gamers to compete with opponents in other parts of the world. These games offer many opportunities to place logos and products that a huge audience will see. Another way to advertise using games is literally to create your own game that the consumer can play online. This is commonly referred to as Advergaming. Many companies, such as Lipton and Mountain Dew, have used this advertising technique. The greatest benefit of these games is that they get people involved in the brand. Game designers create these games to interest a particular target audience, such as young children. Be aware, though, if you're marketing to kids, to closely monitor the game's content.4. Mobile Advertising Nearly 199 million people in the United States subscribe to mobile phone services. And every phone produced in the last year is capable of accessing the Internet. What does this mean for advertisers? It's another method for reaching the target audience. People now use mobile phones to search the Internet, play games, and instant message as well as to access sports scores, learn breaking news, and even check out horoscopes. Mobile advertising presents a great means to reach the high school and college student markets with banner and video ads. Currently, mobile ads are simple and usually text banners. But down the road, as this technology continues to advance, cell phones may be capable of displaying television ads. However, this media outlet is not without limitations. Everything in your ad has to be cleared by the phone company, so you must consider the logistical aspects of placing mobile ads.The High-Tech Future of Advertising If you want to remain competitive in the future, technology will be key to your success. You should consider these four, and other new types, of digital media when putting together any advertising strategy, because traditional media outlets just aren't as effective as they once were. While it's difficult to predict exactly where the trends are headed, when you keep an eye on new technology, you and your service won't be left behind.

Travelers Get Showered With Added Comforts

With U.S. companies spending an estimated $179 billion on business travel this year, millions of road warriors have found themselves longing for some of the comforts of home while on the road.According to Trendwatching.com, an Amsterdam-based independent trend agency, the desire for a more comfortable and better-equipped hotel is becoming a very real global trend."Consumers spare no expense to have the best of the best in their homes, from home movie theaters to home gyms," said Reinier Evers, founder of Trendwatching.com. "When consumers are forced to leave their homes, they tend to demand an even nicer environment from their hotels, with a touch of luxury one would normally not find at home."Because of this, a second trend also is at play, said Evers. As hotels try to keep up and put nicer amenities in guest rooms, travelers often find themselves enjoying the comforts of their new environment so much that they want to purchase the products to replicate the experience at home."Hotels are obviously already capitalizing on this by selling customers the luxurious appointments formerly found exclusively in their hotels," Evers said.In fact, guests can purchase just about anything they find in a hotel room these days, from beds and towels to showerheads and soaps. Upscale hotels jumped on the trend early, some even offering catalogs. However, mid-market hotels have recently found their own niche. Holiday Inn Express, the fastest-growing hotel chain in its segment, is rolling out a $20 million bathroom makeover in its more than 1,300 properties in the United States and Canada.The focus of the upgrade, called the SimplySmart guest bath experience, is a Stay Smart showerhead by Kohler that was tested by more than 7,000 guests at 28 hotels across the country before being installed in late 2004.

Summary

Start up business plans provide advantages far beyond gaining access to capital. The process of researching and compiling the information about your business provides motivational, organizational, analytical, and strategic advantages and these are the real benefits of writing a start up business plan.