Entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and energy creating businesses. Most business owners are willing to work hard because they love the freedom of being in charge. Your next business project is to imagine yourself as an entrepreneur and create your own, real-life (pretend) business.
Where to Put Your Work
Create a new Google Doc. Name the document “My Business Plan”. This document should contain the following headings and information:
- Title Page/Cover Sheet – Use the cover sheet template from the document above. Include company name, “Business Plan”, date and Street Address, City, State & Zip Code, Phone Number, E-Mail Address, Web Address
- “Form of Business” – describe your form of business and explain why.
- “My Business Defined” – clearly explain every aspect of the product or service you will offer.
- “My Market” – describe the industry you hope to enter and a profile of your target market.
- “My Brand” – list your name, and slogan. Logo/name/slogan images will be uploaded . . .
- “Start-up Costs” – subheading “One Time Costs” list at least 10 one time costs, subheading “Ongoing Costs” list at least 10 ongoing costs.
- “Facilities” – and insert an image of the facilities listing you found on LoopNet.
- “Floor Plan” – add an image of the business floor plan you created with Gliffy.
- “Market Survey” – add the link to the market survey you created with Question Pro.
Form of Business
All businesses have a legal form or type. The two most basic types are a Sole Proprietorship and a Partnership.
The advantages of a sole proprietorship:
– It’s just you, so you make the rules, determine the emphasis, steer your business where you want it to go.
– The profit is yours.
The disadvantages of a sole proprietorship:
– Just like the profit, the losses are yours, but because you and your business are one and the same in the eyes of the law, it means that business debt is also personal debt. Not good.
– Also when your business is sued, you are sued in your personal capacity. Definitely not good
The advantages of a partnership
– Two (or more) heads are better than one. When you have a team of dedicated entrepreneurs building and believing in the same business, you have a massive head start. Diversity in training, skills, experience, personalities and talents is a massive plus when it is managed in such a way that people compliment each other.
– More capital.
The disadvantages of a partnership
– That same diversity can cause conflict and destroy friendships and the business.
– Partners often spend too much time trying to make their relationship work – not enough time building a business. If it doesn’t run smoothly from the start, it will be a frustrating experience, because the resulting inefficiency usually converts to poor profits.
– What happens when a partner quits, dies, steals or just doesn’t deliver?
If your going for the big time, you may need a form of business called a corporation.
Advantages of a Corporation:
– Capital: By having it listed on the stock exchange, you invite people to invest in your company. Sell 1000 shares at $100 each and you have $ 100 000 to work with.
– Limited liability: With a Corporation, you and your company are now two separate entities in the eyes of the law. Company debt is not personal debt. If the company is sued, you’re not sued in a personal capacity.
The disadvantages of a corporation
Corporations are more complex and require more expertise.
You will be accountable to many people including employees and share holders. You won’t have nearly as much personal control over the direction of your company
My Business Defined
The second step is to develop a product or service. Businesses can vary greatly. Being a veterinarian will be much different from a free lance photographer, a game console producer, or a self-employed financial planner. Although businesses vary, the same basic steps apply to all product/service development.
Brainstorm ideas for a product or service you want to offer.
Pick the idea you like best that you think is most interesting and likely to succeed.
Develop the concept – consider size, color, features, versions, options, specifications, types, style, etc..
Once you have a solid idea for the product or service you want to base your business on, you need to clearly define it. For example, let’s say I want to offer private military and security services. I would offer personal protection of individuals, secure travel, and securing of locations (bomb-sniffing). My services would be ideal for famous people who want to be safe at home, being out and about and at whatever destination they travel to.
I could go in a completely different direction and offer guns for hire to travel over seas and help track dangerous groups. In this case, I would describe military operations and weaponry I could offer.
If I want to build a business as an sports agent, I would describe my services like this: (Name of Company) Sports Agency can provide
Marketing – Market your clients for product endorsement opportunities, personal appearances and charitable events.
Networking – Network with athletes, sports executives, professionals and other sports agents.
Promotion – Promote your clients to teams & organizations to find the best fit and the best opportunities for your client.
Trends – Stay in tune with contract negotiation, salary and player signing trends in your sport.
Salaries – Keep up to date with current salaries for different player positions, coaches and sports executives.
Services – Partner with other professionals & continue to add services to offer to your clients such as investment and legal services.
If you are unsure what is involved in running the type of business your interested in, check the Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook
My Market Defined
In marketing, the term market refers to the group of consumers or organizations that is interested in the product, has the resources to purchase the product, and is permitted by law and other regulations to acquire the product.
In the Flint Forward example, the business is defined as:
Flint-Forward is a local web development and web presence management service. Flint-Forward will provide the following:
- CMS based Web Site Development (Joomla or WordPress)
- Site Management and/or Consultation
- Web Presence Management including SEO packaging, social networking connections and local web community integration.
Flint-Forward is focused on ongoing customer relationship development and communication.
Defining the market is simply describing the people I think would be interested in my services. Like this:
Flint Forward’s market consists of local business owners interested in developing a website or web presence. Our focus is non-profits and mom and pop type shops. We offer personalized design and focused, community based web presence management to local businesses
Now you’re ready to craft a brand that is unique and fits all the characteristics you want to communicate about your product and company. There are three essential elements to a brand:
- the company name,
- the tagline (or slogan) and
- the logo.
The Company Name The name should be catchy and fit the product well.
Steps to a Great Name (from Namestormers)
Great Sounding Names (from Namedevelopment)
- are easy to pronounce;
- are short, preferably three or fewer syllables;
- are well-balanced where vowels and consonants alternate evenly throughout;
- resonate and whether achieved through alliteration, haplology or poetics, when a great name sounds right, you just know it; and
- often imply speed and dominance; so when naming a business, keep in mind that some of the greatest brands (Barbie, Pepsi, Boeing, Procter & Gamble) begin with one of seven all-powerful consonants — B, C, D, G, K, P or T.
The Tagline (or company slogan)
How to Write a Terrible Tagline – Excellent tips on what not to do from Fusionbrand.com
TOP 10 SLOGANS OF THE CENTURY (from Ad Age)
- Diamonds are forever (DeBeers)
- Just do it (Nike)
- The pause that refreshes (Coca-Cola)
- Tastes great, less filling (Miller Lite)
- We try harder (Avis)
- Good to the last drop (Maxwell House)
- Breakfast of champions (Wheaties)
- Does she … or doesn’t she? (Clairol)
- When it rains it pours (Morton Salt)
- Where’s the beef? (Wendy’s)
The Company Logo
Here’s a Googled list of logo resources.
I strongly suggest starting logo drafts on paper. We will talk about ways to digitize your logo soon. Start by looking through galleries like this one from Noupe: Logos to Inspire (from Noupe.com) Here’s a few more links for ideas – Six Revisions: Logo Design Tutorials, LogoPond, Go to Web 2.0, and LogoFaves.
Once your concept is firmed up, name your company and start developing your brand. Put careful thought into the name. You’ll have to stick with it. Your logo will be used on brochures, websites and signs. Be sure to save multiple versions in multiple formats. Start with either a squarish logo of 200 by 450 or a banner-type logo of 100 by 600. Sizes are flexible. At some point, you will need to scale your logo down for use in smaller places (ie. favicon, letter head).
** Very Important – If you use GIMP, save your logos as .xcf files. This way you will be able to edit them after they are saved. We will talk about other file formats and when to use them later. For now save all GIMP logo work as .xcf’s. The other option is Fireworks. In Fireworks, make sure everything is saved as a .png.
Speckyboy has a great list of logo help and inspiration sites. My 2 favorite sites for logo ideas are Logo Pond and Go to Web 2.0.
Your name, slogan and logo should be dumped onto “My Business Project” under the heading “Brand Profile”.
Finance and Facilities
Time to add 2 new things to your business plan. The first is your start-up cost list. There are 2 categories of costs when starting a new business: one time costs and ongoing costs. One time costs are obviously things you just need to buy one time like signs and office furniture. Ongoing costs are things you will pay for on a regular basis like employees salary, utilities and so on. Create a heading on you plan called “Start-up Costs” and list at least 10 one time costs and 10 ongoing costs. Be sure some of your costs are specific to your chosen business. Here’s a generic list of start-up costs. There are some more examples on the Doc
One of the biggest costs of a new business is the space in which you operate. Some business owners choose to buy a facility while others choose to lease. Check this brief article to help you decide whether you want to buy or lease. Create a heading on My Business Project called “Facilities”. Visit LoopNet and search for property that fits your business’ requirements. You may need to create an account to view listings.
Add the heading “Facilities” to My Business Project. Write a brief paragraph explaining whether you will lease or buy, how many square feet you need/found and how much the facility costs. Be sure to include a picture of the property, the address, and a few of the basic details.
Once you’ve decided on your property, create a floor plan using Floorplanner. Spend time putting together your work environment. Consider meeting rooms, office layout, common areas (ie. break room, bathroom) and areas where your clients/customers will be.
Venture Capitalist Conference
A venture capitalist helps funds startups and small businesses that don’t have enough equity to start or grow their business. Shark tank is a great example of venture capitalists helping beginning entrepreneurs realize their business goals. Imagine you are going to go on Shark Tank. You need to prepare your presentation and be ready to sell your idea to potential investors.
There are 5 things you are responsible for to get ready to present at the fake venture capitalist conference.
- Your 100 word business idea, aka elevator pitch.
- A logo – preferably multiple versions. Use the following links for ideas – Six Revisions: Logo Design Tutorials, LogoPond, and LogoFaves. (75 points: big version – 30 points, small version – 20 points)(on front page)
- A visual showing your product – using the GIMP, Gliffy, an online shoe builder, or another tool. This should include options, specifications, styles, etc. Be sure it is very detailed. Look online for models and examples of products similar to yours for ideas. (40 points)(on front page)
- A complete business plan – Link here. (100 points)(linked)
- An advertisement for your product. Your ad should be a standard printed media-type ad, 8.5 by 11 inches. Be sure it is a well-developed, informative, magazine or newspaper type ad. Include your logo, and use one of the claims or appeals from these examples (click the link b. (60 points)(linked)
Total – 260 points