Our First-Time Visitors

A Serial Entrepreneur Becomes A Millionaire From An Accidental Startup

Monis Rahman, serial entrepreneur, accidentally launched Rozee.pk when he needed to find more programmers for his startup.

Getting A Mentor

I had a strategy session with a business start-up owner a few months ago. She was six months into her start-up and needed some ideas during her development stage.

Simple Steps To Creating Your First Website

When you make that decision to start a business, you immediately become a multi-tasking maniac. Let's face it, you will have a lot of work on your hands.

Why 'Core Competency' Is Important To A Startup

Well, I like the answer that Norm Brodsky gives in his book, The Knack: "It was the one thing we had that our competitors couldn't offer, and by the time they caught up, we had a foothold in the market and were known for providing that service."

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Icing On Your Business Planning Cake

This article first appeared on WomenEntrepreneur.com where Cheryl Isaac is a regular contributor. 

Here's the multiple-answer question that always gets asked by business startups: "What is the best way to get clients?" The answers to this question are often displayed with various tools encompassing sales and marketing strategies. 

I wish someone had told me this earlier in my business-- you get more clients by telling people how you can help them. That's the icing that will make a huge difference with your business planning cake.You start telling people how you can help them in your business plan, your marketing plan, your sales plan, your web plan, etc. Then you work on new ways and new strategies to keep telling them as you go along.

For example, instead of saying, "I'm a bookkeeper" you can say, "I help small businesses record their daily transactions so they make proper task decisions." Instead of saying, "I'm a graphic designer" you can say, "I design brochures for entrepreneurs." Instead of me saying I'm a business planner, I can say, I help make business planning simple for small-business owners. I tried this with my business club members, and it's surprising how the small details make a difference.

Your business plan should start by helping you figure out what to tell potential clients. Your marketing plan should help you discover whom you'll be talking to. Your sales plan will empower you to decide when to tell them. And your web plan will show you how to tell them.

Just in case you're thinking "too many plans," let me clarify. Everything centers around some plan or another in business. You plan for everything. You brainstorm a lot--thoughts are pieced together and taken apart. You draft your plans, only to sometimes dissect them. The important thing is this: Uour plans are not the long, complicated document you envision. At least, they don't have to be. Each of those plans I mentioned can be a few paragraphs or a few pages; depends on thebusiness and owner. 

I was looking at Siemens' commercial the other day and thought, Boy do they know how to display benefits. Their commercial lists all the ways the company helps people. Once you watch the video, you can't help but feel as if Siemens really believes in what it's doing. You can see it for yourself here

The truth is, even successful business owners are still learning this method as they go along. Learning is the easy part; it's the implementation everyone struggles with. I wanted to share this information with you so you empower yourself as you plan your small business. I hope you're a step ahead, and your new systems can be planned with this information at your fingertips.

Cheryl Isaac is a business planner who helps make business planning simple for new businesses and small businesses starting something new in business. She is an entrepreneur and the author of the book, A Different Business and the creator of the business planning bootcamp, The 48Hour Business Plan Challenge

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sometimes You Have To Get Smaller, In Order To Get Bigger

Next month, I'm helping people create a business plan on wheels-- my
48Hour Business Plan Challenge. In my case, planning for this event has led to phone conversations and pep talks to help entrepreneurs decide which route to take. I even posted a video to my YouTube Channel on this--A Different Business YouTube channel.

Three things this week made me realize that sometimes, you have to get smaller in business, in order to get bigger:

1. A conversation with a more experienced entrepreneur. Over coffee, she's frank with me about the revamping of her business. On the verge of a new brand and a new horizon in business, she tells me candidly that things got slow, in order for them to pickup. I thought, wow! How insightful!

2. A Newspaper article.
I was captured by a newspaper article about a local restaurant chain. Having gone through bankruptcy and being bought on auction, the restaurant now found itself getting smaller in order to get bigger. The business plan set by the new owners included downsizing stores; only to later upsize by buying other chains. Business planning at its finest!

3. Phone Consultation with my prospective Challenge attendee. This business owner was thinking about joining the challenge for a unique reason-- to build a plan for a smaller business model. An entrepreneur not afraid of change!

I thought of myself and MY business this year. Faced with decisions that related to health issues plus business model aligning to fit my purpose, I too had to make some changes in business (stay tuned for a revamped website soon).

What are YOU willing to do change things for your business?

Cheryl Isaac is a business planner who helps make business planning simple for new businesses and small businesses starting something new in business. She is an entrepreneur and the author of the book, A Different Business .

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ask For The Business

I learned this perfect-conclusion-to-a-speech line from a teleseminar featuring speaker Jane Atkinson:

"As you can see, I'm passionate about _________ if you know of someone who can benefit from this topic, please __________."

You can fill in the blanks as you see fit, but I think you get the point. The speaker lets the audience know what he or she would like them to do next.

This line could work for a speech, or it could work when you're having a casual conversation with a colleague. In as much as we must be clear about what we provide in our businesses, we must also be clear about what we want our potential clients to do next.

So how do YOU ask for YOUR business? Do you wait for the other person, or do you ask them to do business with you?

Here are some ways you could Ask for the business:
  • Let's go ahead and get started now. I'll just need a signature here...
  • Now that we've covered everything, I'll just need your autograph to get started...
  • Now that we've come this far, I'm excited to start your project today if you have no objections
  • I'll go ahead and set these products aside for you when you're ready to check out. You will love these!
  • I called today to follow-up on the proposal sent and to move forward with the process.

Just in case you were asleep, those weren't questions after all. That part was intentional.

Asking for the business is not literal--it doesn't require begging or sounding unsure. Asking for the business simply means that you remember to take the first step--you ask indirectly.

Reminding myself to always ask for the business helped me tremendously in my business. I hope it does the same for you.

Cheryl Isaac is a business planner who helps make business planning simple for new businesses and small businesses starting something new in business. She is an entrepreneur and the author of the book, A Different Business and the creator of the business planning bootcamp, The 48Hour Business Plan Challenge

Sunday, September 5, 2010

MicroFinance And The New Small Business Owner

You may have this business start-up idea. Perhaps you only need a few thousand dollars to start and get the equipment that you need. However, you're jobless or living from paycheck to paycheck. You've started selling some of your products as a side business, but you need some funding in order to pursue this full-time. You cannot get approved for a credit card because you don't have credit, and a bank wants you to borrow $100,000 with collateral down-payment. 

Let me introduce you to another source of funding--microfinance.

Microfinance is the supplying of basic financial services to people who cannot access a traditional financial sector; even if they are engaged in economic activities.

Simpler version: if $5000 would make a difference for your business, and you don't have it in savings, you can't get approved for a credit card, and we know that banks won't lend you an amount that small, microfinance institutions step in to help.

Some disagree with microfinance; stating that if most people don't have the ability to self sustain, they won't have the ability to be self-employed. An article posted to the Urban Research Monitor, in 2001, delves into this argument.

However, groups like MicroVentures, providers of such funding, showcase the social impact this type of aid actually has on a poorer community.

So why not go to a bank?  Kiva, the leading MicroFinance institution for entrepreneurs, states it brilliantly; because "banks were not designed to help those who don't already have financial assets--they were designed to help those who do."

Aside from Kiva, there is another Microfinance Institution that I respect greatly: Grameen Bank. In his book, Banker To The Poor, Founder Muhammad Yunus states one of the reasons he started his microfinance institution, "whenever a poverty alleviation program allows the non-poor to be co-passengers, the poor would soon be elbowed out of the program by those who were better off."

So how do you find out whether your start-up small business would qualify for microfinancing? Well you could start in your own backyard. Do a google search for Economic Community Development Institutions. These institutions, most funded by the SBA and community outreach, are given money so that they could provide you with small seed money and education for your new business.

And if you're in Columbus, Ohio, try an institution that has funded a couple of my clients: ECDI.

Cheryl Isaac is a business start-up strategist to service businesses going online. She contributes to Forbes here and blogs about Making Business Personal here.  

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More