Seven Step Business Plan

To be successful in business, you need to conduct research and write your business plan. Attempting to start a business without a (well-composed) business plan through feasibility study is like a stranger going to an unfamiliar terrain without prior direction. Or better still, it is like a ship without a rudder (which controls its direction). It is in the light of this that the publication of this text entitled “Seven Step Business Plan”, written by Ms. Sheila Holm, a respected business-management expert is a welcome addition to business management literature.

Holm says before preparing this text, she had cycled and recycled clients to every bookstore to work through every business-planning book option. She adds that the clients purchased many books but still wanted more help. Holm discloses that to make it easy and affordable for more business owners to receive help, she started conducting a series of seminars to help owners and their management teams develop their business plans within a seven-step format based upon their dreams and goals.

Holm says the outline of the seminars developed rapidly into a seven-step, one-page form for quick and easy review while updating the business plan according to each change and adjustment to the goals.

The author educates that having a business plan adds value to the bottom line of a business. She adds that this text removes the learning-curve requirement, stressing that she knows you can increase the productivity and profitability of your business when you write your own business plan.

Holm says whether you have not yet written a plan, you have paid a consultant to write a plan, or you have proceeded with your business idea before writing a plan, you are absolutely in the majority. She submits that the truth however is that no other owner, director or team leader can articulate your business idea better than you can, stressing that planning is the key to success and profitability.

Structurally, this text is segmented into seven chapters. Chapter one is entitled “structure”. This author educates here that immediately in your own words, you should begin writing a statement about “how it is around here” according to how you are going to proceed with your business. Holm says many owners, even after they open the doors and operate their business, proceed without a clear statement about their business: how it will meet the needs of customers or how their business relates to the industry. The author adds that their dreams and goals are not in writing or in focus yet.

She stresses that clarity is helpful and has a positive impact upon your bottom line. This author adds that if you want more profit, then you need to gain clarity and if you want more clarity, then you need to schedule a little more time to walk and/or work through the planning process with her.

According to Holm, businesses develop in phases, so it is important to begin the planning process by identifying the part of one or more phases, or stages of development, of the business process your business represents. The author discloses that your business may be at a point where you want to add a phase to your existing plans or it may be an idea that you want to sell to someone else. You may want to purchase a developed product in order to market and distribute it, or you may be starting a business that will include all phases of the business process, expatiates Holm.

She says this stop is a major decision point since it will match your expertise and passion with the type of business you should pursue. In her words, “So, take a moment to get comfortable and get a firm picture in your head of yourself as the owner of the concept or product in one or more of the key phases of the business.” Holm also discusses idea; development; location; production; marketing and sales; distribution; and repairs or redevelopment in this chapter.

Chapter two is based on the subject matter of placement. Here, the author says the biggest mistake owners make is to think they have the most unusual business idea. Holm stresses that she is always concerned when a client says she should hurry up and develop a business plan before someone else steals the idea.

She reveals that ideas are out there and we do not have the market cornered on any idea. The author adds that only very few people with ideas will proceed and develop the ideas into a tangible entity, a business that will become part of the marketplace. She stresses that you are the exception to the rule.

The expert submits that now that you have set out to pursue your idea, it is important that you continue to follow and recognise the needs of the market that initially inspired you. She explains that if you understand the placement of your business within the industry, it is as important today as it will be that every day you are in business.

In Holm’s words, “Too many businesses forget to stay current regarding the trends within the industry and the business, market in general. The business process is a fluid process, so do not plan on making a decision regarding placement and then setting your business idea into a concrete base and forcing it to hold up to this statement for more than a few weeks. This is why I absolutely recommend reviewing the Seven Step Business Plan form each month.”

She illuminates that this phase of planning your business is a good time to meet and interview experts. On the aspect of customers, Holm says if you think everyone is your customer, take a second look at the facts about your business and what it will provide to the community. The author educates that defining your customers will assist you in the process of matching your business with the top competitors in your industry She adds that you have to know your competitors and how they are doing business within your industry.

“Begin with the title ‘Competitors’ on a page of your notepad. Add names to your list each time you identify a business in your industry. Expand your list and add all related businesses, increasing the scope and parameter of your search. This list will also help you gain an objective view of how the various businesses affect your business and your industry,” educates this expert.

Chapter three is on the concept of leadership. Holm says the most important statement you can make about your business is the statement you make about yourself and your involvement within each phase of the business. She adds that the statement you make about each member of your leadership team closely follows the importance of the statement you make about yourself.

According to this author, your leadership ability is critical as it is your ability to inspire others. Holm emphasises that leadership skills and abilities develop into the team strengths that are going to be evident in the business structure and help sell the business to each customer, vendor, employee, and business. “Remember, you are not able to be all things to people within the team. Each leader plays a specific role, and the team’s strengths and support in areas of weakness will define the overall strengths of the business,” guides the author.

The business management expert educates that when you detail your involvement, you should ensure that you align your statements with the phrases you have written to describe your business today and your plans for the future of this phase of the process. She adds that this statement will need to remain flexible in order to complement the plans for each aspect of the business as you continue to refine them.

In chapters four to seven, Holm analytically X-rays concepts such as purpose and highlights; vision and mission statements; operational and marketing plans; and financial and profit plans.

As regards stylistic assessment, the report card of this text is in blue. For instance, a lot of textual and graphical illustrations are used to reinforce the understanding of readers. The book is also very educative in that the chapters are further broken down into many sub-segments to achieve simplicity and easy comprehension on readers’ part. Holm includes one-page fill-in-the-blanks form representing a prototype for a typical business plan to guide readers. What’s more, the language is simple.

However, a technical error is noticed in the text. This is the omission of a hyphen in-between the first two words of the title of the text “Seven Step Business Plan”. Omission of the natural hyphen has grammatically deprived “Seven” and “Step” from becoming a nominal compound modifier to the phrase “Business Plan”. It is structurally supposed to be “Seven-Step Business Plan”. Without a hyphen, one will also be grammatically compelled to add an “S” to “Step” because of the cardinal word “Seven”.

On the whole, the text is a necessary companion for (prospective) entrepreneurs, business managers, etc. What else would you expect me to say if not that “it is highly recommended”? Get a copy of this book today and learn how to write a business plan so that you can achieve business can succeed.

Are You Prepared For Your Business

While you can never have 100% of the details and permutations worked out ahead of time you can have a framework available for dealing with crisis events, a plan for the essential business functions, and contractual arrangements in place for critical requirements for your business, at the very least.

When most people think of Business Continuity Planning1, they consider that if their Information Technology Department has a plan for disaster recovery then they have addressed business continuity. While for many businesses these days IT plays an essential role in supporting the business, your business’ actual requirements for continuity are usually much more than just IT.

The recent events in April and May 2010 in Bangkok meant that many businesses, their staff, their customers and the general public experienced disruptions which many had not experienced before.

In reality, only certain physical locations of Bangkok were directly affected, while the vast majority of people in the rest of Bangkok and the country tried to continue with their lives and businesses. However, many found that as Silom and Sathorn were directly affected some businesses in those areas virtually shut down for a 2-3 week period, with some for longer than this. As the business district, the affects of the disruption on these businesses were felt much wider.

For example, one of the smaller retail bank’s head office is in the one of the areas most affected by the events of April/May and for security reasons the physical access to the building was very restricted. This meant that their staff could not get access to their office and documents. While the bank’s branch IT systems were operating, some business functions such as loans were adversely affected. I am aware of a couple who had to put their house sale on hold for 2 weeks as the loan officer of this retail bank could not get access to the loan documentation he needed in the head office. The purchaser and the purchaser’s bank were not affected and were ready to go ahead with the sale and purchase. The delay ended up costing the couple 2 weeks extra in interest because the bank could not complete the transaction on time. The couple is bitter about this bank’s lack of business continuity planning regarding access to the head office and the bank’s total disregard of the couple’s position by charging them interest on the loan for that period, while clearly it was the bank at fault.

So in this example, the bank’s IT systems were not affected but the inability to gain physical access to the office and a hard copy of documents meant that certain business functions could not continue. When you undertake a business continuity planning project, the business needs to identify the essential business functions and the period of time before a disruption has a detrimental affect on the business. Usually this high level discussion takes place with the stakeholders and senior executives, who are more aware of the impact of certain consequences, such bad publicity, public embarrassment, lack of communication or no clear communication, legal or regulatory compliance default, etc. Generally these consequences are sometimes hard to quantify into monetary terms but can have a greater effect on the business and its reputation.

In my experience, businesses do not clearly identify their essential business functions, then walkthrough these functions to determine what the requirements to support them are. This is mainly because this takes time and requires very busy senior executives to be involved in the discussions and decision making process. Many businesses are looking for a quick fix to their business continuity issues. The more diverse your business or complex your functions interactions with other parties (i.e. internal and external to the organisation), the more time the business should spent contemplating the business impact analysis2 (BIA) before putting a plan in place.

A number of people have suggested a business continuity plan is like insurance. If you have it, it gives you peace of mind. But you do not really need to use it until you have a crisis and by then it is too late. And if you need to use the plan, it better be up to date and achieve what you want, otherwise it will give you false hope.

I have seen businesses copy another business continuity plan and basically only change the cover, or buy a software application tool which takes a couple hours to produce a business continuity plan. In both of these cases, the plan did not bear close scrutiny from an experienced business continuity professional but were superficial in appearance to get a “tick” from the auditors. However, generally the auditors these days will also ask, “when was the last time you properly tested your business continuity plan?” But the key point is the plan would not have achieved what the business required in a crisis and the impact to the business would not have been minimised.

So a few of my suggestions are:

- to make sure you have a business continuity plan which has been based on a recent business impact analysis

- to check when the last time your business continuity plan was updated. Most plans need some revision each year and should take into account any significant changes in the business, organisational structure, systems, customer services, etc

- to ensure that you have a copy of the business continuity plan in an offsite location should you be unable to enter your primary office location

- to ask when was the last time the business continuity plan or parts of it, such as the disaster recovery plan (DRP3), tested. There should be testing performed at least each year as this helps

familiarise your staff with what is needed to be done and what to expect, and generally also identifies changes that need to be made to the plan which tend to go otherwise unnoticed

- to check whether your plan is comprehensive enough. Most business continuity plans are made up of several plans or sections. For example, you will usually have a plan for crisis management, and health and safety, i.e. dealing with an event, how to assess the crisis, who should be involved, and how to make sure everyone is accounted for and safe. Out of a crisis assessment, it may be decided to invoke the business continuity plan, such as moving to an alterative business location. – An example of this, was that one of my clients had a call centre in a building. An office two floors above had a fire and everyone was evacuated from the building. An immediate crisis assessment determined that it was going to take most of the day for the fire department to extinguish the fire and declare the building safe to reoccupy. Also given the location of the fire, the fire department mentioned potential water damage to the offices of floors directly below. So they determined very quickly to invoke their business continuity plan which included rerouting incoming customer calls to the alternative switch board and sending essential staff to the alternative office location. All other staff were asked to go home and work from home, if required. All key performance indicators (KPIs) for the business were still met. Fortunately the water damage was not that extensive and they were back in the primary location by the end of the following day.

- if you really want peace of mind, then you should ask an experienced business continuity professional to review your business and business continuity plan. It generally takes a third party who is experienced enough to ask the key questions and identify the shortfalls in your plan.

Are you feeling confident that you are prepared? Or should you take some action to prepare before a crisis event?

Legend

1. Business continuity plan or BCP is usually a set of plans which as a minimum address the business requirements for essential business functions in a crisis or disaster situation and the recovery of the functions back to business as usual. The objective being that if the business continues to operate its essential business functions for a definite period under a BCP the impact on the business is minimised and any effects will be tolerable.

2. Business impact analysis (BIA) or sometimes referred to as a business impact assessment, is the exercise of determining how much “pain” or adverse impact can the business sustain and for what period of time; what are the essential business functions; what are the requirements of the essential business functions to keep operating; and when does the business need to be back to operating as business as usual.

3. Disaster recovery plan or DRP is usually a term used for the plan for dealing with a disaster and recovery of IT systems and services. The plan is usually very comprehensive, such as addressing the method of backup and the offsite storage of backup electronic files; storage of key hard copy documents; the recovery of operating systems and supporting software, application software, and data; and covering contractual arrangements, hardware, network and communications, people, support services and secondary operating site (if applicable).

Small Enterprise Tax Recommendations to Help You Prevent Business Tax Debt

You will need to fully understand some crucial small business tax guidelines if you would like to avoid business tax debt. IRS business help is common because it truly is actually difficult to eliminate business tax debt when working by yourself. IRS business assistance comes from many suppliers, from an accounting firm and bookkeepers to tax law firms and tax assistance agencies or qualified personnel. If you want to avoid business debt, take a cue from the subsequent small business tax hints.

Ready to start your own company? You must read up on your tax responsibilities and consider small enterprise tax guidelines to prevent business tax debt before a person does anything different. Problems with the internal revenue service will easily ruin your small business. Below, we discuss just a handful of pieces of IRS business help a aspiring businessman should follow to avoid tax issues.

Internal Revenue Service Business Help Step 1: Decide on Your Business Type

The type of tax forms you are going to work with might be decided by the business type you opt for. The most common business types

Partnership
LLC
S Corporation
Corporation
Sole Proprietorship

Internal Revenue Service Business Guidance Step 2: Your Business Tax Type

The business type you decide on additionally can determine the taxes you will come across and the ways in which you are likely to pay them. 4 common business tax types are:

Income Tax
Self-Employment Tax
Employment Tax
Excise Tax

IRS Business Support Step 3: Acquire Your Identification Number

An Employer Identification Number or EIN is utilized to locate your business. You can fill out an application for an EIN on the internet on the IRS website.

Internal Revenue Service Business Help Step 4: Keep Records

With few exceptions, you are not required legally to maintain information for the business. This can be described as a worked out move on the IRS’ behalf, as keeping complete reports can be an just about likely method for stopping IRS challenges later in your operation! Records you would be smart to keep differ from business type to business type, however, many common things to keep tabs on include all receipts, expenses, invoices and income.

You may retain records manually or with accounting software programs. If this seems intimidating, you may want to investigate hiring a certified public accountant.

Internal Revenue Service Business Guide Step 5: Which Accounting Way Should You Use

You are required to, being a business, record income and costs in the course of the entire year to the Internal Revenue Service. A consistent accounting method should be decided on. The two most generally used systems are the Cash Method and Accrual Method. With a Cash Method, you commonly report cash flow in the tax year it’s received and subtract expenditures in the tax year they are paid. Utilizing the Accrual Approach, you often report revenue in the tax year it is earned and deduct expenses in the tax year you incur them.

IRS Business Assistance Step six: Deciding Among a Calendar or Financial Year

Every single business owner has got to figure their own taxable income every single “Tax Year,” which is the annual accounting period of your business. The fiscal year and the calendar year are the most common tax years utilized.

You’re not required by the Internal Revenue Service to take any training so that they can run small businesses. You really don’t need to comprehend anything pertaining to your tax expenses to get your Employer Identification Number. This is why most new businesses are in massive trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. Listed are strategies you can use to educate yourself and avoid issues before they happen.