Category Archives: Business Planning

Considerations and Resources for Small Businesses That Want to Sell Their Products Internationally

According to the most recent International Trade Association data available through the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 97.7 percent of the U.S. firms that export goods to other countries. In fact, they account for over one-third of the United States’ known export value.

With business technology ever evolving, expanding our collaboration and communication capabilities, we can assume that more small business owners will want to seize opportunities to extend their customer base beyond U.S borders. With 96 percent of global consumers living outside of the United States (according to the U.S. Department of State), reaching a global market can fuel revenue growth and offer some protection against fluctuations in the U.S. domestic markets. Continue reading

Business Structure: Which works best for you?

business ownershipWhen you start a new business, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is how to structure your company. This choice can be critical to the future health of your business. Taking time up front to consider the pros and cons of each possible structure will likely save you many headaches in the future. In certain cases, it can mean the difference between your business’s success or failure.

Below you’ll find the upsides and downsides to some common business structures: Sole Proprietorships, LLCs, C-corporations, and S-corporations.

Sole Proprietorship

Upside:

  • Easy to Form – Sole Proprietorships are the easiest, most common, and least expensive business structure. A person is essentially a walking, talking sole proprietorship in waiting. All you need to do is sell something—a product, a service, anything—and boom … suddenly you’re a sole proprietor. Aside from obtaining any required business licenses, a Sole Proprietorship requires no paperwork and no filing fees.
  • Decision Making – As suggested by the name, you are the sole decision-maker. You run your business the way you want to run your business, and you don’t have to ask permission from anybody.
  • Taxes – The IRS doesn’t view your Sole Proprietorship as a separate tax entity, so there’s no special or additional tax paperwork. You’ll simply file your taxes on the same 1040 form as any other individual.

Downside:

  • Liability – The lack of separation between you and your business leaves you liable for all debts and legal claims against the business. You can even be responsible for your employees’ actions (if you have employees) while they are on the job.
  • Funding – Sole Proprietorships lack a specific structure for raising funds. You have no stock to sell, no set percentages to offer, and banks are often reluctant to offer loans to sole proprietors. Continue reading

Lean Canvas: Create Your Business Plan Quickly

Lean Canvas Model

 

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A key to starting and building a successful business is planning. Sometimes, a business plan is required, but it’s not always the answer to creating a successful business.  Sometimes, you need to think lean.

In this session, SCORE Mentor David Terrell will walk you through a Lean Canvas to help you create a “blueprint” of your business. He will provide practical tips and tools and teach you how to:

  • Determine the key categories of starting, testing and growing your business
  • Identify your target customers and what you need to do to get them to buy from you
  • Recognize your customers’ problems and how your product or service will solve them
  • Communicate your value propositions that set you apart from your competition
  • Test your solutions and get valuable feedback
  • Determine your cost structure, runway and revenue streams
  • Monitor key metrics to determine your business’s initial and ongoing success

Continue reading

Your first step toward business growth: a SWOT Analysis.

This simple strategic planning technique can help you identify what your business is doing well, what it needs to improve, where it needs to grow, and what could be its undoing.

SWOT strengths weaknesses opportunities threatsChoosing the right direction for the future of your company can be a daunting task. Should you add services? Is your team staying competitive? How can you improve cash flow?

All of these questions and more can be answered by performing a regular SWOT analysis.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Taking a deep look into your business by examining these four elements will provide you with an overview of the health of your company. Your strengths and opportunities offer avenues for your company to flourish, while your weaknesses and threats can inspire improvement and help you recognize emerging competition.

It’s likely that you completed a SWOT analysis in the beginning stages of your business plan to help determine where you stood in the market and identify target customers. Now that your business is established, it’s imperative to conduct regular SWOT analyses to help improve your operations and systems and stave off problems.

How to Get Started with a SWOT Analysis

The most vital step in conducting your SWOT analysis is determining what your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are, but sometimes they can be hard to narrow down. Continue reading

How to Lose Tens of Thousands of Dollars on Amazon

A growing number of self-proclaimed experts promise they can teach anyone how to make a passive income selling cheap Chinese goods in the internet’s largest store. Not everyone’s getting rich quick.

by Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, Jan 2, 2019

It was only after they’d sunk $40,000 and nine months of precious nights and weekends that Jordan McDowell and William Bjork realized how hard it is to make a passive income selling things on Amazon.

The couple had hoped to strike it rich—or at least quit their day jobs—buying goods from China and reselling them on the e-commerce site. Instead, they lost their savings. For that, they blame Matt Behdjou and Mike Gazzola.

In late 2016, McDowell and Bjork stumbled across a podcast hosted by Behdjou and Gazzola, normal guys who claimed they were making thousands of dollars working less than two hours a day on Amazon. The pair promised that anyone could do the same—all they needed to do was pay $3,999 for three months of coaching that would teach them everything they needed to know about the business.

They’d learn how to source and ship a product from China, how to list it for an attractive markup on Amazon’s third-party marketplace, how to advertise it to consumers, and how to get them to leave good reviews. Amazon would take care of the logistics of storing and shipping, for a fee, through its Fulfillment by Amazon program. Behdjou and Gazzola even provided class participants with a manufacturing contact in China, and organized paid tours of Chinese merchandise markets.

Read more here

Want to grow your business? Be different.

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

The odds are that there are a lot of other businesses in your market providing similar products or services. So what is compelling about your firm that sets you apart from your competition and entices potential customers to buy from you?

Many business owners will answer with the “soft” differentiators, such as reputation, good service and high quality. These are all great characteristics (and absolutely necessary!), but do they really set you apart? I’ll bet that if you ask your competition what sets them apart, you will get similar answers.

The fact is that highly differentiated firms are generally more profitable than their counterparts. Their overall market may be smaller than a less differentiated firm, but they have more of it (the proverbial big fish in little pond). And, they most likely charge more and spend less on advertising and marketing. Continue reading

Saying “I Do” to a franchise.

Like marriage, buying a franchise is a long-term commitment.

Before you say yes, make sure you understand to the in’s and out’s of franchising what it takes to be successful.

The Commitment

franchise opportunity

Be Your Own Boss. The phrase is repeated often in franchise circles, and it can be intoxicating to those considering franchise ownership. It means freedom from the typical 9 to 5. It means control. It means you call the shots. All of this is true, but being your own boss also means that you have responsibilities.

You are responsible for your employees, your customers, and your business. Their well-being is in your hands. That is why it is essential for anyone considering franchise ownership to weigh all the factors that go into being the boss and understand what it takes to be successful. Franchise ownership is a long-term commitment much like a marriage. It’s good to treat it that way, from courtship – researching franchises – to “I Do” – signing the Franchise Agreement. Remember the goal is happiness and financial independence.  Continue reading