Category Archives: Business Planning

Lean Canvas: Create Your Business Plan Quickly

Lean Canvas Model

 

View Webinar

Viewing this webinar requires some basic information. This data is only used within SCORE and will not be distributed to any third parties.

 

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

What is the SCORE Business Learning Center?

The SCORE Business Learning Center (SBLC) provides aspiring and existing small business owners the business strategies and tactics needed to make sound decisions and achieve greater levels of success.

The SBLC supplements the business resources available on score.org. It fills the gap between the high-level content on our website and the personalized expertise obtained from a mentor.

At the end of a course, users will feel they have a better understanding of their chosen topic and the resources available for continuous learning. They will also have a mentor they can work with to apply the learning to their business.

You will find it here… https://www.score.org/biz-learning-center

Ready to start an online store?

With all the news about people making a ton of money online, many aspiring entrepreneurs are excited at the prospect of starting an ecommerce store. However, many people don’t think through all the things that they need to consider before they even start the process of building an ecommerce site.

Here are eight things to consider before starting an online store.

1. What Products Are You Going to Sell?

One of the most important decisions is determining which products you will sell on your online store. Your best bet is to start small – with a few select products that are based around a specific niche, i.e. breastfeeding products, scuba diving gear, hiking products, travel gadgets, hemp products, etc. Start with a handful of products in that niche – you can always add more products to your store as you grow. Check out your competition and see who you’re up against.

Be sure to pick a niche that you’re personally interested in. If you’re not interested in what you’re selling, you will quickly lose your passion.

Also, look for unique products that can’t be bought at Target, Walmart or other big brand stores — you will never be able to compete with them on price or promotion.

For instance, when I had an ecommerce site, I searched for mom- or parent-invented products that weren’t available through mass market stores. Plus, these types of product manufacturers are typically more willing to work with you on terms and drop shipping (which we will talk about in a little bit.) You can also look for innovative products to sell on crowdfunding sources like Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

When you determine which niche products you’re going to sell, see if there are industry associations, trade websites or magazines. If so, join, follow and subscribe. Also, if there are product tradeshows around your product niche, attend these trade shows to discover new products, speak with the manufacturer reps directly and learn more about the industry in general. Often at the tradeshows you will be able to negotiate better pricing or drop shipping arrangements – especially if the manufacturer is launching a new product and they’re looking for new distributors.  Continue reading