The Ultimate Guide To Creating a Business Plan To Grow Your Business

business plan

Every small business owner needs a business plan to guide strategy and growth.

A good business plan separates failing small businesses from successful ones.

We regularly see our clients increase their profits by 50%, 400%, and even 1,500% starting with a proper plan as one of their most powerful business growth strategies, allowing them to make conscious and informed decisions.

This guide will teach you steps that will assure a steady growth of your business using one of the most rudimentary, yet overlooked strategies: writing a business plan.

How Does Writing a Business Plan Impact Your Business?

We said that planning is one of the most pivotal business growth strategies.

But how does it work within the big picture?

Say you have your business rolling for quite a while now. It’s not growing fast, but it’s not stagnant. 

What you’re missing could be the reason most businesses fail within their first year

business plan

CB Insights recognize multiple reasons for small businesses to fail, from failure to raise capital to personnel issues to pricing issues.

But look closely at the chart.

What do all these reasons have in common?

If you’re thinking ‘a viable business plan’, you’re right. 

The first thing we ever ask of our clients is to delineate where they would like to be and how they see themselves getting there. It turns out that if you do not plan your way towards success—or even worse; you don’t know what success would look like for you—it is hard to get there.

For entrepreneurs who move quickly and like to get right to the point, planning might seem like a formality or useless paperwork when in fact, executed properly, planning is the foundation of business growth.

  • A business plan compels you to analyze the current state of your business. So, instead of overlooking your business needs, you’ll overcome situations before they turn into challenges
  • Knowing where you are, you can analyze and pursue opportunities for business growth. You gain a better perspective of what you can do now to expand your business, be it finding new prospects, building and managing your team better or systematizing your internal processes and procedures.
  • When you know what the ideal future of your business looks like, you have a clearer perspective on what your priorities are. You should see planning as a strategic framework that guides your decision-making process. This way, making decisions regarding your business will be less a game of guesswork and more a game of taking strategic action.
  • When you know where you want your business to be in the far future, you can better track your near future. Another way to put it, a business plan provides you with key performance indicators that will help measure the progress towards your business goal

business plan

Typically, a business plan requires you to assess all aspects of your activity.

A standard business plan usually includes an executive summary, a business overview, business objectives, a description of products and services, an overview of market opportunities, sales, and marketing strategies, a competitive analysis, a financial analysis, and a delineation of the management structure.  

While useful for raising capital, these standard plans are the reason many business owners’ eyes glaze over when they think about developing a plan  

Instead, our approach to business planning is a little different…

We take planning to the next level. 

This guide shows you how to use planning to envision the actionable steps towards your goal. 

All that using the knowledge you gathered in a traditional business plan.

business plan

This means analyzing the current situation including a SWOT Analysis, creating a business plan around the weaknesses that need immediate attention, setting hard and fast deadlines for accountability, and tracking your progress in terms of business KPIs. 

First, we’ll make sure you make an informed decision when choosing your goal, meaning that we will walk you through how to make a thorough audit of your current situation. 

Then we’ll help you write clear-cut business KPIs that will guide your future tactics and strategies.

And finally, we will guide you through planning actionable steps to achieve your goals, and show you how to measure your success.

A successful business plan factors in these elements

Step 1. Analyze Your Business To Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

To make long-lasting and growth-inducing changes, treat your business with honesty.

A business plan imposes a thorough (and sincere) inspection of the state of facts within your business. So the changebusiness plans you make are congruent with the reality of your activity.

Once you’re well acquainted with the present state of your business, you can spot new growth opportunities.

Now, it’s time for you to touch base with your business.

Your Activity as a Business

Start by revisiting your core business activities. 

You have already sent your services and products out into the world for people to enjoy. Hence, you have enough data to learn about your offer.

To take the pulse of your business, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Which products or services work well in your target market? Which are not? 
  • Do you find that your products or services still fit the needs of your audience? And if they don’t, what doesn’t work? Analyze the cause of low performance (price, packabusiness planging, sales, marketing, functioning, etc.).
  • Your target market is it overly saturated with this type of product? If the answer is ‘yes’, is there something that differentiates your service from your competitors? 
  • What is the distinct value of your services to your customers?
  • When was the last time you reviewed your prices? Can you improve your profits and the quality of your services by making changes in your pricing, package offerings, service delivery, and so on?
  • Your team – are they motivated? Do they perform the way you want them to every day, or is it a constant battle to get work done the way you want it done?
  • Do you have standard, documented processes, and procedures that guide you and your employees to produce consistent results every time?

Take time to answer all of these questions. And don’t forget to take notes along the way.

The Efficiency of Your Internal Organization and Processes

business planThere’s a lot to analyze in terms of efficiency.

From the grounds where you conduct your activity and the equipment, you use to the efficiency of your management structure and the skills of your employees.

So, buckle up! You’ve got some reviewing to do.

Business Premises 

When it comes to where your business is located, ask yourself: is this place responding to our business needs now & does it allow us to grow? 

Although they are easily overlooked, your business premises should contribute to your small business success.

  • Do you have long-term commitments to the property? 
  • Do the premises present you with advantages or disadvantages? 
  • Is moving out an option to reduce costs?

Equipment and Technology

Whether your business rests on services, manufacturing, retail or you carry out your activities exclusively online, you use equipment and software.

Is your equipment modern or outdated? Does it help you to better execute your activity? Will new equipment help you speed up processes, reduce costs, or improve services?

business plan

When it comes to IT systems… 

  • What software, platforms, or gadgets do you use in your activity? Are they sufficient to help you provide outstanding services or products? 

And more… 

  • Can you use them for growth? When your business grows, will they meet your needs?
  • Are there any new devices, informational systems, or tools that you can use to improve the quality of your products or services or to streamline your internal processes?

The People of Your Business

business plan

By this, we refer to everyone who works in your business including yourself, employees and subcontractors.

Let’s first look at your management structure.

And the first question you require an answer to is: is your current team formed by the right people?

  • Do they constantly learn and grow?
  • Does their performance meet your expectations? Is your business thriving under their management?
  • Are they attuned to the company’s values? 
  • Do they have the appropriate skills for their positions?

And the next question is: do YOU have the right skills to guide your business towards growth?

Be honest. The point of this question is to guide you to learn where you can improve and where your teams need more training.

This leads us to the questions about your employees.

  • How skillful are your employees?
  • Do you have a training structure in place to assure the constant growth of your business performance?
  • Do you think that your employee engagement is high? Find out if your employees are aligned with the company’s goals. Moreover, are they satisfied with their work?
  • What are you doing to keep up the employee engagement and satisfaction? 

Your Business Through the Lens of Competition

business plan

You know by now that you’re not alone in the market. You’re surrounded by businesses that want your customers!

This means that you’ll have to know your competition well, provided you want to find growth opportunities.

To learn about  your competition, get curious about this:

  • What is their offer in opposition to yours? What are their market advantages and disadvantages? 
  • How do they price their products and services?
  • And how do they advertise their products, services, and themselves? 
  • How do they attract customers? 
  • What’s their reputation in the market?

Consider ‘secret shopping’ them to learn the answers and see what it feels like to be their customer.

Learning this information will help you identify opportunities to grow your business in a place where your competition won’t

Your Business from a Financial Standpoint

business plan

We’re saying it, and you should be thinking it—manage your business by numbers.

Poor finance management will bury your business alive.

To avoid that happening, take some time to review your financial statements: cash flow statement, balance sheet, and profit and loss statement. If you don’t know what to make up of all that information, get your accountant beside you.

business plan

This is what each of these statements will tell you

This type of investigation will make you familiar with how your business is using and producing money. And this will show you if you’re using your money efficiently.

 

Finding Market Opportunities

As you might have guessed, this implies doing further research about your customers and your market.

You must renew your market research because markets shift. Trends evolve. People change their minds. 

You have to know what’s happening out there so that your business can take part in it.

  • What are the actual market demands and needs? Interview some of your clients.
  • What’s the present business environment – aka the economy, the technological developments, social changes?
  • Are there new, emerging services and products creating more competition?

client success history

Step 2. Write Informed and Clear Business KPI To Guide Your Business Growth

Dare not skip this step! 

It is imperative that you answer each question and complete each task in this step.

Because, otherwise, we would have to ask you:

Are you sure you want to grow your business?

If your answer is yes, let’s get you to write a business plan like an expert.

For this section, you will use your previously gained knowledge to write a business KPI that will constantly remind you of your path to small business success.

What is a Business KPI?

business plan

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators—a quantifiable measurement you choose to help you gauge your progress towards business success.

You can use KPIs to measure almost every aspect of your business: financial achievements, operational activities, marketing efforts… ANYTHING. Nevertheless, KPIs differ from business to business, industry to industry. 

So don’t copy what others do. You have to find out on your own what is critical to you and your business. 

That’s why, first and foremost, you will have to select the area that you want to improve for your business.

How Do You Know Which Business KPI to Select?

With the help of your previous analysis (and your fellow knowledgeable business coach), you will identify what stands in the way of your business growth.

Is it your employees that require a nudge? Are you leaking money in the manufacturing department? Is your marketing not rising to your expectations?

Task 1: Identify One Pressing Business Weakness.

KPIs also depend on the past (background data) & on where you want to be in the future.

business plan

Task 2: Think of What Long-term Success Looks Like. Then Find a Benchmark to Gauge Short-term Success.

Side note.

Be careful what success metric you choose. Let’s say you find that your employee training programs don’t show astounding results. And you want to change that.

The improvements won’t produce better results in the training program in itself. You should see upgrades in the decrease of errors in product production.

Why Choose Only One Business KPI?

business KPI

Your business is a complex mechanism working on thousands of integrated and interconnected points and systems. 

So it’s a matter of course that changing one thing will affect the entire business.

But you can’t make changes in each segment of your business that needs improving in one go. 

That would wreak havoc on your business! 

You will not know for sure what does and doesn’t work. And it would be difficult for you to measure and keep track of what’s going on.

For this reason, we will track one thing at a time.

Do you need inspiration for finding your business KPI? Here are some ideas.

What Makes up a Good KPI?

business plan

A great KPI is succinct, straightforward, and relevant.

Consider these questions when writing your KPIs:

  1. How do you want your business to perform in the future? What are your projections?
  2. Why are these projected results important?
  3. How are you going to gauge any changes in numbers?
  4. What will you do to achieve the projected results? 
  5. Who will oversee this project? 
  6. How often will you evaluate the potential advancements?

Task 3: Write Your Business KPI, Answering Each of the 6 Preceding Questions.

Get ready, for you’re about to reach the—almost—last step in creating a business.

Step 3. Implement Your Plan and Measure the Results To Ensure Small Business Success

Here’s the process of action planning for business success and measuring the results. 

Action Planning for Business Success

business sucess

You should approach implementation through the lens of an action plan. Why action planning?  

Because it is the utmost actionable part of your business plan.

It provides an explicit delineation of what steps you should be taking to achieve your goals. It aligns your actions to your objectives. And, finally, it saves you from guesswork.

Now it’s time to prepare the list of tasks that will get you to your goal. 

And to achieve your KPI. 

Meaning honoring your business. 

This also means growing your business. 

We’ll return to our thought bubble.

business plan

If you have followed each step, at this moment, your action plan is half done.

What more you need to do is to expand on point 4: “how can you influence the outcome”.

 You’ll have to: 

to do list

  • Write down each activity that needs to be done and break them down into tasks.
  • Designate the action or specific tasks to a staff member.
  • Determine a timeline for each task.
  • Identify what resources you and your team need to complete the tasks.

Then, all you have left to do is get things rolling.

Measuring the Growth of Your Business

Do you remember when we asked you to be specific about your KPI? Well, the time has come to check on how things are going according to your benchmarks.

business sucess

Generally, you would review the performance of your business every quarter. But this timeframe may not be relevant to your business plan.

When you measure results, you go back to the initial source of information that you have used when analyzing your business. For example, when you had checked the performance metric indicating your conversion rate, you perhaps used a CRM. Now, you should go back to your CRM and look at the stats.

Take notes and compare them with your projected results.

Is everything going according to the plan? Or are the results signaling that you need to come up with new business growth strategies?

projected results

If results don’t live up to your expectations, don’t fret. Go back to

 your business plan, tweak it a little, consult with your stakeholders or business coach, and try again.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

How to create an action plan [+ Template]

Do You Need More Guidance in Planning the Growth of Your Business?

business plan

Find more freedom and raise your profits with one-on-one business coaching sessions.

If you struggle to find the optimal direction to grow your business, we can help you. No need to commit to the entire coaching program. For now, jump on a 30-minute strategy session

Before the meeting, we will send you a scorecard or a survey. Before and during the session, we will review the information you submitted, and we will help you figure out the next steps for your business.

 

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5 Must-Have Devices For a Small Business

devices

Using devices makes your business so much easier. It is 2022, and the technology market is at its pinnacle, making people’s lives easier. If you own a business and are experiencing troubles, you may be lacking in some technological gear. Today, we’ll go through 5 must-have items for making your business more relaxed.

1. Hands-Free Headphone Devices

It is essential to be able to contact your employees, customers, or clients when on the go. It might be challenging to hold your phone and talk on the phone when you are moving or doing some kind of physical activity. This is where you need a hands free headphone because they will let you do all these activities without holding your phone in your hand.

Hands-free headphones are so dependable and simple to use because they eliminate all of the unpleasant difficulties associated with cables. You can listen to high-quality audio by simply connecting your Android, iOS, or Windows phone over Bluetooth to a hands-free headset.

2. USB Devices

In a meeting, you can’t carry your laptop just to show the slides or give a presentation, right? This is where you need a small but really beneficial device known as a USB. USB allows you to easily carry your data in your pocket.

Furthermore, a C-type connector in combination with a USB will allow you to link the USB with your mobile phone, allowing you to easily transfer data in your mobile. A USB is the handiest and most effective gadget for making your business operations run smoothly. If you’re not using a USB in your business, you’re missing out.

3. Wireless Printer

devices

While running a business, you will need to print various papers, for which you will want a powerful printer. A wireless printer allows you to print any type of document with a single click of a button. click. Wireless printers have advantages over traditional network printers by allowing you to utilize the device anywhere it detects a strong Wi-Fi connection.

The one disadvantage of wireless printers is that they are pricey, but they are quite dependable. They are so convenient that everyone would be willing to spend money on them because of the ease with which they print papers.

4. Long-Range Cordless Phone

The cordless phone, also known as a portable phone, is an important piece of equipment for every small business. When you have a long range cordless phone, you have much more freedom to take the call without having the trouble of wires since you are not bound by the phone’s cables.

Cordless phones in today’s world have a beautiful design and a lot of diversity, as well as an excellent and clear voice. A portable phone is a must-have gadget for a small business since it allows you to easily communicate with other employers.

5. Powerbank Devices

While doing business, you may be required to travel on a business trip or to attend a client meeting when constant access to your mobile or laptop is required. What will you do if your phone’s battery dies and you don’t have access to a power socket?

At this point, all you need is a power bank, which will allow you to charge your phone without having to search for a wall plug.

Conclusion on Must-Have Devices

So what are you waiting for? If you want to grow your business on a large scale then you need to get these must-have devices.

If you have any further recommendations for this list, please leave them in the comments area below.

 

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Top 8 Cash Management Tools For Small Businesses

cash-management

It’s important to work with leading cash management tools to manage your small business. As cash management may either affect your business negatively or positively, choosing the ideal one for your business is a crucial decision. Before we list the top cash management tools, let’s understand first what cash management is.

Cash management refers to how you control and manage the cash flow in and out of your company or business. It is also how one collects the fund coming from clients and how business expenses are managed.

As a small business owner, it’s vital to understand that cash flow management determines the stability of your business. A healthy cash flow leads to timely collection and payments leading to business growth. Fortunately, you can use any online accounting services or other tools to manage your business cash flow.

Here are top-rated cash management tools for small businesses:

1. QuickBooks Online

cash-management

QuickBooks Online is arguably the most reliable cash management tool for small businesses. While it can be daunting for business owners when the tax period knocks on the door, this tool makes managing your accounts easier. QuickBooks assist in tracking invoices, managing expenses, view profit, and loss ahead of tax filing. However, there’s a monthly fee that comes with QuickBooks. Nevertheless, you can try it for 30 days for free to know if it suits you.

2. Float

Float is a cash management tool that can be connected to other accounting tools such as Xero, FreeAgent, and QuickBooks. Float makes it easier to view the future bank balance of your business without using difficult spreadsheets. Float also features transaction notes, budget bars, and elegant reports so you can get full information on your finances. This is a visual and intuitive tool that provides clarity and confidence in managing your business funds.

3. Xero

If you’re looking for a simple cash management tool for your small business, Xero might be the best solution for you. Xero has a clean interface and can fully integrate with a third-party payroll service. When Xero is integrated with GoCardless and Stripe, businesses can collect payments from clients online.

Founded in 2006 in New Zealand, Xero currently has more than 2.7 million users globally. Xero is popular in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Xero has also been tremendously growing in the United States.

4. Pulse

Pulse is another cash management tool that helps you monitor your business’s cash flow. With Pulse, you can get several cash flow views daily, weekly, or monthly. This tool can also make managing your cash flow by project or company easy. It also features projection reports so you’ll be aware of how your money is moving.

Additionally, Pulse provides reports in numerous currencies. With Pulse, you can allow access to selected users involved with accounts. If you have QuickBooks, you can integrate it into your Pulse account for advanced accuracy of projections.

In short, Pulse enables you to come up with genius business decisions by allowing you a closer check at your expenses, income, and cash flow forecast. It also helps you determine when to hire additional staff or make more significant purchases via its cash flow management aspects.

5. FreshBooks

One of the most important accounting requirements for small businesses is invoicing. Thankfully, FreshBooks provides more invoicing customizations compared to other cash management tools. Its key function is to print, send, receive, and pay invoices. It can also offer basic bookkeeping requirements for small businesses. FreshBooks makes it easier for businesses to send proposals and invoices, collect customers’ retainers, request deposits, track time on projects, as well as receive payments.

6. Scoro

Scoro is a sturdy tool that takes care of all aspects of a business. It has a variety of services that include cash flow management. It is an all-in-one business management tool that consists of budgeting, project management, and customer relationship management. Its reliability is on another level according to its users.

Scoro brings each team member, project, report, and sales into one place. It’s undoubtedly a complete tool to help you be on top of everything. Scoro’s features include time management, business management, finances, projects and tasks, customization, client management, integrations, reporting and dashboards, and mobile app.

7. Wave

cash-management

If you’re running a service-based small business sending simple invoices without the need to track inventory, Wave is the ideal accounting tool for you. For instance, most freelancers and other service-based businesses benefit from Wave’s free features that cover all accounting needs with ease. It can also provide its users with end-of-year accounts to prepare a business’ tax return.

Wave comes with accounting features each business might need, such as expense tracking, invoicing, financial reporting, and receipt scanning. Luckily, you can access these features online or via a mobile app. With Wave, bookkeeping, reporting features, and invoicing are free. However, payroll and customer payment processing are considered premium services that come at a cost.

8. Cushion

Cushion is a cash management tool designed for freelancers who need to stay on top of managing and planning their business. This tool can help you forecast your schedule, helping you plan for months, even when your clients change their timelines. With Cushion, you’re guaranteed a general overview of the whole year and be aware of availability and overbooking.

Cushion helps you realize your financial goals. It automatically adjusts your monthly goals throughout the year while separating what you need to earn from the desired profit. Likewise, Cushion helps you send and visually track invoices while allowing you a glimpse of patterns in your pay schedule. This tool can also be integrated with FreshBooks, Xero, among others.

Conclusion on Cash Management

As a small business owner, it’s essential to stay on top of the game for your business to grow, and for this to happen, you need to maintain accurate cash flow management. Cash flow management enables you to make wise decisions regarding your business. It provides you with accurate information on how your funds move in and out of your business. It’s believed that if you don’t track and manage your cash, you could end up making permanent mistakes that might harm your business.

Agreeably, you’re likely to find one suitable for your business with the tools mentioned here. These tools will help you track your cash and make better decisions for your business. Consider trying them out and see how your business benefits from them.

 

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Top 6 Business-Related Degrees for 2022

business-related-degree

Having a business-related degree can prove to be a profitable endeavor. Obtaining a college degree has always been, and still is, the best way to broaden your horizons and gain a solid grounding for your future career. Yet, when it comes to choosing the right program, many future students are feeling stuck, not knowing where they want to be and what they want to do in, let’s say, five or ten years from now.

If you need advice on the right degree, we have the answer! Among all programs, business degrees are the most flexible ones. Such a degree is broadly applicable, meaning it can help you get into nearly any industry and choose among a wide variety of career paths. Not to mention that it will also give you a solid grounding for becoming an entrepreneur yourself.

Simply put, a business degree can open the door to huge opportunities. The only question is what to focus on? To help you find the answer, in this article, we’ve gathered the top six business-related degrees of 2022 that will offer the best opportunities for your future. Let’s see what those are!

1. Business Management

business-related-degree

If you are looking for a business-related degree, the most obvious option would be business management. The core goal of such programs is to help students learn business fundamentals and core values and get a solid understanding of the key management principles and how they are applied in the real-world business landscape.

By opting for business management specialization, you will also learn the most common business operations and get a sneak peek into marketing practices. And you will learn many other important things, such as:

  • Branding
  • Personnel selection
  • Principles of creating effective systems
  • Sales forecasting
  • Product and brand management
  • Pricing, etc.

It’s worth noting that obtaining a business management specialization can be a hell of a challenge. Such programs are typically very intensive and, thus, complicated. But, no matter how hard it gets, don’t forget that you always have a reliable cheap essay writing service by your side that can help you pull it through. So, don’t let potential challenges scare you off and go towards your goals!

2. Finance

It should be crystal clear that finance always lies at the core of every business. So, if you want to choose a business-related major and you feel pretty comfortable with numbers, the chances are that a finance degree will be your best bet in 2022.

Getting a specialization in finance has many perks in today’s world. First of all, it can help you pave the way into the business. But, that’s not all.

Apart from the obvious application in the business landscape, a finance degree can also open the door to many other exciting opportunities. By enrolling in such programs, you will learn about different areas of finance, including financial analysis, capital planning, investment, international finance, accounting, and much more. This knowledge can be applied in a wide range of fields and career paths. So, it is also a great choice.

3. Entrepreneurship

Another quite obvious route into business is an entrepreneurship degree, and it is rather popular these days due to a number of reasons. Firstly, such programs will introduce you to the basic ideas, concepts, and practices of entrepreneurship. By taking it, you will learn what it really is like to be an entrepreneur and will gain all the tools and knowledge you might need to be well-equipped for becoming one yourself.

Another big benefit is that entrepreneurship degrees are very all-encompassing. In this type of program, students learn the basics of everything related to business, including:

  • Budgeting
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Employment law
  • Contracting and procurement
  • Legal compliance
  • And much more.

Not only will this degree prepare you for the possible business challenges. It will also turn you into a real leader.

4. Human Resource Management

If you are searching for business-related college programs, a Human Resource Management degree may not be the most obvious option. However, if you think about it from the perspective that there is always a good team behind every successful business, it becomes clear that studying the fundamentals of HR is no less important than learning business operations or management principles.

Taking a program in Human Resource management can actually teach you a lot of important things. Such degrees typically cover a wide range of topics, from managing human assets to conflict resolution in the workplace. It will also teach you how to develop an effective personnel selection process, how to set performance standards and quotas, how to build a wise compensation structure, etc.

All in all, it is worth noting that this degree can offer you a path to different careers. Thus, even if you are not going to start your own business, it can still make sense to specialize in Human Resource management.

5. Marketing

Being one of the most dynamic, in-demand, and growing fields, marketing is another worthy business-related degree option you can consider in 2022. Just like business management or entrepreneurship programs, a marketing degree is an obvious route for people interested in business. After all, it is marketing that drives business success.

By specializing in this field, you will learn the basics of different markets, sales forecasting, distribution channels, promotion, pricing, as well as product and brand management. Also, you will learn how to plan, implement, control, and measure marketing strategies and gain a competitive advantage in pretty much any niche.

A degree in marketing will give you the necessary base to start and promote your own business. At the same time, it can be applied in a number of other jobs in case you decide not to become an entrepreneur yourself.

6. Project Management

business-related-degree

Finally, the last business-related degree program that would be a good choice in 2022 is project management. The biggest benefit of this program is that it will teach you not how to lead a business in general but will equip you for managing diverse teams in the most efficient ways.

This degree also covers a wide range of topics. It can teach you how to plan and implement various projects on time. Also, it will help you grasp the basics of cost planning, scheduling, and risk assessment. So, all in all, it will be a good starting point for your business undertakings.

The Bottom Line of Business-Related Degrees

Each of these types of business-related degrees can help you pursue the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to build and run a successful business. And, even if you are not planning to engage in entrepreneurial activity in the future, each of them can also give a great start to a career in pretty much any field.

Which one is best? Eventually, it all gets down to your own needs and interests. The degree types we shared with you in this article are very different, though they are all built around the core business principles. Now all you need to do is carefully assess each option to find the right opportunity for you!

 

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4 Things to Look Out for When Getting a Small Business Loan

small-business-loan

Four Things to Look Out for When Getting a Small Business Loan

You own a small business and you need extra financing — it’s a tale as old as time. You want to secure a business loan fast, easily, and with no personal guarantees involved.

You don’t have a great credit score and you don’t want to go through the trouble of justifying your expenses with an elaborate business plan. Basically, you would like to benefit from a type of flexibility that one-size-fits-all types of loans cannot provide.

What You Need to Do to Get a Good Business Loan

Whenever you need capital — to expand, to keep operating, or to weather a storm — small business loans have the benefit of speed, transparency, and simplicity that more traditional financing options just cannot provide. 

In many cases, all you have to do is fill in a short online form and a financial specialist will get back to you within 24 hours. A brief conversation is all it takes for them to assess your business needs and your general financial situation. 

After that, you will generally receive a personalized offer and the possibility to sign everything online or at a nearby branch. Within a few days the much-needed funds will land in your business account and you’ll be all set.

What to Avoid When Searching for a Small Business Loan

small-business-loan

To make sure you navigate safely through the abundance of financial information out there and make an informed choice, you must first be aware of the potential traps of small business financing.

1. Avoid middlemen and third party involvement

With nobody earning a commission on your financing deal, you can pay significantly less and, by not involving third parties in the lending decision, the entire process can happen much more quickly.

You should also make sure your information is not shared with anyone else, as security should always be a priority for you, both as an individual and as a business owner.

2. Avoid excessive automation

Technology helps speed up things and cut down costs, but it can also become a burden for customers who need human interaction. As a small business owner looking for a cash advance or an online loan, being able to get in touch with an actual specialist is important, instead of just ticking boxes in a rigid form.

Unfortunately, many online lenders tend to overly automate their flows, not taking into account that small businesses have different needs and they are all unique.

3. Avoid lengthy processes and predefined offers

Getting a loan from a bank is likely to give any small business owner a headache. Not only does it take months to get through the entire approval process, but a lot of paperwork is involved as well. In the end, you are the one who has to fit their requirements, instead of the other way around. 

What you should do is opt for tailored solutions from reputable direct lenders and enjoy that extra flexibility and speed of loans for businesses with no credit.

4. Avoid predatory techniques

Stay clear of confessions of judgment and other similar tactics that prey on small business owners. Also, make sure that you can pay your balance early without penalties — there are companies that unfortunately incur them. 

In fact, it’s even better if you can get early payment discounts mentioned in your contract.

Final Small Business Loan Insights

In order to access a fast and convenient financing solution, you generally need to have been in business for at least 6 months and prove monthly sales of $10,000 or more. 

Now that you know what to avoid when looking for a small business loan so that you can fully benefit from them, get ready to take your business to the next level.

 

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The Case For Multilingual Cross-Border Marketing

multilingual

The Case For Multilingual Cross-Border Marketing

Having a good marketing strategy is essential for any business looking to sell their products. For businesses engaged in cross-border commerce, this can mean dealing with audiences that speak in different languages. Having multilingual accessibility is very important.

Language is perhaps the biggest challenge when it comes to cross-border marketing, but paying attention to language is what can make or break a business in a new foreign market. This article will talk about translation as a key strategy for cross-border marketing success, and what things you will need to keep in mind when integrating it into your business’s marketing strategy.

If that interests you, then let’s dive in!

Cross-Border and Global Marketing Strategy

Cross-border marketing refers to the strategy of promoting your products and services to a different market. It’s an important thing to consider if you want to expand your business’s reach.

It’s a concept that’s very closely related to global marketing, and shares the same basic principles. This blog post from leading translation company Tomedes provides a good breakdown of what it is, and the legal, logistical and production challenges that need to be accounted for before you even consider marketing for a foreign audience. 

When it comes to cross-border marketing, one of the most important considerations is language. If you’re running a successful domestic business, you may already have a good marketing strategy in place. But if you’re trying to reach out to a new foreign audience, you will be facing a whole new set of challenges, and communicating with this audience is the biggest of these. 

Why Multilingual Translation Is Important In Cross-Border and Global Marketing

A lot of research has shown that consumers want to be marketed to them in their own language. CSA Research’s continuously updated “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” is one of the most authoritative studies on the matter, and its most recent iteration found that a staggering 76% of consumers around the world prefer products with information in their own language.

This makes translation essential for any good cross-border and global marketing strategy! Without it, you’re only reaching a quarter of potential customers in any new market that speaks a different language.

What Should You Target For Multilingual Translation?

So how do you integrate translation into your global marketing strategy? There are a number of aspects that you might want to prioritize:

Website

For e-commerce businesses, often the single most important platform to focus on for marketing is the website. This is where customers will go if they want to learn more about a business or buy its products, and if they don’t find it accessible they are likely to leave and take their business elsewhere instead. But if the website is available in a customer’s native language, then they will feel that your product or service does cater to them, and they will be more likely to stay and even make a purchase.

Social Media Platforms

Another major part of any effective marketing campaign is the ability to reach out to consumers on social platforms. Broadly, Facebook dominates the social media landscape, and also has a strong e-commerce ecosystem, so any business will want to carve out a presence there. But aside from Facebook, the preferences differ by country. For example, Instagram is popular in Europe and the Americas, but it’s outpaced by Twitter in parts of the Middle East and Asia. In China, the top social media platform is WeChat. It’s important to not only speak to consumers in their language, but also on the platforms they use most.

multilingual

Advertising Copy

Ads are an important component of a marketing campaign that you need to seriously consider for translation. After all, ad spend can take up a large part of the marketing budget, so you want to be sure you’re getting the bang for your buck. Advertising to consumers in their native language is the best way to catch their interest.

Customer Support That is Multilingual

A good customer support experience helps build customer loyalty. This is one thing that’s easy to overlook, but is an important thing to consider if you want sustainable success in a foreign market. Having customer support be available in your customers’ native language makes for a better experience and encourages continued patronage to your business. After all, it’s frustrating for a customer to deal with refunds or questions about your product if you don’t speak the same language!

Product Labels and Packaging

Consumers have a lot of options to choose from, and the best way to catch their attention is if your product looks and feels like it was designed for them. You might think there’s some allure in having a foreign or exotic aura, but this is often a novelty and doesn’t translate into long-term interest. Having a product that consumers can feel at home with is in most cases the better and more sustainable strategy.

Other Things To Consider with Multilingual Translation

Invest in high-quality translations. The main point of marketing is to show your business and your products in the best possible light to your customers. Poor translations reflect badly and will make customers less inclined to trust you, no matter how good your product is. Machine translation might seem like a cheap option but its quality can never approach the human touch.

Be sensitive to cultural nuances. It isn’t enough to just translate your content into a different language, it has to speak to your audience in a way that really speaks to them. This means knowing more about linguistic trends and quirks of your audience so that you can better design your marketing to appeal to them on a cultural level.

Outsource the translation work. If you don’t have the resources to do professional translation work, the best option would be to hire a reputable agency to handle it instead. This will not only lift the burden from your team so they can continue to do their own work, but will likely also be less of a headache in terms of quality control since you’ll be working with actual language professionals instead.

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Factors to Consider When Writing a Great Business Plan

business-plan

A business plan sounds so strict, serious, and a little intimidating. It’s a particularly scary word for young entrepreneurs who have never drafted a business plan before. However, as long as you have a winning business idea, you should not be afraid to implement it in life. Thus, at some point, you’ll need to start working on that business plan. Don’t fall in despair, though. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. You can simply follow the common steps of writing such a plan. To do so, just follow the five main factors we mention in the article.

 

Consider the Following When Writing a Strong Business Plan

 

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a breaking point in your pursuit. This concept turns your vision and dreams into reality. Thus, it turns your idea into something tangible. You should be able to put your idea on paper, plan it out, and decide on every needed step. Your business idea should look like a concrete strategy for turning your dream into reality by the time you finish your plan.

Of course, you don’t write such a plan only for yourself. This document is for your future sponsors, partners and employees. Hence, your plan should be professional, clear, and convincing. Don’t worry. You can always ask writers from study bay for professional writing tips or help with composition and edition. Overall, your business plan should always consider all necessary steps for making your idea work. Thus, it should include around five factors. These are the future strategy, people involved, finances, marketing, and operation. Let’s have a closer look at all five of them.

Strategy

business-plan

The first stage of your plan should always be an introduction. Thus, you get to explain your idea. Write why you think it is a good one. Start with factors that make it special so others will get invested in further reading. Here, you write what you plan to do with this idea. Hence, you briefly draft the strategy and outcomes you expect. Outline the purpose of it all. Explain what niche it is going to take and what goals it pursues. End with explaining how you are going to gain profits. This part is everything your future investors or partners are interested in, so make it count.

Execution while writing your business plan

At this stage, you explain all the operational elements of your business. Hence, this step answers all the ‘how’ in your plan. You should write down how you will run your business including the type of the organization you want to have and how you will implement it. Detail all the technical and operational issues. Thus, here, you show the upwards of your business. Start with the leadership team, explaining how the system of hierarchy works in your business. Next, move to the predicted point of your first profits. Then, show how you expect to achieve it. Overall, explain every little build of how your idea can work as a business.

Marketing

In our modern world of tight competition, marketing can make or break a new business. Explain to the people your marketing approach. Find the right ways to get noticed by the public. Show several marketing strategies that aim to attract, win over, and gain customers’ loyalty. Don’t forget to stress out your online marketing strategy, as this is where the real game happens. You may even seek out some unemployed professors who can explain marketing strategies in great detail if you want.

Finances

Here, everything is rather simple. You should write down your predictions, or better calculations, on how much money your business needs. Thus, you get to outline all your expenses. See what type of working space you need and how much that is going to cost you. Perhaps, you just need a website and social media presence. See how you plan to advertise your product. Plan how many people you need on your team to start off with your plan. Try to predict how many employees you may need if the business takes off. Overall, the financial factor is often the hardest one to predict and implement into life. However, this step is crucial for a reliable and good business plan.

Team

A good business plan will mention the people needed for the work. Overall, here you state what professionals you need to run your business. The people on your team play an essential role in your future success. So, already having good specialists on the team will help convince investors to believe in your idea. Overall, the people factor in a business plan is often among the most influential ones. Make sure you pay enough attention here.

The bottom line of your business plan

business-plan

These five factors should serve you as the crux of your future work. However, it’s not enough to learn only about your future enterprise. Remember to make adjustments to all plans and presentations depending on the audience. The people you present this plan for play a huge role in your future success. After all, your main goal here is to make people believe in yourself. Sometimes, you can achieve it with pure facts, numbers and graphs. Sometimes, though, you get to win people over with passion and ambitions.

 

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Best Ways To Take Your Business Global

business-global

The Most Effective Methods For Expanding Your Business Globally

Business owners have expanded their reach to other countries to gain access to several customers. Many companies are now looking internationally and opening up opportunities for consumers worldwide with an influx of different markets. Take your business global and see the prospect for any business; of course, there are many!

Some considerations need to be made before you start looking at international markets. We will look closely at the things you have to keep in mind when going into foreign territory where you don’t know both customs or legislation on the ground.

Partner With Local Experts

You need to partner with someone who can vouch for you in your new location if you are taking your business internationally but staying geographically in your home country. Since you are not fully immersed in the local environment, you will be able to provide the mentoring needed to understand the problems.

You should look for someone who not only lives and operates in the local market but who you can trust when identifying a foreign partner. It is essential that this person understands your business and represents your interests.

Chances are you will be competing with local companies that already understand customers and have determined how to market their products to them when you move your business to a new geographic marketplace. Without partnering with local experts, you can put your company at a considerable disadvantage.

Learn About the Culture to Make Your Business Global

business-global

You will interact with people of different cultural values near the territory of your business expansion at the international level. Recognizing this diversity, which can include everything from ethical differences to communication methods, is key to doing business worldwide.

For example, Japanese business culture is known to be more group-oriented, in the sense that leaders must build consensus on decisions and guide others through an acute process orientation. In comparison, Americans tend to be more individualistic and driven by competition. These communication skills may seem out of place in your particular line of business. They strongly influence how people from different cultures negotiate, make decisions, and ultimately do business with you.

Make Sure You Know Everything About The Region

You should plan a trip to visit the region on your own before deciding to take your business to the global market. Sure, expert business consultants and a Google search can tell you what you think you need to know, but there is nothing better than visiting directly to help you truly understand a new market and its values.

Think of a guide to help you navigate the area when visiting a new location (sales market). Make sure you do some preliminary research to find out how truthful the information you are getting from your focus is. The right guide will not only make you feel comfortable but also open new doors for you.

It is not enough to visit the place once. In addition to regular online checks such as video, chat messengers, and email, you should include frequent global travel in your business plan. These actions will keep you informed and help you understand what changes need to be made.

Create Marketing Strategy to Make Your Business Global

Almost 50% of companies try to market using marketing without a clear strategy. As a rule, the other half of the market that uses long-term planning is much more successful in marketing.

You can connect an end-to-end analytics service to check which advertising and online promotion channels will be most effective. The end-to-end analytics system collects all data together with CRM, advertising systems (costs, impressions, clicks), lead catchers, call tracking systems, email tracking, callback services, website builders. All information can be seen in the service interface by building reports and graphs of any complexity. The program also has ready-made integrations for downloading data from advertising systems Google AdWords, Facebook. Some find that podcasts marketing was often the most effective channel for providing the maximum value for the users. There are so many benefits of podcasts as a marketing tool; choosing an appropriate one is a win-win both for the marketer and a business.

In addition, you can include in the marketing project the qualifications of personnel working in sales and marketing. For example, for the vacancy of a sales manager (cold calls), you should not hire employees with less than two years of work experience since the first impression of a potential client about the company depends on him, which means future sales. A systematic approach to promotion allowed us to save millions of rubles on marketing, which could have been wasted blindly wasting money.

Improve Your Website When Making Your Business Global

business-global

It is good to have some initial ideas of the design and how it will function when you get started with your website. This way, when you decide on a foundation for our website, there won’t be any unwelcome surprises later down the road.

Look at the websites of competitors to get an idea of what types of things attract their customers. Also, consider which websites you find engaging or beneficial when you visit them frequently – this will provide insight into how to design your site best.

Automate The Existing Business Processes

It is essential to ensure that the processes are fine-tuned to the point that the project can work without your constant supervision for your business to grow effectively.

It is quite possible to bring it to the level of an entire franchise if you developed a transparent, debugged system. Selling a franchise is not only an instant profit but also expanding your presence in the market, increasing brand awareness – everything that ultimately helps to increase income even more.

Learn Your Target Audience and Make Competitors’ Research

Engaging campaigns and exciting brand identity are necessary for success in a new region. You have to know your audience’s wants and needs because that will help inform what products people choose when looking online or offline to achieve these goals.

The best way to create an engaging brand identity is to understand the wants and needs of potential buyers. To take your business global, you must research what people are looking for in your target region online or offline when choosing which products will most effectively target these preferences.

We have to do a little research to make our product more attractive and better than the competition. We need to find out if products similar to ours are currently being sold in this industry before us. Once we know who they are and how their current promotion methods work, we can use that information to inspire how to best promote ourselves with these same consumers based on what works best from each competitor’s strategy. Looking at goods in other online stores is a great way to get ideas for new ways shoppers can buy things from home without having them delivered.

Create Engaging Communication Strategy

business-global

The modern world has made it easier for customers to purchase products online and deliver them across borders, but this can sometimes be confusing. For example, imagine an online store owner who is targeting a foreign market. They may wonder how best to convey information about their product without having customers become discouraged or confused by the unfamiliar language.

Want to take your business global and make sure potential buyers around the world see it? Localizing one’s website will help ensure that all of them can immediately know what you offer no matter where in the world they deliver. Don’t know how to speak a foreign language yet, or struggling with a lack of materials on learning it fast online? There are plenty of excellent resources for everyone who would like to take French online lessons and improve their language skills for work purposes.

The ability to speak a foreign language is often something that employers struggle with when hiring new staff. They don’t know how much or what kind of training should be provided, and they can’t communicate directly with their employees, making it difficult to determine levels of fluency. It might make sense for them to hire an outside agency to assess the status and provide appropriate instruction where necessary.

Work on Customer Success

You have to consider that some customers are willing to pay more for a better service to take your business global and ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. Therefore, your business must provide reasonable customer satisfaction, and it is essential no matter what country they’re in. As mentioned before, if the language on the website doesn’t match their own, then there’s a good chance that these particular customers will leave without buying anything as it wasn’t convenient enough.

Once you’ve found a way to communicate with your customers, this must be done in the language they speak. Prepare email templates written in all potential languages so, if needed, messages can be sent across borders quickly and efficiently to take your business global.

Make Sure the Delivery Works Properly

US warehouse service is a great way to have your business run more efficiently. You can get the most for your cash by leveraging it and not having to deal with complaints that come from orders being late due to lost in transit concerns because they are managed just like another order would be as simple as clicking one button, imagine all of this happening without any additional costs or hassle while you sit back and enjoy.

To Sum It Up on Making Your Business Global

Thanks to globalization and online possibilities to promote such business, expanding your company’s reach and influence has never been easier. It used to be difficult for companies with a thriving local business model in one country or region to gain traction overseas without facing many challenges along the way. Nowadays, it is much simpler to take your business global as fewer obstacles can stop an international expansion from happening!

 

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How Your Business Can Survive an Existential Crisis

business

Without a doubt, any business will experience peaks and challenges. Some of these valleys would be considered an existential crisis. There are exciting times and harder times, and there’s a rollercoaster of emotions at every stage. However, while looking back on the journey with hindsight can be a magical, eye-opening experience, going through the journey itself can be tough, and sometimes even too much if you don’t know how to deal with what you’re facing.

Many times, this comes in the form of an existential crisis. This basically refers to a time where losses exceed profits, and you feel as though everything is heading downhill. This can be an incredibly difficult time, not just because the business is suffering, but because it causes you to doubt everything you’ve been doing, which can lead to rash decisions that only perpetuate the situation further.

This is especially the case with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and many businesses have found themselves in a similar situation. Whether you’re still feeling the effects yourself or you find yourself in your existential crisis, this guide aims to help reframe your mind and get yourself back on track when it matters most.

What is an Existential Crisis?

existential-crisis

Just so we’re on the same page, an existential crisis within a business is a point in time where you’re facing obstacles and challenges. You may be literally questioning your identity as a business, are problem-solving to stay in business and to stay afloat, or you may be on the verge of actually closing for good. It’s not necessarily a happy or positive time for a business, but it can be in the long term.

If you can learn lessons during this critical time, then your business has the potential to come out the other side stronger and more productive than ever before. It’s the harder times like this and how you and your business deal with it that will help you to become the best version of yourself/

It’s all about staying grounded, not making irrational decisions out of panic, staying focused, and doing everything you can to move things forward while addressing the problems that are holding you back. This is what the rest of this article is going to be focusing on.

How to Use This Existential Crisis as an Opportunity to Redefine Your Business

The most important thing to remember when in a crisis situation is that this creates the unique opportunity for you to redefine your business. One of the most common reasons businesses fail is because they fail to keep themselves fresh, which affects the mindsets and perspectives of both the customer base and the people who work within the business.

It’s easy to get into bad habits, and stale ways of working that can eventually end up holding the business back and leading you into this crisis situation. Being in the said situation is a chance to address and ultimately move on from these issues, meaning you’ll be able to redefine your business into a better version of itself.

In the very literal sense, this could mean redefining your branding of your business or remodeling the way you do things behind the scenes. How you go about doing this will depend on your business and the way you’re doing things, but the best place to start is by identifying your problem areas.

Look for bottlenecks within your working processes, looking for employees and mindsets that are holding you back, and looking for ways of working that aren’t as efficient as they could be. You may not even need to change too much physically. Sometimes, it’s purely a psychological mindset problem that is standing in your way.

How to Use This Crisis as an Opportunity to Grow Your Business

While existential crises are tough for everyone involved, it’s vital to remember that it’s not only an opportunity for your business to grow and to redefine itself but also for you as an individual. Whether you’re a team leader, manager, CEO, business owner, or leader of any kind, you need to take this as a chance to better yourself.

Take a moment to think about how you’re handling the situation, and be critical of yourself and what you’re doing. Yes, you’re going to feel emotional when your business is going through turbulent times, but if you’re acting emotional and making decisions in this mindset, it’s safe to say you’re not going to be acting like a good leader.

Instead, you need to remain grounded and focused in a way that everyone can look up to you for guidance and can trust what you’re doing. If you hit hard times and the leader loses the plot, then everyone else has no hope either.

It’s More Than Just Money

existential-crisis

Sure, money is a big problem if you’re a business going through an existential crisis. Your losses are larger than your profits. Perhaps you’re not able to pay your employee’s paychecks, and they realize there’s a problem, and now you’ve to deal with all of the issues that come with that.

However, it’s so important in situations like this to remember that it’s not all about the money. Both you and your employees have lives connected to your business, and to lose a job is to lose a way of life and to lose security. Be compassionate to the fellow human beings you’re sharing your life with.

Bringing Purpose to Your Business

Another way that your business may be suffering is having a lack of purpose or direction. You may be trying to tackle so many things and attempting to hit so many goals that you’ve spread yourself too thin and become aimless. Alternatively, you may be stuck into so many bad habits and tedious ways of working that you’ve simply become too lethargic with what you’re doing.

To counteract this, you need to revisit your goals and ambitions and aim to bring a renewed sense of purpose to your business life. This means resetting your goals and targets, giving you and your business a new sense of direction, and basically doing what you need to do to remotivate you and your team.

Nurture Your Working Relationships

Hand in hand with what we’ve spoken about already, it’s important to make sure you’re working on maintaining your working relationships, not just with you and your staff, but also others, like your customers and clients, your suppliers, and your less-obvious contacts.

More often than not, you’ll rediscover that it’s not what you know, but who you know that can get you out of some of the problems you’re in. Maintaining and actively nurturing your relationships can open the door to so many new opportunities and solutions that you may never have otherwise been able to access.

How to Adjust Your Viewpoint

existential-crisis

How you rearrange your viewpoint will depend on how you are as an individual, and it can take time to let go of an older version of you, yet nonetheless essential if you want to step into a better version of yourself. There are many ways you can get started, but it all starts with looking at the bigger picture.

As a leader, it can be heartbreaking to seemingly see your business failing, and of course, this can be a huge crunch on your confidence and self-esteem. However, you need to have the capability to look outside of these ways of thinking and instead look at the bigger picture.

There are a million and one variables that could come into play when it comes to why your business is having an existential crisis, and you can’t just blame yourself. More often than not, it’s all because of a ‘perfect storm’ kind of scenario.

The very best thing you can do is let these ways of thinking go, and instead focus on finding the problems and addressing them. Sure, you may have made some bad calls in the past, but instead of ruminating on them, the very best thing to do is simply to resolve them and move forward. Basically, whatever you do, don’t get hung up on the past.

How Can You Help Someone Experiencing An Existential Crisis In The Firm?

Finally, the last point of call on our journey here is focusing on what you should do if someone else in your business is having an existential crisis. Of course, your main focus here is to help them to overcome their thoughts and feelings and to get back on track. Fortunately, the solution is much like what we’ve already spoken about.

You need to take the individual to the side and try to find out what problems they’re facing, and start working on solutions to overcome them. Look into their work processes and flows and see where their individual bottlenecks are, and identify steps you could take in order to make their life easier, more motivated, and more productive.

Emily Henry is a business specialist and a blog writer at Buy college paper online and Online assignment help services.  She enjoys reading and writing on different aspects of marketing and assisting businesses when they’re facing harder times.

 

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Create An Action Plan With Action Planning Templates

Create an Action Plan

When it comes to tracking and realizing your goals efficiently, a well-designed action plan will help to do that. Be it a career, business, or personal goal, you can implement an action plan to create a clear path to success. The degree of detail required in action planning can vary depending on the number of resources you have at your disposal and the complexity of the project or goal in question.

In this article, we will discuss action plans, what action planning is, why it’s essential, and how to create an effective action plan to help you achieve your goals efficiently and successfully. As a bonus, an action planning template is at the end of this article to help you attain your goals with greater precision and efficiency.

What is an action plan?

An action plan is basically a document that lays out the tasks that need to be accomplished to attain your goal. Action planning breaks down the process into actionable assignments based on a feasible timeline. A good action plan will clearly outline the necessary steps needed to achieve your goal(s) and help you attain your set target efficiently by assigning a timeframe—a beginning and end date—to every step in the process. The action planning process may go differently depending on your needs, and you can follow the action planning template at the end of this article to help you attain your goals efficiently.

Why is action planning important?

action-plan

An action plan is applicable in various scenarios, ranging from individual to organizational scales, from employees who desire to enhance their work performance to project managers designating tasks to team members. Action planning can help you identify a clear path to move toward your goal and confidently align associated tasks in the proper order to help you achieve your goal most efficiently.

In the case of an organizational setup, when a project is relatively small and short-term, for example, designing, printing, and distributing a leaflet, you may not find it reasonable to develop an action plan, as that’d prove unnecessary and unbeneficial.  This is particularly true when few people are involved, and what has to be done and the steps to achieve the action are clear. Repetitive tasks, that is, tasks that are done repeatedly, do not require action planning. For medium-sized projects, such as organizing a conference, action planning can be very beneficial. An action plan is essential for larger-scale projects or programs, such as opening a new branch for your company.

The number of advantages of action planning is numerous, and here are a few specific benefits.

An action plan gives the opportunity for reflection

Before engaging in a task or activity, it is helpful to think about what has happened before, what actions were taken that brought about success or partial success, and what actions have not helped. Such reflection is essential for making successful decisions on what course of action to take, and action planning allows such reflective questions to be asked and answered.

It brings people together

Action planning can bring together experts in a particular field, people who are knowledgeable in the area of work concerned, individuals who are experiencing a similar problem and will stand to benefit from the change (beneficiaries), and individuals who can contribute to the project (resources). In many cases, an individual may fit into more than one of these roles.

It clarifies the objective

We often assume that if a group of people comes together to create an action plan, they will, of course, have the same objective, but that is not always the case. A business starter conference, for example, may host people who are interested in starting a consultancy business, an online business venture, or merely just expanding the customer base for an already existing business. The emphasis of a particular project changes depending on the objective, and action planning clarifies precisely what change is required by clarifying the objectives.

It builds consensus

As we’ve earlier seen with a consensus in the objectives, consensus on priorities can also be achieved through action planning. Everyone involved in an action plan can contribute their ideas and gradually steer towards the most critical actions through discussion, negotiation, and compromise.

It creates ownership and accountability.

When people create an action plan, they are more likely to contribute realistic suggestions that are often connected to things they have some degree of influence over. The involvement process of action planning instills in participants a sense of individual and collective ownership for the action plan. This sort of ownership feeling allows for tasks to be allocated to different people, creating accountability. Individuals assigned tasks know they are responsible for them and need to report progress on those tasks at agreed time intervals.

It clarifies timescales

The process of creating action planning involves setting out all the tasks that need to be done to achieve a set objective and making decisions about how much resource is available for each specified task. Such assessments allow for a realistic estimate of how long the overall action plan will take. Every action should have an exact completion date in an action plan, which helps clarify the timescales for projects.

They identify measures of success.

Measurement standards for success are like steppingstones towards a larger objective. Such measuring standards provide a way of assessing progress towards that goal. For example, suppose an objective is to expand the customer base for a business owner. In that case, there may be many steps towards that goal, including creating more awareness of the product through tv ads, social media ads, requesting referrals from customers, etc. Each of these steps can be measured to ensure they contribute towards realizing the aims and larger objective of the business. Action plans help identify such measures of success and highlight them for a more straightforward assessment of progress.

Who Needs an Action Plan?

action-plan

Action plans are an excellent tool for attaining objectives and can apply in various situations, being employed by different parties in an organization. Business owners and managers can create action plans for their teams to expressly lay out tangible steps necessary to achieve long-term or short-term goals. Even individuals can make use of action planning for themselves to achieve their individual goals. In short, in any situation where there is a goal or strategy, but there isn’t a laid down road map for its accomplishment, creating an action plan will be helpful.

When to Create an Action Plan?

Having explored what action planning is and why it is essential to develop an action plan, we must answer the agelong question many people ask: what is the best time to create an action plan for the business owner?

Generally, the ideal time for creating an action plan will be at the start of the business when it’s at its baby stage. That could be between 0-6 months after starting the business to make the most out of action planning. This is because you need to ascertain your objectives, mission, vision, and the strategies you want to employ for the company before you begin developing an action plan.

So, action planning will be most useful when you do it when you have enough information to be sure it works. By doing so, you’ll be able to achieve a proper blueprint, which is key to the success of your business.

On the flip side, there is one thing you always need to remember about action planning: an action plan is always just a work in progress, and you can and should always be able to make some changes in the action plan when the need arises. As the times change, there may be some company objectives and policies which may follow suit. Such changes may warrant some alterations to your action plans, and it is essential you keep your action plans flexible to be able to effect such changes when the need arises. If you keep this in mind when taking on the action planning process, you’ll be sure to create a great action plan that’ll near guarantee success for you.

The Criteria for Good Action Planning

When it comes to action planning, you should cross-reference your action plan against several criteria to ensure it meets up. Essentially, you should ask, is the action plan:

Complete? Does it detail all the action steps or changes to be sought in all relevant parts of the business (e.g., sales wing, marketing, accounting, etc.)?

Clear? Is it clearly apparent who will do what by when?

Current? Does the action plan sit well within the current work? Does it anticipate newly emerging opportunities and hindrances?

How to Write an Action Plan in 5 Steps

The action planning process can seem challenging, but it’s worth the work up front to keep you and your business focused on achieving set goals. An action plan uses a simple framework to help give you clarity. While action plans may differ in tasks and timelines, they often generally conform to the same structure and usually include similar types of information.

Here’s a five-step plan you can follow to help you create an action plan.

  • Set SMART goals.
  • Create a list of actions.
  • Set a timeline.
  • Designate resources.
  • Monitor the progress.
  1. Set SMART goals

Before you write your action plan, be sure to ensure your goal conforms to the SMART model. Your goals should be:

Specific: For an effective action plan, your goal should be clearly defined with little to no ambiguity. For example, if you aim at increasing sales of your product, then, instead of saying you want to increase sales, you could instead set a particular target you desire to attain, such as increasing sales by 20%. That makes the goal very specific and clear in understanding.

Measurable: Measurability of your goal is the quality that seeks to quantify the degree of success of achievement of that goal. Make sure your goal can be measured. For example, if your goal is to generate more sales for your business, try to create weekly or monthly sales reports to track the number of product sales achieved to measure your progress.

Attainable: For action planning, the set goal should be within reach of realization. While it is good to set high goals to challenge yourself, you must ensure they are attainable, as they’ll help you achieve your desired progress.

Relevant: One crucial quality of your action plan goal is relevant to your abilities, needs, and interests. For example, if you aim to increase advertising revenue by 25%, setting a goal to expand to a new business site or opening new work offices for the business may not be relevant to your goal. You must ensure actionable steps bring you closer towards directly achieving your intended goals.

Time-based: For action plans, your goals should have a specific deadline for their attainments, such as increasing your income by 20% over the next six months or one year.

  1. Create a list of actions

action-plan

Having established a SMART goal for your action plan, the next step in the action planning process is to create a list of tasks you need to complete to reach your goal. This will entail dividing your main goal into smaller attainable objectives. In doing so, you can make the final goal seem less overwhelming and move closer to it in an organized and stepwise manner. Be sure to make actions attainable and related to your goal. If a particular sub-task is too vague or intimidating, you can further divide it into two or three smaller action items that will be more doable.

Let’s take an example. Suppose you want to expand the customer base of your business. You may have to perform several tasks to achieve your goals, such as creating ads for social media users concerning your business, creating tv ads for your business, developing promotions, giveaways, and sales events for your products. The task of creating social media ads may be broken down into smaller and yet actionable steps, like, creating a list of popular social media platforms, choosing suitable plans based on the company’s preferences, assessing the ad plans available for the platforms, and then creating ads for the platform.

When you clearly describe each task in your action plan, you pave the way towards realizing your ultimate goals.

  1. Set a timeline for your action plan

Aside from the timeline you set for your primary goals, it will help to establish a timeframe for accomplishing each task in the process. You must create a timeline you can reasonably follow to ensure that you maintain consistent progress towards your goal. Be sure to assess the requirements and consider the amount of time you’ll need to complete each item on your list and appropriate the timeframes accordingly.

For example, suppose you want to increase traffic to your business website by 75% in one year’s time through social media and search engine optimization. In that case, you’ll need a timeframe for achieving your desired results for each of the tasks, such as steadily increasing your social media following by 30% in three months and optimizing the first page for a web search of specific keywords in six months.

  1. Designate resources to implement your action plan

If you are dealing with a large-scale project, you’re most likely dealing with several assigned tasks. To ensure the success of your action plan, you should assess the skills and abilities of your team to determine who will be best suited and qualified to perform each task. Then, designate who WILL be in charge of the objective and the resources needed to complete the task, resources like money, equipment, and personnel.

For example, suppose you’re managing a marketing campaign for a company. In that case, you will need to find out which staff members are most vital in planning, content production, social media marketing, and SEO. It is also vital you have the applications and tools for content production, graphic design, and marketing analytics.

  1. Monitor the progress of your action plan

In this last step of action planning, you should describe how you will ensure each task in your action plan is completed on time. To achieve this, you could use tools such as using internal reporting or holding regular meetings. By doing so, you will be regularly apprised of the progress you are making towards your goal. Be sure to specify the measures explicitly you will be used to monitor the plan’s progress. This could include milestones like the number of tasks completed and quantitative measures like sales or market share.

For example, let’s suppose you want your customer service department to be able to process 1,000 inquiries per day by the end of the year, and you need at least ten customer representatives to achieve your goal. You can easily deduce how close you are to your final goal by simply taking stock of how many inquiries you can handle and how many customer service representatives you have by the half-year mark.

With these steps, you can be sure to realize a full-proof action plan that’ll yield the results you intend.

Action Planning Template

team meeting

A quick way around developing an action plan is by using action planning templates to create your action plan. Here is an effective template you can use for a wide range of goal-setting situations:

Problem:

Goal:

Action Plan:

  • Actions (Necessary steps you plan to take to achieve your goals)
  • Persons in charge (staff members to handle each step)
  • Timeline (deadline for each step)
  • Resources (assets to be allocated for each step)
  • Potential barriers (factors with the potential to hinder the realization of each step)
  • Outcomes (desired result for each step)

Tracking and Evaluation Process:

Action plan example

Here is an example of an action plan for an apparel retailer:

Problem: Slow profit increments due to poor customer service.

Goal: Increase profits by 50% within two years.

Our Two-Year Goal (Tip: Here are SMART goals outlined)

We expect our apparel retail business to increase profitability by 40% as we implement this action plan to improve customer service and increase staffing over the next two years.

Current business state: Yearly profit of $100,000, three employees and a lot of customer complaints

Our business in six months: All employees will be trained in customer service, and profit will expectedly increase by 10%

Our business in 12 months: Annual profit of $150,000, six employees, no job vacancies, and robust customer service

Our business in two years: In league with the top 20% of apparel retailers in the state.

Action Plan to Achieve Our Goal

Task 1 – Training

Action: All employees will take on customer service training.

Completion date: _____________

Person responsible: Sales manager

Task 2. Recruitment

Action: Identify skill sets needed from new employees and correspond with the recruitment agency to hire the needed talent.

Completion date: September 20_____

Person responsible: Sales manager

Task 3. Improve customer service

Action: Update our website and keep it current.

Completion date: Starts in November 20___ and remains ongoing

Person responsible: IT manager

Task 4. Generate more sales

Plan A

Action: Meet with the top 25% of customers and develop strategies to generate more sales.

Completion date: January 20___

Person responsible: Customer sales manager

Plan B

Action: Develop products and services brochure.

Completion date: May 20____

Person responsible: Marketing manager

Task 5. Increase cash flow and reduce costs

Action: Introduce a more convenient customer payment plan.

Completion date: January 20___

Person responsible: Finance manager

Task 6. Expand customer base

Plan A

Action: Look for local and regional selling events and participate in relevant events.

Completion date: June 20___

Person responsible: Sales manager

Plan B

Action: Review our competitors’ offers and capitalize on shortcomings in their offers.

Completion date: October 20___

Person responsible: Sales manager

Evidence of success: Annual profit of $225,000

Tracking and evaluation process:

  • Assessing profitability,
  • Staff size
  • Number of customer complaints.

 Ten Characteristics of a Good Action Plan

torn paper

Even though there isn’t one particular framework of how a good action plan should look, which can vary based on the scale and complexity of the goals in view, here are some general characteristics of good action planning.

  • The action plan reveals a single, clearly defined objective.
  • The action plan timescales are realistic.
  • The action plan is informed by the past but focuses on the future.
  • The plan considers external factors and constraints.
  • The plan is sufficiently detailed for its purpose.
  • The plan doesn’t include any unnecessary tasks in the achievement of the objective.
  • The tasks in the plan all contribute to the same objective.
  • Responsibility for who does what action is unambiguous.
  • The measures in the plan are clearly aligned to success.
  • The plan is revisited and updated at necessary intervals.

So there you have it. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to developing a great action plan.

Do you need help taking action on all this information? Then book a free call with one of our small business coaches today. Click here to schedule a business breakthrough session now.

 

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