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How Business Networking Can Help Launch Your Small Business From the Ground Up

What is key in any business success story is an adequate networking plan–a plan that can help launch your small business from the ground up.

Generally, it is hard for a new business to become noticed, and even harder to gain your first few clients without any success stories to back up your claims. Your formal marketing plan should therefore project the right networking mix. The right networking mix is about being proactive-in a sense that you leverage your business and personal connections to bring you regular supply of new customers. The whole idea about business networking involves relationship building-and it must be strategic and focused on networking for business growth.

Professional Network Services

With business networking, you step up to the challenge to find avenues of opportunity that you may have otherwise never discovered. You really do not want to start your business to fail due to the decisions that you the owner makes. In other words, for your enterprise to grow, you have to be prepared to work hard, make decisions, and spend money where it matters. For instance, you may consider using a few prominent networking organizations who have successfully created models of business networking activity. A few notable examples of professional network services include LinkedIn, Viadeo, XING, and WiseStep. Using these professional network services can, in fact, be most effective in terms of generating business opportunities than advertising or public relations efforts.

Online business networking can also be a cost effective method of launching your small business. Businesses are today increasingly using social networks as a means of growing their circle of contacts and promoting themselves and their business online. And with the global expansion of businesses, social networks make it easier to keep in touch with other business contacts around the world.

Small Business Awards

Further, face-to-face networking through referral business clubs also have the potential for higher quality business relationships. There are also a vast majority of awards given to businesses locally, countrywide, and globally. The different type of these awards, such as, but not limited to, small business awards, innovation awards, new business awards, local and entrepreneurial awards, are a great way to project your business accomplishments to a wide range of community of prospects. For instance, for more than 50 years, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contribution in their local communities and to the nation’s economy. The range of National Small Business Week award categories include:

· Small Business Person of the Year Award

· Small Business Exports of the Year Award

· Small Business Development Centre Excellence and Innovation Award

· Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award

· Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award

The US Chamber of Commerce also hosts the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards Program sponsored by Sam’s Club. The other National Small Business Awards you can win cash for, gain national recognition and valuable networking opportunities include:

· The SCORE Awards

· The American Business Awards

· Inc. 500/5000 Awards

· Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Women Awards

· Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

· The Better Business Bureau Torch Awards for Marketplace Trust

· The SVN Innovation Awards

Applying for some of these awards is crucial when it comes to recognition. Research is vital when trying to find awards you fit into. Researching far ahead of time and making a list is probably the best way to enter into as many awards as possible. Even though some awards have fees, enter any way, because the reward for your business would be huge. And when you get any awards, you get to put the award on your website and social sites as show of early accomplishments.

Do I Really Need a Business Plan for My Business?

Most successful businesses have created a business plan at some point, usually before their start-up.

Why?

A business plan is needed to address all of the central components to starting a business. It is essential to make sure that you, as a new entrepreneur have carefully thought through many if not all, of the important components of your business. Ideally, you need to do this BEFORE starting your business.

What is a business plan?

They are generally prepared for two reasons:

1. To obtain financing for the business

2. To help determine if essential components of starting a business have been considered.

Often times with new entrepreneur’s (and sometimes even with the more experienced!) they overlook certain aspects of starting a business. So the business plan helps to ensure that most, if not all reasonable questions have been answered and strategies thought about.

Although business plans are often considered optional – they serve a vital importance to entrepreneurs.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs and even experienced entrepreneurs fail to recognize their importance. It is often considered an “optional” component of their business and should only be prepared when absolutely necessary.

Not so!

It is needed to address all of the central components to starting your business. It is essential to make sure that you, as an entrepreneur of quality, have carefully considered what you are offering, how you are offering it and whom you are offering it to.

Although it may be tempting to say “I have everything in my head about my business” – could lead to a lack of clarity.

Why?

The idea of keeping everything in your mind makes it possible for you to:

  • forget certain things
  • remember things incorrectly or too modified to later be useful
  • misconstrue thought combinations that you had at one point but later revised
  • revisit ideas that you already have thought of and since dismissed…

Preparing a business plan will allow you to document what you know and have the permanent impact of writing it down.

But this is complicated – Right?

In the context of the larger corporate world a business plan is not only essential but required. Many formats of business plans are modelled after the layouts and inclusions used for larger public companies. The time frame and level of detail is much greater for large corporate entities as they are required for various interested parties (stakeholders). However, it is not necessary for smaller businesses, especially start-ups to prepare overly lengthy and complex documents.

Your business plan need not be a time consuming, uncontrollable and over-the-top difficult process!

How Can I, As an Entrepreneur Achieve This?

Through the simple process of preparing a Preliminary Business Plan you will:

  1. Engage in a key strategy that will help you to organize your thoughts
  2. Help you to focus on your business intentions.
  3. Apply a straightforward, step-by-step process to prepare one.
  4. Obtain clarity about your business.

Why is it called a Preliminary Business Plan?

Traditional business plans, like those used for large public corporations can be very complex and have the level of detail that is not required for most smaller, private businesses.

A Preliminary Business Plan is shorter, designed more for the start-up of the business and it is easier to understand and prepare.

Here are just some of the questions that it should answer:

  • Describe in detail exactly what your business is to be.
  • Describe whom your products and/or services are for.
  • How do you plan to deliver your products/services to your customers/clients.
  • What pricing do you plan to use.
  • If you have a product, list the major suppliers
  • Indicate whom your major customers/clients are likely to be.
  • What are the risk factors that you see for your business.
  • What current businesses pose as competition to your business?
  • How many employees do you plan to have in the company and at what point will they become active?
  • Have you completed one?

It will address all of the central components to starting your business. It is essential to make sure that you, as a new entrepreneur have thought carefully through and considered all that you need to BEFORE starting your business.

A Preliminary Business Plan is a step-by-step method that allows you to organize your thoughts and WRITE DOWN your intentions through documenting them in a meaningful way. It also provides you with a document to provide to interested parties (for example, banks, investors, etc.) if the need arises.

You need to prepare one, if you are:

  • An aspiring entrepreneur who is serious about properly planning a business and would like to discover if you need one for their new business.
  • An experienced entrepreneur who never has prepared one, but would like to learn how.
  • An aspiring entrepreneur who is skeptical, but would like to explore the process and know more.
  • Any entrepreneur who has heard about them, but are confused and would like some clear DIRECTION of what to do.

Do I Really Need a Budget Plan for My Business?

Many entrepreneurs wait until it is too late to appreciate the benefits of having a budget.

Although budgets are important to be prepared throughout the entire life of your business, it is ESSENTIAL BEFORE starting your business.

Why?

You must determine if the business has the ability to cover its business expenses because if it can’t, the business will be broke before it even starts to earn money (generate revenue).

Therefore, the business must be able to pay its own way for its expenses or it will not be able to continue.

It is obvious why this is so important!

What is a budget plan?

Briefly, budgets are used for planning the expenses the business will require and the revenues the business expects to generate.

Simply put as an entrepreneur you must:

• understand the cash outflows (expenses) and,

• understand the cash inflows (revenue) of your business.

Since all entrepreneurs have the same goal: To Be Profitable – it makes sense that a strategy to measure if the business will be profitable must be put into place.

A budget can help to achieve this.

Although budget plans are often considered to be challenging – they are essential and should not be ignored.

The money, the numbers are often considered to be one of the driest parts of a business – some would even say boring!

However, especially if you are a new entrepreneur, you should learn from the start how to have a healthy respect and appreciation for “working with the numbers” in your business.

Focus on the vast amount of benefit and information that budgeting can provide for you.

Is Creating a Budget Plan Difficult?

There is no doubt that budget creation can be very complex. The level of detail, time frames and assumption that can be part of the budgeting process is often difficult even for those well versed with it. However, it is usually larger companies, government and expansive non-profit organizations that need for the budgeting process to be more complicated and involved. They are creating budgets for more than just owners, it is for a number of interested parties and stakeholders that have an interest in the company.

However, there is a difference for new, start-up businesses with regard to their budget. Like business plans, it is not necessary for the small business owner, especially start-ups to prepare overly lengthy and detailed budgets.

New entrepreneurs should have a Preliminary Budget Plan that will include the main financial essentials of start-up for the first year.

The intent of this Preliminary Budget Plan is to get you:

· Understanding the benefits of creating your first budget.

· Feeling “at-home” with creating a budget.

· Committed from the beginning to the habit of establishing and having a budget.

· Feeling in control of how budgeting works.

· Lessening your frustration/anxiety about creating a budget.

Often times it may seem as though everything has been considered, but there can be certain aspects that have not appropriately been addressed from a financial prospective… that can leave you feeling unsure and doubtful of your abilities as an entrepreneur.

Why is it called a Preliminary Budget Plan?

Note there are many formats and versions of budget plans, however they have similar features and are created for the same purpose: to help you determine what the revenue is expected to be in the company, the direct costs associated with generating this revenue and the expenses that are anticipated to be incurred.

Assuming that you are starting a new business and are in the start-up phase, it is not necessary to have an overly detailed budget plan.

It is called the Preliminary Budget Plan as it is a starting point budget that is intended to get you, the entrepreneur involved in the habit of establishing and having a budget, right from the beginning. It is presented in a straight-forward, step-by-step fashion. A Preliminary Budget Plan is also shorter and easier to understand and prepare.

Therefore, this Preliminary Budget Plan provides a minimum layout to get you started!

Here are just some of the questions that a Preliminary Budget Plan should answer when it is applied:

· Measure if revenue is in fact covering your costs

  • Make pricing decisions
  • Measure the current success of your business
  • Foresee problems in your business

· Provide valuable strategic information about your business

+ other financial answers…

A Preliminary Budget Plan is shown in a step-by-step method that allows you to organize your thoughts and WRITE DOWN your intentions through documenting them in a meaningful way. It also provides you with a document to provide to interested parties (for example, banks, investors, etc.) if the need arises.

A Preliminary Budget Plan will help you to:

1. Establish what revenue (sales) the business intends to earn.

2. Establish how much the business intends to spend on direct costs and expenses.

3. Determine if items 1 and 2 above will result in the business being profitable.

For as long as you are an entrepreneur, it is essential to understand the money.

You need to prepare a Preliminary Budget Plan, if you are:

· An aspiring entrepreneur who is serious about properly planning a new business and would like to discover how to prepare a business budget.

· An experienced entrepreneur who never has prepared a budget plan, but would like to learn how.

· An aspiring entrepreneur who is skeptical of a budget plan, but would like to explore the process and know more.

· Any entrepreneur who has heard about budget plans, but are confused and would like some clear DIRECTION of what to do.

So. How Do I, As an Entrepreneur Create a Simple Budget?

Through our process of preparing a Preliminary Budget Plan you will:

1. Engage in strategies that will help you to improve your mindset about money.

2. Help you to focus on the financial intentions of your business.

3. Apply a straightforward, step-by-step process to prepare your Preliminary Budget Plan.

4. Obtain some financial clarity about your business.

5. Feel confident using the “simple elegance” of this process.

What Else Does Creating the Budgeting Plan Offer to the Entrepreneur?

Aside from the obvious, practical benefits that have already been discussed, there are other valuable contributions that budgeting brings to you, the thoughtful entrepreneur:

This notably includes:

  • Increased confidence
  • Increased decision-making abilities
  • Increased ability to assess possibilities
  • Increased self-esteem with better awareness
  • Increased judgement capabilities

Why?

The more you can create, evaluate and understand the money aspects of your business, the more in control and able to make your business all that it can be – it is within your reach!

Remember: these are skills that you will have for the LIFETIME of your business as you will ALWAYS need to consider your business budget.