How To Write Your Business Plan

Writing a business plan is a fundamental step to ensuring your business has every chance of succeeding. Common statistics state that 9 out of 10 businesses fail on the first 5 years of operation, and of the remaining 10%, 90% fail in the following 5 years.Why? There may be a number of reasons – from poor customer service, inadequate product, poor logistics management and cost control. However, the number of businesses that do not define their goals and map out their path to success is phenomenal. Taking the step to define your business goals, plan where you want to go and what you want to achieve will place you in an increased position of future success and realization of your dreams.Below is a list of the areas you need to consider when writing your business plan. These steps will help define the business goals, the reason for existence (of the business), and define the direction you will take.Step 1 – Define your visionYou may know inside your head why you want to start a business, and what business it will be. However, your staff will not know this information, and after a time, you too will also forget some of the details. Write down what your mission is – your purpose and vision for the company. This sets the tone for all business and actions taken on a daily basis, working toward achieving your mission and purpose.Step 2 – Set your goals and objectives for the businessThink big. Do not let your own limitations impact on what you think your business is capable of achieving. Define what you short (less than 12 months), medium (1-3 years time frame) and long term goals (usually 3-5 years timeframe) will be. Think of topics such as how much revenue do you want to generate? How many outlets will you have? How much passive income will it produce for you in the future? How many customers on your database will you have? What will be your geographic area of influence? These goals will be a combination of your personal goals for your own life blended with that of the life of the business.Step 3 – Define your USPIn order to stand out form the crowd, it is imperative that you know and define your USP – Unique Selling Proposition. What it is that you offer and provide that is different to other people in the market? It may be that you offer additional services to your core product; it may be that you have a more personalized customer service approach; it may be your after sales service and warrantee on the product. What is it that your customer will be attracted to above other businesses offering the same service or product? Once you know this, then you can use it as a focus for your customers to recognize you and remember you.Step 4 – Know your marketHave you ever thought up a brilliant idea and began to investigate it, only to find out that another business has already started with that exact same idea? This happens daily to many people, but do not be discouraged. The marketplace is huge and can support a number of businesses providing the same service. Look at petrol stations and dry cleaners as an example. So, get to know the market – your market. How many competitors are there? What do they offer? What have the trends been in the industry? What might be the future trends and predicted growth/decline of the industry? Are there any benchmarks you can base your business performance on, such as profit margins, expected turnover per business size, and so on? Once you have a broader picture of the market you are entering into, you will be better equipped to handle and maximize your potential business growth.Step 5 – Know your customerWithout doubt, this is one of the most important aspects of running a business. You must know your customer. For the most part, products or services that are not a necessity, and where there are a number of suppliers for the same item, your customer will buy on emotion. Understanding and defining why they do what they do is the key to success. There may be a number of factors that are common amongst your target audience for your business services. By researching and finding out what these are, you will be able to see what areas you can focus on where there is a need, and what areas will not interest them. Write down what your ideal customer will look like, behave like and want from you. Seeing your business through their eyes will help to highlight your strengths and any weaknesses you might have.Step 6 – Research the demand for your businessIt is important to know what the demand is for your product, before spending large amounts of capital on your business. Do not go off your ‘gut instinct’ as to whether there are droves of people waiting to buy your product. The simple rule is this – if the demand exceeds supply, business will be great. If supply exceeds demand, your business will eventually die. A saturated market can only support a few businesses, and often these organizations have a USP clearly defined that helps them stand out from the rest. Secondary research can be conducted from your home (via the Internet), the library and some government offices, that can help you ascertain the levels of demand for your product or service. Primary research – talking to your target audience and gathering the data yourself – may be needed. This is by far the better option of finding out the results know, rather than spending your savings and capital on a business that gives a low or negative return in the future.Step 7 – Set your marketing goalsHaving completed the market research and defined why you want to do business in the first place, you will need to set some marketing goals. These are goals that relate to your product, your price, your distribution or provision of service, and your promotions. So many organizations want to start at this end of the planning process, but they miss the most important areas. Your marketing goals will need to be measurable and help you reach your primary objectives for your business. For example – how many products will you sell? What product development strategy will you have? What are your price margins? How will you deliver your product or service to your customer? How will your customer know about you, and how will you promote your business? These are all sample questions designed to generate ideas and goals for the marketing of your business.Step 8 – Define your marketing strategyHaving defined your marketing goals, you will need to plan in detail how you will achieve these goals. How many items will you produce, and at what price margin (that will give you your desired revenue goal)? What delivery system and what geographical area will you cover? In what areas and how will you promote your business? Will you use TV, radio, or print advertising – or all three? You can be very specific if you have to, as this is one of the major plans you will be referring to through the course of your business life, so be comfortable with it and know how to use it.Step 9 – Take Action!This is the MOST important step of all. Take action! All of the preparation in the world will never earn you a single dollar if you don’t actually open your doors and make the phone calls that will bring the customer to you. Even if your business planning process has highlighted that maybe this area of business isn’t for you – don’t let that stop you from finding one that is. If your ultimate dream is to be happy, healthy and wealthy, then there is a business for you. If you are doing something everyday that gets you closer to your ultimate goal, then your business plan will provide the direction and focus for the journey. So, begin taking action today, and reap the rewards that will follow.

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Commercial Real Estate Markets Strong Despite “Bad News”

Two nationally renowned experts in economic forecasting recently spoke in Atlanta at an annual meeting of the CCIM Institute, a group of recognized experts in commercial and investment real estate from across the nation. The event was attended by members of the group from over thirty states.Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University, spoke on the local and national economies. Dhawan, who often appears on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC, CBS and the Bloomberg Report, sees the southeastern states doing much better than the rest of the country. Unfortunately, he says, the economies of California, Arizona, and Nevada are already in a recession and make up 20 percent of the national economy. However, Dhawan sees the current problems as mostly a “crisis of confidence of the American public.”His predictions for job growth for the state of Georgia indicate only around 28,000 new jobs in 2008, but a healthy uptick in 2009 with an additional 70,100 new jobs. The following year should see over 98,000 additional jobs. While much of his predictions are flat for 2008, he predicts a bounce back in the real estate markets in 2009.The second speaker was Stephen Phyrr, senior managing director of Kennedy Wilson and Executive Director of The American Real Estate Society of Austin, Texas. Phyrr has spent much of his career studying the effects of the cyclical economy on the real estate market.While there are certainly some negative signs, Phyrr sees a positive overall forecast for the economy and real estate in general. His conclusions are summed up in six points:1. Overall, the positives outweigh the negatives going forward. The lack of confidence of the American public reflects the media’s emphasis on the “bad news” and creates a biased picture of the real estate environment.2. The financial markets have overreacted to the real credit crunch of 2007, making financing difficult for investors throughout 2008.3. Real estate will fare relatively well over the next three to five years compared to other asset classes.4. Investors will go back to the fundamentals of improving property values by improving property management, and not by using financing as a vehicle to make sense of an investment.5. There will be plenty of financing for real estate, and lenders will look for diversified types of real estate to finance.6. Multi-family property investments will be a beneficiary of the housing finance and homebuilding crisis of 2007.Additionally, Phyrr discussed the importance of understanding real estate cycles. Real estate undergoes up and down cycles. Boom cycles have averaged 10 to 11 years and bust cycles have averaged five to six years over the past 30 years. Our last real estate boom topped out in 2001 and real estate values have been on a decline since then. So, based on the cycle timing and some other positive attributes, we are near or at the bottom of the down cycle and look forward to an upward trend in real estate values.o

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Tips To Get Free Life Insurance Quotes

Why Go For Free Life Insurance Quotes?It is true that each and every life will come to an end one day. It is therefore good and important to start up a life insurance plan for your life and also for your children. This is a way of locking up your children’s future through life insurance protection. Free life insurance quotes will make you decide to provide security and financial stability for the children. Insurance can build cash value that is used in future perhaps to help pay for school or college expenses or any other future goals.The financial stability and security that your family can get comes when it matters most out of the free life insurance quotes that you can get now. Insurance policy also provides you with peace of mind. This helps you ensure that in case anything happens to you, your family can be provided for up to the amount that you yourself feel you are worth. It can also be provided for based on the policy amount that you choose.Considering a Reliable Online Source Getting the best free life insurance quotes is what you need to go for. This will give you a chance to assess various companies’ policies and make your final decision. It is clear that insurance pricing vary through many different companies. It is sometimes hard to explain why the vast difference and yet the product is the same but only the companies offering the policies are different. If you think for a minute, you will realize that your life is really priceless and so there is need for you to insure yourself now for the benefit of your family of any other beneficiary in that matter.Insurance will lead you to protect your loved ones from the unexpected. This is a great idea not just investing in your family’s future but also showing them that you love and care for them.How To Get Free Insurance QuotesIt is good to know what really can determine the amount of policy to take. Life insurance companies consider client history in the quoting process and the factors that they usually require are for instance medical history, lifestyle, current medical condition extra-curricular activities that may be considered dangerous to you or life threatening and your occupation. If this information is obtained, it helps determine the price and also terms of the insurance policy. These factors also help in the underwriting process as they consider the possibility of the event happening. For instance if your current medical condition is poor, the insurance companies may assume only the level of risk that they are comfortable with.It is important to note that quotes are not the same as life insurance policies. With insurance, there is no legal binding of the two parties but it’s just information that is provided by an insurance company about its insurance policies. Free life insurance quotes can only turn to be an insurance contract if both parties agree to the terms and you agree to pay the premiums as per the terms.

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Digital Camera Photo Printing Tips

Home photo printers are getting better and better! Printing digital pictures at home has always been fairly easy, but now it’s also able to give great quality. My personal view is that 90% of the time a printer needs to have no less than 6 ink cartridges to reproduce a good photo print. This gives it a better chance of accurately rendering colors and producing smooth graduations between different ones.But even with a decent printer you can still mess up easily! We’ve all been infuriated by seeing our favourite snaps slowly emerge on the printer tray with a horrid red or blue tone that destroys the actual light! What little steps can you take to ensure this doesn’t happen, and that printing digital pictures on your home photo printer leads to good results every time…?Color Management Tips:So, the problem we’ve got to overcome is that computer screens and printers work on a different color system. The image on your monitor is made up of pixels in the RGB (red, green, blue) system. Meanwhile your printer produces photos made up of little dots of ink (dots per inch/dpi) comprised of the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, key black) colors.Printers blend together the inks from their cartridges to accurately capture the colors in a photo. This leads to slight differences in the colors represented on a screen, which are built of individual pixels. But don’t worry, it’s easy to bridge this gap in color systems by playing around with the settings on your printer’s software.Firstly, here’s what I do to make sure my monitor is displaying photos as they should be printed. I calibrate the monitor using a ‘colorimeter’, like Spyder or ColorMunki. Then, I take picture in fairly plain daylight that features someone’s skin. This shot is then send off to a really top notch professional company, who render the colours and tones brilliantly. This print serves as a guide and standard against which to judge those produced on my own printer.What next? Well, successful photo printing involves making adjustments to the settings within the printer software, or ‘printer driver’…Using the Printer Driver:In Windows this can be accessed by going ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Printers and Faxes’ > ‘The name of your printer’. Then select ‘Printer’ from the toolbar and ‘Properties’ from the drop down menu.Printer drivers usually come complete with a few preset options, or ‘profiles’. A profile is just a combination of ink, paper and printer settings that will lead to good results. So do try these out, but you can fine tune things manually as well.If your printer is turning out images with an inaccurate color tone, giving everyone green skin or bright red lips (!), enter the ‘color management’ section of the printer driver. Here you can tweak the intensity of cyan, magenta, yellow and black in your prints, by simply using the sliders shown.Keep making changes until you get a print that accurately reproduces your on-screen photo and looks similar to the professional job you had done.Using Photoshop To Control Output:You can make the same adjustments to paper type, color intensities and so on using Photoshop or other editing software. In Photoshop go File > Print > Page Setup > Printer > Properties to access the settings.Do be sure to specify that the settings you have configured in Photoshop will determine the appearance of your prints, rather than those in the printer driver. Otherwise it’s possible to ‘double up’ and get very bad results.So if your digital camera photo printing has been less successful than you would have liked so far, making use of the color management options available in the printer driver or editing software should help you see an improvement.So, color management for photographers is actually pretty simple, and will greatly enhance the standard of your prints. Getting to grips with your printer driver, and Photoshop’s printing options is also well worth while.

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Printing Processes for Art Prints

You’ve finally bought that art print you’ve been eyeing and are looking forward to showing it off to your visitors and friends, but before you start hanging it on the wall, you might want to spend a minute or two to consider how these prints were made. That piece of art that you bought is certainly not the original. It is a reproduced print made from the original art work. Art prints are created using different printing processes, and you may have come across these different terms as you were making enquiries and shopping for your print. Before making your purchase, it would be helpful to know the printing process by which your art print was made. Below is a brief description of some of the more common printing methods for art prints:Giclee Print
pronounced as zhee-klay, it is a French word which means a spray or spurt of liquid. The name is descriptive of the way in which the print is created. A giclee is basically a digital printout of the original art work, created from digital scans of the original.Once the scan is made and the image digitally archived, a sophisticated printer then makes a high resolution printout with high quality inks. The printer does this using a fine stream of ink, resulting in vivid, pure color with exceptional detail. A giclee can be printed in various sizes and onto various mediums like canvas and photo paper.An advantage of giclee printing is the high level of accuracy and richness in color. Another advantage is that it enables artists to make easy reprints of their work to be sold, as and when required, or in bulk. It also avoids the heartache of selling off the original painting.Lithograph
A lithograph works on the principle that water and oil do not mix. A hand-made lithograph is a print made by drawing with an oily substance such as crayons and pencils on porous stone or metal plates. An Oil-based ink is then applied to the moistened stone that adheres only to the lines drawn. The plates are then pressed onto a sheet of paper to produce the final print.

Serigraphy, or screenprinting, is a stencil printmaking process in which high quality paper is placed beneath a screen (or stencil). Ink is then applied over the screen using a squeegee. The screen has certain portions cut out so that the ink can be transferred onto the paper below. This process is then repeated for different screens and color until the final picture is complete. Screenprinting can be used on a variety of surfaces such as textiles, ceramics, metal, wood and paper and is commonly used in industries from clothing to product labeling.

A monoprint or monotype is a printing process whereby the artist paints a design onto a plate using a low drying ink. The image is then printed before the ink dries. One characteristic of monoprints, as the term “mono” implies, is that only one unique impression can be made using this process. That is, no two prints will ever be alike.Canvas Transfer
A canvas transfer is a process of transferring an art work from a print onto a canvas. A special chemical is applied onto the art print, which when dried, can be separated from the paper and transferred onto a canvas. The canvas is then stretched across a frame and an artist will then apply brushstrokes to create the texture found on the original art work. The end result is artwork on the canvas that looks very much like the original.Enjoy the art!Copyright 2007 Edwin Mah

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