Entrepreneurs: Do You Love What You do?

Do You Really Love Your Business?

One of the things I never learnt in school was how to be a psychologist. Over the years, I took psychology courses, but with a graduate and a professional designation, neither of which are in psychology, I am very ill equipped to deal with psychological issues or offer any kind of advice.Yet when Entrepreneurs come to me, confused about why their business is NOT growing, why they are stuck, I cannot help but notice their need to talk to someone, anyone who will listen to them talk about their business. Many of these individuals have lost marriages, their families, close friends and relationships all because of their businesses. They are working 60+ hours a week to make their “dream” come true. Then they come to me, tired, miserable and alone and ask, “Why?” Why is this business not working? Why is this not fun any more? We hear so much about work life balance, about taking time for yourself and to spend time with those you love, but we rarely hear about the need to balance your “business” with your life.

Many Entrepreneurs got into business because they love with they do. Be it cooking, baking, customer service or programming, you are passionate about a cause and you want to share that talent with the world. Most entrepreneurs are good people who genuinely want to improve the world with their contributions and talents. However, this being said they will sacrifice everything around them for their business. They will ruin their health, their relationships and their Entrepreneurial spirit all for this business.Many Entrepreneurs defensively will say ” My business is my life” or that this “sacrifice” is needed in the early years. To both of these, I say phooey. The sacrifice is not needed and if your business is your life then you need to get a life. Put yourself in your customers shoes. Who do they prefer to do business with, a rested, energetic, reliable individual, or the individual that looks like htey have not had a vacation in 5 years, who is tired, grouchy and cannot balance their family and work life? Who would you do business with?

How do we balance the love of what we do with the practicality and time requirement of early start-up? How do we balance? My advice? Love what you do.Here are five ways that “loving what you do” will help you to grow your business and yourself.

1. If you love something, you set it free.

If you love what you do, you build it strong enough to survive without you. A business to be successful needs to survive without the entrepreneurs. It needs to have the straighten to stand alone and be independent from you.

2. If you love something, you nurture but don’t smother it

If you love something you nurture it, you give it what it needs but do not smother it. You give it what it needs to grow, but also the room to grow.

3. As in Relationships, you also need Alone time from your Business

As in a relationship, you cannot always be “with” the one you love. Take some time away from your business to do the things you enjoy. This will help you to relax, grow as a person, and then give back more to your business.

4. You Business May Move Away Some Day

As with our children, we have to be prepared for the fact that our business will not be with us forever. It may grow beyond our capabilities, you may need to sell, you may need to leave it for retirement or health reasons, but that business will someday leave you. How will you manage after the fact?

5. The best thing you Can do for those you love, is to take care of yourself

The best thing you can do for your business is to take care of yourself. If you take the time to nurture the other important things in your life, then your business will also grow, because your business is YOU. If you are tired, if You are cranky and cannot see the forest for the trees, guess what? So is your business, so do yourself a favour and if you really love what you do, then act like it, and please take care of yourself, those that are important to you and you will see how your business will flourish.


Hey Entrepreneurs! Have a business question that you could use an answer to? Tweet @CarmenReis and I’ll do my best to help you out 🙂


Need a Business Plan fast? Just visit our homepage and you can be downloading your Business plan in just 2 hours!

The Geography of Funding Inequality

Around the country, incubators are popping up. Tech incubators, health incubators, manufacturing incubators. Venture capitalists continue to create to new opportunities to attract the next big tech company and angel investors sit poised, ready to be mentors and investors to new entrepreneurs.

Every start-up at some point in their existence, considers chasing venture capital. The funding may be a life-line to emerging companies, who have been boot-strapping to just get by. Location plays an irrefutable role in the ability of these firms to get funding. Location determines both the likelihood and the amount that start ups are likely to receive. Consider that start-ups in Vancouver receive typically receive 80% less funding than start-ups in silicon Valley?

Where is a Firm Most Likely to succeed?

Several studies have examined the likelihood of venture capital success. In a 2009 study in the Harvard Review by Chen, et al, and another in 2010 by Josh Lerner, found that start-ups who received funding that were OUTSIDE of the geography of their venture capitalists, significantly outperformed, those closer to the VC’s office.

This posits an interesting phenomenon, why is that investors continue to be scared of secondary markets? Start-ups are naturally attracted to cities where VC’s exist. VC’s often set higher hurdle rates for firms that are outside of their area due to increased monitoring costs for items such as travel time. Do those firms, because of their higher hurdle rates, outperform start-ups in NY, Silicon Valley and Boston? Or, to actually attract VC attention, are these firms better to start with?

How does this affect firms seeking VC funding?
Is it better for firms who are seeking VC funding to pack up and head to a larger tech center?
There propensity of recieving funding would increase. What does this mean for firms located in smaller cities? Should local governments invest more in encouraging more VC’s and investors in an area?

We will examine these topics in the coming weeks and provide insight and recommendations for firms looking for VC investment.


Hey Entrepreneurs! Have a business question that you could use an answer to? Tweet @CarmenReis and I’ll do my best to help you out 🙂


Need a Business Plan fast? Just visit our homepage and you can be downloading your Business plan in just 2 hours!

5 Trends Why SME’s will Continue to Grow.

In the wake of massive lay-offs in the manufacturing sector, downsizing across all industries and renewed vows to create sustainability, SME’s are a powerful way to counter large Corporations and create REAL, SUSTAINABLE,  solutions. Here are 5 Trends why we think  SME’s will grow in the future…..

1. Generation Y– brought up to value their own individuality, their talents and skills, as this generation matures research has shown that they are more entrepreneurial than those before them They value the flexibility of entrepreneurship and bring passion and savvy tech skills that allow them to work anywhere at anytime.  In addition, this generation has lived at home longer, and has been less likely to purchase major assets (from cars to homes) permitting them to bootstrap and live on less income than generations before. In pure numbers,  they represent a major “wave” of demographics, and the impact of their generation is just beginning to be felt.

2. 3-D Printing and Changing Nature of Manufacturing

The changes quietly started over 50 years ago with the advent of the CNC machine, and within a decade you may have one of these little machines in your home.  Imagine printing up toys that your children have designed, a new component for a broken piece of equipment or a piece of art for your home. The possibilities are endless. Greater still, is the impact that this will bring to the nature of manufacturing. No longer will massive warehouses dot the landscape, but a manufacturing facility could sit on 2500 square feet or less, producing made to order components, warehousing only enough to fill a small truck. These shops will not employ thousands or even hundreds, but scores.  This will change the nature of our suburbs and create opportunities for new buildings, space sharing and collaboration.

3. Increased Environmentalism & Sustainability Awareness

Environmentalism over the last hundred years has come and gone. However, over the last two decades, the awareness and trend towards  “green” has not diminished, but increased in importance. Corporations are adopting “sustainability” as a way of life, incorporating these concepts into their Strategy Maps and Balanced Score cards. Consumers are demanding that the companies they do business with be environmentally aware and sustainable.  It is far easier to develop a sustainable operation as a small entrepreneur and to maintain a low carbon footprint.  Many small businesses start off as home based businesses, and these offer shorter commutes, lower electricity consumption from smaller machines and growth in  internet communications technology (email and social media) that permit SME’s to connect to the world from a smartphone.

Beyond this, there is growing dissatisfaction with the income that CEO’s earn. The erosion of our middle class, has created calls for for egalitarian pay distribution which recognizes the value that all bring to our workplaces and society. Generally speaking, most founders are not making millions, but earn incomes far more modest than the CEO of Goldman Sachs or Citibank.

4. Increased Social Responsibility

SME’s are connected to their local communities. Many times entrepreneurs are involved community leaders and advocates, volunteers for local charities and non-profits and catalysts for local change. SME’s are tied to their local communities because these communities support them and are where they work and live.  Large corporations try hard to stay connected to the public-via technology such as Twitter and Facebook, they interact with their customers. However, the public demands more. They want to know who is behind the nameless corporations and want to ” know” those they are doing business with.

Add to this, the enormous growth in social entrepreneurship over the last decade and the awareness that you can do good, while earning a living.  Very few large social enterprises exist. This domain is nearly all dominated by SME’s and micro-enterprises.  This continued demand for Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) will continue to drive the growth of SME’s.

5. Worsening Financial State of Western Governments

Everywhere we look, from the USA and Canada to Europe, governments are increasingly facing fiscal pressures and inabilities to manage their own budgets. In Canada, government funding for social programs and welfare are decreasing. Cuts further erode the quality of life of individuals caught in cycles of poverty. Social justice advocates will always secure some funding for those most in need, but many will fall between the cracks. Consider the role of microenterprise and SME’s can play in alleviating poverty.

Studies show that median household income of self-employed microenterprisers increases 78% in two years, and 91% over five years. In another guided program (Welfare to Work) participants’ business assets and their net worth grew by nearly 250% during a two year period, and home ownership increased from 14% to 22%. Finally, in Washington State a study by the Center for Economic Opportunity showed that over 50% of microenterprises moved toward self-sufficiency by completely reducing all forms of public assistance over 3 years. This reduced reliance on government programs has a significant impact on the burden the state carries to support low-income families. In this study participant  unemployment decreased by 24% in the first year. Strong local economies can be created by fostering microenterprise in low income communities and encouraging the break from the cycle of poverty.  Given that governments have less and less money to give, the growth of microenterprise and SME’s is predicted to grow at increasing rates in the coming years.

 

 

 

What do You Mean I Run a Tech Company?

I run a Tech Company? Huh?

So I was sitting at a meeting a couple of weeks back and someone asked me about my insight running a tech business. For a second I looked across the table at someone else who was at the meeting, but soon realized that the individual was talking to me. I asked him, “me? Run a tech company….? No I just do business plans and and we just happen to use technology tools to automate the business planning process”.

I was met by a “well what are you if you are not a tech company”? This question made me sit back and think about what actually defines tech start-ups. Being labelled a “tech company” does not really change anything—we are still working through the tech bugs with our developers–and I am realizing that good developers need far longer to work through problems, than I think they ought to. In fact, one of the best Developers I have met, Tony Curcio, at Si TechGroup, often tells me “stop trying to play developer”. It is a lesson that I am slowly learning–I am a type A by nature–although having kids has significantly worn down these A type tendencies.

I have had the opportunity to get to know some amazing developers, (Tony and his crew) who are intuitive and anal about the work they do. Would I go through this process again? Yes. Would I do it differently? Yes, Definitely.

So, as I gathered my thoughts, sat back and answered “I guess I am a tech company”, I started to reflect on this stereotype of “running” a tech company and what it means. When I think tech company, I imagine an early 20 something working out of his parents basement (definitely a ‘he”), up at all hours of the day coding programs/apps/web programs, eating ramen, and living in the same change of clothes as he hacks government files in his spare time for fun.

The Reality

While this image is far removed (remember I was a child of the 80′s and any good hacker I knew spent at least a bit of time trying to crack government files), I started to consider how I fit this stereotype  First and foremost, I am a woman. Second I am married, in my mid-thirties with two young kids. I do not program–please there are times I still have to have my husband show me where the C drive is on the computer! I own my own house, hate working in the basement and am a morning person. I do not mind ramen once a year or so, but I appreciate my showers and changing clothes at least once a day. I prefer order to “hacking government files” and my spare time, what precious little I have, I sit on 3 not for profit boards, and act as Chair of another. So, as far as stereotypes go, I am not sure what insight I can give into running a tech company, all I know is that I am still learning myself and will be glad to share my story with you along my journey.

How to Get a Business Mentor

 How To Get a Business Mentor?

Nearly every self-help book will tell you that you need a business mentor. The general purpose of a mentor is to provide you with a foundation of advice, support and knowledge in the early days of business. The early days are tough. Cashflow will be tight, personal time will be non-existent and to-do lists are never-ending. How is an entrepreneur supposed to find time to find and meet with a mentor?

Mentoring relationships need not be formalized arrangements. They can be as simple as having someone that you meet with for coffee every few weeks/months and discuss your business. Many entrepreneurs may have informal networks from which to choose a mentor-think industry associations, chambers of commerce, customers, neighbours. For others, the choice to develop a relationship with a mentor is an exceptionally personal and large time commitment. Several mentorship programs exist which formally pair a mentor and a mentee. Having participated once as a Mentor, I can tell you what a fulfilling relationship it was. My mentee would call me, often just to tell me what was going on in her life. Years later, we still keep in touch.

So how do you go about finding a mentor?

Step 1: Decide on The Type of relationship you want
The first thing is really figuring out the type of relationship you want, the realms of expertise the Mentor needs to have, and how they can help you. Set this expectation at the forefront, and make sure it is something that you can commit to.

Step 2: Research possible mentors
The next step is to research and brainstorm a list of possible mentors. These may be people in your community, industry or field of study. Make a list of the people who you would want to be your mentor and list the reasons why they would be good/strong mentors for you, particularly what attracts you to having them as a Mentor.

Step 3: Try to find commonalities using resources such as LinkedIn
Did you graduate from the same school, have the same ethnicity, or are you members of the same association? Use points of commonality to open conversation or email about what you have in common with them. Much of this data can derived using or other social media platforms. Research the individual and show that you know something about them.

Step 4: Have an honest conversation with them about what you are looking for, the time commitment and the goals you have.
It is important to be honest to the prospective mentor about the time commitment you require and what you are looking for in a mentorship.
If the individual is not interested or a good match, go to the next person on your list. You need to ensure that the match is a good one from the onset.

Step 5: Be realistic
Most professionals and business people cannot dedicate 10 hours a week to a Mentee. You will be lucky to get 2 hours a month of their time. Use your time wisely. Communicate over email and/or phone and when/if you do have face to face meetings, make sure you also give your mentor a chance to speak–there is nothing more irritating than a one-sided conversation.

Business Plans for Newcomers – Part 1

I cannot tell you how many times, I have heard of newcomers turned down for loans simply because they could not produce a business plan.
In our lending systems, as covered in a past blog, it is customary to ask for a business plan. In many cases, lenders will not even look at your business idea without it.
So what is an immigrant, with poor English skills to do? Many will pay consultants to prepare plans for them. Sometimes the immigrant will just stop the application process right there. Others will attend month long classes where they will be guided through the business plan process.

While both of these are good in principal, consultants can be expensive. Classes that drag on for months and months, are not only time wasters, but not effective at teaching what a business plan should be.

A business plan should be a guide-NOT a ROADMAP, but a guide, that gives general direction, provides some estimate of costs, and demonstrates an understanding of the market and the steps you need to get where you want to go with your business.

Many, expect business plans to be “gospel truth”, but they are not. There are those in the business world who will tell you never to plan or that they are a waste of time,http://www.inc.com/articles/201104/when-writing-a-business-plan-is-a-waste-of-time.html . I prefer a more democratic approach and believe that a general document should be prepared, but that document should never be taken as the Road Map for a new business.

For newcomers, understanding what to put in a plan, how to obtain market research, estimates of business costs and mission and vision statements, can be beyond not only their language, but also their cultural skills. Remember, Business Plans are largely a North American invention. To do them properly requires insight into Business Culture.

So what is an immigrant to do? My advice is to find a plan/template/program you are comfortable with and use that to develop a basic business plan. More important are items like personal credit and financial holdings. Also, getting a mentor in the industry would be a great asset, for immigrants or those new to an industry. In the next blog we will discuss finding a Mentor.

Article keywords: immigrant business plans

Demographics for Small Business: market segmentation and counting customers

DEMOGRAPHICS FOR SMALL BUSINESS: MARKET SEGMENTATION AND COUNTING CUSTOMERS

The last couple of entries have focused on stories of entrepreneurs who have either not cared about customers or who believed that the entire world was a prospective client base.

While these strategies may work for some entrepreneurs, generally speaking, we need to have some understanding of the size of the market and what we can expect to sell. This understanding increases dramatically if you are a “product” based business, where you make or manufacture a product. Making too much can result in excess inventory and wasted operating funds, making too little and you forego potential profit.

I’ve created a 5 step process to help you segment your market and more accurately predict potential sales:
Go through this exercise – even in your head, and I guarantee you will have a better understanding of your potential customers and will be better able to quantify your market research to an investor, funder or partner.

1. WHO WILL BUY YOUR PRODUCT AND WHY?

Most entrepreneurs create a product to fill a need or to improve. Who will buy your product and why they will buy is the first step in calculating your customer base.

2. HOW MANY OF THESE INDIVIDUALS/GROUPS/NEEDS EXIST?

For most people this is the hardest part of market research. Calculating the number of people in the “market” can be a daunting task. However it need not be that bad. If you determine that your product is aimed at young professionals who live with their parents, you would first need to consult the Census in your country to determine the number of professionals, then most censuses narrow these by age, so you can further segment professionals say in the 24-34 range.

3. NARROW, NARROW, NARROW THAT CUSTOMER BASE

One of the core mistakes in research is that many people want as large a customer base as possible. This is a mistake. While some lenders will let this pass, to the trained business person, the more narrow a target market, the more I know that the individual has thought about his product and who will buy it. The trick here, is to tie the narrowed slice of the target group back to question 1 – who will use your product and why?

So in our example above, we decided that young professionals who live at home with their parents are your target market. You know that not all young professionals still live at home. However you saw a recent stat in a newspaper that said about 20% of these individuals lived at home until the age of 34. So if we determined that in our City, there are 200,000 young professionals, and we estimate that 20% of them live at home, then our market segment would be 40,000. (200K*20%)

4. MARKET PENETRATION RATES: NOT ALL THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER

The next biggest mistake people make is that they assume either naively or optimistically that they will sell to the entire market. Either this, or they assume a far too low market penetration rate. A general rule, the smaller and better defined your market, the larger your market penetration rate can be. The larger your prospective market size, the smaller your number.
Let’s clarify with an example.

So if I was going to sell business plans, and I know there are over 3,000,000 global searches a month in Google for business plans, I could say that I could sell to half of the market (50%) and I would have generous predictions indeed. Trust me, if I was selling 1,000,000 business plans a month I would not be here blogging!

Rather, I know that the 3,000,000 can represent less than the total market. Why? Because many individuals do a search more than once. Particularly for something like a business plan. Also, they may search on more than one device. Finally, this represents global searches and my market is the English speaking world of do-it yourselfers or those for whom English is not a first language.
So if I were to limit my search to Canada, there are over 12,000 searches in Canada. Assuming that half of these are repeat queries, and then taking the percentage of the general population that are do-it yourselfers, (perhaps in the 5-10% range) might provide me with a realistic size of the market that I am targeting.

(12,000*50% for repeat queries) = 6000*10% DIY market= 600 = the number of business plan writers that are DIYers


My target capture rate of 35% = 210 Plans per month – my sales at maturity

Now compare this number with saying that I plan to capture 0.1% of the global business plan market – that would be 30,000 plans per month – still much to high, particularly since many of those searches are in a language other than English. Numbers below 1% make no sense to anyone, so segment, segment, segment I say.

5. WHAT WILL YOUR SALES BE IN YEAR 1?

The third and final biggest mistake that people make, is that they assume they will sell their predicted sales at maturity in year 1. Remember, that your size of the market is once your sales reach maturity. For the majority of businesses, this can be a minimum of 3-5 years. How quickly you reach your sales will include how quickly the industry is growing, the number of competitors and the quality of your product. Anyone of these can change your sales forecast.

For myself, I know that I will most likely achieve 15-25% of sales at maturity in year 1 and then predict that sales will increase by 20-35% every year thereafter.

So, to all the prospective entrepreneurs out there, good luck and start selling!

 


Article Keywords: business plan demographics example, demographics for small business, how to find demographics for business plan


Hey Entrepreneurs! Have a business question that you could use an answer to? Tweet @CarmenReis and I’ll do my best to help you out 🙂


Need a Business Plan fast? Just visit our homepage and you can be downloading your Business plan in just 2 hours!

The Customer is always right….Except when he isn’t…

As part of my continuing series on markets and customers, I would like to tell you about another entrepreneur who was determined to change his customer. Unlike Bob from the last blog who was content to live with his books, this entrepreneur, Luis, has been fighting to convince customers that he was right and they needed to change since the day he opened his doors.

Luis was a Portuguese immigrant to Canada in 1980. Luis was a bright, energetic and enthusiastic young man eager to make a life for himself and his family. He came over to Canada as a pastry chef. His family had been bakers for generations in Portugal and despite his rather Neadrathal like appearance, Luis was rather artistic when it came to decorating cakes.

Luis at a Market in the winter
Luis prefers to sell outside…and grab (sometimes literally) unsuspecting customers as they walk by.

He started off living in Leamington, Canada, working for a baker there who sponsored him. Within a few months, knowing some contacts in London, Canada, Luis moved there. Always dissatisfied working for others, Luis changed jobs every few months, much to the chagrin of his wife and young family. Finally, in 1986/7, Luis took over a Latvian bakery and began working for himself on weekends (still doing construction during the week to supplement the family income).In 1989 the bakery was forced to re-locate due to a zoning change and Luis bought a new home and bakery in Aylmer, Ontario Canada where he has been ever since.

Luis makes what we would call today artisan bread. The bread is made with flour, salt and water-nothing more. Fashionable today, these loaves in the 1980’s resembled a cross between a flatbread and a rock. Despite this, Luis peddled his wares at area markets. He haggled with customers, yelled at them, insulted them and kept coming back for more every week. For a few years he tried retail-delivering to area health food stores and supplement stores. When one of them went broke–owing him a large amount of money, he swore off retail in favor of farmers markets and flea markets where he could sell directly to customers.

What makes Luis unique? Well for one, he has never changed his product in nearly 30 years. He has added lines, detracted products, changed recipes slightly, but the core product has never changed. His selling style resembles old world Arab market (think yelling and haggling) crossed with a pushy car sales man. People either love him or hate him. He has adapted his “pitch” to go with the times. In the 1980’s-1990’s the pitch was “diet bread” no fat, sugar, milk or oil…..the magic fix pill that would make you lose weight. In the late 1990’s to 2000’s healthy bread-with no fats or oils, that would let you take charge of your health. From the late 2000’s onward he has been peddling artisan breads with no additives or preservatives that supports the small business owner.

Selling outside in the Summer time
Luis used to use cardboard boxes to sell his bread–old banana boxes. These days he uses wicker baskets because banana boxes are treated with chemicals and health regulations actually prevent their re-use in our local area.

Over time has his product changed? Not really. Instead he uses language of the times to “re-invent” himself and keep his product relevant. He is still in business, fighting with customers who disagree with him, pushing his product onto unsuspecting passer-bys. Is he happy? Yes, 99% of the time he loves what he does. He is eccentric and his work environment permits him to be eccentric.

Luis, fights with his customers to make them understand why his product is relevant. Everyweek he fights. For some this would be exhausting, but for Luis, this weekly fight is what motivates him, what drives him. At heart, he loves people (“I am a lover, not a fighter” as he would say). He is known to be yelled at to keep him quiet. However, despite all of this, he loves what he does. He is passionate about bread and never hesitates to educate customers about his product, about bread, about why you should be passionate about it. He does not let the customer dictate what product he should sell, rather he fights with the customer, changes his sales pitch and educates, until the customer exhaustedly agrees to buy a loaf just to shut him up. The funny thing is, most customers come back a second time, a third…etc. He knows he just has to get them to take one loaf. A few have put up with him for nearly 30 years, others tire of his ways, and only come back occasionally. Does Luis care? No. He knows the world is full of customers, they just have to be convinced and he will go on “convincing” till the day he stops baking.

As an aside, there is much more I could tell you about Luis–enough to fill an entire book–and that book would be called ” A Baker’s Daughter” –yes he is my dad and probably the reason I am a passionate entrepreneur today.

Article keywords: the customer is always right

Part III: So Who Needs a Business Plan?

So Who needs a business plan? These days, if you are seeking financing of any form, you require one.
Do you need a business plant to ensure the success of your business?-I would say “No”. I would say for some personality types, a business plan is a requirement to ensure that they have thought through their business idea. I would suggest that those entrepreneurs who are rash, those who have entered into risky arrangements in the past and those who are investing personal funds into industries which have high capital costs, would do well to stop and prepare a business planning document.

For others, I would say that a business plan is no more than a checklist item to get you investing. This is not to say that all business planning is bad. Rather, like reading literary classics in school, this is a checklist item that you need to get through the system. Some will take pleasure in preparing these, for others the term “business plan” evokes visions of weeks and months of pain.

It is for the latter group that we created BizMula. For those entrepreneurs who cannot sit still long enough to put together a 25+ page plan-there is now an alternative. This solution is not for everyone. There are scores of others solutions on the market that serve a different purpose. Business Plan Pro by PaloAlto software is one of the greatest pieces of software ever to come out. For those who do not remember or recall life before this program-it really did revolutionize business planning. Tim Berry is a guru in the industry and paying homage to him is an honor. By the same token, Microsoft and Palo Alto also have subscription services that are great for those who suit that personality. Enloop, a recent entry into the market, is also very easy to use and clear.

However, having ADD myself, going through this software was never easy for me–even a consultant. I enjoyed learning about industries, putting together financials and foreceasts, solidifying a marketing plan and watching entrepreneurs dreams take flight–but writing that business plan was painful-even for me.

I stand back and think-“if it was bad for me, there must be others…” and in my work, I have run across immigrants with a great work ethic and a great business idea, but who get stalled in their access to capital because of poor language skills. I have come across others who have trouble with numbers, or others who have such passion and vision that a business plan is more more than an obstacle and hindrance. For these groups, and so many others, we thought, there has to be a different, not better, but different way. For this reason, we offer BizMula.

Article keywords: who needs a business plan


Hey Entrepreneurs! Have a business question that you could use an answer to? Tweet @CarmenReis and I’ll do my best to help you out 🙂


Need a Business Plan fast? Just visit our homepage and you can be downloading your Business plan in just 2 hours!

Part 2: Why Businesses Fail

Since 1980 onward, business plans have become standard staple in lending and investing. They provide, or so their supporters will argue, a standardized way to look at a business. Business plans require entrepreneurs to actually “plan” and they are the road map an entrepreneur uses from start-up through to a full -scale operation.

So why is it then, that businesses with business plans still fail?

There are several reasons. Oftentimes, the challenge is not in the business plan itself but in the strategy of the entrepreneur and in the broader business model.

The first main reason that businesses fail, is that they are just generally bad business ideas. One of my favorite shows is the Canadian version of Dragon’s Den. Just watch one episode (the are available at www.cbc.ca) and see the sheer number of bad business ideas that exist. Bad ideas are bad for several reasons. The market for the product may be small or ill defined. The marketing or distribution strategy may be abysmal or non-existant and the entrepreneur themselves may be the biggest obstacle the business has.

The second reason that the businesses fail, is cashflow. Entrepreneurs are great at predicting prospective revenue, but poor at understanding cash flow. They are so eager to get orders, that they will take any payment terms from their customers, even if it is at their own expense. I have seen entrepreneurs come to me and they offer 90 day payment terms for their customers, but have all payments due in 30 days or less from their suppliers. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is going to be a cashflow problem here. Unless the entrepreneur has a good line of credit, or a large degree of personal savings, this issue can mean the death of the business.

There are many other reasons. Poor management. Inexperienced. Lack of contacts in the industry–take your pick. My favorite reason cited for the death of a business is poor planning.Poor planning by entrepreneur.

Planning in itself is not the answer. What these crtics mean, but rarely get around to saying is risk mitigation strategies. Identifying what the Risks are to a business and confonting ways to change/challenge those risks is really where the crux of all business success starts.

Article keywords: why businesses fail


Hey Entrepreneurs! Have a business question that you could use an answer to? Tweet @CarmenReis and I’ll do my best to help you out 🙂


Need a Business Plan fast? Just visit our homepage and you can be downloading your Business plan in just 2 hours!