Blog - 9 Week Business Plan Workshop

Writing a Socially Responsible Business Plan

business plans for social entrepreneurs

“Business as usual” is no longer the norm – with the uprise in Millennial sway over business, the values that customers used to hold are taking new shape. Traditional advertising from the past was able to shape perceptions and desires by dictating what is cool/sexy/noteworthy/trustworthy. Then consumers started to ask, “what’s in it for me?” With the rise of social media and the constant noise of online chatter, advertisers needed to stand out by providing value, be it utility or shock value.

We’re now seeing the shift of business towards social responsibility. That’s not to say business plans were not incorporating progressive values, be them green initiatives or social funding ventures, before. But now we have the Millennial force starting to drive things, and those initiatives that were once half-assed are now taking front seat.

“Millennials represent about a fourth of the entire population, with $200 billion in annual buying power.

They have a lot of influence over older generations and are trendsetters across all industries from fashion to food. Companies have been struggling connecting with this generation because many of the traditional methods of advertising have proven ineffective at capturing their attention.” Forbes, 10 New Findings About The Millennial Consumer

“Millennials want meaning both at work and at home. In fact, they demand it.” Forbes, Business Not As Usual: The Millennial Social Entrepreneur

This is why we’re seeing the uptrend in social entrepreneurship (entrepreneurs aiming to utilize business techniques to find solutions to social problems), with business efforts migrating from a pure focus on profit, to a mixed focus on profit and making the world a better place, be it planting trees, donating clothes to those in need, providing safe harbor to victims of abuse, or providing services to others wanting to start up their own ventures.

These changes in the business ecosystem have birthed the need to broaden the old-school business plan of yore. Key points to consider when developing your business plan should include:

  • How to communicate with your prospects and customers across various generations, taking into consideration what each type of consumer values
  • On the same page, how to attract and retain employees across various generations
  • How to address problems when they arise, including PR issues, with every-day use of social media being the norm
  • How has your competition branded themselves, and how are they connecting with today’s consumers?

You don’t necessarily need your business goals to include “making the world a better place,” but you will need to address how to build trust with your prospects and customers, and that will vary depending on who your target audience is. Above all, keep in mind that adaptability is key.

MeetGeraldine Awarded Loan from OBDC for Working Capital Expansion

business growth with successful business plans

Geraldine Covento and Lauren Messmer, serial entrepreneurs and co-founders of MeetGeraldine, the women-owned business strategy, marketing and design firm headquartered in Oakland, CA, have been awarded a loan from the Oakland Business Development Center (OBDC) to aid in the growth of their organization. The loan enables the dynamic pair the opportunity to delegate some of the operational tasks of the business to their growing team (now comprised of sixteen team members and continuing to grow!) and focus on networking and developing strategic partnerships.

“Landing this loan was made possible by having a solid business plan in place,” Geraldine shared. “Our own success has proven that writing a business plan is an invaluable step for business growth.”

Turn What You Love into Something Real this Valentine’s Day

starting your own business

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we want to know – what do you LOVE? We dare you to turn it into reality, by starting your own business!

Get started by writing your business plan, guided by successful entrepreneurs and industry experts, at our upcoming 9-Week Business Plan Workshop. The next session starts Tuesday, February 23 – reserve your spot today!

Questions to Ask when Writing a Business Plan

business plan writing questions

So you know you need a business plan… now what?

Whether you’ve signed up for a business plan workshop or are sifting through Business Plans for Dummies, it’s important that you develop a list of business plan questions that you want to make sure are addressed in your plan. This will help you stay on track in including any pertinent details that you may forget when caught up in developing your business plan, and will help remind you to stay focused, and as honest and unbiased as possible in your plan.

Sample questions include:

  • Who is my target audience – and am I being as focused/detailed as possible (or overly focused, possibly missing potential market)?
  • How will/does my business differ from the competition, and are these selling points?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses as a business owner? Are any of these unique? How do I address and/or utilize these as a business?
  • What types of employees/skillsets should I hire to compensate for my weaknesses, and how will I go about recruiting, motivating and retaining them?
  • What are my goals for growth, and are they realistic?
  • What level of commitment am I expecting of myself, and of any others involved?
  • What points of accountability will there be company wide?
  • What challenges do I foresee my business having to face, and what other challenges/obstacles are possible? How do I plan to tackle them when/if they do occur?

The list of questions can be endless, depending on your own unique needs and challenges. We’ve found that it’s best to develop a business plan amongst a group of peers and industry professionals, so that you can learn from questions others ask, and get any new questions answered that will undoubtedly come up along the way – making business classes and workshops much more helpful with their hands-on work and learning, vs. hoping you get it right with a generic template.

Business Plans Across Industries: Real Estate and Beyond

commercial_real_estate

We’ve had many new business owners ask us if a business plan was needed for their specific industry – real estate in particular. Oftentimes, real estate brokers and agents become licensed, join an agency or acquire a peer’s clientele list and geographical target area, and hit the road running without much of a plan for growth in place.

However, real estate business plans, be it for commercial, residential, or industrial real estate, can be a great tool for real estate professionals. These plans help define your target audience (as well as who you don’t want to work with), how to attract said target audience, how you’ll differ/stand out from the competition (extremely important, with real estate being a highly competitive market), address your strengths and weaknesses so you can develop a plan of attack should any problems arise, and forecasting so you can lay out your roadmap for success and growth.

While some real estate professionals may not need to present a business plan to financiers in efforts to gain investment, many are involved in projects that require funding (those involved in commercial real estate, especially), where a solid business plan is essential.

This is why we’ve geared our business plan workshop to provide information and hands-on lab time for entrepreneurs across a variety of industries, providing information beyond just business goals, marketing and strategy (not that those are small in and of themselves), but covering business law, finance and HR as well. We understand that each industry and business faces its own set of unique challenges, and are here to help participants get on the road to success.

To learn more about our business plan workshops, please contact us at: 510-306-4217 or email us for more information.

The Benefits of Writing Your Own Plan vs. Having Someone do it for You

writing a business plan

As a busy entrepreneur, it may seem daunting to tackle writing your own successful business plan. You might be tempted to use a free business plan template found online, or sign up to use on of the various companies that make business plans for you. Unfortunately, the “quick and easy fix” in business often ends up creating more problems than its worth, as is definitely the case when it comes to an effective business plan.

First and foremost, a business plan template you come across online was not created to fit your specific needs. If one size fit all in the business realm, it would be very difficult to stand out from the crowd and thrive amongst the competition. Business plan templates can be a good start for organizing your thoughts, and to get a general awareness of what components go into various business plans, but they won’t guide you through considering every angle and challenge that might come your way, opening up the potential for pitfalls in areas left uncovered.

Hiring a business plan writer, or company that makes business plans for others, removes you from the process. This is your “baby” – you want to ensure it’s on the best path for success, and to be fully aware of what you’re signing yourself up for. Additionally, having others lead this process for you is often much more time consuming and costly, as they are outside parties not privy to the thoughts inside your head, and what led you to dreaming up your business idea to begin with.

When starting your own business, “if you want something done right, it’s best to do it yourself” is key – as an entrepreneur, you wouldn’t pitch your business idea to someone else and let them run with it on their own. This is why it’s important that you write your own business plan, and fortunately, there are many business workshops for entrepreneurs geared to make the process of starting a business as transparent and smooth as possible.

Top 10 Ways Creating a Business Plan Helps Businesses Stay on the Path to Success

successful business plans

We all know a business plan is essential for the funding and growth of a company. But how does creating a business plan help us keep our businesses on the path to success?

    1. Creating a business plan gives us a place to start: Coming up with a dream business may not be so difficult for entrepreneurs, but knowing what steps should be taken first isn’t always clear. Business plans provide a clear pathway and checklist to keep us on the right track.
    2. Creating a business plan helps us avoid potential pitfalls: When you consider what challenges and obstacles may lay ahead, you’re better prepared to tackle them as they come up.
    3. Business plans help us get back on our feet when we do fall: Detailing your resources and strengths will help you quickly assess and address any problems that do arise.
    4. Creating a business plan helps us to sleep better at night: We all know that sleep is essential for our health and a clear mind, but it’s impossible to sleep well when there’s so much on our plates. Having a concise plan enables us to know what skill sets we need to hire for, who we can delegate important tasks to, and what milestones we should be hitting, taking some of the anxiety out of our lives and keeping us on track.
    5. Business plans keep us out of the mundane: Determining what makes your business unique helps to lay out an interesting marketing and communications plan.
    6. Business plans help us to surround ourselves with successful people: Growing a business enables us to provide jobs to others who are determined to see the success of our efforts, and in turn, spread the word to their networks, continuously growing our reach.
    7. Business plans help to ensure cash flow: Without a plan for how we can get paid, or how much we need to get paid, there’s no way to succeed.
    8. Business plans keep us on track with major achievements: Are there contracts that are crucial to be in place, patents you must acquire, or partnerships that need to be in place for you to move forward? A business plan will help you detail and stay on top of these essentials.
    9. Creating a business plan helps to keep us grounded: Many entrepreneurs can find themselves disconnected from their roots. A business plan helps to ensure you develop a mission statement, vision, and core values – providing you, and any staff you bring on board, a consistent reminder of why you’re in business, and aid in handling all challenges and communications moving forward.
    10. And last, but not least… Winston Churchill said it best: “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”

Learn more about how the 9-Week Business Plan Workshop can help you create a business plan, and don’t forget to reserve your spot before time runs out!

Now’s the Time to Assess Your Business Plan: Business Plan Workshops

Business Writing Workshop for Entrepreneurs

With the start of a new year comes renewed energies and fresh perspective. We all get wrapped up in the noisiness of day-to-day business tasks, and often end up in “survival mode,” staying afloat to handle necessary projects and put out the inevitable fire.

Just like in our personal lives, where many of us take advantage of the invigorating push to make New Year’s resolutions to help us achieve our goals, why not do the same for your business?

With the holidays behind you, it’s a great time to refocus on where you’re at and where you want/need to be. Do you have a solid business plan in place? Have you gone astray from your plan, and its time to review and refresh it to help you get back on track?

Take some time this month to review your business assets, and make a plan for getting on track to make 2016 the most successful year yet. The air is filled with positive energy for change – make the most of it! Participating in a business plan workshop is a great way to revitalize a tired business plan that has gone astray, or put one together – even if you’ve already started your business without a plan in place.

For those looking for help in putting together a business plan, or revising a plan previously put in place, our 9-Week Business Plan Workshop is here to help! Register today to reserve your spot, or contact us via email or 510-306-4217 for more information.

5 Ways the Business Plan Writing Process Saves You Time and Money

Business Plan Writing Workshop Blog

1.The Business Plan Writing process makes you consider factors that often are overlooked- particularly in the realm of finances. Sure. The number one thing over looked- minimal costs that add up to be HUGE. When I wrote my first business plan, I was told I must look at the start-up costs realistically. I was instructed to go online and look up the price of the chairs I wanted, how much a printer would be, and the cost of office supplies. I also was forced to look up the buildout costs. Well. That was an eye-opener! I realized I was going to have to raise a bunch more money then I had already anticipated.

2.The Business Plan writing process is an opportunity to do a trial run. If you are writing a business plan as a pre-step to launching your business or a new portion of your business this is the opportunity to put your ideas to test. Every piece of the process teaches you to be considerate of the cause and effect aspects of your business. This saves you wasted time AND money.

3.The Business Plan gives you perspectives on how to stand out. Through the process of writing a business plan, you will be asked to look at your industry and your competitors. Often this is quite helpful. You can learn from them what has worked and not worked, which saves you time and money. It also may help you be more confident in marketing your business because you are confident you know your strengths and weaknesses compared to your competitors.

4.The Business Plan writing process allows you time and space to find the right elements for you business. When you write a business plan, you take it section by section. This gives you the opportunity to look at your business one piece at a time, which gives you space to be focused in your decision making. This rarely happens once your business is in motion because you have so many things going on at once and you are usually wearing more than one “hat.” Being focused means you can research in order to make appropriate decisions, which hopefully will keep you from having learn the “hard” (and expensive) way.

5.The Business Plan writing process will teach you more about how to read and create financial statements. Many people who start businesses know a lot about their passion, but aren’t completely experienced with other components of running a business. It is ok to not be an expert in every part of their business, but you should know at least a little bit of every part. The financial section is particularly important. The money is the blood line for the business and if you aren’t sure how to read and manage important financial processes, you run the risk of being scammed in the future. The business plan writing process helps you to start to make friends with these reports.