Tag Archives: writing

Shiny Object Syndrome

I have come to the conclusion that I suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome – I often sit at my computer for hours getting nothing done. 

Internet Marketing Wiki defines Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) as

the tendency for someone to get distracted by new thoughts and ideas, their own and others, and never focus or complete anything. In effect, the internet marketer is in such a state of constant distraction that they continually lose themselves in imagination and dreaming, instead of seeing the bigger picture and getting things done.

They go on to say that SOS “will commonly result in procrastination, even chronic procrastination and a constant sense of unease and dissatisfaction at not being able to move forward.”

Now that I have identified the problem, I am on the road to recovery. It will be an uphill battle but there is comfort in knowing that I am not alone.

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” – William James

“Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.”  Napoleon Hill

Recently Mashable published a comic by Angela Liao of 20px  that identifies 12 Types of Procrastinators. I can relate to at least six but the Sidetracker and the Internet Researcher probably describe me the best. Which one (or two) are you? 

Luckily Mashable also supplied a link to a post by Sarah Ang on 7 Productivity-Boosting Tools to Fight Procrastination. I may have to start using “Strict Workflow” this week. It is a Chrome extension that helps you stay focused by blocking sites for 25 minutes then letting you browse for a 5-minute break.

I’ll be back soon with a post on business insurance, as soon as I finish researching it …

Business Plan Resources

The SBA’s (US Small Business AdministrationSmall Business Learning Center is full of amazing training files. It has online training courses, videos, and chats. I found the online course for How to Write a Business Plan to be extremely helpful.

SBA also has a series of business planning tutorial videos by Tim Berry.  Tim Berry is the Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com. He is the author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including The Plan As You Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press, 2008.

Another item on SBA’s site that I like is Creating a Business Plan, which is found under Starting a Business in the Starting & Managing a Business section. There is a link to the SBA’s Build Your Business Plan tool – a step-by-step guide to help you create your business plan.

SCORE has some Templates and Tools that will serve you well. There are one or two, of course, related to Business Plans. For example, here are 5 Tips on Creating a Great Business Plan, brought to you by SCORE Mentors:

  • Take the long view and do long-term planning. Map out where you want to be five years from now and how you plan to get there.
  • Write the plan yourself. You will learn more about your business by doing so.
  • Think of your plan as a living document. Review it regularly to make sure you are on track or to adjust it to market changes.
  • Share the plan with others who can help you get where you want to go—such as lenders, key employees and advisors.
  • Understand that you might pay a price in the short run to obtain long-term business growth and health.

SCORE has a gallery of Business Plan Templates as well as templates of Financial Statements. They also have Online Workshops, such as Quick Start Business Plan.

Next time we will talk about how to obtain business licenses and permits.

What is a molehill anyway?

I have come to the conclusion that if I spent as much time writing my business plan as I do worrying about it or researching about it, I would have finished it weeks ago. I’m pretty sure I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. So, to assist you (and me) I decided to summarize the basic requirements of a business plan. It’s a long post so get your reading glasses along with a glass of your favorite beverage and dig in!

Most business plans are organized into five major categories:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Company Description
  3. Products & Services
  4. Marketing & Sales Plan
  5. Financial Information

Let’s discuss each category individually.

The first category is the Executive Summary. This may be the most important part of your business plan. Most experts agree, however, that this should be done last after you have completed all the other categories in your business plan. The executive summary is your chance to shine and show people that you are ready to get your business off the ground. As a summary section you will give a quick picture of your experience, training, and plans for success.

The second category is the Company Description. This is where you give a profile of your company by explaining your business and what niche you are serving. State where you are located and under what type of legal format your company operates, such a sole proprietorship, Incorporated, or LLC. You should then list details such as:

  • Size
  • Management structure
  • Number of employees
  • Your target market and unique selling position
  • Expertise level
  • Scope of work
  • Hours of operation

Next, list the duties and responsibilities of management/key staff/consultants, if any. Describe what your company does and what makes it unique. Describe your ideal target customer including:

  • Location
  • Numbers
  • Age, marital status, income, number of children, educational level
  • State whether or not their numbers are growing or declining
  • Trends affecting your customer demographic
  • What they spend on products or services similar to yours
  • Who they purchase these products or services from
  • Where and how do they buy them

Profile your main competition:

  • Who are they
  • Where they located
  • What’s their size
  • Discuss what market segments they serve
  • Give a rough estimate of their sales
  • Approximately how long have they been in business
  • Sketch out their strengths and weaknesses
  • State whether they are growing or declining
  • What is their market share
  • Where will you fit in
  • How will you overcome any competitive disadvantages

The next category is Product & Services. In this section describe your products and services. Discuss how your products and services are unique and better than your competitors. Explain how you see your products and services changing over time and your business growing. Detail the level of customer demand for your products and services now and project where demand will be over the next 2 to 5 years.

Category four is Marketing & Sales. The main purpose of this section is to discuss how you will reach customers. We will expand on who is the ideal target customer we discussed in Category two by answering questions such as:

  1. Who are my customers and potential customers?
  2. What kind of people are they?
  3. Where do they live?
  4. Can and will they buy?
  5. Am I offering the kinds of goods or services they want at the best price, at the best time, in the right amounts?
  6. Are my prices consistent with what buyers see as the product’s value?
  7. How does my business compare with my competitors?

A successful marketing strategy will typically include the four Ps – price, promotion, products, and place – to reflect the wants and desires of consumers in your target market. A product is an item that satisfies what consumer needs or wants. Price is the amount a consumer pays for the product. Promotion is all of the methods of communication and a marketer may used to provide information about the product. Place – or distribution – refers to the providing the product at a place that is convenient for consumers to access.

For sales strategy, provide a summary of the people most likely to purchase your products or services. Address the most urgent need they would be seeking to meet or which major benefits would attract them. Discuss where and how you will sell your products and services. Will you sell only online? Will you have a brick-and-mortar location?

The final category is Financial Information. This section should include financial statements and forecasts for the business. The financial structure of your business is usually described in three financial statements: the balance statement, income statement, and cash flow statement. As a new business you should include estimated start-up costs, a projected balance sheet, a projected income statement, and a projected cash flow statement for 12 months. All statements should be projected one year forward.

Please remember that I am sharing only the basics. However, I have discovered some wonderful resources that I will discuss and post next time. 

And now for something a bit different …

I am still working on my business plan but wanted to stop by and say hello.

I have a confession – I love to surf the internet! I love to learn about all sorts of things and I thought I’d share a couple with you.

Yesterday I found a post called “46 Ways to Start a Business With No Money.” Forty-six is the highest number I’ve ever seen in a how to start a business list. The post is a few years old but it is definitely worth checking out. The author is Brian Armstrong who is the Co-founder and CEO of Coinbase.com. He is also the author of “Breaking Free” a book that journals his experience starting a business. I found myself nodding in agreement as I read the first few chapters.

bookImage

 

The Breaking Free eBook is available at no charge and is Free to download.

Breaking Free is also available in paperback and can be purchased from Amazon.com.

 

Another book I learned about is also a bit different. It was first published in 1937 and remains a perennial best-seller after 70 years (BusinessWeek Magazine’s Best-Seller List ranked it as the sixth best-selling paperback business book 70 years after it was first published). This book was written by Napoleon Hill (no relation) and the title is “Think and Grow Rich.”

It is fascinating reading! This is from the book description:

“Think and Grow Rich is a motivational personal development and self-help book written by Napoleon Hill and inspired by a suggestion from Scottish-American businessman Andrew Carnegie … The text of Think and Grow Rich is founded on Hill’s earlier work The Law of Success, the result of more than twenty years of research based on Hill’s close association with a large number of individuals who achieved great wealth during their lifetimes. At Andrew Carnegie’s bidding, Hill studied the characteristics of these achievers and developed 16 “laws” of success intended to be applied by anybody to achieve success. Think and Grow Rich condenses these laws further and provides the reader with 13 principles in the form of a philosophy of personal achievement.”