Posts tagged "business planning"

Business Planning is Over My Head – Or is It?

March 31st, 2017 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “Business Planning is Over My Head – Or is It?”
This post was provided by guest blogger, Lindsey Evans, of 16th Floor Media. Find Lindsey on Facebook @16thFloor

Lindsey Evans – 16th Floor Media

When Jon told me that he was creating a business planning software, I have to admit I was skeptical. I’ve tried business planning before and it’s over my head.

I work in creative services and the mention of math in any form tends to turn me away. However, I agreed to try the Beta test version of Plan Canvas, the business planning tool based on Jon’s book, Business is ART. I am extremely glad that I did.

It all becomes clear with planning

I have been a solopreneur for a year and a half since I left my salary position. My goal for about 6 months was to hire an additional worker to take away my day-to-day workload and focus on the larger tasks. In the limited amount of time I’ve been able to dedicate to Plan Canvas in the last 2 months, it became apparent my hiring decision couldn’t wait.
Once I saw the numbers in black and white it jumped right out at me, ” What are you waiting for?”
I can proudly say I have added to my team! Not only is my workload lessened, but my client base has expanded!

Do it

I would recommend Plan Canvas to any business owner who thinks they “don’t need to formally plan anything.” Jon has thought two steps ahead with this software.
The beta test team is currently working with over 35 businesses and entrepreneurs across all types of industries! Start-ups and existing businesses, first-time business owners and seasoned pros – all part of the beta test!

Without hundreds of templates, it works for any type of business

Exactly what types of industries and professionals are currently using Plan Canvas?

Take a look!

  • eMail Marketing Consultant
  • Web Design
  • Architecture
  • Executive Coaching
  • Software / Consulting
  • Graphic Design Consultant
  • Graphic Design Consultant
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Property Management Consulting
  • Restoration
  • Startup Coach
  • Non-Profit Exec Director
  • Leadership Consulting
  • Web Design
  • Business Consultant
  • Craft Beer
  • Insurance Agent
  • Video Marketing
  • Painter (exterior/interior)
  • Chiropractor
  • Graphic Design
  • Entrepreneur – Restaurant Owner
  • CPA
  • Coffee Shop Owner
  • Retail Buyer
  • Baker
  • Blogger
  • College Professor
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Startup entrepreneur / former banker
  • Mergers & Acquisitions Advisor
  • Baked Goods & Specialty Candy
  • University Entrepreneur Club Leader
  • Computer Services

If it works for me, it will work for anyone. Go to the Plan Canvas Facebook page to keep up with how the beta is going and more.


Lies and Untruths About Starting a Business

February 14th, 2017 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “Lies and Untruths About Starting a Business”
Starting business

Lance White (l) of FRW Studios Uses Plan Canvas

When you tell someone you’re starting a business, they’ll likely have an opinion. It doesn’t matter if they’re an entrepreneur or a sanitation worker. They’ll say something like “Oh really? Well did you know that….”

And then they’ll proceed to give you advice on the business you haven’t even started yet. Sometimes, the things you hear about starting a business are true. Things like “90% of business fail” or “80% of small businesses in the US consist of one person”.

On the other hand, there’s a fair amount of crap “fluff”.

Here are some of the lies and half-truths you’ll hear about starting a business.

You Need a Lot of Money

The old saying goes “it takes money to make money”, and it’s true, you’ll have to buy and spend to get a business going. But, perhaps, not as much as you might think.

To start many a business in the digital age, you don’t need huge investments or deep pockets, especially if you’re selling a service or an electronic product. The key is breaking your business idea down to its simplest form. Start there and you can probably get things moving without breaking the bank.

You Only Have to Do Things You Love

Many people start their own business because they want to do something they actually care about. That’s a great reason to start a business. But don’t think that you will only have to do the things you enjoy doing.

As an entrepreneur, you have to do everything initially. That will likely include things you don’t enjoy doing. The hope is that after building up some success, you’ll one day be able to focus on the areas you’re most passionate about.

Until then, you’ll be wearing a lot of hats.

You Have to Jump All In Immediately

Quitting your job, selling all your stuff, and devoting all time and attention to your startup might sound poetic, but it’s not always realistic. Your best option might be to start your business as a side project, allowing you to figure out potential problems while growing organically.

You’re Not Qualified

You will face people who doubt that you can run a business. This is something you’ll likely experience in your own head as well. And for these moments, it’s best to remember that famous Steve Jobs quote:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”

You don’t need to be a genius or have master class skills. You simply need an idea, a vision, and the commitment to see it through. Steve Jobs created one of the most influential computer companies ever, and he was neither a programmer nor an engineer.

You Have to Work All Day, Every Day

Burnout is a very serious thing among entrepreneurs. That’s because they have this idea that the second they stop, their business will stop and fall apart. While it’s true you’ll likely work some unconventional hours, and you’ll probably pull more than the typical 40-45 hour workweek, you’re still human.

You need breaks and social interaction and fun.

Step away for a moment. Take a day off if necessary. Your business will still be there when you get back.

You Don’t Need a Formal Business Plan

Because the modern business and technological landscape changes so quickly, some people have gotten this idea that business plans are a relic of the past. This is false.

Research has shown that a formal business plan can as much as double your odds of success, particularly for startups

It doesn’t need to be the size of an encyclopedia. It won’t have every piece of your business explained in detail. And it will likely change in the near future.

But creating a written plan is a huge benefit to any business.

Need help on how to create a business plan? Start with my free 1-page strategic plan outline here. For a more in-depth walkthrough of planning a business strategy and measuring success, sign up for my Odds Makers Class.

Odds Makers is a step by step video course that will guide you through all of the stages of creating a vision and workable plan for your business.

Start Now!

A Real Live Case Study

FRW Studios, a creative design firm, is starting its business with formal planning, using Plan Canvas beta version 1.0, the business planning software based on the Business is ART book. The photo appearing at the beginning of this post was taken by Julie White of FRW. It shows FRW’s Lance White and me actually working on FRW’s plans, using Plan Canvas on February 13, 2017.

“Having used his strategy/business plans in the past, we know how important it is to start our studio off on the right foot.”

~ Julie and Lance White

Why Business Plans Suck

December 15th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan 0 thoughts on “Why Business Plans Suck”

Trick QuestionIf you have read more than a couple of posts at the Business is ART Blog, or read my book, you know that I am a strong believer in planning for your business – and saying it usually results in eye rolls from even the otherwise smartest business owners and organizational leaders I know, with good reason.

Business Planning Sucks

Creating formal business plans and strategies for your business, whether large or small – and I am talking one owner, no employees small – takes some time and effort. How much time depends on who is doing it and what process or tools they use. Which leads me to this point…

Business Planning Tools Suck

If I hear one more question from “business planning experts” like, “Have you ever seen the Jargonsian Wheel of Six Block Charterism Planning Alive Tool?” I just might scream.

Do you know why most of these tools suck?

Because they are developed by consultants and academics (the experts) who believe the path to solid planning practices is not just paved in gold, but paved with really complex gold pavers that must be laid out very precisely in order to function properly – and, by the way, only said experts are able to lay said gold pavers.

So the vast majority of business owners and leaders don’t formally plan because it’s too complex, leading them to falsely conclude they don’t need to do it.

But the Benefits are Real

In our BNI Chapter meeting this week, I did a simple demonstration. Everyone in the room received $1.30. One side of the room called “heads” and the other called “tails.” The side that lost the coin toss had to put their $1.30 in to a collection jar.

The point – 50% of new businesses don’t make it.

Next, the losing side was asked if they did any kind of formal business planning whatsoever. Of the few that did, they got one more coin toss. Those who won the toss could take their $1.30 back out of the jar.

The point – startups have a 50% better shot at succeeding when they have formal plans.

Finally, of everyone left holding $1.30 on both sides of the room, I asked again who did any kind of formal planning. A small percentage of that remaining population raised their hands. They got to keep the full $1.30. The others had to put 30 cents in to the jar.

The point – of those businesses that make it past startup, those that have formal plans do, on average, 30% better than the others.

Trick Question

At last, I asked, “Which is greater – Zero, 1 dollar or $1.30?”

Someone replied, “Is this a trick question?”

No. It is not a trick question at all. The only trick is to have the where-with-all to do the things that increase your odds of getting $1.30 as opposed to anything less.

Enter Plan Canvas

And that is where Plan Canvas comes in. Plan Canvas is a business planning software based on my book Business is ART. It allows the user to quickly get organized and define plans, identify and track goals, objectives, initiatives and action items – in a very simplistic way.Plan Canvas

So simplistic you don’t need an expert to manage it for you. Just do it. If you can navigate Facebook you can navigate this tool.

Plan Canvas moves to beta test in early 2017 and I am actively seeking beta test users to join several others that have already signed up. It will cost nothing but a little of your time and you have everything to gain.

I Really Don’t Give a S&%!

So, have I seen the ‘Jargonsian Wheel of Six Block Charterism Planning Alive Tool’? Yes, and I really don’t give a S&%!

Contact me here if you don’t either.

One Insane Business Practice

December 6th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “One Insane Business Practice”
small business

BIA Podcast – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

On last week’s episode of the Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat Network, my guest was Pat Newcomb of the Ohio SBDC at The Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton, Ohio (You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know). During the show we discussed a variety of topics that business owners may find helpful, including:

  • The importance of planning
  • Sources of inexpensive or free information and support
  • The difference between the SBDC and SCORE

(Listen to the podcast in its entirety by clicking here)

For the remainder of this post, let’s take a look at one of those topics: planning (no eye rolls and groaning, please).

With Respect to Startups Planning

If you wanted to cross the street and had a 50/50 chance of being struck by on-coming traffic, would you do it? You might if under no uncertain circumstances you’d rather give it a shot than stay where you are. That is exactly what start-up entrepreneurs face – a 50/50 shot at making it to the other side.

Now what if someone said, “Hey, I can improve your chances of getting to the other side by 50%.”

Would your response be:

  1. No thanks. 50/50 is good enough.
  2. Sweet! Tell me!

If you answered “A”, I’ll raise a glass in memory. If you answered “B”, keep reading.

With Respect to Existing Businesses Planning

If someone offered you the following choice, which would you take:

  1. $100,000
  2. $130,000

If you answered “A”, I admire your lack of greed…I guess. If you answered “B”, keep reading.

The Bottom Line

Startup businesses are twice as likely to succeed when they formally plan. Twice as likely! That’s a lot of “likelies.” Existing businesses grow on average 30% faster when they formally plan. That’s a lot of “Benjamins.” But here’s the thing. Less than 1/3 of businesses formally plan.

That’s the business equivalent of 2 out of every 3 people you meet saying “No thanks. A 50/50 shot at making it to the other side is good enough, and once I’m there, $100,000 is fine. I don’t need $130,000.”

Isn’t that a Bit Insane?

So why is this the case? Here are 3 reasons:

  1. Don’t know how plan.
  2. Planning is too complicated.
  3. Hubris.

I can’t do anything about number 3 but can help you with numbers 1 and 2. In my book Business is ART (click here) I lay out a process and templates that are devised in a simplified manner to the point anyone can do it. I then explain it even more simply in my online training entitled “Odds Makers” – 25 videos with a total runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes where you’ll learn how to create your vision, strategy, and business plan (click here).

And this week I am please to announce that the Alpha Test version of Plan Canvas, the business planning software that will put it all together, will be complete December 15, 2016. If you would like to be part of our beta test group, please contact me.

This is one insane business practice you can afford to lose.

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business

March 5th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Owner, Strategy 0 thoughts on “4 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business”

Photo courtesy

Achieving business success is not only about what you do, it’s what mistakes you avoid. Mistakes can be made by anyone, no matter how prepared you are to get started in your industry. These mistakes aren’t always so easy to identify, and some of them can actually be misconstrued as doing something positive. But therein lies the problem: sometimes you can do too much.

It’s not always what you put into your business that matters, but what you leave out. A complete list would be far too lengthy for a blog, so here are just 4 mistakes to avoid when starting your business.

Moving Forward Without a Plan

One of the biggest mistakes that business owners can make is pressing forward without any type of plan for the future. It’s good to have a sense of your industry, the market, the consumers and what you want your business goals to be.

Without a proper business plan, you put yourself at risk of being one of the many businesses that fail within the first five years. The Business is ART book explicitly lays out how you can form a plan. You can also find a template for a “One Page Strategic Plan” as well as a business plan template in the “Freebies” section of the website.

While it’s always a good idea to have a business plan, start with the strategic plan. It sets the stage for your business plan.

Over Planning

You have probably heard the term “analysis paralysis.” Simply put, it’s what happens when we over think things. This can easily happen when putting plans together. You start to think of all of the additional things you can put in to your plans, or talk about in great depth in your plans. Pretty soon, months or years go by without taking any real actions toward implementing your plans. You’ve been so busy planning that you forgot the “doing” part.

Another danger is what I call “exception handling.” That’s when instead of defining the forward path, you start worrying about and defining all of the detours and delays that may take you off of the defined path and down unmarked dirt roads.

To be sure, you should do some of this planning. It’s called risk mitigation planning. But do it AFTER you have defined the preferred, ideal path that you plan to take. If you try to define them simultaneously, you are likely to never completely define the path.

Being Inflexible

You should never become so set in your ways that you refute any and all criticism about your business or plan. Part of being a business leader is learning to listen to your stakeholders as well as others who have no “skin-in-the-game.” Most importantly, you should be listening to your customers.

By refusing to revise your business plan and strategy, you will find that your business will become either obsolete or forgotten about pretty quickly. Every market is constantly evolving; the trick is to evolve along with it.

Neglecting Your Marketing Budget

Developing a product or perfecting a service is integral to any business, but if you don’t spend any money on marketing your business, how will people know that it even exists? Don’t fall back on the saying: “if you build it, they will come.” You have to set aside some money for marketing in order to get your business off the ground.

What are some other mistakes to avoid?

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