Monthly Archives: April 2017

A Good Business Plan

The following illustration shows a business plan as part of a process. You can think about the good or bad of a plan as the plan itself, measuring its value by its contents. There are some qualities in a plan that make it more likely to create results, and these are important. However, it is even better to see the plan as part of the whole process of results, because even a great plan is wasted if nobody follows it.

A business plan will be hard to implement unless it is simple, specific, realistic and complete. Even if it is all these things, a good plan will need someone to follow up and check on it. The plan depends on the human elements around it, particularly the process of commitment and involvement, and the tracking and follow-up that comes afterward.

Successful implementation starts with a good plan. There are elements that will make a plan more likely to be successfully implemented. Some of the clues to implementation include:

  1. Is the plan simple? Is it easy to understand and to act on? Does it communicate its contents easily and practically?
  2. Is the plan specific? Are its objectives concrete and measurable? Does it include specific actions and activities, each with specific dates of completion, specific persons responsible and specific budgets?
  3. Is the plan realistic? Are the sales goals, expense budgets, and milestone dates realistic? Nothing stifles implementation like unrealistic goals.
  4. Is the plan complete? Does it include all the necessary elements? Requirements of a business plan vary, depending on the context. There is no guarantee, however, that the plan will work if it doesn’t cover the main bases.

Use of business plans
Too many people think of business plans as something you do to start a company, apply for a loan, or find investors. Yes, they are vital for those purposes, but there’s a lot more to it.

Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan can seem a daunting challenge. However, this skill is a vital requirement for any entrepreneur or business seeking to increase their chances of survival. Here is a list of my top ten tips for writing that winning plan:

1. Write from the audience’s perspective

The starting point for any business plan should be the perspective of the audience. What is the purpose of the plan? Is it to secure funding? Is it to communicate the future plans for the company? The writer should tailor the plan for different audiences, as they will each have very specific requirements. For example, a potential investor will seek clear explanations detailing the proposed return on their investment and time frames for getting their money back.

2. Research the market thoroughly

The recent Dragons’ Den series on BBC 2 reiterated the importance prospective investors place on knowledge of the market and the need for entrepreneurs to thoroughly research their market. The entrepreneur should undertake market research and ensure that the plan includes reference to the market size, its predicted growth path and how they will gain access to this market. A plan for an Internet café will consider the local population, Internet penetration rates, predictions about whether it is likely to grow or decline, etc., concluding with a review of the competitive environment.

3. Understand the competition

An integral component to understanding any business environment is understanding the competition, both its nature and the bases for competition within the industry. Is it a particularly competitive environment, or one that lacks competition? How are the incumbents competing—is there a price leader evident? Finally, including a thorough understanding of the bases on which you intend to compete is vital; can you compete effectively with the existing players?

4. Attention to detail

Make the plan concise, but include enough detail to ensure the reader has sufficient information to make informed decisions. Given that the plan’s writer usually has a significant role to play in the running of the business, the plan should reflect a sense of professionalism, with no spelling mistakes, realistic assumptions, credible projections and accurate content. The writer should also consider the format of the plan, e.g., if a business plan presentation is required, a back-up PowerPoint presentation should be created.

5. Focus on the opportunity

If you are seeking investment in your business, it is important to clearly describe the investment opportunity. Why would the investor be better off investing in your business rather than leaving money in a bank account, shares, or investing in another business? What is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for the business? Why will people part with their cash to buy from you?

How to make work more human by helping people

The Muse was founded to make work more human by helping people navigate their careers and helping companies attract and retain great employees. Doing meaningful work is important to Musers, and our mission matters: to make everyone’s job search and work experience more enjoyable, helpful, and human. Creating the most beloved and trusted career destinations for the biggest brands and our job seekers feels really good.

As an Enterprise Account Executive, you’ll have the opportunity to significantly impact the growth of our company and help redefine the way companies hire.

This is a remote opportunity in Chicago.

How you’ll make an impact:

  • You’ll become an expert in The Muse’s product and content solutions
  • You’ll drive the full sales cycle to attain new business, continuously seeking creative strategies to do so
  • You’ll regularly present to the executive level and work to understand and overcome objections
  • Generate, develop, and close new business with large Enterprise companies
  • You’ll consistently achieve and exceed monthly, quarterly, and annual sales goals
  • Help define and build our Enterprise function
  • Provide leadership on new revenue opportunities, best practices, strategy, and sales process

Why we’ll love you:

  • You have 5+ years of sales experience and a track record of exceeding quota
  • You have experience negotiating and closing complex sales cycles and six/seven figure multinational partnerships
  • You’re an expert at managing Enterprise accounts and have experience using a consultative approach and developing trusted relationships with C-level executives
  • You have an extreme hunger to be successful in your role as a seller and are committed to mastering your craft
  • You embrace aggressive goals and work hard to achieve them
  • You know that consistency is key when it come to prospecting and setting meetings because you know it will lead to results
  • You’re resilient when it comes to rejection; You’re not easily discouraged and always maintain a positive attitude
  • You’re naturally curious and will go the extra mile to prepare for client meetings and talk to as many people as you can to gain as much information as possible
  • You hustle! All that preparedness doesn’t slow you down

Why you’ll love us:

  • You’ll have the opportunity to help clients like Slack, Facebook, and Squarespace amplify and improve their employer brand, putting them in a position to be more competitive in today’s war for talent
  • You’ll work at a tech company founded by two badass women—Our founders believe transparency is important so they really try to share as much as they can about changes to The Muse strategy, board meetings, and when they are wrestling with big company-wide decisions.
  • The Muse actually has—and sticks to—a “no assholes” policy, so you can come to work everyday knowing you will always be surrounded by good people who genuinely care about you.
  • We invest in growing our people—personally and professionally
  • We offer unlimited vacation—and we mean it!

At The Muse, we believe that great ideas come from anywhere. We support a collaborative environment and value open participation from individuals with different ideas, experiences, and perspectives. We believe having a diverse team makes The Muse a more interesting and innovative place to work, and we strive every day to make The Muse a welcoming and inclusive place for all.

Jump into online publishing

If you’ve decided to jump into online publishing — putting out an online newsletter, magazine or other content that will interest your business’s customers — you may think that designing your website is your biggest challenge. But that’s the easy part. Much trickier is gathering an audience that will sustain the publication. Here are some tips on building a loyal audience for your site.

Start where you are
The Internet is a surprisingly personal place. A thousand people, each with unique personal interests, can spend the same 60 minutes online together and never come close to crossing paths. It follows that the key to Web publishing success is forging a lasting personal connection with people based on your own skills, interests and contacts. In other words, the best place to start is with the connections you already have online. Then use those connections to build a community of like-minded people and keep expanding from there.

Your own interests and expertise are your strengths as a publisher. Study the information that is already available in your niche, looking for gaps you can fill. Then, fill the gaps with valuable information nobody else provides. An example is www.businessbricks.co.uk a small business advice website in the U.K.

Your goal should be to create unique, valuable information that meets the needs of your targeted audience. On the Internet, there are many ways to provide that information that aren’t available to print publishers — for example, you can offer searchable, interactive databases and encyclopedias.

Work Your Niche
Get to know the online habits of your prospective audience. What other sites are they likely to visit? Make a list and try to develop a relationship with each one. There are a variety of ways to do this. Your best options include offering to write articles (informative and not self-serving) for other sites, or posting messages with your Web address on their bulletin boards. Trade links and adverts with other sites in your field, and if you can afford it, buy classified adverts at related sites.

One web publisher doubled her traffic by spending two months (and a small amount of advertising money) working through all the sites in her niche in this way. Another got similar results by hiring and supervising a Net-savvy college student.

Don’t neglect offline ways to publicise your website. Send press releases and emails about interesting features on your site to print as well as online media in your niche. List your Web address wherever you also list yourself — business directories, professional associations, and chambers of commerce. Speak at trade shows or conventions.

Work the search engines
Lots of people will find — or not find — your site by using online search engines such as Google, where they type in the words they’re searching for. You need to do a little work to make sure your site will turn up when a potential reader conducts a search. Here are three good places to go for tips on making your site stand out to search engines.

  • SEARCH ENGINE WATCH
    http://www.searchenginewatch.com) is an online newsletter that offers comprehensive, practical tips about making a site that search engines can find. There are also some good links for Webmasters here.