Monday, January 14, 2013

A Business Plan for Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Business Owners. Stay on Target.

A recently published CX Blog article highlighted some strategic questions that have to be asked when preparing your sales plan. Though written primarily for the eyes of entrepreneurs, the information and message is very useful for independent business owners and shareholders alike. 

If you had to reflect on the sales plan for any of your investments, do they make sense? Are they clear? Or are they convoluted and lacking focus and attention? 

Below I have highlighted 7 strategic business questions for you to consider as owners, entrepreneurs, and investors: 

1. Why should people want what you're selling?
What does the product or service help people do? What need does it satisfy? 

2. Who are you selling to?
Are there target markets for the product or service that you want to sell? Do they have specific demographic characteristics? Are you focusing on a specific region really well? Or are your efforts scatter-shot all across the map?

3. Who is your competition?
Who are the top competitors in this industry? How are you different? What do you do better? What can you learn from your competitors, and what are they not doing well? Is there a hole in the market that they are not satisfying?

4. What is your price point?
You need to consider what the current price range is for the product or service that is being offered? Where do you fit into the mix? Is there something you are offering, or that you can offer that can put you into a higher price point? Or do you want to be at the bottom? If you want to be at the bottom, make sure your costs are less than those of your competitor

5. How many customers do you need to reach your profit goals?
Or, how much volume do you need to do? Have you established your break-even point, above which you start to make a profit, and below which you are operating at a loss. Not knowing key information such as this leads to a lot of business failure early on. 

6. How will you reach your market?
How will you gain new customers? Will you utilize referrals, advertising, sales promotions, et cetera? Try to track what works and what does not. For instance, have you had any success with old media like newspaper ads, or do you need to shift your focus on-line? 

7. Is there a clear sales pitch?
Often referred to as the 30 second elevator speech, a business needs to have a directive clear and transparent enough to be explained in 30 seconds or less. You need to be able to state what need you are satisfying in the market, and either differentiate yourself from the crowd or place yourself in a target niche. Will anyone remember or be able to explain to someone else what exactly it is you or the business does?  

Try to read the above noted points a few times, and think about them in relation to your own business interests, or even perhaps your own personal brand. 

Cheers, and Happy Investing. 


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