Starting a Small Business


Starting a small business is a lot harder many individuals think it is. The right idea won’t go anywhere if you don’t establish your idea, set up a business plan, and evaluate the financials.

Establishing your business Idea:
The first step is to establish an innovative and creative business idea. Many people desire to be in business for themselves without a cutting-edge idea. Evaluate your interests and need for your service in your area. People can also go into businesses through an existing business or franchise opportunity.

Writing the Business Plan:
Once your idea is fleshed out you will need to write a concise outline for your business. This is a crucial step and most businesses cannot begin without one. Your business plan outlines an understanding of your service, employee roles, marketing objectives, target market, competitive analysis and finances.

Establishing your projected financing:
Once your business plan is constructed you will have an idea of how much capitol you will need to start and throughout the course of the year. The plan will allow prospective business owners to evaluate your projected business in the future and note the capitol you will need to operate your business. Business Plans are also presented to banks, investors and even friends and family for potential capitol.

Technical aspects:
Once all of those elements are in order prospective business owners need to consider the legal make-up of their company such as sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation and fill out papers with to obtain a federal identification number.

Getting your space:
You will then need to determine the location of your business and begin any renovations, hiring, and starting any marketing at least a month before you ready to open.

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How to Plan a Business

Why Do You Need a Market Opportunity?

It’s not easy to plan a business. And, it is a waste of time to plan a business around an idea that has no chance of success. You need to find a market opportunity that can support a business. So, instead of rushing in to plan your business, step back and first evaluate that business idea and see if it is worth pursuing.

A market opportunity with sales potential exists when there is a critical mass of customers with unmet needs who will spend significant sums to satisfy those needs. When the sales revenues generated by these customers is sufficient to support a business, you have discovered a market opportunity with profit potential.

The focus of a market opportunity evaluation is on sales. While expenses are also a determining factor in projecting business profits, they are generally easier to estimate and they often depend on sales estimates. Therefore, it makes sense to develop a sound estimate of sales before investing time in estimating expenses. And, it certainly makes sense to develop a sound estimate of sales before planning out your business.

The Seven Steps to Finding a Market Opportunity

So, how do you find a market opportunity with sales potential?

Simple, it takes some time, access to the Internet, and knowing what to do. Here are the seven steps to complete.

  1. Become familiar with your industry, its current situation concerning growth and the trends to expect in the future.
  2. Choose a target customer to serve and market area where you will first pursue that customer. (Your choice doesn’t have to be the perfect choice. It just has to be one you are willing to spend your time evaluating.
  3. Analyze the nature and strength of the competition in your market.
  4. Analyze the needs and motivations of your customer. Identify their core needs and desired experiences.
  5. Design an offering that will deliver features that address core needs and desired experiences.
  6. Market test your offering with a sample from your target market group to evaluate the strength of demand.
  7. Develop a sales projection based on your market test and evaluate whether or not revenues are likely to be sufficient to cover costs and leave a profit for your business.

While this type of evaluation is still a lot of work, it avoids the work involved in preparing detailed estimates of expenses, cash flows, and engaging in other types of planning activities that make sense only if you are confident that your idea will succeed.

Tools That Make Small Business Perform Better

It’s often thought by many that running a small business is no big deal. This is quite contradictory. Managing the daily operations is even more challenging when it comes to small setups. This is because the small business owners have to pay more attention to make their operations cost-effective. For this reason, completion of projects, business management, financial concerns and time constraints have all got to be managed very well. Luckily, technology allows you to take control of this without having to interfere with absolutely everything. Naturally, as a small business owner it is not always possible to be on your toes everywhere at the same time.

Here are some fantastic tools that help you perform better if you are an owner of a small business.

1. Toggl

It’s not an understatement when they say time is money. It’s always a race against time for the business owners. Executing all business goals within a limited timeframe is not easy and requires a professional assistance. This is where Toggl plays a major role. It helps to improve the business’ planning process because it helps to know beforehand how much time a task will take up. This helps in team planning and getting better estimates. Toggl is great because it integrates with almost any system!

2. Sellsy

Sellsy is an online sales management software and works magically for small businesses. It’s an excellent tool to control your business without wasting time. As apparent from the name, the main focus in on the sales aspect but it isn’t confined to that. Sellsy can be very well used to manage a website if it’s integrated with the back end. From project management to expense and time tracking, there is a lot that can be done if you start using Sellsy for your small setup!

3. Expensify

Expense management is one of the most challenging aspects of any business. Even more tough is to devise a way in which your employees report to you for the expenditure. Expensify handles all your business expenses and takes care of all the invoices. This time you save from all the stress and paper work can be best utilized in fulfilling the more important business goals. This online tool works magically in providing all expense related solutions.

4. SurveyMonkey

One of the top goals of any progressive business is to gather feedback of existing and potential customers so that you can perform better over the time. For this, SurveyMonkey is an amazing tool for small businesses. Its advanced survey features are great, no matter what the size of your business maybe. It’s the quickest way of getting results from your target market and working on great marketing solutions accordingly.

5. Wintac

If there is one thing you need to use for your business, Wintac is the answer to it. This comprehensive business management tool works magically in providing all solutions that entrepreneurs are looking for. From scheduling work management to inventory management, everything is possible through Wintac!

Business Requirement An Innovative Business Solution


Primarily, a business requirement is indeed necessary in any businesses. Such business requirements document or also known as the BRD is classified as a great innovative and alternative business solution for any business projects. These sets of projects may include many processes such as the documentation of customer needs and expectations, project management and implementation, and a lot more.

Creating your own business or software requirements may seem to be a critical activity. Thus, this must be performed and administered accordingly to achieve and obtain your business organizational objectives, goals while you all move forward towards an independent solution on a specific business procedural system.

Any business entity must take initiatives to modify and develop existing products or services that they offer. More so, they also have to be willing to introduce new devices, products, services, both software and hardware so as to expand their market and open new horizons as well as avenues for more profit and revenues. Hence, when such development is done, a new business requirement document must be created and introduced.

A particular business requirement document or BRD has many common objectives. Some of them are the following:

a. Gaining concrete contract, agreement or mutual understanding between and among stakeholders.

b. Creating a solid foundation to be able to communicate using innovations towards such a service provider, a program or a technological system.

c. Addressing the issues and other matters on how to meet and satisfy customers’ and business’ needs and demands.

d. Providing necessary inputs into the next phase for such relevant project.

e. Describing the possible ways on how the customer or business needs will be met by the innovating and finalizing business solutions.

Truly, the business requirement document or BRD is referred to by many business experts, entrepreneurs and business enthusiasts as the ultimate foundation for all subsequent project deliverables, relating what inputs and outputs are connected with each process function. Distinguishing between the business solution and the technical solution, the BRD shall be addressing or answering the questions on business capabilities, plans, programs, and involvements.

Creating or putting up a team or a pool of experts such as computer programmers may seem to be a good idea. This lessens the workloads and simplifies everything; thus, it tends to prioritize and observe quality, effectiveness and efficiency. Coming up with consistent, reliable and accurate inputs, processes and outputs, business requirement will surely work at its best – advantageous for you and your business.

Business requirement programmers, analysts and experts should always consider the technical and contextual aspects of the documents or specifications. Also considered as business models and paradigms, these BRDs include detailed descriptions, summaries and other information that you and your market need to know and familiarize. Diagrams, charts and other means of representations may also be useful to maximize resources and for easy understanding.

Tagged as a mere foundation and ultimate framework of the business’ development programs and new projects, business requirement may also involve and include some updates and changes in working activities and practices.

The Project Organization and Management By Exception

Getting the project team set up right relies upon you using Management By Exception

One of the key principles for project management success is ensuring that the PM responsibility must be matched by equivalent authority. The PM can’t be made responsible if they don’t have the ‘clout’ to make things happen.

Each individual on the project, and that includes the project manager, must be provided with a clear understanding of the Authority, Responsibility, and Accountability given to them so that their work can be accomplished. The Solution Lies In Design Of The Project Organization.

When designing the Project Team, start with standard roles such as User representative, hardware engineers, and so forth. Sit down and agree with the individual what responsibilities they will have, and what levels of authority for carrying out their work.

Make sure that these balance. Beware of giving someone (especially yourself!) lots of responsibility but not enough authority to carry out their responsibilities.

A useful one-on-one technique I have used in the past to generate quick agreement is to take a flip chart and draw a vertical line down the middle.

At the top of the left column write “This is what I expect of You” and on the right hand column “This is what You can expect of Me”

Do it in any way that feels comfortable (I usually like to do all the writing and let the other person freely give me their thoughts).

It’s a contract for working well together.

But here’s the thing.

You MUST also do it for management above you. As the Project Manager, you are responsible for delivering the project to times, coast and quality – but senior management have their responsibilities to the project as well. And these need to be agreed. Here are some examples:

Who ‘owns’ the Business Case – it’s not the Project Manager!

Who is responsible for agreeing the User Requirements and signing acceptance of the project deliverables – it’s not the Project Manager!

Who owns the resources – it’s not the Project Manager!

Who has the authority to approve Requests For Change or Off Specifications – it’s not the Project Manager!

Who approves all Plans and ‘underwrites’ the project – it’s not the Project Manager!

Also, beware of stakeholders who see themselves as ‘passive customers’. Be clear that if they are to be any part of the approval process within a project, they must become Active Participants. And that means getting involved early and contributing – and having responsibilities!

Each individual within the organization needs to have three key criteria agreed. So let me start by nailing down what these mean:

Authority. The power granted to a person so that they can make decisions that others are expected to follow. The position or role that a person holds is the usual way that authority is granted.

Responsibility. The obligation a person has to perform their assignments effectively.

Accountability. This means that the person is totally answerable for satisfactory completion of a given assignment.

These three attributes are vital if a project and business management is to complete successfully.

Starting at the beginning, it must be unfair if, after sign-off, the project manager is not allowed to respond to situations. In effect, their hands are tied – how can anyone manage in such as situation?

So the Project Plan is signed off, a budget is agreed, and an end date set. The first mistake senior management make is by stating things such as “I have now approved your plan and I expect you to deliver against it” So nothing can ever change – the project manager isn’t allowed to react to risks and changes.

And of course, the estimates contained within the Plan were perfect, customers never change their minds, problems never occur, the world never changes, and Santa Clause does exist!

But hold on; look on the other side of the coin.

Senior Management within the organization are responsible and accountable for some aspect of the business. They are investing in projects to help optimise what they are responsible for. If it was YOUR money – wouldn’t you want to tie the project down?

The Project Board should have representation from the customer/user side, and the supply side. The “Senior User” has responsibility for agreeing the requirements, acting as the main interface with the customer and users, and accepting the end-product from the project.

The “Senior Supplier” role is responsible for supplying all human and non-human resources to the project. Be aware there might be internal and external suppliers.

Note also that these are roles to be used or shared amongst one or more individuals.

Heading up the Project Board is the Executive who owns the Project Business Case, and has the final say in all project business matters.

Luckily there is a middle ground – a way that makes total sense providing organisations are mature enough to use it.

Just suppose that when a Plan was agreed, management gave the project manager some degree of flexibility (in the form of an agreed deviation from Plan), that management could tolerate. This agreed flexibility would be the PM’s playground that allowed them to do their job.

But what should happen if the PM suddenly forecasts that these deviations will be exceeded? Why of course, they must bring it to the attention of higher management and seek guidance.

But that last paragraph sounds like senior management have abdicated their responsibilities. What I mean is, once the Plan is signed off and the deviation is set – they can disappear off to the golf course until the PM tells them the project is completed.

No, not quite. Senior Management would want a regular report of ACTUAL performance against plan showing the allowed deviations. It allows them to question and advise the PM should they wish to do so. And they are safe in the knowledge that if, between these regular reports, the PM forecasts a significant deviation, it will be immediately brought to their attention.

Welcome to Management By Exception. Vital to organizational business management within the project AND central to Management By Exception.

That’s the principles – time to get specific.

Depending on your business you may use your own cultural names for the various roles that make up a project management team. Here are mine – feel free to change the role titles appropriate to your organisation.

The Project Board are appointed to provide authorization and direction, and the project manager (who reports into the Project Board), is responsible for day-to-day management of the project.

Now, on the project board are three roles, the Executive (owns the Business Case, and has the final say in terms of authority), the User Representative role and the Supplier Representative role.

Having approved the Project Plan, the Project Board need to set an acceptable deviation – this is called Tolerance.

Now, Tolerance can be time, cost, quality, scope, risk, benefit, in fact, any suitable metric. As a simple example, let’s assume Tolerance figures are given as plus/minus 10% deviation of the budget and project end date.

What this means is that the project manager can manage in the normal way with the AUTHORITY to take any appropriate management action AS LONG AS TOLERANCE IS NOT FORECAST TO BE EXCEEDED.

At the time of the Plan being approved, this Tolerance is set, along with the regularity of reports and their contents from the project manager.

Okay, let’s imagine we are part way through the project, and to our horror, we see that the project is forecasting to come in 15% over budget. This triggers the exception process, and the project manager must escalate the situation to the next higher level within the management organization – the Project Board.

Notice that we don’t wait until the deviation has actually happened, because it will be too late for pro-active actions to be taken. The Project Manager will inform the board by an Exception Report (this could be given verbally – but I would want it in writing!)

The Exception Report will contain the following information:

* A description of the cause of forecast deviation from Tolerance.

* The impact or consequences of the deviation

* Available Options to minimise the deviation or remove it completely

* The impact or effect of EACH option on the Business Case, Risks, and Tolerances

* A Recommendation with reasons, of the best option to take

This is sent to the project Board who need to make a decision on one of the options.

Note that one of the options could be to shut the project down prematurely.

The project board level of the organization, will now ask the project manager to draft a new Plan based on the chosen option and this is reviewed by them. A decision is made to approve the new plan (called an Exception Plan), or again prematurely close the project.

Once approved, new Tolerances are set and the project proceeds under the new plan.

Final Thoughts.

Unfortunately, upper management within the project organization, are often suspicious that the project manager may use Tolerance as ‘code’ for padding – and as a safety net for poor estimates and re-work.

But they have missed the point. It is there to give the PM enough authority to carry out his/her responsibilities.

So the tendency to start with, is the Project Board set VERY tight tolerances – with the consequence of the project manager forever raising Exception Reports to bring small deviations to their attention.

Experienced Project Boards (in particular the Executive), will know that Tolerance should be tied back and based on the Business Case. The Executive should ask themselves “what level of Tolerance can I TOLERATE before being bought into the loop and will this level of Tolerance deviation still keep the Business Case VIABLE”.