Category Archives: Business Plan

The Complete Business Innovation

The Complete Business Innovation

Good ideas may surface from the farthest reaches of the organization. Thus, the challenge for top executives is to stimulate experiments across the entire organization, select the most promising of the lot, and disseminate them quickly and appropriately throughout the business.

We are living in a time when information and technology has given rise to abundance, so the competition in supply market is growing at a steady pace. Good ideas, in times like these, need to be nurtured and applied as efficiently and effectively as possible, in order to reap economic benefits.

Overview
Early research on innovation tended to address the organization’s ability to respond and adapt to external and/or internal changes (Burns and Stalker) (Hull and Hage). Subsequent work on innovation stressed more on proactive innovation and distinguished between the types of innovation. There are three types of innovation (process, product/service, and strategy), each of which can vary from incremental to radical and from sustaining to discontinuous.

Emphasis was on the organization’s ability to promote both process and product innovation, regardless of an immediate need for change (Kanter).

Innovation vs. Invention
Joseph Schumpeter defines innovation as the combination and creative application of existing and new knowledge of elements to improve existing and/or develop new products and services, production processes, organization-methods, and commercialization, in order to create or preserve added value.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines innovation as ‘making changes to something established’. Invention is the act of ‘coming upon or finding discovery’. It is important that we do not mix innovation with invention.

Business Innovation
Innovation is generated at individual, organizational, and environmental levels. Let’s look at various types of innovation.

1. Innovate Market or Innovation from Market (Consumer)
2. Innovate Industry or Innovation from Industry (Competitor)
3. Innovate Product or Innovation from Product / Process (Operations)
4. Innovate Team/Organization or Innovation from Team/Organization (Management)

Innovation from Market
“A business has only two basic functions marketing and innovation”, says Peter Drucker. However, Robert Tucker suggests five necessary steps to make a business innovative.

1. Innovation must be approached as a discipline, practiced and taught to employees.
2. It must be cross-functional, and not just left to the R&D department.
3. It must be proactive, and not just responsive to what competitors are doing.
4. It must involve everyone in the organization and everyone’s performance evaluation should include it.
5. It must be customer-centered.

First, second, and forth steps belong to innovation from organization. Third and fifth belong to innovation from market. Market surveys and research enable an organization to be innovative.

Innovation from Organization
Jim Biolos in Harvard Management Update offers the following six steps that need to be followed while making a team innovative:

1. Make sure that the members of the group are communicating with one another in a free-flowing or maybe even a freewheeling way.
2. Make sure that all the team members have equal and enough responsibility.
3. Show confidence in the team.
4. Provide the appropriate resources to the team, and make sure the members know that those resources are available.
5. Make sure that each team member has a challenging role in the work.
6. Monitor the pressure.

Team’s Success
A team usually consists of up to ten people, who devote about one-quarter of their time to the project for three to four months. Participating in a team is considered a plum assignment, because it provides exposure to top executives.

Employees of China’s multinational electronics company Haier, for example, discovered by visiting rural customers, that they frequently used their washing machines not only to wash clothes, but also to clean vegetables. Taking this new information and the potential market into consideration, Haier made a few modifications to its machine, and was able to make it versatile enough to wash both clothes and vegetables. This helped Haier become the market leader in rural areas of its home country.

Innovation from Management
“Managers don’t simply copy something they see elsewhere. They take pieces of practice or technology that they find and recombine them in novel ways to solve customer problems”, says Philippe Pommez, Natura’s R&D Director, “The hard part is not finding the new technology; it is knowing what you are looking for. This is where our conceptualization of new products and new lines that serve local needs becomes indispensable.”

Managers of companies situated in developing countries, sometimes despair of closing the gap with larger and better-funded multinationals. Clearly, there is hope for companies anywhere in the world to win through innovation and creativity.

Innovation from Industry
There are three important fundamentals of innovation and entrepreneurship.

First, an Industrialist searches for innovative opportunities and develops an innovative idea into a practical business or a service. Second is the industrial strategy that brings innovation successfully to the market. Third is free enterprise itself, and it focuses on the organization that is the carrier of innovation.

Innovation in Products
Switching to a new market with the same product can be considered innovative to some extent.

However, innovation in products is always the basic goal of any team, within an organization. Views of the customers through research and surveys are carry forwarded to the R&D team for further product innovation. Ultimately, it depends on how good you are at learning from the market, industry, and your team. Johnson & Johnson, the American multinational corporation, is a great example of constant and successful innovation in its products.

Planning for Starting a Home Based Business

Planning for Starting a Home Based Business

A home based business needs to have a proper plan in place for it to be successful. Working from home is a wonderful option for those of us who cannot, for whatever reason, go to an office for work. Several employment options exist for such entrepreneurs. However, to take advantage of the offers, you need to be well planned and organized.

Step One

First things first, you need to know in which area you want to provide work. For that you need to examine your skill sets and qualifications. That should give you a fair idea of which service you are able to provide.

Step Two

Even at home, you should have a dedicated work area where you can work peacefully. Finding such an area is the key, especially if you are staying at home because of kids or some other responsibilities. You need to find a time and place, where you would not be disturbed or distracted. You can then fix the number of hours, that you can devote to your work based on these factors. Your earnings would therefore depend on the number of hours you can spend working, and how fast you can do your work within these restraints.

Step Three

The next thing you need to have is a business plan. An ideal plan will outline the above mentioned factors in clear cut terms. An analysis of cost and market factors, will determine your cost per hour. You can thus calculate your projected income based on the number of hours you work.

Step Four

Once you have a plan in place, you need to apply for the necessary licenses and registrations. Check with your local government for the required formalities. It pays to have the paperwork in order, so as to avoid legal complications at a later date.

Step Five

The next step is, obviously, getting the work. If your work is internet based, then you need to look for websites where you can get such work. There are several wonderful websites where you can get such work on the Internet. However, if your work is not Internet based, then you need to generate work from other sources. Place an Ad in the local newspapers. Throw a launch party for all your friends and family, and put the word out there.

Going Further

Let the work come to you. Once you get the work, do it well, so that your clients remember you. Don’t forget to discuss payment terms before the work is done, so that there are no misunderstandings later. Word of mouth publicity only works, if you work well and deliver on time. As for publicizing your work via other media: you need to keep on doing it all the time, so as to generate constant work.

How to Write an Exit Strategy for Your Business

How to Write an Exit Strategy for Your Business

Exit strategy should be planned, keeping in mind the long and short-term objectives of the company owner. It should be considered and developed right from the beginning, once you have finalized with your long-term and short-term goals. Keeping the expectations according to your business, and planning the strategy will be helpful. Before you plan the exit strategy, it is required to concentrate on strategic planning, organizational planning, and financial planning of the company. The three important questions which you must address to yourself about your business before writing the plan are: to whom, by when, and for how much.

Writing the Exit Strategy

Choose the Best Exit Strategy for your Business

Selling the business to a family member.
Selling the business to other company, which is usually larger than yours (acquisition and merger).
Selling the business to Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), in which the stocks of the company is sold to the employees of the company itself.
Initial Public offering (IPO) is a risky strategy in which the stocks of the company are sold to the public. The investors need to take a risk because the traders get in (buy stocks) and out (sell stocks) and may cause a financial swing.

If none of the plan works out, the business owner may have to resort to liquidation.

Write Down the Questionnaire Document

How much investable assets should I have in my account?
What would be the tax impact on the amount that I would receive after I quit?
What are the legal agreements that I should sign before I complete the disposal?
Does my business have the required opportunities and value from the view of the buyer?
How can I clear my debts, successfully?

Financing your Business

Choosing the source of capital is very important, as it will directly influence your decision to exit. The objective of choosing your financing is not only about increasing the funds, but it also concerns the cost of both money and relationships, if you are borrowing the money from your family or friends.

Dealing with the Taxing and Other Legal Issues

Discuss the legal and tax related issues with an experienced corporate attorney and other business accounting professionals. Some of the legal and tax issues that you must discuss with your advisors are listed below:

Legal Issues

Liability of Owners, officers and directors
State and federal security laws
Rights of minority owners
Cost of transfer of ownership
Buy-sell agreements with shareholders and partners

Tax Issues

Capital gains upon transfer or sale of the business
Corporate and personal taxes
Properties owned
Reasonable compensation limits
Retirement plans
Income tax
Capital Gains Tax (CGT) tax

Actions that Should be Implemented Before Exiting

Begin the planning and the implementations, once you have set the timeline. Implement the following actions before finalizing the agreements and the complete disposal.

Train the new managers.
Start your debt reduction program.
Update your business plan.
Dispose the loss-making subsidiaries and surplus machinery.
Approach venture capital backing for MBO (Management Buyouts).
Discuss the propositions with the concerned bank management.
Appoint lead adviser.
Conduct environmental audit.
Reduce the stock levels of your company.
Review personal financial positions.
Undertake mock due diligence.
Most importantly, plan the activities to get engaged after your exit from the business.

Planning out your strategy at the last minute will never be helpful, because, all the factors required for your successful exit will not fall in line. Also, finding out a buyer in a short period and disposing the assets quickly will not fetch you the desired profits. So, planning ahead is necessary.

How to Create a Franchise Business Plan

How to Create a Franchise Business Plan

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Many people opt for franchise businesses nowadays. The advantage of opening one is having the guarantee of a branded product to back you up. The proven market popularity is something which reduces some of your anxiety regarding promotion of a new product. Presently, most product companies prefer opening franchise outlets and leave the management to private parties on a profit-sharing basis. A franchise is a mutual, win-win solution for the product company, as well as the franchisee. The management gets the benefit of a proven brand name and the company saves on operation and setup costs.

About the Plan

Firstly, a business plan is a blueprint of everything that you plan to do in a business. It is the practical realization of your abstract idea of a business, considering all ground realities. It is a plan of action, which is designed after market research, operation cost evaluation, and after a decision to start up that business, has been taken.

Such a plan is made with two intentions. One of them is to have a clear and precise idea of what you intend to do in your business and the second is to sell your idea to entities that could finance your venture. Financial planning is the most important part.

Franchise opportunities are often advertised in newspapers. Business plans related to them, need to be written carefully. This is because, not only is it your blueprint for execution of business activity, but it is also an advertisement of your idea, which you hope to sell a financier, to get seed capital.

How well your business will run, depends on how well you plan and execute it. Leave no stone unturned, while preparing the groundwork for your business. The more specific, detailed, and adaptable business plan you have, more are its chances of success.

Making a plan is comparatively easier as you already have guidelines from a franchiser, about how he expects the business to be run. The possibility of innovation is really very less in case of this plan, as the franchiser usually dictates the designing, look, and operation of a business place. Usually, all these franchise outlets are clones and all that a franchise owner can decide is the location and scale of operation.

Tips on Creating a Plan

Writing a business plan proposal is an art. Let us discuss, what constitutes a good plan and what it should include, section wise.

Introduction to Your Idea
The first part will be a general introduction to the product that you plan to sell, its market popularity, challenges, and risks involved in the endeavor. This should also include the profit sharing ratio, that you will have with the franchiser.

Management Information
This will involve information about the planned chain of command in your business and the management hierarchy. It may also involve the names and designations of the pre-appointed people in the management, along with their work experience details.

Marketing
This will obviously involve the details of how you plan to entice customers for your product. Give a detailed plan of your marketing strategies, target customers, and budget.

Pro Forma Financial Projections
This is the projected performance of your business, which is based upon your market research and it’s extrapolated out of it. This should be a detailed report of expected income, profit, turnover, and operating cost. It should be a sort of future expected balance sheet, based on actual market data and research. You must back up your income projections, with real market data.

Finance Requirement
This part is for the financier, to whom you are selling your business idea. It should include a detailed analysis of the total cost of operation, marketing, salaries offered, purchasing, and other costs. You should come up with a definite amount of money, that you need and expect from the financier and should also include the profit sharing expectations.