now browsing by category
According to a competitor, “Most so-called ‘business plan consultants’ simply take what you say and put it on paper.” Pacific Human Capital does not and will not do that. We will help you identify your strengths, including some we are certain you never knew you had, and help you understand the business environment in which you will succeed. We will work with you to create the most viable strategy for success, which we then communicate in a peerless business plan. You will be able to use the plan to guide your business, secure meetings with investors, and raise capital or sell your company for a nice profit.
- Get it Right the First Time: When you are asking for money, you only have one shot at making the best impression.
- Save Time: Save hundreds of hours. Your time is better spent building your company, developing your products and services, and building your customer base. You hire an attorney and an accountant because you are neither one of them. You should hire a business plan consultant for the same reason.
- Save Money: You could pay more, or less. But some businesses pay for their plan several times over when it proves ineffective because the consultant “didn’t get it” and neither did funders. Why not get it right the first time and save money?
- Work with Experts: You will be working with a top-level fundraiser who has obtained over $300 million in government and private funding for many different projects and businesses in Canada and the United States, or a hand-picked, trained, equally qualified consultant with equally strong funding results. We also have experts in market research, financial planning, government regulations, and individual manufacturing/regulatory industries in cross-border environments.
- One Consultant: Some firms assign a “team” of consultants to your business. That means you’re paying to get multiple consultants up to speed. This approach is costly and inefficient, and makes it difficult to ensure that all materials have the same “voice” and consistency. You will work with one person at all times.
- Fully Customized: Some firms charge low fees because they have an assembly-line, cookie-cutter approach to crank out business plans. Your business plan will be written exclusively for you.
- Ongoing Support: We don’t stop when the business plan is done. We will continue to assist you to help you implement it as well.
- Speaks Your Language: Being a Harvard, Wharton or Yale MBA doesn’t necessarily translate into the “real world” and real people. We “get you,” and know how to translate your business know-how, talents and skills into the language that funders will understand.
- Modern Plan Approach: Some business plans offered for samples on the internet, or through planning software, are two to three times the length any funder will read. They have the “ask” buried in the middle, and contain lots of unnecessary information. Sometimes the terminology is decades out of date.The shorter the plan, the better, no matter how complex or in-depth your business is.*
- Appearance Counts: We look good. So will your plan.
- We understand: We have successful experience helping Women, Minorities, Immigrant (Visa), Under-served, Non-traditional, Young, and Encore Entrepreneurs. We have worked with Rural, Green, LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), Hybrid, Destination and Urban Core businesses.
*A writer we recently worked with wrote a 3,000 word article. He needed a 500 word article for his task. We advised him on specific steps to cut the article down to 500 words. He was unable to follow any of the steps. So, even when he had detailed, step by step instructions, it was too difficult. He was not an experienced writer! This does not mean he was not a good writer, and did not have worthwhile information to convey. He simply lacked the experience to undertake all the steps.
Also . . .
Yes, it’s personal: Your business is “your baby.” Chances are, you are too close to your ideas and business to see the exact right presentation you should make. Have you struggled to write an “Executive Summary”? How about “History of the Business”? Your own biography?
We’ve been there. We can help pick the things that the people who will give you money will respond to, and want to see.
Yes, that’s just a random picture of some favorite fireworks. Let’s get something started!
Business Insider featured a chart this morning that showed that the economic recovery still isn’t providing enough jobs, and that the employment part of the recovery is lagging far behind other post-recession periods in the past.
The information comes from Calculated Risk, which has been tracking economic statistics for a long time.
This shows that a lot of people have not gone back to work after the recession, no matter what anyone has said.
Another chart from Calculated Risk also shows a similar trend. These charts are valuable, because they cover information over a long period of time. The job loss chart compares recessions and recoveries going back to World War II.
This chart shows how many people as a percentage of the population are part of the labor force (i.e. employed people and those who are able to work). These charts don’t count people who are disabled, or who are over age 65 (or children).
Fewer people are working now as a percentage of the population who are able to work than in a long time. The last time the ratio of employed people dipped below 59% was January, 1982.
Looking way back into the 1960s on the chart, the participation level was also far below 59%. Most people know why that was so. There were many more married couples at that time, and many more stay-at-home moms. The sharp upward swing in the employment-population ratio (the black line) is all the women going to work.
Now, who has lost jobs in the most recent recession, and who has gone back to work?
First, there are a lot of long-term unemployed people out there. Calculated Risk also tracks how many people have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (6 months) over time.
This shows that there really are a lot more people who have lost their jobs, and who haven’t found new ones, than in any of the previous recessionary periods. Even if this chart was adjusted to reflect these numbers as a percentage of the population, there would still be a lot more people unemployed for a lot longer period of time after this recession than after previous recession periods.
There are other signs of some type of recovery, however. First, the ISM (Institute for Supply Management) Index, which tracks non-manufacturing orders for goods and services, was up sharply in December, to a rate that indicates an expanding economy, not a shrinking one.
Second, Trulia, the online real estate data service, showed that asking prices for homes had increased by 5% in December, a big increase over the 4.3% drop that occurred in December, 2011.
If you are starting a business and looking to hire people, this is good news. It means there’s a “buyer’s market” out there for good employees. However, it may be difficult to attract people who have steady jobs. People are still reluctant to take risks and want to make sure they hold on to their jobs. If people have been out of work, however, they are ready, willing and able to get back to work. They are likely to work harder and be more committed to their jobs.
Most of all, these numbers show a great deal of change, and a big shift in who works, and how our economy works. I already know that many of my students are eager to work at good jobs, and that many of them work in part-time food service and retail jobs. These jobs are a start in the working life for just about everybody, and they have been for decades. As people mature, however, they are ready for more responsibility, and are able to handle full-time work and develop careers.
As you really get started with your business, these statistics are important in terms of marketing and understanding your place in the market. The U.S. Census Bureau has a fantastic resource in its Business Dynamics Statistics database. This is a cooperative, collaborative program that includes state, local, and private information about business start-ups and operation, as well as a wealth of other business-related statistics, such as labor force information and economic growth. Just one of their excellent reports covers the role that start-up businesses played in helping more people stay on the job during the recession, and afterward. The economy in the United States has 6 million establishments that employ at least one person. In 2010, 394,000 new businesses created 2.3 million new jobs. Unfortunately, closures and layoffs meant that during the same period, established businesses eliminated over 4 million jobs, resulting in a loss of 1.8 million jobs over the year.
Part of these trends include people retiring; for example, business owners who are selling and closing their businesses. Another part is larger companies who closed locations and consolidated divisions, across all industries. Yet another part is the devastation in the real estate market that will take a long time to sort out. Smart entrepreneurs will look for opportunities in these changes and shifts. As people retire, they will leave the market for big purchases typically associated with growing families, but will enter the market for smaller ones, especially ones associated with leisure and recreation. What things will retirees enjoy? The “Baby Boomers” who retired last year are living longer, and are healthier and more active, than ever before. I’ve done a number of business plans for long term health care-related businesses, and I know the healthcare needs of the older population in the U.S. and Canada fairly well.
But what about the other needs and interests of people who are retiring? Some may want to establish small businesses that fulfill lifelong interests and dreams. Others may want to spend time traveling or pursuing interests like Tamae Watanabe, age 76, who became the oldest woman to climb Mount Everest this past May.
Retired Coors marketing manager Cinde J. Dolphin launched Marketing for Mavericks, which produces unique online marketing content and helps businesses like wineries reach their markets through social media. I think Cinde gets to visit awesome wineries and make videos for them, then helps them build social networks to develop customer loyalty. I can deal with that job.
If you’re retired and going “stir crazy,” I highly recommend the SBA resources for 50+ entrepreneurs. These are free and will give you lots of inspiration and guidance. If your pre-retirement career was very focused, and you didn’t work with payroll, receivables and payables, and possibly didn’t fire or hire, or, if you were accustomed to managing budgets — but not doing everything start-to-finish, these SBA programs are fantastic. Once you are ready to get going, contact Pacific Human Capital. We can get you started quickly and put everything into focus.
Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, has made many videos of advice for aspiring and current business owners. Mr. Berry advises that business owners use business planning software, and his Portland, OR-based company makes Business Plan Pro and many other software packages for nearly every business sector, including even government and non-profit organizations. Business Plan Pro is $159.95 for a desktop computer version, and Live Plan, which is online software, is $19.95 a month.
Here are a few impressions about this brief video starring Mr. Berry. Like the title and intro music. Pine trees in window: awesome!
Mr. Berry is 100% correct when he says “You can’t just hire someone to write your business plan.” You have to understand all aspects of your business in order to be successful. One way to look at the process is, there’s no such thing as “Business in a Box.” Successful entrepreneurs invest thousands of hours in getting their businesses off the ground.
Mr. Berry recommends using the resources of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE, the society of retired business executives that used to be an all-volunteer, no-cost organization in the U.S. years ago. These organizations offer all of the basic, necessary information, especially government regulations and “best practices” that are needed to obtain SBA loans or similar government-backed financing. If you can locate a SCORE volunteer or program that is in your exact business or industry, I too, highly recommend it. In Canada, each province has similar business development resources, and major urban areas like the GTA also have a number of business incubators, as well as industry-specific incubators and grant/loan programs. ABC (Aboriginal Business Canada) also offers business loans and support for qualified First Nations entrepreneurs.
It turns out that a friend of mine who is a talented decorative painter, writer and book publisher, thinks along similar lines to me when it comes to these matters. He tried out a new software system for writers called Scrivener. I haven’t yet tried this software, because I know that a competitive product for film scripts, Final Draft Pro, doesn’t write top-grossing film scripts on its own. It’s just another form of software to learn, while the skills it takes to write a great film script have nothing to do with learning, updating, and dealing with the cumbersome Final Draft software system. The best thing Final Draft does is produce an ideally formatted script for any type of script use, from films to plays and comic books/graphic novels, and it will even submit it for Writers Guild registration after it’s finished.
If the SBA and SCORE were truly able to get businesses off the ground with high success rates and a high level of efficiency, we would have a lot more successful businesses coming out of their system. Instead, the SBA has a disturbingly high failure rate (despite news articles you may read to the contrary). What is of more importance to the new business owner, however, is that the SBA disburses only .05% of the total commercial lending in the US. If they knew what they were doing, they’d have a much larger, better-performing portfolio. It isn’t the businesses that receive SBA loans and later encounter problems which are of concern to you, the small business owner and/or aspiring entrepreneur, it’s the businesses that never get through the process or get the loan in the first place.
Everyone’s time is valuable. As an entrepreneur, your time is best-spent building your business. You have to invest the right amount of time in discovering who your customers are and meeting their needs. You have to understand your business finances, and must be able to accurately identify your own strengths and weaknesses.
You do not need to spend time trying to fit your ideas and your business into a “one size fits all” system like the SBA/SCORE process, or like the type of systems set up by Palo Alto Software.
Palo Alto Software was founded in 1988 by President Tim Berry. Originally California-based (“Palo Alto”), the business is now located in Eugene, Oregon. According to Crunchbase, Palo Alto Software has 50 employees; however Crunchbase’s profile is three years out of date. The company is privately-held, with an estimated $8 million in annual revenue in 2010. That works out to 40 to 50,000 copies of the software packages and/or the online applications sold. It’s simply impossible that the software can be so up to date that it will fit every new business, or produce a truly solid business plan. The business climate and circumstances are changing so rapidly that it’s almost impossible that software could be updated frequently enough to make it truly responsive or appropriate for every business.
For example, who is giving money to whom, and for what? According to a complete report prepared by the Small Business Administration on all US commercial lending, the top five lenders in 2010 were American Express Company (first in 2009), Capital One Financial Corporation (third in 2009), Ally Financial Inc.(fifth in 2009), GE Money Bank (41st in 2009), and JPMorgan Chase and Company (fourth in 2009). You can guess as well as I can that these amounts aren’t actual small business loans. They represent commercial lines of credit or credit cards, not actual loans.
You can see the change in the numbers of loans (and amounts) from this report from the SBA. Loan numbers and quantities have not improved since mid-2010, when this report ends.
Loans under $100,000 are called “micro loans” in the SBA terminology.
But how many businesses are starting up?
About 550,000 new businesses start every month in the U.S. The growing trend is for these businesses to be sole proprietorships/self-employed individuals. According to the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship, which keeps very detailed statistics on business start-ups and activities, Latino/a business owners have grown tremendously over the past 15 years, new immigrant entrepreneurs have been on the rise, and encore business owners and entrepreneurs have also grown as a group.
These are all new and emerging business owners and leaders who are different from the leaders of the past. Men continue to start new businesses at a higher rate than women, according to the Kauffman Foundation; ironically, women-owned small businesses are responsible for most of the job growth in the past five years, a fact reported by nearly all business publications.
This is the type of information I need to gather and understand, in order to help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. That’s because you, the entrepreneur, are my customer.
Once again, the answer is: you, the entrepreneur, need to understand your customers, know your competition, and have mastery over all the key aspects of starting and growing your business.
You don’t need to learn how to use cumbersome software or sit through endless cookie-cutter or “one size fits all” seminars. You may well get excellent information from reading business publications or participating in networking events.
Mr. Berry is right. You don’t need to hire someone to write your business plan who is not a business person. That person may be forced to “create a plan” for you, or even worse, use a cookie-cutter or “sample” plan that has nothing to do with your real business or how it will really work. You need a business coach who will help you to maximize your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.
Contact us to see how our coaching and support can help you.
Brock Blake, founder of Lendio, has a great article in Forbes about why entrepreneurs under age 25 are able to be successful. Brock thinks along similar lines to me. Lendio offers a $2,500 scholarship to student entrepreneurs who are in college. The funds are intended to allow the student to get a business started without having to worry about having a part-time job and college and starting the business all at once.
Brock’s reasons for the success of young entrepreneurs fit in two simple categories: first, they have “nothing to lose,” in that they don’t have big bills, own homes, or have other responsibilities that would make them more cautious and less eager to take the risks that result in major business success. Second, Brock says that 20-somethings haven’t acquired the habits of a lifetime that will also instill caution or cause more traditional ways of thinking that also don’t spell big business or entrepreneurial success. He lists five examples of some of the top entrepreneurs of our time, and their ages when they founded their companies:
- Founders of Google: Sergey Brin (25) & Larry Page(25)
- Founders of Apple: Steve Jobs (21) & Steve Wozniak (26)
- Founders of Microsoft: Bill Gates (20) & Paul Allen (22)
- Founder of Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg (20)
- Founder of Wal-Mart: Sam Walton (26)
What’s an encore business? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, an encore business is a start-up owned by someone who is 50 or older.
The Small Business Administration has many resources for many different entrepreneurs, including those who are 50 and older, women, minorities and others. It’s a fantastic resource in general, but the primary drawback to the SBA is time and access. The organization partners with groups like SCORE (retired business owner and executive volunteers) to help businesses get started and grow.
Which brings us to . . .
You get what you pay for.
The SBA and SCORE offer free services. Their success rate cannot be determined, since neither keeps statistics about how many people sign up for their workshops or enroll in their services. Now, with online services such as mentoring and “live” help, it’s even more difficult to determine how many entrepreneurs who sign up with SBA or SCORE and end up with a successful business. Some of the studies are at least 10 years old, such as this well-known study from Texas that produced the information that only 20% of restaurants survive beyond two years.
Some business reports indicate that the growth of new small business is slowing. This report from Washington Monthly paints a dire picture. Reuters covers the facts for the most recent year full statistics are available: 2010. Start-ups are slowing down, and have been for a long time.
That was then, this is now.
You are on the website of a start-up, and this start-up isn’t going to fail. And neither are you.
How do you get your business off the ground?
It’s not easy, and it won’t happen overnight. I have one main sales tool to encourage you to invest in the services of Pacific Human Capital. A preventable cause of failure of new start-up businesses is learning how to invest your time and finances wisely as quickly as possible. This is why I mentioned the SBA and SCORE. You could be thinking, “Why should I pay anybody any money when I can get everything for free from them?” See above (“You get what you pay for.”). Simply put, while the SCORE executives and mentors are fantastic people, there is no incentive for them to do anything other than repeat to you what they knew or learned during their active business career. This worked for them. It doesn’t mean it will work for you.
The SBA is comprised of many people who’ve never run a business in their life. Neither is the best fit for a new or startup business, especially in new or cutting-edge sectors. All businesses have unique challenges, so a “one size fits all” approach isn’t the best, either.
Also, do you have hours and hours – maybe even, if Malcolm Gladwell was right in his book Outliers – 10,000 hours (5 years of full time work) to learn to do what I do? Because that’s what the SBA is asking people to do when they fill out the 150 question SCORE/SBA business plan template.
Invest your time and money wisely.
Of course you do not have to pay for professional business planning services. But if you want to take work that you did during your first career, such as a former professor of Gerontology did, and turn it into a business that will help others and make money, you can go with your strengths: organizing a strong team and putting together a great product and operations plan. Then, you can get someone to write your ideas in professional business plan language, study the competition, help project expansion plans and income, and put the business in context for funders. The professor knew his strengths, and he knew that he needed help to put the rest of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Another company would have come up with an alternative to the medical management software that was a result of his own original research and work, if he had invested many months meeting with SCORE volunteers and attending SBA training sessions. They would have already sold the product to his customers by the time he even began to market it.
You probably have a lot of ideas about a “dream” business. Or, you have experience that you’ve always thought could be a successful business concept. The possibilities are endless.
Instead of listening to the negative nay-sayers out there, let’s listen to Forbes on new start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. There is a new drive to support the creation of new businesses by several sectors of entrepreneurs, including “encore” businesses operated by what Forbes calls “boomers,” who are getting younger every day! 45-54 is the Forbes age group for the “boomer” entrepreneurs. And here I thought I was on the tail end of the baby boom.
Others who are contributing to the entrepreneur trend include young entrepreneurs (24-30), women entrepreneurs, and ethnically diverse entrepreneurs, especially members of the Latino community.
Look at new initiatives like Grow America. You don’t have to wait around for them to give you money. You can make it on your own.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you get your encore business off the ground.