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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

A small business may not always have a clear path at the outset. A degree of “strategic planning” may provide direction. What kind of a “plan” should a veteran have for a new business idea?

Some entrepreneurs hope to create a new Fortune 500 company. Others hope to build their idea until they can sell the fruits of their endeavors at a healthy profit. Still others hope for a healthy side-business that can monetize a fun hobby. Whatever an entrepreneur’s goals, strategic planning can help forge the path to that endgame.

The strategic planning process should involve not only the leadership, but the employees and anyone else with an interest in the company. The Small Business Administration recommends that such a process be flexible. Remember that with yourself at the helm of your company, you will help guide the fates of your crewmembers along with those with whom you conduct business.

First, owners should identify strengths and weaknesses. The universe has endowed each of us with our own set of opportunities. Perhaps a business’s geographic setting provides access to healthy local industries or resources. Maybe personal connections offer valuable talent or expertise. Any variety of circumstances may provide an entrepreneur with the meat and potatoes to grow a valuable business idea. Lack of any such resource could suggest another path for the strategic growth of a company, at least in the short term.

Second, those at the helm should communicate their strategic plan. Those with a vested interest in a company should share common goals. If the ownership only needs temporary or on-call labor, the human resources development strategy should reflect these needs. Conversely, business owners who may need long-term commitments from their employees should prepare accordingly. Additionally, healthy businesses communicate honestly with clients and contractors about their commitments. This communication may reflect in negotiated lengths and terms of contracts as well as volumes of purchases and scope of projects.

Third, ownership must understand that strategic planning is an ongoing process. Companies often change course as opportunities arise and priorities change. Healthy economic entities know how to adapt. On the plus side, perhaps a company has developed an infrastructure that allows optimal use of some opportunity that has arisen. On the minus, perhaps some change in the economy has necessitated a wise repurposing of existing commitments.

Along the same lines, consider mission statements. Strategic planning is a versatile process, and mission statements are living documents. Mission statements can anchor a company’s staff in the realities of a company’s objectives. Mission statements can also provide marketing guidance. Perhaps an employee’s ambitions do not jive with the company’s “mission statement.” Perhaps a contract might not keep the company on course. In such cases, change can ensue.

Strategic planning should involve discussion, development, and review. Discussion can involve meeting with employees and working out priorities for any challenges that might arise. Remember that the strategic planning process may begin long after the spark of inspiration for the company itself. When owners need to make a serious commitment, everyone with a commitment in an endeavor needs to get down and agree on a plan.

In short, plans for business development should closely tie with the interests of everyone involved. Communication with each stakeholder is necessary to gauge commitment to the endeavor. The business owner’s own ambitions may change based on the resources available and enthusiasm of each relevant party. However, owners should maintain a sensibility about the necessity of a direction to the company, as well as an understanding of the need to redeploy the company’s resources in changing circumstances. Hence the need for a versatile strategic planning strategy.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this mini-series.   We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Don’t forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here:

https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

If you own and run an eCommerce business, you should have your holiday plan in place well before Halloween begins. As the holidays close in, we all have more demands on our time with the stress, preparation, and activities that the holiday season brings. It will make your life exponentially easier if you prepare and plan for the holiday season well in advance of it starting.

 

The more you can have created, planned for, have in place and are ready to roll in advance, the better off you will be as the holiday season unfolds. The holidays, as you know, are where retailers make the bulk of their entire yearly sales.  If plan for the season correctly, you can more easily grab a significant piece of the holiday spending pie.

 

Areas of Focus to Increase Customer Sales for the Holiday Shopping Season:

  • Put together your promotional calendar
  • Plan out any promotional codes and bundles you will be offering
  • Prepare special/exclusive holiday offers for your current/past customers
  • Prepare all holiday mail/email messaging
  • Make sure you will/do have the inventory
  • Plan out all your holiday website, newsletter, social media, and blog content
  • Create the holiday graphics and imagery you will need
  • Plan, write and review your holiday PPC (Paid Per Click) campaigns
  • Review and update any policies and procedures that may be impacted by the holidays
  • Test and update your website security and performance

 

Put Together Your Promotional Calendar:

The first step is to put together a detailed holiday plan including a calendar of what you want to promote and when for the coming season. You will want to jot down the important shopping days and what promotions you would like to run for those days.

 

Popular Online Holidays for 2020:

  1. Cyber Monday –  November 30, 2020
  2. Black Friday – November 27, 2020
  3. Thanksgiving –  November 26, 2020
  4. Small Business Saturday
  5. Green Monday – December 9, 2019 &
  6. Christmas Eve – December 24, 2020
  7. Christmas Day – December 25, 2020

 

Some of the Most Popular Online Shopping Days: 

  1. Cyber Monday – December 2, 2019 & November 30, 2020
  2. Small Business Saturday –
  3. Black Friday – November 29, 2019 & November 27, 2020
  4. Small Business Saturday – November 30, 2019 & November 28, 2020
  5. Thanksgiving – November 28,2019 & November 26, 2020
  6. Day Before Thanksgiving – November 27, 2019 & November 25, 2020
  7. Saturday After Thanksgiving – November 30, 2019 & November 28, 2020
  8. Sunday After Thanksgiving – December 1, 2019 & November 29, 2020
  9. Green Monday – usually the 2nd Monday in December 9, 2019 & December 14, 2020
  10. Christmas Eve – December 24, 2019 & December 24, 2020
  11. Day after Christmas – December 26, 2019 & December 26, 2020
  12. New Year’s Eve – December 31, 2019 & December 31, 2020

 

Don’t forget to use December 26th as a great day for post-holiday clearance sales. This day really appeals to gift card recipients and people hunting for deals.

 

Plan out any Promotional Codes and Bundles to Offer:

On your calendar, you should have a clear plan for all promotional codes or deals. Write out what they are, when they start, and when they will end. Create catchy promo code names that will be easy for customers to remember. Put together bundle deals to entice customers and up-sell your other products. Announce all sales, bundles, and promo codes on your site and in newsletters, and social media content.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series – we go into planning deals for past customers, putting together your holiday messaging, preparing your inventory and packing materials ready, and getting your site prepared for the holiday rush.

The Value of a Business Plan

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By Debbie Gregory.

Chances are you would never leave for a road trip without your GPS device, or if you’re old school, your map is in the glove compartment. The same holds true for starting a business; your business plan is the road map that will guide you through each stage of starting and managing your business.

Your business plan determines how you will structure, run, and grow your business.

Business plans are essential if you are trying to secure funding or investors. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that investing in your company is a smart choice.

So how do you write a business plan? First you will need to determine the format by choosing either a traditional business plan format or a lean startup business plan.

The traditional business plan is very detailed and very comprehensive. You will want to include a description of your company, your service or products, an executive summary, your organization’s structure, key personnel, your future projections and if you are requesting funding, how much you are asking for and how you will use it.

The lean startup format is less detailed and advantageous over the traditional business plan if you want to explain or start your business quickly. This works best if your business is relatively simple, or you plan to refine your business plan at a later date.  Be sure to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances.

The good news about writing a business plan? It isn’t carved in stone. If you’re not satisfied with the format or need to make changes, you can always revise your plan as needed.

Regardless of which format you choose, the important thing to remember is to be concise. Your business plan works as a guide for you and your team, making it easier to identify goals and allowing you to work towards a common vision for your company. Having this kind of document contributes to the success of the business; all while enabling you as the CEO to have more confidence in your overall business goals.

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

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