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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Just how much work brings a business idea to life? Many new business owners today assume unrealistically that no amount of work is enough. Following the initial exuberance of a spark of inspiration, some may see creating and managing their vision from the outset as not full-time job, but an all-time commitment. Life comes first, and when the stress of their own perceived obligations runs a manager down, a small business could stay down with them until their own welfare becomes a priority.

Business owners should manage their priorities wisely. The first such priority is health. Excessive overtime does no favors for either a service-provider or their clients. Sluggish thinking tends to prevail when overwork is the norm. Such thinking leads to mistakes, numbs innovation, and creates apathy. Many a medical resident or air traffic controller has learned this lesson the hard way. No business owner benefits from 12 hours a day hustling for work that may not exist.  Small business owners need to work smart instead of long and this is good advice.

The owner’s commitment should therefore match the realistic scale of the enterprise. Early in the history of a business, the time-commitment may in fact be minimal. A new business owner may in fact need to feel out the scope of demand for their services before planning for a larger, more sophisticated organization.

Often for a brand-new entrepreneur, the most exciting aspects of the business may in fact provide the greatest rewards. In other words, dry planning for infrastructure development may for some hinder rather than help development. Such development may not end up a great fit for the needs of a new business.

Perhaps later, business may grow.  The necessities of a new enterprise may change. A sole proprietor often must direct every function of their enterprise. A larger organization tends to rely on specialists. Any mid-size or large corporation likely has several departments, such as Human Resources, Legal, or Marketing. As a sole proprietor develops their new business, they often must assume each function simultaneously and wear many hats.

The direct needs of the business could more directly impact the proprietor. The more demanding a business becomes, the more carefully we should balance the needs of the business with our own capacity to function in a healthy, productive manner.

A 2012 Slate article, “Bring Back the 40-hour Work Week,” noted that for most of the 20th century, business leaders such as Henry Ford noted the deleterious effects of overwork for their employees, as well as presumably themselves. The current ethos of overwork in many sectors does nothing to improve on these sentiments.

Those who run a business should have a sense of their own proclivities. Consider those habits that may sharpen your senses and increase your enthusiasm, as opposed to those that leave you exhausted and sluggish. For example, some people work best in the mornings, while others need time to adjust and plan their day. Breaktimes and lunch may provide opportunities to get to know your healthiest, most productive, and happiest routine. Additionally, managers should know how to mesh work life with down-time and recreation.

Generally, those who deliver vibrance to their own business creations are fonts of life themselves. Your own inner world dictates the energy you radiate. Self-care and mindfulness about your own well-being colors the life of those within your sphere. Hence, consider the dangers of the cult of overwork, and remember that the management of your own well-being matters as much as management of your business.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.   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/

Strategies for Strategic Planning: Phases – Part 2

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

No mere cliché can provide a solution to the difficult project of planning for a company’s future. Each business differs both internally and in relation to its circumstances. Many strategists recommend a four-step process for assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For convenience, we can refer to this process as a “SWOT” analysis.

Wise business owners carry this analysis through a discussion phase, development phase, and a review and updating phase. This adaptable framework ensures the bases are covered for entrepreneurs laying out their plans for success.

The Discussion Phase

At the discussion phase, remember to involve employees in discussions about strengths and weaknesses. The initial phases may require the most painful analyses of the SWOT process, requiring sincere feedback from diverse sources. The leadership can consider available human assets, as well as material resources and available business networks. Managers can gauge strengths and weaknesses through careful assessment by those overseeing each business process.

Following the assessment of strengths and weaknesses, the business is ready to gauge opportunities. The earliest assessments of available opportunities can provide an exciting chance to sound out the aspirations of all involved. Certain team members may have skills or talents that could propel the company in a new direction. Maybe the team possesses technical expertise that allows partnership with nearby potential rivals. At this stage in the SWOT analysis, the business owners can perform a wholistic assessment to connect the wealth of the company’s resources with the surrounding economic landscape.

Finally, a SWOT analysis assesses threats. Potential threats may include market saturation, logistical challenges, and labor shortages.  Threats are often more difficult to identify than opportunities. Leadership should prepare to roll up their sleaves and face any hard truths in this discussion.

The Development Phase

The development phase allows the leadership to implement the knowledge gleaned in the discussion phase. Here is where the strategic plan takes shape. Many analysts consider five components essential to a strategic plan: a vision statement, a mission statement, goals and objectives, and details regarding a cycle of regular updating and review. The goals of the business should be clearly measurable. Also, a company’s goals should anchor in realistic assessments of its capacities.

The Reviewing and Updating Phase

The review and updating phase assess the cycles by which the company will adapt and evolve. Strategic plans are fluid, living documents, and periodic reviews ensure the strategy maintains relevance in the current environment.

The management should designate a certain person to oversee the regular updating of company policies and strategies. The company’s vision should actively engage with surrounding realities, and react as necessary to shifts in values, economic opportunity, or goals of the stakeholders. These updates can occur yearly, monthly, or biannually as needed. Owners must not allow strategies and policies to go stale. Running a business is a dynamic process. Without thorough periodic reviews, any number of changes can sneak up on a business, possibly even challenging its relevance.

Importance of a Strategic Plan

Maintaining relevance is a dynamic process. However, the above framework can walk the management through the process and cover the main priorities while allowing flexibility with the specifics of the business. The process should begin as soon as possible, in order maintain direction through all phases of a business’s development. Preparation is key, and wise strategic planning is necessary to ensure healthy engagement with any challenges ahead.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this mini-series on “Strategic Planning” has been valuable.   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 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

 

Thanks to the Internet, people can make a steady income from wherever they are utilizing a variety of skills. All you really need is an Internet connection, a computer, and an idea. Below are even more small business ideas for you to consider if you are looking to start a business or need a second income stream.

21.) Freelance Writer or Editor

Do you love to write? Content creation is a huge part of marketing in today’s world and companies are always looking to add good writers to their teams. You simply need good writing and editing skills.

22.) Professional Blogger or Social Media Influencer

Blogs and being a social media influencer are both great ways to make money. The pros make money selling advertising and affiliate marketing on their own blogs or social channels. They also get paid to blog for other companies and travel or use products to promote them. Popular topics include travel, cooking, health, technology, finance and more.

23.) Proofreading Services 

Similar to writing services, a good proof reader is worth their weight in gold! If you love grammar and punctuation, consider offering your services to others. You can even promote your service on websites like Upwork, LinkedIn, and other places where prospective clients may look.

24.) Social Media Manager

If you are a social media expert, managing Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social channels for others can be a lot of fun. You will need to help the company keep up with the latest trends and tricks for building and engaging their audience, but if you have the skills and desire, this can be a very lucrative side business.

25.) Photographer

This is another great side job for someone already in the field or even an aspiring hobbyist. This is not an easy one to start unless you already have the correct equipment and knowledge. If you aren’t a pro yourself yet, you can team up with professionals at a lower rate to learn the trade. It is also best to select a photography niche and focus on it such as sporting events, weddings, family portraits, pet portraits, etc.  Instead of trying to do all of them, select one as each niche has its own challenges and special equipment.

26.) Sell Photographs

If you have the equipment and a passion for photography, but do not wish to be a photographer, you can also sell the photos you take to stock photography companies. Sites like Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images will allow you to sell photos for money.

27.) Graphic Designer 

If you already work as a designer, consider offering your services on the side. You can network through business networking groups and in places where businesses look for graphic designers, such as Upwork and LinkedIn to start building your side clientele. If you have other related skills, such as animation and web development, you can further broaden your offerings and generate more business.

28.) Web Designer

Every company needs a good quality website. If you have the skills to build it – offer those skills!

29.) Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) 

As a web designer, you should have experience with SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  SEO is complex and challenging to get right and this is particularly true because the major search engines are constantly changing how they rank and display sites in searches. If you have good SEO skills, you can make quite a good amount of money offering those skills to companies.

30.) Shoot or Edit Video

Video is an incredibly popular marketing tool today. It is one of the best, most engaging, ways for companies to communicate their messages to consumers. If you have the skills and equipment to shoot or edit video, this is a great way to make some extra cash.

We at VAMBOA, hope you have enjoyed this mini-series. Today’s digital environment makes it so easy to monetize your existing skills and passions. Whether you are looking to create a full-time business or simply want to make some cash on the side, there is never a bad time to begin.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.   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

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Even if you have a full-time job, a second income stream can come in handy and provide you and your family more opportunities and options.  Below are more ten more ideas that may help you find a side-business that would be perfect for your life.

11.) Make & Sell Handmade Products Online

This one is excellent for anyone who has a fun craft they like to do. Do you create jewelry, clothing, toys, craft supplies, home décor, or more? List them for sale on places like Etsy.

12.) Online Tutor

There is always a need for a good, patient tutor in many subjects and for almost every age group.  Especially with so many students learning remotely with parents working, the demand is greater. The most popular needs are usually in math, science, and English. This is a great side job for those who are already working in education or a professional in a field that is complex. You can start a tutoring business on your own or sign up for online services such as Aim-for-A or Chegg Tutors.

13.) Survey Filler

This one isn’t a well paid opportunity but it is fun and incredibly easy. You can sign up with companies like Survey Junkie who will pay you to take surveys on a variety of topics.

14.) Virtual Assistant

Working as a Virtual Assistant can be very profitable but can also be incredibly time-consuming and challenging.  More than ever with remote working, companies, and individual need Virtual Assistants.  A Virtual Assistant takes care of tasks that other people are too busy to take care of yet need to have done. Tasks such as sorting emails by importance, proofreading, formatting email newsletters, or responding to customer questions and comments online are just a few examples and there are many more.

15.) Furniture Maker

If you have wood working skills, this is a great way to make some money. People love high-end, uniquely designed, hand-made furniture that is made in the USA.  You can sell these items through online channels, farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and more.  This is the type of business that embraces referrals and word can spread like wildfire.

16.) Real Estate Investing

Investing in real estate is a great way to bring in passive income. You can rent out whole homes if you have the ability to do so, you can list spare rooms in your home for rent online on places like Airbnb, or you can invest in commercial properties through investment companies.  This requires some capital and good credit, but it can be very lucrative.  Real estate is in high demand.

17.) Jewelry Repair

This is another business that requires training and certification. However, if it is a passion of yours, it would make a great home business. Customers simply drop their pieces to you, you fix them, they pick them back up.  You might even design a few pieces for sale too.

18.) Daycare or Baby Sitting

Providing daycare services in your home is a great side business to run if you love children and have a home that would be a safe and fun environment for kids. Babysitting doesn’t require any special training, though having at least a CPR certificate is encouraged. Setting up a full daycare facility will require licensing as well as home inspections, background checks, and following specific regulations (that differ by state).   Now with the vaccines, people are going out again and

According to Care.com 2019 Babysitter Survey, the average babysitting rate in 2018 in California was $16.25 per hour and some babysitters in areas such as San Francisco, received as much as $22.50 per hour.  If there are multiple kids, the rate can go up and then many parents also tip.

19.) Pet Sitter

Pet sitting, like babysitting, does not require any special certification, only a safe environment and a love of animals. The rates vary depending on the services and whether you are just feeding and walking the pets or staying over with them.

20.) Podcast Producer or Editor

Podcasts are very popular these days as marketing tools for a wide variety of companies. If you have any experience writing content of any sort, you may want to look at writing content for podcasts.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this mini-series and more Money-Making Small Business Ideas.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has been valuable.   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

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