Category Archives: how to write a business plan

Starting a Business the Lean Way

business planWhen it comes to starting a business, the path for many people involves carefully charting a course by following the traditional steps of creating a business plan. In an earlier blog article, “So you want to start a screen or graphics printing business”, the steps to beginning/completing a plan were outlined. They included doing market research; defining financial management, sales strategies, responsible organizational and management personnel; how to apply for a loan and more.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP

In “Launching Lean” by Daniel Bortz (Money Magazine, page 40, March 2014), the author outlines what this “lean” means. Here it is in it’s entirely. It’s very different than the traditional approach to building a new business. Many will argue its demerits, others will find that this approach speaks to them.

LAUNCHING “LEAN”

Some entrepreneurs are trading in the traditional business plan for trial and error. This methodology, popularized by Eric Ries’s 2011 book, the Lean Startup, is not “rapidly going around the world, ” says Alex DeNoble, head of San Diego State University’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.

What Lean Means. It’s a fast-track to launch. Instead of painstakingly researching the market first, you dive into product testing, using consumer feedback to develop a “minimum viable product.” So, if you’re making a game for tweens, have kids play with it, pivot based on their reactions, then test again.

When to Skip It. This strategy isn’t for businesses that need to come out of the gate with a fully formed product, says Jeffrey Bernel of the University of Notre Dame’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship. A restaurant, for example, might struggle to establish a customer base if it keeps changing its menu.

How to Do It Right. “The output is only as good as the input,” says Daniel Cohen, director of the eLab accelerator at Cornell University. So, clearly ID your target customer before convening focus groups. And, set an end date for testing so you don’t exhaust resources before you launch.

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So You Want to Start a Screen or Graphics Printing Business. Here is your Business Plan.

There are many notable, highly successful business people who, without a Business Plan, took a big idea and just plunged forward with their life’s savings and made it. Some went bankrupt a few times before hitting the big time. Many will tell you today to just to “go for it” and don’t waste time on writing a Business Plan. The following will help you decide whether or not to just plunge in or to write a clear plan that you can have in your head and on paper. Good luck with whatever you decide.
Posted on July 17, 2012 by CAPS International

Don’t be afraid to “Create a Business Plan”. By following the sample outline that provides added explanation, we offer you a simplified way in which to write a logical, compelling plan that you will need if applying for funds to help with a start-up or existing business. Whether asking for financial support from family or friends; completing a grant or loan application, you will need a focused, clear business document to portray your well-thought out plan of action and repayment for Year 1 of your venture through Year 5 (potentially).

Here is the link to a the Small Business Administration, business plan template that, from a former Business Plan writers opinion, is a an outline worth using. Other resources include a whole host of books on the subject that often include a sample plan on disc. or those on-line that are uploadable.

BUSINESS PLAN SAMPLE

The Executive Summary is the beginning two pages (or less) of your Plan document even though it is actually written after the entire Plan is completed. It is the all-out final, enthusiastic descriptive summary of  who you are, what you want to do, why you can accomplish this great business venture; goals/objectives. Write it as if  the Shark Tank entrepreneurial crew of the world will be your audience (watch it ABC and you’ll understand). Along with the written plan, Robert Herjavec, a Shark Tank member, recommends  finding time to talk to people who will actually buy your product. Designate abundant time to his suggestion that will only make your Plan more powerful.

Business Description and Vision: short/concise business purpose, a vision statement (that is your perception based on research/talking to people of the company’s growth potential in 1, 3 5 years); goals and objectives; brief history for existing or start-up business – discuss how/why/goals met/will be met to date; name of company officers or board members.

Definition of the Market: Use trade publications and stats to describe screen printing industry/outlook; define the critical needs of your perceived or existing market or why you believe (facts/#’s) your business will fulfill a niche in the industry; your target market and how you found them along with their general profile (non-profit agencies, senior clientele etc); your current and potential market share and how you figured that out (interviewed 100 people, etc).

Description of Products and Services (why they’re so great/how they fulfill a need): description of your products/services (how much they sell for) and why they are/will be competitive. In this segment, reference images of your work, brochures, a website; physical location of business (walk-in traffic, web site potential) that will be in plan appendix.

Organization and Management: Include an Organization Chart and description of how company is organized. Keep it short/concise so the general flow of operations is understood; convey whether it’s a proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.; identify necessary or special licenses and/or permits you have acquired or will need; list of key managers/staff w/brief bio (education, experience, financial background etc.).

Marketing and Sales Strategy: identify/describe who your customers are/will be; what/how you will fulfill their needs; what the demand is for your products & services (and how you figured that out; how you will distribute and promote products/services (social media, web store, outside/inside sales etc.); identify the 4 Ps of your SALES STRATEGY that are pricing, promotion, products and place.

AND THIS IS THE BIGGIE because the individuals and/or institutions who you are requesting a loan from need to know that you have a REALISTIC knowledge of the financial projection/commitment it’s going to take to build and sustain the business.

Financial Management for a New Business: estimate of start-up costs and how you figured them (CAPS International will provide you with a free estimate of screen printing equipment and supplies); a projected balance sheet (1, 3, 5 years forward); a projected income statement (1, 3, 5 years forward); a projected cash flow statement (12 months forward).

For an Existing Business (this is standard):  balance sheets (last 3 years); income statements (last 3 years); cash flow statement (12 months).

If Applying for a Loan (in addition to the above): current personal financial statement on each principal/partner/investor; federal tax return for prior year. These are standard.

 

A little something to end the week with.

Jacquelyn Johnson 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics
Jacquelyn Johnson 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics
If it didn’t happen last week, there is a latent excellence or ability that may be definitely developed next week!

 

Powerful Business Tools Learned from a Book on Child Rearing

How to handle the irate customer? Check out How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk  by Adel Farber and Elaine Mazlish (the teen version is equally excellent). This bible of child rearing is one of the best non-business books that makes perfect sense in the business world. Read it and you will believe.

One of the best take-aways from the book was how to use the following expressions Uh-huh, Oh, Interesting, Really? I See and Mmm, along with sympathetic silence, during a customer rant. It was astonishing at how powerful these simple little words made it possible to diffuse/resolve a situation with the irate, unreasonable, emotionally charged, often loud, unhappy-and-wanting-justice customer in the calmest, most peaceful way possible. Speaking from experience, these practical tactics (and some appropriately interjected humor) help to restore sanity and harmony in a tough customer/workplace situation. Though we might fantasize about strongly articulating, why you gotta be so mean?, logically, we know that a defensive posture will just be a lose-lose situation. In the end, what we really want is to retain a customer who will remember that we tried hard to solve a problem to his/her satisfaction.

Here is an excerpt from a summary of the book …..The more I move through life and the business world, however, I am struck how the same techniques enhance communication between adults in all aspects of life. This book should also be listed in the Business/Management section. It says all the same things the high-priced consultants say — treat people with respect, do not deny their emotions, state the facts (only) and shut up and listen. This book also talks about giving praise and recognition, which makes it another reason to use it in real life, inside the family AND outside in the “real” world.

Some tips with tactics from the book:

Apologize and Listen. Immediately respond to the customer problem with, You do sound unhappy, my apologies. Let me help you. (or)  I’m so sorry, I want to try and turn this around (or)  if all else fails, It sounds like we owe you an apology.

Then…let the customer talk and respond at intervals with, Oh (or) Interesting (or) Uh huh (or) Really? (or) Mmm (or) I See (non-judgmental words) so that the customer knows you are listening.

Treat people with respect: actively listen, acknowledge with short bursts of Oh (or) Interesting (or) Uh huh (or) Really? (or) Mmm (or) I See. If appropriate, throw in a that does sound frustrating. As the customer is able to air the complaint, he/she should start to calm down.

On the other hand, if the customer is just becoming increasingly angry and/or abusive, try to retain integrity and calm and say something like,  I understand that you’re very unhappy and I want to help you, but at this point I need to put the president of the company on the phone (or) I need to ask for your name and number so that the president of the company can call you back

State the facts back: Ask yes or no questions, only, to get the full details  of the complaint. And to reach a resolution. Once you think you  have it, remain sympathetic. State back the problem and resolution. Gain agreement that the resolution you’ve discussed is understood by the customer. Say something like: So that we’re both comfortable (another good word from the book), we’ve decided that our company will fix the equipment and you will pay to have it shipped to our location (or) Just to confirm, you understand the step-by-step set-up instructions and you are now comfortable in completing the set-up?

Thank the person for calling; document the conversation point by point.

And be awed at the huge impact of Oh (or) Interesting (or) Uh huh (or) Really? (or) Mmm (or) I See!

Hope this was helpful. Thanks for reading and subscribing!

How To Photograph Your Screen Printed Tee Shirts 101

Wanted to share this blog by Jonathan at Catspit Productions. It’s well done and answers the question for many of us who are often frustrated with the process. The Catspit Forum is a great place for Q and A.

Thanks for checking out this video and subscribing.

 

 

Sustainable Screen Printing – Motion Toward Functional Harmony.

This small, screen printing shop strives to offer sustainable, fairly-traded t-shirts and other products that are screen printed. Check out their website at www.sustainablescreenprinting.com. It’s a great source with lots of practical information besides showcasing their products and business.

This is their Modus Operandi that is: We print t-shirts! (among other things).

We seek to work with businesses, organizations, musicians, artists, crafts-people and anyone who would like to see their vision become an amazing screen-printed reality. We are here to promote beautiful situations and empowering surroundings for whole living.

Sus•tain: v. 1. To keep in existence; maintain. 2. To supply with necessities or nourishment. 3 To keep from falling or sinking. 4. To support the spirits or resolution of; encourage. 5. To endure or withstand: sustain hardships. [< Latin. sustinere, hold up.]–sus-tain´a•ble adj. -American Heritage Dictionary

Sustainability– “…meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet there own needs.” -1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development

What does it mean to use sustainable practice in screen printing?

Small is Beautiful~ 1st we are a small shop. Being small allows for great efficiency in the use of resources and materials, such as water, electricity, ink, and  other tools of the trade, while still being able to handle large volume orders.

There are several other practices we use to bring our products closer to an ideal of sustainability.

•We use water-based inks, which have a much lower environmental impact than the pvc-based industry standard.

•We print on garments made of 100% certified organic cotton.

•We print on garments that are sweat-free, either American-made or in foreign facilities using fair-trade standards.

This does not mean our products and our process is perfect. We are always researching and tuning our process to provide a product that creates the least possible impact on our home, the Earth.

Hope you enjoyed this information as we all strive to consciously be sensitive to Mother Earth.

 

 

 

A Late Night Blog…

Beware of late night blog attempts to churn out “just one more”  even though you believe that you are at the top of your game despite the fact that you’ve been running on high for the previous 15 hours (with no caffeine – based beverages).  I share this fresh experience and ask that you please re-read,  the MUST DO blog completed in the early hours of 5/23 that now includes the CORRECT link to the American Screen Printing website. Please click HERE to check out this site.

I offer sincere appreciation!

MUST DO!

There is a wonderful publication in Sarasota, Ft. Myers and Naples, Florida, and probably others that are similar throughout the country, that specialize in providing the broadest possible amount of information regarding the local area attractions. “Must Do” targets arts venues, festivals, restaurants, the best beaches (#1 Siesta Key Beach)

natural attractions, family fun, single fun, night life, shopping, accommodations and more. And it includes a plethora of coupons from 2 for 1 meals to rent one kayak, get the second for half price. The publication is a “Must Do” for both tourists, part-time residents and local residents.

So…in the fashion of this magazine, here is a short list of “Must Do” items for screen/graphics printers:

Attend a trade show. This is where you get revved up. Learn about the latest technologies and techniques, see hands-on demos, meet manufacturers, attend seminars at, for example,  ISS/Las Vegas, August 12 – 14, the Chicago/Craft Hobby Association show,July 16 – 19; the NBM show in Philly, September 21-23; SGIA Expo, October 18-20 in Las Vegas.

Invest in becoming educated and involved in Social Media to up your game. Doesn’t matter your age, just get going! Start with Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, Twitpic, Foursquare, Google+, Orkut. Figure out how to add an e-coupon to your marketing campaign that will help you engage others to learn about what you/your business has to offer.

Learn how to navigate youtube.com and watch hands-on video demos. People love to teach and post on youtube.com/screenprinting and there are plenty of screen/graphics printers out there who relish in sharing their craft and art in step-by-step educational videos or ones that are just plain hysterically funny.

Join a forum such as the one offered by Catspitproductionsllc.com (this site also offers educational videos) and talk to the experts. Reading all the Q and A’s is a great way to figure out how to formulate your own questions, find start-up business equipment and sources for products, screens, supplies, and more.

Join a trade association such as the American Screen Printing Association to read about professional screen/graphics certificate programs, printing techniques, new technology and more.

Research and then institute the use of eco-sensitive, screen cleaning products like RhinoClean Green² to help lessen your carbon footprint on mother earth. The introduction of these types of products into a shop showcases responsible business practices that have enormous advantages for employees and customers, as well.

Read/subscribe to trade publications either on-line or in the printed version. This is where you can receive guidance, read about new printing techniques, learn about all the new innovations on the market. For example, pick from any number of publications such as Sign and Digital Graphics, Impressions Magazine, Printwear, Screen Printing en Espanol. 

Follow/subscribe to this blog and others. You’ll find who/what to follow on Twitter, Facebook and all the other social sites.

Best of luck on your adventure and, as always, thanks for reading and subscribing.

Screen Printing and Pinterest

The question is: why should screen and graphic printers participate in Pinterest Logo ?

Simple put…because Pinterest is a gold mine of ideas, a prime place to display your creative genius, another avenue in which to engage and exchange with others in the screen and graphics printing worlds, to maybe even sell some of your t-shirts, hats, hoodies, pillows, invitations and more to new clients you’ve gained as a result of your involvement (pillow screen printed by Emily Chushman, Living Room Board via Pinterest).

art by Carisa Lee via PinterestTo join, however, you must first be invited. Once you’ve been invited per email, its NBD to begin.Just follow the prompts and read everything to ensure frustration-free Board creations. Site creation begins with a series of Boards that showcase your company’s screen printing work and/or, for example, community events you’re involved in, travel, art,  adventures, fashion, fair trade clothing, architecture. From your boards, you can view all types of sites and “repin” other photos from Pinterest that pique your interest to your boards. Slowly, your repertoire will be constructed and your step into this new world of liking/repinning will evolve into fresh e-social circles. It’s motivating, too.

Uno Estudio is a great example of how this company is using Pinterest. The company has a board that displays grafica (that gives credit to the artists  – # 1 in etiquette). It also has one titled Screen Print complete with a video, a small screen printing project and more. RhinoTech recently had its RhinoBond Crystal, an adhesive catering to craftsters, jewelery-makers and hobbyists, repinned from its Jewelery Board to another jewelery designers board. And the 300 people following her will now have the opportunity to read about this product and …. on it goes from there.

This excerpt from a New York Times article, Drilling Down: What Small Businesses Should Know about Pinterest, helps answer the initial question:

Q: How do you determine if Pinterest may be right for your business?

A: Can you answer yes to these questions: One, do you have, or can you create, interesting and sharable content on your Web site? Two, do you have products to sell that can be presented visually? Three, are you willing to devote the time that it takes to market on Pinterest? Businesses are lured into social media marketing because it’s free. But the primary investment in social media marketing is time, not money. If you are not willing to devote the time to Pinterest, or any other social media, it’s not right for your business. It must be a scheduled business activity, just like opening the doors or doing payroll.

Be bold and may you reap intense exposure.

Thanks for reading and liking this!

Map invitations courtesy of Carisa Lee via Pinterest.

More Tips in the Social Media Realm

Thanks to BrandLove for the incredible 9 tips toward Building Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn. I worked the tips on my personal page to highlight my business and business page on LinkedIn. Here are the results:

Tip # 1 regarding Completeness of Profile: I agree that you should complete each section on the profile, but because I really want to highlight my business and not my personal profile, some sections (sadly) are not as complete as I’d like them to be.  Following Tip # 4 (rearranging profile), however, I moved the incomplete sections to the bottom of the page to emphasize a focus on my company and key words. Eventually, all sections will be finished.

Tip # 2: Regarding a Vanity URL. I created one. It was easy by just following the steps, as described. And I agree, it will be so much easier and less time consuming to find me and my business on LinkedIn.

Tip # 3: Regarding the creation of “sexier, more appealing links, again, I followed the directions and named my sites instead of just using the plain old Blog moniker. I used all three website links; though I’m not sure they’re sexier, at least they now have a more explicit description. These changes should definitely “help optimize my profile and drive Google PageRank to our other web properties.”

Tip # 4: Rearranging my Profile was easy. Again, I just followed the steps and moved the areas that I felt weren’t as complete to the bottom of the profile. Now my profile is highlighted with all complete sections at the beginning. And my business information, including the blogs I’ve posted, will also show up more clearly.

Tip # 5: Regarding Search Engine Optimization of Your Profile, I took this to heart and went to town. Each section now focuses on key words used in my business and industry.  I want our business to be easily extracted from all other companies in my industry and by increasing the number of key words we have the potential to be found by increased numbers of people.  I’m excited about the new format.

 Tip # 6: I changed my headline to emphasize key words closest to my business and industry.  In this way, LinkedIn is more likely to pick up my profile/business for those searching for screen or graphics printing or similar words. Optimize, optimize, optimize!

Tip # 7: Regarding Joining other Groups, I followed this tip prior to reading the tip by initially joining groups as soon as I developed a LinkedIn profile. I continue to learn how to navigate the four groups I’ve connected and have to say that I have connected with some exceedingly helpful group members. I intentionally kept the original number small until I learned the basics of belonging to groups. The only downside (that is also an upside, I suppose) is that I was  overloaded initially with requests to follow/like members on  FB and Twitter. It’s calmed down a bit, but seeing all those requests initially upped my anxiety level too much. Now it’s under control.

Tip # 8: I love this tip about adding Applications! Again, I followed the directions and immediately became linked.  Some great links are listed and I encourage you to try this step. I’m going to add more.

Tip # 9:  I’m taking the liberty of just sharing the tip in its entirely because it’s great the way it was written. Here’s how to Build Your Network. Once your profile is in good shape, work on building your network. Here are some things to keep in mind: when asking to connect with someone, use “we’ve done business together” rather than “friend.” Be sure to personalize any requests to connect with how you know the person or where you met or who you have in common.  If you do decide to try to connect with someone who may not know you well, be absolutely sure that you defend your network invite in the personal note section, such as saying you just purchased their book or saw them speak at a major conference. If you invite people to your network and they mark your invitation as someone they do not know, you will be banned (temporarily) from inviting new people to your network unless you know their email address.

 Thanks for following. I hope this industry-related news will help you be even more successful.

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