What are your primary near-term concerns as a business owner?

Local Business Leader Completes Specialized Training

PRESS RELEASE

February 10, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Local Business Leader Completes Specialized Training

JumpStart February 2013_smallCirrus Business Group of Cumming, GA recently attended the Inscape Publishing JumpStart Business Workshop in Minneapolis, MN.  The business-building and training session highlighted the newest online learning tools used to deliver insights about workplace relationships and achieve organizational effectiveness.

With the growing demand for online learning assessments, Inscape Publishing is continuing to attract independent business owners who are committed to delivering the latest tools in workplace performance development.  “I commend Cirrus Business Group for their commitment to bringing the latest learning tools to the marketplace,” said Jeffrey Sugerman, Inscape’s President and CEO.  “Today’s workplace issues are varied, complex and challenging – these professionals are committed and equipped to helping the change happen throughout the entire organization.”

“Our high quality tools coupled with Cirrus Business Group’s expertise in training and development will serve organization’s well.  The need for skilled leaders in this industry has been leveraged with our training programs.  We look forward to supporting Cirrus Business Group’s business growth,” said Sugerman.

Cirrus Business Group, headquartered in Cumming, Georgia, is a group of professionals and firms providing management development, operations consulting, business strategy, brand strategy, finance and accounting services, Project Management, and Outsourced Solutions for small and medium business and non-profits.  Established in 2010 to bring value to small and mid-sized companies by helping create healthy, sustainable organizations, their goal is to be the single point of contact for business leaders.

Inscape Publishing, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has the largest network of independent trainers and consultants in the world.  They are the leading independent publisher of research-based self-assessments.  Renowned as the world’s leader in DiSC learning resources, Inscape Publishing has helped over 40 million people improve performance, increase job satisfaction, and value differences.

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Before You Begin – Part 4

This is part four of a four part article.

Finally, if you have a spouse or significant other, it is absolutely vital you have his or her support.  You will have enough challenges without having to battle on the home front.  This is a conversation that should be done in love and understanding.  Set aside enough time and plan an appropriate setting where you can both be very candid.  They may have doubts or fears.  You may uncover some issues such as a father or mother that was never around because of a family business.

You also need to take an honest look at yourself and consider if you have been a good partner.  Have you upheld your end of household responsibilities, or just left those to your partner to figure out?  If not, starting the conversation with an apology is a good idea.

All the diligence done up to this point will go a long way towards showing your loved one that you care about them enough to have put serious thought and consideration into starting a business.  Review the goals for the business together and ask for input.

While no one can guarantee that your business will turn out exactly like you planned, putting the right amount of research and thought into the plan will increase the odds significantly.

Before You Begin – Part 3

This is the third article in a 4 part series.

Now that you have a plan to keep a house over your head and food on the table and understand your marketplace and costs, it is time to come up with a plan.  How will you serve your marketplace in a way that gives you a competitive advantage?  This is the answer to “Why would I want to do business with you?”

This plan should cover the first 12 months of your business.  In my opinion, anything beyond that is way too speculative at this point and time is better spent elsewhere.  The plan should at least answer the following questions:

  • Who is your customer?
  • Where is your customer?
  • How you will prospect for new customers?
  • How much cash do you need? (double it.)
  • When and how much will you pay yourself?  (This one can be tricky.  Businesses ultimately die due to lack of cash.  Cash is oxygen.  Cash is also a safety net for bad months, bad quarters, and bad decisions.  My recommendation is to set a goal of at least 90 days of operating expenses as cash reserves before you start paying yourself.)

Your plan should also include a list of key performance indicators and the industry standards for those indicators you gathered during your market research.  Examples of these are:

  • Average revenue per customer
  • Customer churn rate or retention rate
  • Average margin per sale
  • Revenue per employee
  • Customers per employee
  • Net profit

You should also write down what you want out of the business.  Is your goal to build the business and sell it, or is your goal to build a family business?  While you need to focus in the beginning on just building a good, solid business, this is an important question.  The answer can impact decisions as you move forward.

Take a moment to think about what type of organization you want to build.  I’m not talking about what type of business from an industry you want to be in.  I’m talking about the personality of your company.  What personality do you want your business to have?

Before You Begin – Part 2

This is article number two in a four part series. If you haven’t read Before You Begin: Part 1, please go back and read that first.

Now it’s time to consider how much do you know about the market you are planning to enter?  Who are your competitors?  What are their price points for similar services or products? How will you differentiate yourself?

These are all vital questions that need answers before you begin.  I’ve seen too many businesses launch with a “ready, fire, aim” approach.  If you have deep cash reserves and can find your niche fast enough, you can probably survive.  More often than not, the cash runs out before the true market, product, or service is identified.

My advice is to become a student of your prospective marketplace.  Attend some trade association meetings.  Read all you can about it.  Find a successful person who had built a business in your niche, but is outside of your market.  Offer to buy them lunch for some time to visit with you about their business. Go shop your competitors and visit with potential customers.

The other half of understanding your business is knowing the costs.  Often we assume we can operate at a lower cost than the competition.  Unless you have operated a business exactly like what you are looking to start successfully, I guarantee you are underestimating your operating costs.

Corporate Succession Planning – The Risk Isn’t Just at the Top

When most people think of succession planning, they usually think about what to do when a founder or other key executive moves on. However, all businesses have risk beyond just their senior personnel making an exit. What about

Continue reading Corporate Succession Planning – The Risk Isn’t Just at the Top

Succession Planning – The Risk Isn’t Just at the Top

When most people think of succession planning, they usually think about what to do when a founder or other key executive moves on. However, all businesses have risk beyond just their senior personnel making an exit. What about

Continue reading Succession Planning – The Risk Isn’t Just at the Top

Before You Begin – Part 1

Many people dream of owning their own business. Some have a vision down inside they’ve replayed and worked on for years, and some are just tired of working for “The Man”. They want to call their own shots.

Owning your own business is much like raising children. (or sometimes running a daycare, but that’s another article.) There will be moments of great joy and pride, and there will be moments of frustration or even anger. And just like child rearing, if you guide and nurture them right, it’s hard to beat the moment when they come into their own, and you get to say, “that’s my child.”

Over the next several articles, I’m going to share with you some wisdom I’ve gathered over the years. These are not absolutes, but can save you from much self-inflicted frustration.

One of the first things to consider as you decide on when to launch into the great entrepreneurial sea is your own financial position. How will you pay the household bills until your business can afford to pay you? Does your spouse earn enough money to cover living expenses? How much money do you have saved? I’m not talking about just enough money to go through the mechanics of starting your business, I’m talking about how long you could fund your business and pay your bills without a paycheck from your business.

As entrepreneurs, we are naturally optimistic. However, the old adage of “hope for the best and plan for the worst” is certainly worth following here. There will be enough stress getting your business off the ground. You certainly don’t need to add stress that could have been prevented.

If you are the sole breadwinner and looking to jump in fulltime to your new endeavor, my recommendation is at least 12 months of expenses in savings. This is over and above what you need to start your business.

If you are not there financially, consider whether or not you can start your business part time while you still keep your job.

This is also a time to consider what sacrifices are worth making for the dream of owning your own business. Where can you cut the family budget to make it on one income or make the savings last longer? These are some of the things that make for great stories once your business is successful.