Let Us Help Your Small Business

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Frustrated? Here’s how we help.

Every business owner gets frustrated at some point in their career. And for many it’s difficult to know where to get affordable, yet beneficial help. Where do you go to get support without paying out cash you don’t have? Where do you find a good sounding board? Or even learn something more about your business – all in confidence?

In short, the Kansas SBDC.

Maybe you’ve heard of us or have been referred to us for business plan help. As I’ve shared before, the consulting team at the Kansas SBDC is probably best known for our help in this area.

In fact, my last two posts focused on a brief introduction to business planning and business plan alternatives.

Yet we do more. Much more. And we do it well.

In 2013 we helped more than 11,974 small business clients (small business owners, decision makers, employees) through one-on-one consulting and training.

Our help consistently makes a difference in our small business clients’ businesses. In 2012 when all of Kansas businesses reported flat jobs growth, our clients increased the number of employees they hired by 55.5%. That same year, when all of Kansas businesses grew sales by 5.9%, our clients grew their sales by more than 28%.

To achieve the job growth and sales growth we helped our clients with more than just business plans. We helped with marketing, financing and capital access, financial analysis, and cash flow management. And while we work with entrepreneurs and individuals interested in starting businesses, where we provide a great deal of assistance that you may not be aware of is in business operations and management as well as the process of buying and selling a business.

Each of our centers located across the state can assist in every area of your business at every stage of your business lifecycle – at start up, growth and expansion, transition, and even through the successful sale of your company.

To use our services, you can:

Option 1) Contact the center in your area (the center links below provide a list of counties they serve) to request consulting. We suggest downloading and completing the following to expedite the process:  request for counseling, Initial Assessment Form, and Summary of Money Needs forms.

Emporia State University Small Business Development Center

Fort Hays State University Small Business Development Center

Garden City Community College Small Business Development Center

Johnson County Community College Small Business Development Center

Kansas University Small Business Development Center

Pittsburgh State University Small Business Development Center

Wichita State University Small Business Development Center

Washburn University Small Business Development Center

Option 2) If you’re not seeking consulting at this time, take advantage of face-to-face training offered across the state. Check out each center’s website or click here to access a quick list of upcoming training across the Kansas SBDC network.

Option 3) If you don’t have time to attend a specific training at a specific time, take advantage of our free online training resources first, then contact a center whenever you’re ready for consulting.

My point is this, frustration happens. If owning a small business was easy, anyone could do it. At the Kansas SBDC we’re the friendly face on the other side of the frustration. Call us. You don’t have to do this alone.

About our Author

Logan Hildebrand is an aspiring intern at the Kansas SBDC and is currently attending Washburn University in pursuit of three degrees: business marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. She has a passion for capturing the awes of consumers through social media and marketing, and has been interning at the state office and the Kansas SBDC at WU for the past 2 years in order to develop her experiences. Adapting to the ever-changing field of marketing and social media is a strength of hers, as well as making a delicious cup of coffee. Her dream is to one day open her own coffee shop and continue her marketing aspirations through that venture. Until then, she will be providing this blog with insightful, interesting, and useful posts to help aid in the development of marketing in businesses that need assistance.

 

Intro to Business Planning

business planIf you’re in business or considering starting a business you’ve no doubt heard of the business plan. Some view the business plan as a long, confusing, and pointless process. Yet many lenders insist that you have a written plan in place before they invest in your business. Key employees in your business as well as partners often rely on a business plan to guide them and their strategic decisions. For many it’s a valuable, if not indispensable guide.

In recent years the business plan has come under scrutiny. Many companies operating using lean start up business models throw the idea of a business plan as a starting point out the door.

I won’t argue the value of a business plan against its alternatives. Instead for this month’s blog series, I will discuss elements of the business plan that every business needs to know, and for those of you still uninterested in the traditional business plan model, offer a few alternatives.

First off, let’s define the elements of a business plan and its basic definition.

A business plan is a calculated future of the business of your venture. It can includes everything from the initial concept, to the marketing, financials, and sales projections. Some detail the step-by-step process and description of how your business will enter the market and succeed. Numbers and predictions are projections based on market research, comparable industry benchmarks, and even historical data.

Let’s take a quick look at the core elements of a business plan broken down into three major parts:

Part One. The Business Concept.

Dictionary.com defines a business concept as “An idea for a business that includes basic information such as the service or product, the target demographic, and a unique selling proposition that gives a company an advantage over competitors. A business concept may involve a new product or simply a novel approach to marketing or delivering an existing product.

Any and every business exists to solve a problem(s). The best business ideas understand how they solve that problem and whom they solve it for in a way that provides a valuable advantage recognized by its customers. If you don’t know why you exist or cannot explain it in 25 words or so, you need to work on your business concept.

To understand how succinct your business concept can be, check out the descriptions of The 14 Best New Business Ideas for 2014 from Business News Daily.

Part Two. Marketing.

Marketing is essential to any business. Without it, how will customers know that you exist?

There are several definitions of marketing, but one of our team’s favorites is borrowed from Randall Chapman at MarketingProfs, “Marketing means solving customers’ problems profitably.”

Marketing goes hand-in-hand with the business concept. It includes the management of the process, objectives, strategies, tactics, benchmarks by which you’ll measure success and more. It includes customer personas and deeper analysis of why you exist, what problems you solve better than any of your competitors. It’s easy to get lost in marketing. There are so many channels for communication and strategies that keep evolving. With marketing you need to not only what you’re going to do today, but what you’ll be looking for tomorrow.

For more, check out Forbes’ The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014.

Part Three. Financials.

Numbers are usually the entrepreneurs’ least favorite area to work on in their business. Numbers include the balance sheet, profit and loss statements, benchmarks, ratios, cash flow projections, break even analysis, and more. A full set of financial projections are often required by lenders or investors before they even think twice about funding your business or project.

Investors want to know not only how you’ll spend the money, but how you’ll make money with the money they invest in you. This is true of traditional lenders as well.

 

If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank or 1MillionCups you’ll understand how many entrepreneurs struggle with these three core elements of a business plan – explaining their business model, their marketing pitch, and how a Mark Cuban or Daymond John will make money by investing in the entrepreneur’s small business.

Thinking twice about a business plan? Or are you at least open to looking at business planning tools? Check out Kansas SBDC at FHSU’s online business planning tool or download the Kansas SBDC business plan outline for a step-by-step guide.

Still not interested? Stay tuned for a post on business plan alternatives and more!

Feel free to check out our business plan outline below!

KSBDC Business Plan Outline

 

About our Author

Logan Hildebrand is an aspiring intern at the Kansas SBDC and is currently attending Washburn University in pursuit of three degrees: business marketing, management, and entrepreneurship. She has a passion for capturing the awes of consumers through social media and marketing, and has been interning at the state office and the Kansas SBDC at WU for the past 2 years in order to develop her experiences. Adapting to the ever-changing field of marketing and social media is a strength of hers, as well as making a delicious cup of coffee. Her dream is to one day open her own coffee shop and continue her marketing aspirations through that venture. Until then, she will be providing this blog with insightful, interesting, and useful posts to help aid in the development of marketing in businesses that need assistance.