Business Plan Development – Free Government Resources to Aid in Business Planning

In your quest to develop your business plan you will want to obtain information regarding industry analysis, legal and regulatory statutes, manufacturing, training and counseling, and maybe corporate financials and international information and data. This is just a few of the areas you can research through our government’s online resources. Though they are free and free is often synonymous with undervalued they are indeed not free. Your tax dollars pay for them and the information is rich and vast. These government resources are put there to help you succeed so there is no better place to start your research than with the resources you pay for. The U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service, The State Department, FedStats, Export.gov, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission all have information that you will find helpful. I will talk a little about each one, what they do, and how you can use them.

The first place you may want to start with your investigation on industry analysis is through The Department of Commerce. The DoC is comprised of twelve separate agencies responsible for many things regarding business from weather forecasts to patent protection. Their mission statement states exactly what they do and there is no better way to sum it up, “The DoC touches the daily lives of the American people in many ways, with a wide range of responsibilities in the areas of trade, economic development, technology, entrepreneurship and business development, environmental stewardship, and statistical research and analysis.” There is much to the DoC and they also are a portal to several other government agencies and partners that you may find useful.

The U.S. Census Bureau, a derivative of the DoC, is a great resource for industry analysis and they are arguably the most important branch of the DoC for demographic information ranging from population breakdown, income, education levels, and housing to name just a few which you can find in the Peoples and Households section of their website. The Census Bureau also collects massive amounts of data on economic activity. You may need to search the industry code for the particular type of business you’re in or looking for, by searching its NAICS code. You can break information down from a national level and/or by zip code for information on total number of businesses as well as types and average sales in their business and industry section. They also have information on foreign trade and so much more. The fact of the matter is that there is so much data that the U.S. Census Bureau has accumulated it may seem daunting. It is in fact a huge database with so many useful links that I have to write three paragraphs about all the different links worth noting. You should spend some time navigating around, taking notes, and leaving yourself a trail of breadcrumbs one way or another so that you can remember just how you got from place to place.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s website is vast, as I previously stated, and there are a number of portals you should know a little about and even bookmark. Censtats is a database that includes county and zip business pattern information, international trade data, demographic and economic data for states and counties, Census Tract Street Locator, and some other databases on top of those. American FactFinder has information regarding demographic information about people that can be broken down in many ways to suit your needs. QuickFacts provides information on people, business, and geography which can be targeted on a national, state, and/or county level. If you need information on industry and manufacturing you can skim through the Current Industrial Report section. There contains vast amounts of information which may satisfy your needs for market analysis, forecasting, and decision-making.

The next noteworthy online resource at your disposal is the SBA or Small Business Administration. If you need information on federal and/or state legal and regulatory information the SBA has important and detailed information on these two important issues. The SBA also funds and supports business’s and you can find and apply for government grants, contracts, as well as sign up to receive training and counseling from SCORE. Score are a group of retired executives that volunteer their time to help business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with development of their business plans and give advice to current businesses management dilemmas and questions and other assistance. If you have never spoken with a SCORE representative you should. They have a plethora of experience and expertise on a variety of subjects and industries. The SBA’s website also offers you a place to register your business, find business licenses, and permits. Ultimately the SBA is another great government resource that is a must-add to your toolbox.

If you’re interested or need to get your hands on international data and statistics our government provides information through U.S. Census Bureau, The State Department, and Export.gov. The Census Bureau’s contains an international database (IDB) that provides rankings by population size as well as global trends and demographic data. The State Department’s website has background information that includes information on each country’s economy and a great deal more all in alphabetical order by country. You can find out information on that country’s history, people, government, relations, travel, and more. Export.gov’s slogan is helping U.S. companies succeed globally by combining and providing the resources from across the U.S. government to assist American businesses in planning their international sale’s strategy. They have in-depth data about markets and industries on a global scale.

If you need information on corporations The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Edgar Database provides information regarding corporation’s financial information as well as their operations. There is a lot more to the Edgar Database. They also have a user guide that will provide you a more detailed analysis of who they are and what all they can do for you.

The last government resource that is worth mentioning is Fedstats. FedStats is a government sponsored website that has vast quantities of data collected by over 100 different agencies. You can search by topic compiled in a nice, user-friendly A-Z format or you can search the agencies in which they receive their data from, also in an alphabetical format. If you’re interested in state-by-state statistical data you might try clicking through FedStat’s MapStats section which profiles states, counties, cities, congressional districts, and even federal judicial districts. Besides the particular places I have pointed out there is also information on international comparisons, statistics from the individual agencies, press releases, and more.

I have written a similar article on my blog that has the full list of links to many of the areas that I have spoken of in this article if you would like to check it out. I hope that I have provided you valuable resources that will aid you in your pursuit to complete your business plan. Good luck and best wishes for your success!

Entrepreneur Business Idea – Develop a Small Business Customer Support Company

This article is about creating a business opportunity for a small business customer support center. Many small businesses have a product that occasionally requires customer support, yet their is not enough money in the business to run a full time call center on its own. This is where your business will come in. Read on to find out how you can create a customer support business to support many local and national small businesses.

By developing a customer support center, you will have the 800-numbers of multiple businesses routed through your call center. Using special software, the number of the client shows up with the business information, so that the person answering the phone knows which business they are representing for that call.

The companies that hire you will provide FAQ information about their products and services. Many of these questions will be able to be solves by the call center employees and the contractual agreement between the groups will decide how much leeway the operator will have for allowing returns or changing orders on the spot.

These people can also take phone messages as if you were out of the office, even though you don’t work in the same building or even the same state. Many of these call centers have been located overseas, but customers are getting fed up with language barriers and the general lack of understanding about the problems. Due to these current issues, this would be a great time to establish yourself as a domestic call center, and come up with more capabilities that you can handle for the clients.

Big Questions and Answers of Small Businesses Entrepreneurs

Organizing information, ideas and techniques to understand where your business can lead you. Will it be a success or a failure? Of course nobody wants to get failed especially when you’re just about to put up a small business and would contribute all resources involving time and money in the name of success.

On this Virtual age, growing business using different social media like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, to name a few, and other free or inexpensive tools on the web to promote a different kinds of businesses or companies makes it a whole lot easier.

As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibilities” proves also to be true when it comes with businesses utilizing Social Media to the maximum. These great social media platforms and tools need great attention and proper concentration. Several questions would come to business entrepreneurs mind that needed precise and useful answers such as;

Q1. Would small businesses get acquainted with the idea of group buying?

Group buying is one of the latest fads in online shopping wherein consumers purchases as a whole or group to acquire big deals on products or services offered. The idea of selling your bulk products in a short period of time is very tempting even with small businesses entrepreneurs. Before jumping into a decision, you may want to consider these valuable queries, information and ideas.

The advantage of Group buying is generating a great sum of profits in a short matter of time. Deals were usually taken in a day. It is quoted as “A billion dollar web trend”. It gives you a great number of new consumers or clients signed up to test your products or services which is not bad if you or your company offers something of great significance to them. If you focus mainly on facilitating customer try outs or to generate fast money, then Group buying is right for you. If you give more value on sustaining a luxurious brand status or high revenue limits, then Group buying is not a very good idea for your business

Q2. How to utilize location-based services?

There are hundreds of location-based services that were built to assist users search and explore the best’s locations that surrounds them. Examples of these location-based services are Loopt, Gypsii, Plazes, Mobiluck, and a whole lot more. Stores and restaurants businesses with stable addresses take advantages of theses location-based services by contributing precise venue agreements. It has been a great challenge for businesses that are without exact addresses, like online and media services or companies. Be creative! Whenever you produce content online by means of a website or blog, if possible leave insider tips on other sites that are related to your content or business. Also, utilize these location-based services by using some mobile applications or sites that supplies advertisements and promotions to users in a particular location.

Q3. How to start a blog (if not a tech expert)?

Starting a blog does not require a computer science expert at all. There are lots of social media platforms that are user-friendly and require simple knowledge or understanding.

Building a website or a blog could be a lot of pressure or could be simple. There are hundreds of various content management systems to choose from like Concrete5, Cushycms, Modxcms, and more! Develop also your small business themes to enhance your professional looking web presence for your consumers while showing valuable information about your business and support a blog you’re using to link up with your consumers or clients.

If you are still perplexed on how to get your blog stand out and working, then consider on hiring a web designer or developer. Leaving things up to the experts also works than pushing yourself on something you are not capable of and beyond your interests and see your business flop! Remember, you can always hire a web designer or developer to help you grow your business.

Q4. Why social media strategy may not serve you well?

We all know in any aspects that too often or too little sometimes may bring us undesirable results. This implies in how often or little you should be updating your page. The best way of knowing when and how often should you send out a tweet, post on Facebook or check and revise other social sites is by observing and adjusting to the needs and wants of your customers. Also, your clients or consumers do not want a flood of marketing messages. Maintain your promotions to the lowest as possible and supply only valuable and relevant contents to your audience. Another reason would be the lack of important proposals for your audience. Commonly, consumers follow brands on social sites to for these following reasons, to avail discounts, promos, and be the first to know and buy newly endorsed products. Respond to your consumers’ needs to preserve their loyalty with your brand. Lack of advertisement is another factor why consumers or clients may not know or may never have heard your website. Make the most out of your website, location, poster ads, flyers, and social media business cards to promote and publicize your social media profile and your business’ or products’ details. Using social media as a tool for promoting your small business would clearly point out and support that you or your business and your consumers, clients or audience would deal or interact socially. The main reason of these different social media is to establish a relationship or commitment between two persons or group whether it is a business or personal related purposes. Interacting with your consumers or clients would help build trust and reliability on your products or brand.

Q5. How to optimize social media page for search engines?

Search Engine Optimization mainly concerns on your content. Significantly, your social media profiles and their URL’s should be after your business’ name. Sometimes, desired URL is unobtainable so modify another one as long as it was relatively on its original name. Avoid difficult and unidentifiable abbreviations and misspelled words. If you’re already done with your URL name, fill out all details about your business or brand. If you have other social media pages, add link to them to increase popularity of your website or social media profile by means of inbound links or backlinks. Link your business profile on each account you have on different social media platforms. In that way users may connect with you with their own preferred social media sites. Lastly, constant updating of your page providing good content that would be very useful to your audience would be great. Always add something that would interest your audience and maintain their expectations.

With all these guidelines, we hope it could help you in any way it can. Trial and error is good, but wasting your resources and much valued time would not be practical enough to let all your efforts go to waste. We still believe in this saying, “Prevention is better than cure”. Which does not only applies on our health issues, but also in our whole aspects as a person, and as a businessman. Prevention means being aware, having equipped knowledge and better understanding which is far better than finding your business caught between hard situations that would seem impossible to put up again and flop eventually.

Tip #1 – Home Business Entrepreneurs Are Organized

If you’ve tuned in to our video series on home business tips, you will have seen Jani discuss the topic of being organized. While this tip might seem obvious because organization applies to so many things we do on an everyday basis. But the question here should be why is it so important to mention it when it pertains to having our own home based business opportunity.

When we work for an employer in an office environment outside our home for example, very often we step into an environment that got organized and systemized for us and we just have to follow the established work rules in place. Because we work for an “organization”, they will have organized everything for us. When we work from home and work for ourselves, it then becomes logical and important to establish the organized work environment for ourselves.

While one of the reasons an individual wants to become a home based business entrepreneur is because of the freedom the home environment procures, it is also that same environment that can distract you and deter your focus from business related activities.

Having an office is a good idea and we will talk about that later in the series but you don’t want to be sequestered to an office so you may want to make yourself wireless enabled. Having a laptop, wireless Internet, and cordless phones is all you need to be mobile within your own home. It allows you to take calls from anywhere in the house and tap into any online resources you need. Most wireless phones have speaker phone capabilities which is great to keep your hands free should you need to access your laptop at the same time. An even better way to be hands free is to plug a microphone headset to your wireless phone which provides even clearer communication.

It doesn’t take much hardware to be in business from home but what else will help you stay organized? One of the things you can use your laptop for to stay organized is to establish a schedule. Making up a schedule and sticking to it is one of the organization tools that will keep you most efficient and give you back time you didn’t realize you had. When I first established a schedule for myself (reluctantly) I was most amazed at how much time I had for myself. By categorizing everything you do, from business to personal items, you actually end up having more time than without a schedule. That is because there are several small blocks of time (5-15 min) scattered throughout the day that are wasted and when taking them all into account by making them part of the schedule, you eliminate the waste and therefore end up with time you did not realize you had. What you do with that time is up to you!

There are several softwares out there that allow you to keep a schedule, from very expensive to totally free. I use the MAC system because it incorporates the management of scheduling, communication and marketing all in one. And it does it from an online platform which means that all this is available to me whether I’m at home or away as long as I have access to the Internet. There is a monthly cost to the MAC system which is well worth it given all it does but there are other alternatives out there which we happily provide in our training.

Jani, being a single mom, quickly adopted flylady.net to develop her schedule. It’s one thing to have a software to hold a schedule but it’s another thing all together to know what to put in your schedule in order to fit everything in given the “rat race” we sometimes perceive to live in. You might find flylady handy for you; don’t worry, being a single mom is not a pre-requisite to use the site.

Schedules, time management and organization is a topic that can branch into finer details and therefore a topic I could expand on as I do with my team, but since I’m writing an article and not a book, we will have to stop here. I hope that our first business tip has been of value to you and you are welcome to come back for more as we build our home business tip series for the individuals looking at starting a home business or the entrepreneurs actively operating one. Here’s an idea, how about you make a point of visiting our blog on a regular basis by marking it in your schedule – are you ready to pencil it in?