Spotlight on Beverly Stein

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Beverly Stein
P.O.V. Marketing

Action-oriented Business Plans Make the Difference

While possessing the best and most honorable of intentions, many professionals who write business plans miss the point and place their emphasis on the wrong set of objectives. In addition to compiling an often incorrect set of components within the plan itself, many do not even understand what a business plan is intended to accomplish.

"Today’s entrepreneurs and just about any other business managers need an action-oriented plan," says Beverly Stein, president of P.O.V. Marketing in Dallas. "These business plans must be developed quickly to keep-up with the pace of today’s market and their emerging businesses."

The "point" so sorely missed is a focus on what’s going to help them get through the day-to-day trenches of actually running a business versus just the financial aspects of the plan, but more on that later. Stein knows first-hand the rigors of writing and coaching others in how to write business plans based on her years of experience both in the corporate world with Ralston Purina, Energizer Battery, Quaker State Motor Oil, and Universal Studies, Florida, and as an entrepreneur. She now teaches others how to write plans, and offers the business plan component as part of her marketing approach with a diverse client base. "P.O.V.," a marketing acronym for Point Of View, also represents the Perspective Originality and Vision she brings to her clients.

"The difference between successful businesses and business failures is planning; according to the Small Business Administration, lack of, or poor planning in general, is the number one reason why most businesses fail," says Stein. "In the last decade, for example, fewer than 10 percent of all business start-ups wrote business plans and only two percent followed their plan."

All is not to be blamed, however, on the professional, says Stein. The Internet, the computer and the acceptance of virtual offices changed the start-up requirements for many entrepreneurs. As a result, many now finance their own start-ups or use their credit cards to do the financing. She says this eliminates the need to go to outside sources for funding and has led to a decline in the required discipline of developing the business plan.

What it hasn’t eliminated, however, is the necessity for the discipline of the plan. Stein says there are many business plan development guides and reference manuals available. These however may present a double-edged sword in that most guides focus on the financial sections of the plan with the intent of teaching a person how to prepare a plan to obtain financing. If financing isn’t needed these plans create unnecessary work. Most entrepreneurs just need to know how to manage their business on an ongoing basis and a simpler business plan will best suit their needs.

Stein advises both start-ups and established companies that a plan must be strategic and narrowly focused on a business’s particular issues. Naturally, the required components of a plan vary on the type of business and its operations, but there are several components that must be present in all business plans.

  • Mission Statement - to be a success, a business must stand for something; the mission statement must clearly and concisely articulate what that is.

  • Objectives - the first two years of operation are critical to the sustained success of any new enterprise. To get on the right path and stay there, careful consideration of the operational objectives is imperative.

  • SWOT Analysis – this stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Understanding the marketplace, the competition and relative relationships to each, prepares a business to operate on a competitive basis. Many business ventures fail because management does not know how to correctly assess the factors impacting their success.

  • Competitive Analysis - a critical part of developing a clear picture of the marketplace is understanding the competition and the strengths and weaknesses of the key players.

  • Assumptions/Risks - making assumptions and taking risks is what separates the entrepreneurs from the rest of the population. The business plan must articulate full understanding of the financial position, risks and assumptions.

  • Sales/Marketing Plan - brings together all the learning, goals, situation analysis and objectives. This is the business action plan.

    "Most available references on creating a business plan haven’t caught up to business in the age of the Internet," says Stein. "Business today is moving more quickly than ever before, and the planning stage needs to move just as quickly."

    Stein welcomes comments to [email protected].

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