I had an opportunity to attend a meeting of new businesses this past week. There were about 20 businesses represented and as I heard about their products and services I was very impressed. The age of these entrepreneurs where from their early 20’s to mid-50’s; I share their approximate age in order to emphasize the fact that marketing needs were not limited to younger business people.
Each of these businesses, in turn, shared their stories as well on what they needed the most support. The two issues that came up were the capital needed to manufacture their products and then how to market their products.
Some of these new businesses have developed a very high tech device with a very specific target market while others were aimed at the general public. This meeting was an open meeting and the sponsoring organization had no advance knowledge as to the type of businesses that would attend. Out of the 20 businesses represented only two were service businesses. The others represented a wide variety of products. Since venture capital was not available at the meeting, the main topic was focused on marketing. The majority of those present said that they did not know how to market and several were looking for suggestions as to how to outsource their marketing efforts.
During the past several weeks I also had the opportunity to visit with the owners of three established businesses (15 to 24 years). In each case, the business was steady but had not shown any growth in the past several years. Again, when asked for a copy of their marketing plan none was available. Two had a business plan that they had not looked at in over ten years and the third could not find a copy.
An effective business plan has to be a reference that is used at least several times a month. It should contain goals and strategies and plans to reach those goals with an accountability factor built in. A marketing plan, likewise, should be a hands-on tool and revised (updated) along with the business plan every six months.
Business cannot be “just about doing”; it should be about following an updated business and marketing plan.
Nick J. Petra CFP www.strategicduck.com
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