Friday, August 16, 2013

Here's my Money - Why should I give it to you?

Daily, I manage to have numerous business plans come across my desk with requests to review them. It's been years that this has been happening and this is a process that's paid for by the clients. Often though, my feedback may not be what they want to hear, but it definitely needs to be told if they are going to meet any measure of success in their attempt to get funding.

Here are some findings:

Based on many of the plans that have been presented, here are some common threads that go through most of them. The reason I'm putting them out here is so that they can be addressed before your next wave of funding is being sought. Hope this helps the entrepreneurs / small businesses.

Businesses are not well researched

  • Too many feel good statements are made. One that sticks out in particular was one which under the title of Research and Development, the document said, "Research and Development will be ongoing". Tell me would you part with your hard earned dollars for a plan with this in it?
  • Many of these business plans use assumptions that are filled with errors and overly simplistic with these kind of results - "Earnings should reach $1 million dollars within 12 months and then grow by x% per month for the next year". Many start ups span years of operating without seeing a million dollars pass through it. It depends on too many factors which are often not addressed within the confines of the document. 
  • Benchmarks are used which originate in markets dissimilar to the one within which the business has to function. 

The request for capital are hugely unrealistic 

  • "Did you really just ask me for that much money?"  How did you arrive a such a figure and; what will you do with that much money? These questions are often asked and seldom answered adequately when presentation time comes up. 
  • Capital requirements are often not recorded or given in lump sum in the hopes of the reader glossing over them.
  • If you were presenting to someone like you, would you part with that much money for so little benefits? That's a question that needs address. 
  • How will you pay it back? Investors are not only looking for ROI (Return on Investment), they are also seeking Return of Investment.
  • WAIT A MINUTE?!?! What are you putting into this business other than an idea?

The operations elements of the business are at best weak

  • How does this business operate? Truly! The vague information that you put up here does not suggest that you've done your research. Matter of fact, it doesn't even seem like you know what you're doing in this business. Sure I understand that you want to say what you do, without saying how you do it; but clue me in - that you know what you're doing!
  • This document does not show that you've even considered the elements of the business that you need to at planning stages. DO NOT WASTE THE TIME OF THE INVESTORS / FINANCIERS!
  • Who is your team? What will they be doing? What examples do you have for success in other ventures with which you were involved?

The marketing addresses mostly all elements except sales 

  • The demographics and psycho-graphics look great! So does the industry information that you pulled from the internet. does it related to what's happening in this area where you want to set up business?
  • You've sort of addressed advertising - newspaper, radio, television. Your budget looks more than a little low. Do you know how many times you must run the advertising before people even hear about you, let alone purchase what you're offering? Blank look / dead silence comes back.
  • Then you say, but we're going to use Social Media - you know Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of others. Once we throw enough mud at the wall, something's got to stick, right? Do you have a network that we can have access to? 
    • What are you going to say to them? Based on what you've presented, quite frankly - NO! 
    • Learning to use Social Networks has a learning curve that is steep for some. Most don't manage to develop a following as quickly as some may presume. 
  • But all this marketing is expensive. Putting together ads before they even get to go out costs - no kidding. Are you going into business to give things for free? Why then are you trying to get everything for free? 
  • Where are you sales strategies? Is often met with, "I don't like selling". That's why I'm doing marketing. Well, you tell me what's wrong here. Yes sales is an element of marketing, and it is the only one that brings in the money. All the others are cost centers. 

Things that you should consider   

  • Often, there is a need to get have sound business planning documentation prepared
  • When you intend to go into business you need to have money for a variety of reason
    • You will need
      • Business start up funds - registration / incorporation, bank account
      • Professional fees - legal, accounting, business advisory, real estate 
      • Meeting costs, research for your business may be time consuming / costly
    • Remember, excess greed will not make you money. As you wish to be paid when you are in business, those whom you contract their products / services will also want to be paid in a timely manner. 
  • If you still decide to get into business, and do it well, chances are you will be successful. Here's wishing you every success. 

Richie B. is a Business Consultant & Trainer located in Barbados. He's well versed in business development for start ups, expansions, and turn-around projects. Richie's also capable of training to implement the plans that have been developed. For more information, see Blades & Blades Consultancy Services.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Entrepreneurship - Too Simplified?!?! Not for everyone.

Sure...anyone can register a business! what?

The media is touting entrepreneurship as the remedy for just about everything - wealth creation, the solution to this recession and the list goes on.

Recently I read a series of articles, and what came across to me is that this seems too simple. Take for instance this extract:

"What if we were to understand that people are a nation's greatest asset and were to go out in joy not only developing our people to the fullest but instilling in them the confidence to quit their current employer and develop their own start-up, spin-out, and scale-up enterprise and become their own boss hence gaining control of their own destiny?"


Is it really this simple?

My mind went on to extrapolate this base information, and the result was chaos. All Chiefs no Indians. Is this really what is required when building a productive society in which entrepreneurship is expected to thrive? Somehow, I do not think so.

Yes the human resources are important, but we must be mindful of what they want. Not everyone is geared or have the desire to be an entrepreneur. I have met many people who desired to have their own business. Upon a more in-depth series of meetings, it was found that they really should not embark on the enterprise as they were ill prepared for the challenges of running a business.

Here's why:

  • They lacked capital / access to capital
  • They lacked knowledge of the elements of operations required to run their type of entity
  • They did not know who their competition was in the market they wanted to operate within 
  • They lacked the dexterity, discipline, and tenacity to find out / to do certain things
  • They quickly found out that more than a big dream was required
  • Business needs people in order to function, it is not what you know, but also who you know and how useful they can be in helping you realize your potential achievements 
  • Planning is a skill. It requires being able to develop and systematically layout steps necessary to reaching your objective. It is not a collection of wishes
  • It may mean sharing ownership of your business to truly advance it to realize its potential 
Here's another article that you can read about entrepreneurs who turned their passions into the livelihood. They short stories of what they did to become successful does not mean they did so without challenge. It meant that they considered and worked on the aforementioned why's as well as others that are not on this incomplete list. 

That being said, are we in the right environment for entrepreneurship? Our governments have to be careful about the climate they create that would support entrepreneurship. One that's too heavy on taxes and too light on incentives can create a sluggish environment for business start ups and expansions. There needs to be the right mix that enables business development while government realizes their revenue needs. 

In closing, let's stop making entrepreneurship seem more simple than it really is. It does not mean that we don't simplify the processes, but we must be realistic in our observations about the area of business development. 

Richie B. works as a business consultant & trainer, since 1995 operating from Barbados, West Indies. He's practical in his applications and offers sound information which can be quickly acted upon. Richie operates in the Caribbean region predominantly and via the internet offers solutions to some North American entities. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Starting a business....are you serious?

Entrepreneurship is a word that's touted about a lot these days. Everyone seems to want to begin a business of their own, and who can blame them. There are certainly better educated, greater connected, and have more resources. However, you can imagine the questions that come to mind when we look at todays businesses. Let's look at a few.

  • Why do so many of them fail?
  • Do we really know why we want to be in business?
  • Have you thought out the process well?
Let's stop at these three. Since these alone can take quite a bit of time. Let's look at them succinctly.

Businesses fail due to:

  • Being under capitalized
  • Poor operating systems 
  • Weak marketing & sales 
  • Poor accounting & cashflow management
  • Weaknesses in human resources - training deficiencies
  • Lack of discipline and planning
  • This list is not exhausted

We want to be in business for a variety of reason

  • Some don't want to work for someone else
  • Others just want to be their own boss
  • There are still others who just want to be creative and can't be bothered with much else
  • Many want to make money that they can spend as they wish
  • They saw someone do it and it looked easy
  • Many don't like their current bosses 
  • Some want to genuinely make a difference in the lives of others with their product / service
  • The reasons are endless 

We thought

  • This would be a walk in the park
  • This much strategy was not required
  • We could do it ourselves without much expenses or help as we know our field
  • Why did we leave our jobs, we had it made when we got our payment from where we were employed (and, we didn't have to work as hard)
  • We didn't want this much work, just more money. 
  • We didn't have a vacation since leaving our last jobs and we don't have money to go on vacations either 
  • If I had only known better, I wouldn't have left 
  • Well, we're too committed to turn back now. 
  • If I could do this all over again, I would do this so much differently

Business is never easy. As one friend put it, you have money problems either-way - too little / too much. There are many who believe that they wouldn't mind having too much money. It is often heard said, I know exactly what I would do with that money if I had it. 

So are you serious about starting a business? If not, please don't. It would be more trouble than profit. However, if you are, then you need to make contact with someone like me in your area. There are plenty great consulting resources out there, and they are some that aren't so great. You must do your due diligence. 

So starting and expanding a business, especially when you are serious can be quite rewarding. Surround yourselves with others who have achieved some of the things you desire - learn from them taking the good and leaving the bad behind. Yes you'll find many have flaws that make it difficult to work with them. Be prepared to endure, so that you can enjoy

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Advice Ever....a true story

I've been consulting & training for many years and daily I come up against some situations that are "new" not only to me but to many others. I love what I do since boredom is seldom my reality and for my clients, the solutions seem endless since we've had some seemly impossible situations that we've had to deal without any of them being something from which I could draw from a template.

There have been times, more often than I care to remember, when I have had challenges within my own work environment that I literally did not know how I was going to survive each one. Depending on who you ask, seeking help was a sign of weakness / strength. The thing is, those who offered help most willingly were those who were off island and knew nothing about me - The offices of Zig Ziglar, Les Brown and others were really great with their assistance.

My clients enjoy a high percentage of success when working with us. They have:

  • received significant "impossible" funding through preparations of documents 
  • turned around their entities from a losing position to start earning revenues and profits within short time frames
  • streamlined their operations after completing audits 
  • seen results of training programs in as little as 24 hours / shortly afterwards 
  • made significant strategic contacts, programs, and moves that encouraged them to have sustainable entities
There are more benefits that I would not elaborate on here, but here's the thing. 

In many instances, I did not know where to begin. Sure we have the formal education, the degrees, the courses, but even when internships are involved it does precious little to prepare you for the actual situation. 

No one that I knew of, and my network's huge, had experiences in many of the challenges my clients had so that I could even subcontract their services. (Subcontracting's not a problem for me, since I believe that it's better to make 1% of a million dollars, than 100% of $1,000). So I did what I have always done, which has worked 100% of the time. I put the entire set of situations before God

Yes, I have been working bonafide in consulting and training since 1995, but God has way more experience than I will ever have. The results were / are always phenomenal! Often happening at speeds that I did not fathom before. It has gotten to the stage now that because of this expectancy from having walked the path before with God, I can now offer solutions quicker than most. It is like being able to think multidimensional, seeing action and outcome almost at once. Daily I give God thanks for this gift and the help that others receive through it. It is humbling to see situations that were really challenging being solved.

Am I living on purpose? I really feel so. 

If you ever get to use our services and think to yourselves - This is The Best Advice Ever - then give God thanks for granting me the necessary insight and oftentimes experiences.

About me
Richard Blades is a Business Consultant & Trainer with Blades & Blades Consultancy Services.  As a Senior Founding Partner, he remains committed to high standards and being well researched. He loves to have a fun time while working since work occupies a great percentage of your life. Known in most circles as Richie B. he has a wealth of experience in consulting and training which he candidly shares. Find our more about our services and if you require them fill out our surveys for business advisory services and training

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