Back to Business This Fall

Strategy Plan One

September 8, 2012

back to businessFall Business Period

A week has passed in September… families, communities and the education system are all adjusting to the “back to school” phase of the year.  For many students, young and old, back to school represents a period of renewal, of fresh starts, starting up again.

However, this positive energy can be easily transferred over to the business sector, for existing and budding entrepreneurs.

New entrepreneurs can take advantage of the fresh start approach, planning their initial strategies for the Fall, Winter and 2013 periods.  Some fiscal year periods start in the Fall for good reasons related or integrated into the government fiscal years, or corporate fiscal years.   Existing businesses should refresh their business plans to reflect any market or industry changes that have occurred on local, global and international scales.  Building on successes and results from the previous business cycles, businesses should tweak business and marketing plans accordingly.

Establishing Goals this Fall

Get serious about business and personal development this Fall.  Always as a first step, establish some aggressive, achievable goals and objectives.  Without goals and objectives you won’t be able to set some strategic directions for yourself and your business.  Ensure your goals are achievable, measurable, and that you apply flexibility to adapt and revise goals and strategies.

Business Ideas and Hints for the Fall

Here are some helpful hints and ideas to think about some positive steps to take in business and personal development this fall:

  • Planning – Always a great idea as part of your core activities to review, tweak your business and marketing plans
  • Scan your business environment and competitors - develop some products or services that will be a bit different or new to your market
  • Capacity and Skill development – naturally many classes are offered in the Fall schedule; good time to brush up on business skills
  • Product and Service Offerings – review your results to date and revise if necessary heading into the Fall, Winter and 2013 periods
  • Refresh, redesign – Whether you have a store front or website, take a look at your layout and seek feedback from customers for better designs and layout
  • Communications and Outreach – develop new communications to your customers; utilize social media for extended outreach and measure your effectiveness on social media
  • Generate Fall Buzz, Interest – generate new and continued interest in your company, your products and services; offer Fall free or trial offers

Check out these Fall Business Strategies:

More reading on business topics:

Strategy Plan One

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© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Franchise Opportunities – Industry Outlook 2012 and Beyond [infographic]

Strategy Plan One

July 3, 2012

Franchise Opportunities – Outlook in US

As citing in recent blogs on economic indicators, the franchise business industry appears to be shaping up well for 2012.  The past couple years have shown favorable growth trends, which may continue.  The International Franchise Association (IFA) has produced an infographic, chalked full of franchise economic tidbits of information.

Some franchise opportunities and economic estimates for 2012 and beyond:

  • 5.3% output increase
  • 5.0% increase in GDP
  • 2.2% employment growth in the franchise industry
  • 1.7% increase in the number of franchised establishments

Franchise Business industries that will see the greatest gains:

  • Fast food: $203 Billion in revenue and over 3 Million jobs
  • Business services: $145 Billion in revenue and almost 1 Million in employment
  • Personal services: $87 Billion revenue projected and 650,000 in jobs 

franchise opportunities

Source: IFA , IHS

Ensure you thoroughly research and investigate your potential business ventures, including franchise opportunities.  If you choose well, franchises can be turn-key operations, with immediate revenue streams and ample business support structures.  Although franchises can range in capital requirements, some provide adequate assistance with financing linkages.

Read More on Franchise Opportunities:

Other articles, blogs and infographics on Retail and Franchises:

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Retail Industry Heating up for Summer and Back to School

Strategy Plan One

June 29, 2012

Retail Industry – Summer Period

Like other economic indicators, the retail industry is slowly improving.  It has been estimated that the retail industry will grow in the summer months as food and retail sales increase due to the tourism season.  Retail centered around tourism and travel see marked improvement as many tourism destination packages are developed and offered up to consumers.  Building into the summer retail period, back to school retail sales occur in the summer month, and this year’s consumer trends are interesting.

In terms of consumer behaviour and trends, The National Retail Federation (NRF) – BigInsight have released information on their Independence Day Survey, which highlights 67% or roughly 160 million Americans will be out and partaking in July 4th celebrations.  Retail is estimated to be up in many categories as consumers buy up patio furniture, grills, and beach merchandise.  From the survey, more than 48 million or 23% will buy patriotic US gear and merchandise.  This is a marked 3% improvement from the previous annual survey.

For those businesses centered around events, like fireworks or parades, the survey data shows estimates that 115 million will attend events, and an additional 35 million will be spectators at parades.

Back to School – Retail Trends for 2012

Summer retail period also includes the “back to school” retail craze.  This year’s survey by NRF suggests that consumers may be a bit more frugal this year, indicating that spending behaviour may be down by 5-6%.  Last year the average person spent $603 on all back to school items including clothing, supplies and electronics.  It is estimated that this year’s average spending may be in the range of $580-590 according to the survey.

E-commerce plays a significant role in back to school retail, as the survey data suggests 31% will conduct comparative shopping online and 17% stated that they will shop more online.  Both figures show increasing trends over last year’s survey data.

Here are the comparative results of a BigInsight Consumer spending survey, illustrating consumer behaviour 2010-2012 with respect to back to school retail.

Retail industry - back to school

More responses in this survey show consumers siding with cautious, with very conservative behavioral responses to the survey questions.  Businesses and entrepreneurs should analyze survey data and adjust retail planning accordingly.  For instance, the survey suggests more will be shopping online, the trend of using coupons or find deals is increasing and spending less overall.

More Reading

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EService, Social Media and Customer Service Trends [infographic]

Strategy Plan One

June 23, 2012 

Eservice, Social Media and the Customer

With the social media craze estimated to grow by 37% this year, businesses must be ready to intercept social media friendly customers and serve them well.  It’s not just about speed of service to customers, but the other factors that play into building that customer base, and just as important, retaining those customers.

Here is a strategic look at customer service from the Eservice & Social Media business side, in this infographic from Bluewolf.

Ground-breaking customer service models driven by:

  • 87% customer demand for better service
  • 71% from pressures from competition 
  • 28% loyalty of the customer

Customer behavior when businesses screw up:

  • 17% leave after a single mistake
  • 40% hit the road after a two mess-ups
  • 28% have had enough after the third mistake

Social Media and Eservice Trends:

  • E-service (web, social media, chat) estimated to grow by 53% in the next year
  • Social media expected to grow by 37%
  • By 2020: 90% of businesses will use social media for responding to customer inquiries
  • 20% of Fortune 500 companies engage with customers on Facebook

customer service - social media

Changing the customer service model may be necessary for businesses as the social media platforms in use will continue to grow.  Integrating and emphasizing an Eservice model would seem essential to the speed and effectiveness of customer service, in satisfying the customers for long-term relationships with businesses.

Here are some additional Social Media articles, blogs and infographics:

Customer Service blogs and infographics:

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Business Issues Faced in the Summer Months

Strategy Plan One

June 20, 2012 

business issues Business Issues 

As summer months on now upon us, it is important as leaders to plan in advance for the differing business dynamic summer months bring.  Your business needs to be prepared in order to meet customer needs, continue business as usual and continue to grow.  Whether it’s staffing levels, supplier issues, demand issues or opportunities, it is best to plan contingencies around the challenges you may face in the summer.

 

 

 

The three key business issues faced in the summer discussed here include:

  • Staffing and human resources issues
  • Supply and demand issues
  • Business development and opportunities

Staffing Levels

Of course the summer season is notorious for the majority of staff wanting a bit of a break during the summer months.  Some of it is centered on family concerns with children off school, while others find it advantageous to take off the months during the best weather and tourism offerings.  Certain human resource strategies can alleviate these pressures.

Ensure you have policies and procedures in place for staffing when there are leaves from work.  The policies will differ and be stronger if you are in a business of essential services, like medical practices.  For the most part, policies and procedures can be flexible and fair to all staff to ensure everyone has the ability to take much needed breaks.  Policies and procedures will provide standardization to the organizations and will bring clarity to staff when all are seeking leaves.

To alleviate pressures of staffing levels, you as a leader can plan to fill the gaps in the summer in creative ways.  Students are always looking for work in the summer and would be an appropriate human resource pool to pull from.  Contracting out is another option if you need professional services to carry on complicated, complex projects in your business.  Offering opportunities to staff for assignments or acting positions may fill the void temporarily and would go a long way to building up capacity in your organization.  Lastly, encouraging and implementing work-life balance with flexible scheduling in the business may give the flexibility across all employees to manage the staffing levels.

Supply and Demand Challenges

Depending on what business you are in, summer months can bring a higher demand on some products or services, and likewise, supplies can fluctuate during this period.  Supply and demand issues should be adequately identified in you business plan.

A simple example of supply and demand is the local ice suppliers as ice demand would be in high demand by all sectors in the summer.  On the services front, certain services would be in high demand and potentially hard to obtain such as HVAC specialists around cooling system maintenance, or in the case of trying to acquire service from pool maintenance companies.  Building contractors and the construction industry are in higher demand during the summer months.  These businesses face the same human resource issues during the summer months to complicate their own operational demand issues.

If you are business that relies on specific supplies and through your research you know supplies fluctuate during the summer period, ensure you have planned out your contingencies to keep the supply level consistent.  This may require you to secure commitments from a number of suppliers in the chain.   You may also develop RFP processes in advance to ensure you have suitable suppliers ready to go.

If you are in a business where the demand for your products or services increases in the summer, once again your business planning process should identify your operational plan to cope and accommodate increased operational demand.  Through a pattern of previous annual experiences, you may plan to ramp up staffing to accommodate increased service demand.  In terms of a supplier type business, retail or food services, you may increase inventory levels in advance of the summer months to ensure you can entertain increased commerce levels.  This piece should be carefully researched, analyzed and planned well within your business planning process.  Over estimates can be costly, but so can missed business and revenue with not being prepared and having to hang the dreaded “out of stock” sign.

business issues - partnershipBusiness Development and Opportunities

Summer months can be challenging to try and grow your business.  As your business has challenges regarding staffing levels and the need for everyone to take time off, so do your partners, investors and other entrepreneurs that could help you in business development and partnership building.

Although people can be away for periods during the summer months, most know that entrepreneurs stay connected, no matter where they go or what they are doing.  In the interests of their own business goals and growth, entrepreneurs and business leaders are highly motivated and dedicated to their own businesses.  It may be easy to connect with those partners and synergistic businesses out there during the summer months for further business development.

In the case where you or other business leaders cannot be connected during the summer months, it is appropriate as a good leader to delegate tasks to those who do remain in the office.  Delegating to staff members and encouraging responsibility, accountability and decision-making are ways to build excellent capacity building in your organization and build business at the same time.

Know well in advance of what challenges summer may bring your business.  Through adequate planning and establishing your plan of contingencies, your business will be ready to more than satisfy the markets, and your business will be well positioned to grow.

Relevant blogs and articles:

 

Strategy Plan One

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© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Olympics 2012 – Entrepreneur Opportunities Now and in the Future

Strategy Plan One

June 12, 2012 

Olympics 2012Olympics 2012 Business

The Olympic Games bring massive business and revenues to the home city staging the games.  The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London will be huge, with the backdrop in one of the most vibrant, recognized cities of the world.

 

 

A deep history and monarchy illuminates the scenes for Britain’s turn at one of the most famous sporting events.

Although piles of money are spent on infrastructure and the rights to the games, the country, corporations and surrounding businesses make significant revenue from the waves of global visitors.  These games create economic legacies, acting as a catalyst for future revenue streams for years to come.  Interesting facts on the business and procurement opportunities so far, according to London2012.com:

  • Over 10,200 opportunities to business
  • 42,000 suppliers from London registered for procurement system
  • 38% of contracts ($540 Million US) awarded to London-based businesses

Every Olympic Games provide procurement opportunities for products and services for the event.  With only a few weeks left, these opportunities are still popping up and be found on the London Games business site, London 2012 business.  If you are an existing business who can meet the pre-determined criteria for procurement opportunities, you may be well positioned to take advantage of these last-minute procurement opportunities.

Whistler – Vancouver Olympic Business Statistics

Just to demonstrate the magnitude of business generated by hosting an Olympic games, here are the statistics on the Whistler – Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games statistics (noting that there may be many differential factors between games):

  • $2.5 Billion – Gross Domestic Product as the result of hosting the Games
  • $1.22 Billion – added to the economy through Venue construction
  • 45,000 jobs created
  • $463 Million additional revenue generated in the tourism industry
  • $1 Billion – Security costs, internal agencies and external firms

Although some of the procurement criteria may be looking for low-cost providers, the volume and exposure your company would experience may far outweigh the slim margins made on the opportunities.

Ensure you read through the procurement details to be eligible in any procurement system or process.  Websites list the standard application procedures and the basic criteria to meet.  Your team would have to jump on development of a package quickly to meet deadlines.  If you are in the global procurement game, your team may already been prepared for this.  In any case, adequate due diligence must be taken on the supplier side and the Games business contracting unit.

Relevant blogs and articles:

More information and links on procurement:

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Construction Industry – April 2012 Economic Statistics Continue to Climb

Strategy Plan One

June 5, 2012 

Construction Industry – April 2012

US Census Bureau Statistics from the construction industry continue on a favorable trend, now estimated to be $820.7 Billion (seasonally adjusted annual rate) for April 2012.  This is significant up from the month of April 2011 with an increase of 7.3% over that month.  It also represents an increase of 0.3% over the March 2012 figure of the $818 Billion seasonally adjusted annual rate.

These are good economic indicator signs, with the construction industry steadily improving for three consecutive months, and follows favorable statistics released on residential construction and residential sales.

construction industry  - april 2012

The biggest gains occurred in the residential construction sector, growing at 2.6%.  However, non-residential construction represents the majority of construction.

Articles and blogs on economic indicators:

Construction Industry News

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

London Olympics – Statistics and Business Opportunities [infographic]

Strategy Plan One

June 2, 2012 

London Olympics – Statistics Show Business Opportunities

At a quick glance at this London Olympics infographic from Timeout.com, you can see the plentiful business opportunities for the period of the games itself and the lead up to hosting the games.  If you have the ability to supply major events, these opportunities may give your business massive global exposure.

Just some of the business opportunities you can see in this infographic:

  • Food services and catering (whopping 14 Million meals to be served)
  • Audio visual, technical services, broadcast center services
  • Information management
  • Infrastructure development, construction, landscaping, field maintenance
  • Maintenance, cleaning crews, security services
  • Sporting goods suppliers, sporting event officials
  • Tourism and accommodation booking companies
  • Even biological services (relocation of species)

If you are interested in last minute supplier or procurement opportunities, check out the business opportunities on the official page at London Games.

London Olympics - business opportunities

Infographic courtesy: Timeout.com

Other Olympic business links:

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Solar Power – Subsidies Could Create a Dynamic Shift in the US [infographic]

Strategy Plan One

May 31, 2012 

Solar Power – Subsidies

In a recent news article on Reuters, Germany has announced that almost half of its electrical power on the grid originates from solar power.   An estimated 22 gigawatts of electrical power is produced per hour, by solar panels in Germany, the equivalent of 22 nuclear power stations.  In Germany, the government is in full support of green energy production with heavy subsidies, which is quite different in the US.

Here is an interesting infographic from 1bog.org , comparing the two countries energy production and subsequent subsidies for solar power.  It’s an interesting look at the potential that could be there is government is willing to step in with heavy subsidies for solar.  With the huge solar potential in the US, focus and subsidies could result in a dynamic shift on dependencies and on the economics of energy in this country.

solar power - subsidies

Other articles and infographics on energy and green topics:

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One