Keeping up with Creativity

Strategy Plan One

September 9, 2012


We have all been there.  Planning, writing, blogging, tipping and then we hit the wall with no creativity left to continue.  Seems to happen frequently with some, while others never seem to have a problem cranking out volumes of interesting, valuable information.

As an entrepreneur, executive or specialized staff working in an organization, you need to keep up with your creative edge.  Creativity helps you and your business stay on the leading edge as it is applicable to so many facets of business.  Business plans, marketing plans, product and service offerings, campaigns, projects, methods, processes … all require a significant degree of creativity to make things stand out.  Creativity takes plans, products, and processes to the next innovative level, sometimes leading to a competitive advantage over the competition’s standards.

Here is a brilliant infographic from Copyblogger, that illustrates some major creative blocks and how to bust out of them to maintaining your high level of creativity.


Source:  Copyblogger

Summarizing some tips to bring out your best creativity:

  • Maintain creativity as a priority in your business and personal development
  • Take a breather – writers can face exhaustion; take a break mentally and physically and watch creativity come back
  • Jump on some ideas after researching, reading and analyzing others’ work
  • Take mental notes of objects, scenarios and people in your environment and how it relates to your topic (you will be surprised at the content you can create from this)
  • Diet – the brain needs nutrients; many studies have show that healthy diets fuel the brain
  • Ask a colleague for input, ideas, co-authoring (will generate ideas and content that you would add on to others)
  • Colors can activate creativity; tune into, focus on colors
  • Sound can create a response in you
  • Confidence – high level of confidence and you will be always ready to go
  • Don’t get stuck in perfection; no one is perfect
  • Don’t feel your work isn’t valuable as your work can have a significant impact on 1 person, 100 people, or a massive crowd
  • General rule – quality is always best; don’t feel pressured to pump out massive volumes of material
  • Set up a schedule of focused time; distractions and not getting organized can cause stress which causes mental blocks

More on creativity:

More on business and entrepreneurship:

Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One


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

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Social Media Impacts on Small Business [infographic]

Strategy Plan One

August 4, 2012

Social Media and Small Business

Small businesses face a significant uphill battle in these economic times to engage and communicate with consumers.  Marketing and communications have vastly changed over the past few years, and with the add-on of social media as a tool, measurable benefits and trends are occurring with the small business sector.

This informative graphic from Bolt Insurance highlights the following small business and social media statistics and trends:

  • 81% of small business use social media to get their message out and engage with customers
  • 95% use email marketing
  • 98% of small business engage in website marketing
  • 62% of businesses not using social media will plan to in the next year
  • 81% that currently use social media will step up efforts in the next year

Top challenges small businesses face according to this survey:

  • 80% claim attracting new customers are the biggest challenge
  • 52% state obtaining referrals as the greatest issue
  • 41% of small business would like to squeeze and maximize results with marketing dollars 

Social media effectiveness:

  • 82% state Facebook as the most effective social media platform
  • 73% of respondents say YouTube most effective
  • 47%  LinkedIn 
  • 47% claim Twitter is the most effective social media site

View some more interesting statistics in the infographic below.

small business marketing


Courtesy: Bolt Insurance

As an entrepreneur / small business, it is advantageous to stay on track with developing trends and to design products and services that not only meets current customer demand, but also future consumer needs.  Review and analyze marketing conditions and trends, and plan accordingly.

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

More business blogs of interest:


Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Customer Retention – Observing Movie Theater Industry Strategies and Tactics

Strategy Plan One

July 28, 2012

customer retentionCustomer Retention

Similar to other business industries, the movie theater industry has experienced ups and downs over the past few decades, with trying to build the customer base and in customer retention.


It is often stated in Customer Relationship Management strategies that it is 3 times harder to attract new customers than to keep customers through customer retention.  What do you think the logical, strategic approach is?

ice ageOn a Friday night, a group of us decided to take in a movie at the theater.  Deciding to be entertained in 3-D, we slid in and bought tickets for Ice Age: Continental Drift.  After paying  the usual ticket prices, the design of the theater brings you to the unavoidable drink – snack – popcorn counter, where of course, we snack – geared everyone for the movie.

To not miss anything, like anyone else, we wanted to ensure we were there prior to the 7:15pm start time.   As you are probably aware, the first few minutes prior to the start time, movie goers are slightly entertained, with all bodies pointing forward to the screen with clips and shots of “did you remember to get…”, and all the rest of value-added, movie theater promotional stuff.  After 10 minutes of alternating between occasionally glancing at the screen and frequently engaging in conversation with our party, the lights dimmed and volume was cranked up.

In your mind 7:15pm start time is firm and you are ready to watch.  Nope, not the case.  For the next 16 minutes (yes I was the annoying one looking at my mobile device lighting up the adjacent areas) we all sat through movie trailers, ads and clips, one after another.  Then another promotion for another 3-D movie coming up.  Oh, and then one fairly entertaining movie theater industry ad attempting to generate more interest in coming to the movie theater again.  16 minutes of this!  Didn’t we all just pay to watch a movie at 7:15pm?  I can expect to click-through pop up ads on a website if I am getting something for free there, but experiencing this in a movie theater?  Why?

Don’t get me wrong that I am severely complaining here, but highlighting more of a business and marketing observation.  Quite frequently some of us put on our business hats and observe how businesses promote themselves, engage and communicate with the customer, and try to build up the loyal base of repeat customers.  Here are some of the messaging and customer retention relevant observations at the theater before the movie, during that time frame prior to the movie, and post-movie time frame:

  • Customer convenience – theaters make it easy for customers to buy tickets in advance at kiosks or online
  • Captivated audience – Paying customers are in front of the screen, focused on the screen and the instructions on proper movie theater etiquette tells movie goers not to be doing anything else (ie: don’t talk, don’t use mobile devices)
  • Free Trial – Customers are getting a “free” glimpse at additional products, in the appropriate format (ie: movie theater ads have a bigger impact being played in the actual movie theater and not on a 21 inch, non-surround sound system at home)
  • Colors, design and words used in the clips, trailers and ads can create positive responses from the consumer
  • Investment – the movie industry sinks millions into advertising and test marketing these ads prior to developing the final 2 minute clip or trailer (ever notice movies had looked super appealing in those trailers?)
  • Feedback – the theaters capture customer feedback in two ways – in person or by kiosk; this feedback is an important part of improving the experience and of the Customer Relationship Management process

Whatever the tactics and strategies used by the movie theater industry, they are able to hit and make an impact on the paying customer to enable a response to return.  In your business, what are your strategies to gain the continued interest from your customer?  Keep them informed? Provide them will add-on packages while you have their attention?  Offer the free trial to keep the customer coming back?  Ensure you observe certain industry and business tactics towards gaining and retaining the customer base.  Incorporate strong customer retention strategies in your business plan and marketing strategies.

More on the Customer:

More business blogs of interest:


Ty Col    Consultant, Mentor, Entrepreneur

Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Business Plan – The Next Steps

Strategy Plan One

July 7, 2012

business plan - commercial loan criteriaBusiness Plan

You have taken the time and effort to develop a draft business plan, and now you are looking to move to the next steps.

Depending on how you developed your plan, whether you completed the draft independently or not, you may want to strengthen your plan before approaching necessary funding agencies, investors, or partners.  You may just want to take steps to ensure you are implementing a stronger, more objective business plan that will have the higher probability of working for you.  Here are some tips you may find valuable.

Business Plan Review

As much as you would like to state, that you have put in the greatest efforts to create the best plan, you need to be open to constructive feedback.  Be willing to adapt and be flexible to adjust the business plan accordingly.  When your draft is ready, provide it to friends, family, mentors, consultants and or specialists in your business field.  Give the party the task of critically analyzing the business plan, but also to provide you with constructive feedback to make it stronger.  With external feedback and recommendations, you will be developing a better business plan in a more objective manner.  Ensure that you try to acquire the services of professionals (paid or unpaid) to assist in the process, as there are aspects of the business plan these professionals will target and provide recommendations on.

Don’t forget that if financials are your weak point, have an accountant or bookkeeper review those necessary financial projection documents, such as the projected income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement.  Some financial analysis should be completed and included within your business plan on those projections.  Stronger financial statements and interpretation of those numbers will signal investors and lenders that you are serious and have done your homework.

business plan - commercial loan - presentationAs you may approach lending agencies or business grant and contribution programs, it is always a good idea to try to arrange a preliminary meeting to understand the requirements and criteria of these agencies and programs.  To acquire a commercial loan for your business, you will need to know the specific commercial loan criteria.  With a better understanding of what you need to meet, you can adjust that business plan and financial documents accordingly.

Revising to Make the Business Plan Stronger

Following feedback, be keen to adjust the business plan.  With that open mindset, take in that constructive feedback and turn the draft into a more polished document.  Here are some common tips and feedback for business plan revision:

  • Write a spectacular Executive Summary to catch the reader’s immediate attention
  • Remove non-essential descriptions and sections
  • Write clearly, with concise and “to the point” sections of the business plan
  • Ensure that the narrative part of the document is error free
  • Financial statements should be clearly laid out and error free
  • Cite sources to support points and data references in the business plan
  • Add appendices for accompanying documents
  • Make versions of the business plan specific to agency or external party requirements
  • Ensure you demonstrate meeting lending or program criteria
As a valuable additional step, have what you consider to be your final revised business plan reviewed again externally.  This will help in catching any of those little errors and help you finalize the document.

Final Business Plan Ready for Submission and Presentation

With a complete business plan now on hand, you should understand your business front to back thoroughly.  Be ready to make brilliant summary presentations on this business plan, as now you will be approaching lenders, partners and programs to seek financial or business support.  You will want to make an impressive impact.  Depending how you and the other party want to proceed on a presentation, be prepared to highlight the business case, through a visual PowerPoint presentation, or just through a powerful personal presentation with appropriate handouts.  Whatever the case, always be prepared.

With a few added steps, you will achieve your goal of developing a stronger, more objective business plan to present to appropriate parties.  Always remember that your business plan is your blueprint to implement your own successful project or business.  The plan is a living, breathing document, and needs to be revisited, reviewed and revised frequently as markets and business environments consistently change.

More Reading on Business Plans:

More business blogs of interest:

More on Marketing:

Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Business Intelligence – 5 Methods To Stay Wired In

Strategy Plan One

July 5, 2012

business intelligenceBusiness Intelligence

Business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders must stay on top of business information, trends and customer behaviour to make better informed decisions.  Gone are the business days when the “build it and they will come” strategies were effective.  More likely than not, you need to be an entrepreneur who can pre-emptively adjust to market conditions and dynamic economic environments.  Business intelligence is essentially the methods and systems of gathering and analyzing sources of information and resources to improve business.  Information, methods and systems are available at everyone’s fingertips that will lead you to better strategic planning and thriving businesses.

Economic Trends – Analysis and Reporting

For a more global perspective on the economy and what is happening in industry specific areas, you will need to observe and analyze economic trends.  It helps to have the ability to interpret what some of these numbers and patterns mean to your business. is one source to inform you on economic trends and economic numbers, to give you more of a general level of information.  Favourable trends across the board and you will be confident the economy is on the right track and to know consumer confidence will be there.  Many business intelligence tools and data management systems can assist you to track, analyze and report, globally and at the local level.

business intelligence - social mediaSocial Media Analysis – Business Intelligence

Information from social media can be powerful sources of information for your business, if you know what you are looking for and how to tap into the correct user base on a certain platform.  You can definitely see trending topics through your own basic analysis of keyword searches in social media, such as hash tag searches on Twitter, or through Pinterest.  A quick search anywhere on the net will reveal various social media, business intelligence tools to track and analyze data on social media platforms.  Also stayed tuned into the product reviews throughout social media platforms.  Exposure to products and services information happens rapidly through social media, and with that speed you may be able to adapt and revise your mix of product and service offerings to client bases.


Often heard – Keep on eye on your competitors.  A lot of groundwork may be covered by competitors as they test grounds, test marketing techniques and incorporate business intelligence methods and systems.  Leaving potential tidbits for you, competitors may leave a track record of customer behavior, reviews, comments and data on the competitor’s own blog or site.  If it is a local competitor, a site visit can reveal much detail on the customer service and  techniques they use, the volume of visitors, and physically observing the level of interest in a product.  Although you can mimic the successes of competitors analyzing data, there will be a need for you to differentiate your business from the competitors.

Acquiring Business Intelligence

If you have the resources and it fits within your strategic plan, you can acquire the business intelligence methods and systems that will give your company the lift you need.  Acquiring business intelligence can occur in many ways from acquiring human resources, professionals with background and expertise in business intelligence in a certain field or business niche.  Companies can acquire intact businesses that have synergies with your business or proprietary information, technology or patents that fit well with your business strategy.  Short term contracted, specialists or consultants can develop new strategies and offer information from their own external business intelligence methods and systems.  All forms can be advantageous in planning to be more competitive with gained external business intelligence.

Business Intelligence from your own customers

Never forget the strength of customer feedback.  Customers have backgrounds in many different fields and experiences.  Encourage, promote and provide incentives for customer feedback.  Develop feedback mechanisms such as surveys to get honest, objective feedback from your client groups.  It is important to track and analyze customer feedback data.  Some of this information may reveal external information, useful in developing improved strategies.  Here is a simplified example of customer feedback that can be valuable, “…liked your product, however if you added back-end extended service like your competitor ABC Corp, the experience could be better…”   Feedback such as this would be your key to some business information you may not have been aware of.  Tracking of data will help you to quantify and interpret customer trends, leading to improved products and services.

As noted, it has become extremely important for entrepreneurs to apply flexibility and have the ability to adapt, depending on information extrapolated from business intelligence systems.  Staying on track now forms part of the core responsibilities of your organization to keep your business growing.  Customers are savvy with information readily available, instantaneously at their fingers tips…. same with entrepreneurs in ensuring information is readily available through your business intelligence systems.

More Reading on Business Intelligence Systems:

More blogs of interest:

Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Online Retail – Strategies That Lead to Better Sales [infographic]

Strategy Plan One

July 1, 2012

Online Retail

This creative infographic points out the specific tactics online retailers use to draw in customers to more steps in the purchase process, leading to more sales.  The infographic breaks the process down into six distinct, tactical areas, including creative design of the site, ease of the purchase process, feedback and testimonials, pricing strategies, time factors, and additional actions.

Design factors to draw in online retail customers:

  • Color – emotional responses to differing colors
  • Content marketing with selection of words and descriptions, targeting markets
  • Inserting pages with video to sell more

Online Retail Purchase Process:

  • One click buying
  • Quick loading of pages (helps in the spontaneous purchase process)
  • Mobile enabled, as online mobile purchase trends are favorable
  • Safe and secure sites, allowing safe data storage for future sales

Reviews, Feedback and Testimonials:

  • Endorsements bring sales
  • Consumer reviews are powerful
  • Ratings and feedback mechanisms result in better sales, better ROI

Online Retail Pricing Strategies:

  • Free trial then buy works
  • With free shipping, more spent on items
  • Revenues add up fast with additional discounted items offered

Time Factor with Online Retail:

  • Personalized deal time window is effective
  • Adding timing add urgency to the process
  • Time or number limitations create more interest

Additional Call to Actions:

  • Reminders and ancillary purchase links generate more add-on sales
  • Links on additional buys is an effective sales strategy
  • Ads centered on your buys assist in future sales

online retail - strategies

Source:,   VoucherCodes

Online retailers need to be more strategic in the ever increasingly competitive online retail industry.  Businesses and entrepreneurs must undertake adequate research and planning prior to launching their online retail ventures.  It helps to develop a plan through the strategic steps of establishing objectives, options, methods, implementation, measurement of results and revisions as necessary.

More Online Retail and Consumer Articles:

Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One