How to Know if it’s Time to Throw Away Your Business Plan and Start From Scratch

Ricardo Ibarra of Trio Group discusses how to evaluate if your strategic business plan is working for you.

Summary

  • “A well-written business plan is a strategic exercise in understanding the people your business seeks to serve. And the work you do to gain more insight and knowledge about your ideal client will serve as beacon to guide you as you grow your business.”
  • Not sure if your business is on track to reach your goals? In this video, learn the five components of an effective business plan and how to evaluate your business plan to see if it is working.
  • “Most business owners create a solution or an offer and expect everything to come up roses. A clear understanding of your ideal clients, the market in which you operate, and the money required to develop, create, and produce your solution are all important considerations if you want to ensure your business has long term success.”
  • Schedule time this week to evaluate the strategic value of your business plan based on these five areas.
  • Watch the video to get the full training.
  • Did you identify areas to improve your business? Download the FREE Small & Minority Business Checkup for the 10 questions you must ask to help you get your business back on track and thriving.

About the TAS Program

The City of Seattle and Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council (Northwest Mountain MSDC) have partnered in the development and launch of the City of Seattle’s Technical Assistance Services program. This program is designed to support small businesses in the development of their capabilities thereby making them more competitive.

This program is sponsored by the City of Seattle and hosted by the Northwest Mountain MSDC. For more information, visit the TAS webpage.

About the Presenter

Ricardo Ibarra combines over 15 years of marketing and business experience to help small and minority-owned businesses thrive in today’s digital economy. Combining his signature energetic style with the latest marketing strategies, Ricardo has helped dozens of small and disadvantaged business enterprises reach new clients, launch new products, and gain a sense of confidence as they grow their business.

3 Ways Your Business Plan Can Help You Make More Money (Without Going Crazy)

Ricardo Ibarra of Trio Group discusses how a well-crafted business plan can take your small business to new heights.

Summary

· “Without an effective business plan, your business is like a ship leaving the harbor without a map. It’s easy to get thrown off course by the currents of busy work or distracted by islands in the sea and their promise of riches.”

· Ready to grow your business? In this video, learn why it’s important to use your business plan instead of forgetting it on a shelf.

· “‘Shiny object syndrome’ affects business owners more than most. The key is to evaluate those business opportunities through the lens of your business plan and the strategic direction it sets.”

· Start now to refresh or write your business plan so you have a strategic guide to growing and scaling your business.

· Watch the video to get the full training. · Not sure how to fix your business? Download the FREE Small & Minority Business Checkup for the 10 questions you must ask to help you get your business back on track and thriving.

Video Transcript 

Many small business owners think of their business plan as something they only need when applying for a bank loan. Those same business owners are missing out on an incredible opportunity for growth. That’s because your business plan is the roadmap for your business success.

Without an effective business plan, your business is like a ship leaving the harbor without a map. It’s easy to get thrown off course by the currents of busy work or distracted by islands in the sea and their promise of riches. What the most successful small business operators know is that by sticking to their well-crafted business plan and executing only the mission-critical activities, they can grow and scale without all the headache and overwhelm that comes from winging it. Plus, if you’re like me and are a business leader who didn’t go to business school, chances are you’re learning as you’re leading. Take a moment to congratulate yourself for all the success you’ve enjoyed up to this point. Let’s agree that operating a business is tough work and the fact that you’re here demonstrates your commitment to being a great business operator for your clients, your employees, and of course the people who depend on you.

Even for the folks who do have business degrees or formal training, operating a business is always a learning experience because the real world is a lot messier and has far more twists and turns than any textbook or course. No matter where you are on your business journey or what your level of expertise, your business plan is the first step in taking your business to the next level. Now that you understand how important it is to have and reference your business plan, let’s dive into the three ways your business plan can help you make more money without going crazy.

Number one. Your business plan eliminates the guesswork of day-to-day operations. That’s because at its core a business plan is a strategic document that outlines the direction of your company. The very act of writing a business plan forces you to say yes to some things and no to others.

When my principals at Trio Group and I made the decision to focus on serving only two core audiences, public agencies and disadvantaged small businesses, our business took off! That’s because before, we weren’t really known for anything. We were Jacks and Jills of all trades, but because we were trying to be helpful to everyone, we never stood out. Now that we’ve narrowed the focus of who we serve to just public agencies and small disadvantaged businesses, we’re known for that. People immediately understand how we can help them solve their problems.

Here’s how this looks in action. Take some time to review your business plan and create a “yes and no list.” Does your business plan clearly outline the people, opportunities, markets, and products or services you are saying “YES” to? Does it also outline who and what you are saying “NO” to?

For those of you who may not have a business plan right now, or your plan is too old to be helpful, don’t worry. I’ve created a free business checkup tool to help you evaluate the strength and effectiveness of your business. You can download it free by clicking the link below.

Number two. Your business plan helps you identify partnerships and supporters to boost your business growth. As your business grows and you meet new people, you’ll be presented with lots of opportunities. This can be a blessing or a curse. Have you ever said yes to an opportunity only to realize it wasn’t as lucrative as you had hoped? Or, did you chase the new opportunity at the expense of becoming masterful at your own core offering? “Shiny object syndrome” affects business owners more than most. The key is to evaluate those business opportunities through the lens of your business plan and the strategic direction it sets. I recently had the pleasure of working with a small business owner who was in the IT staffing space. His company’s expertise is in Microsoft Azure and related cloud computing. Because of his network and success, he was approached by another firm who asked if he could provide staffing services for administrative support. After careful consideration, this small business owner chose to turn down the opportunity because he wants his company to be known as the Pacific Northwest’s best IT staffing firm. Without the clarity of who his business serves, he would have said yes to the opportunity and simultaneously taken his attention away from his core value proposition.

On the other hand, well-formed partnerships can dramatically grow your business by exposing your offering to new customers, a new geographic area, or greatly reduce the costs of doing business. Here are three ways to evaluate potential partnership opportunities:

The first is internal alignment. Why are you pursuing this opportunity? What is the need or desire behind seeking the partnership? The second is strategic alignment. What are the goals, objectives, and ideal outcomes for the partnership? The final is the partnership structure. Who manages, what does each partner contribute, and how do the partners benefit? The third way your business plan can help you make more money is understanding your business finances and what to watch. I know that money isn’t most peoples’ favorite topic but it’s a key component of your business plan. By going through the exercise of identifying your financial goals and writing your budget, you’ll be better prepared to run a successful business than most other small business owners. That’s because many operators would rather avoid the sticky subject of money than approach it with a calm, rational plan. Plus, a business plan can help you prepare for your business growth and point out hidden areas where your business may be costing you.

So there you have it. Three ways your business plan can help your business grow without feeling overwhelmed. Your business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides your day to day operations, help you identify partnerships and supporters, and paint a clear and compelling financial future for your business. If you’ve recognized that you need to boost your business with a more effective plan, be sure to check out the free Small & Minority Business Checkup tool, available at the link.

About the TAS Program

The City of Seattle and Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council (Northwest Mountain MSDC) have partnered in the development and launch of the City of Seattle’s Technical Assistance Services program. This program is designed to support small businesses in the development of their capabilities thereby making them more competitive.

This program is sponsored by the City of Seattle and hosted by the Northwest Mountain MSDC. For more information, visit the TAS webpage.

About the Presenter

Ricardo Ibarra combines over 15 years of marketing and business experience to help small and minority-owned businesses thrive in today’s digital economy. Combining his signature energetic style with the latest marketing strategies, Ricardo has helped dozens of small and disadvantaged business enterprises reach new clients, launch new products, and gain a sense of confidence as they grow their business.

WA Department of Commerce ScaleUp Business Trainings

Courtesy reposting from the Washington State Department of Commerce:

Three new sessions of ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition free business trainings scheduled

More than 350 growth-oriented small businesses helped during pandemic

OLYMPIA, WA – “ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition,” an education and training partnership between the Washington State Department of Commerce and Thurston Economic Development Council, has scheduled three new eight-week course tracks for small businesses interested in achieving exponential growth as the economy reopens.

Each interactive course is two hours long and held once a week for eight weeks. The ideal participant is a business owner or president who has operated a business for at least two years and had pre-COVID annual gross revenue in excess of $100,000. The course, which ordinarily costs $1,599, is free to qualifying businesses, thanks in part to a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The program is based on the Thurston Center for Business Innovation’s ScaleUp program, which uses the proven Kauffman Foundation’s Fast Trac® Growth Venture coursework as its foundation. To date, more than 350 businesses throughout the state have benefited from the program.

Participants in the ScaleUp coursework will learn how to strengthen their strategic decision-making, create new operational efficiencies, explore new markets and improve the bottom line. Topics include creating efficient business systems, improving product/service alignment, creating a stronger competitive advantage in the marketplace, understanding financial statements and key business drivers, increasing sales leads and improving the sales funnel. A special “study hall” provides additional opportunities for private mentoring and coaching.

“Support for small businesses is a key building block for strengthening communities as we enter a post-pandemic world,” said Lisa Brown, director of the Washington State Department of Commerce. “ScaleUp: The Rebuild Edition offers participants mastery of essential skills that will help them grow and take advantage of opportunities as Washington’s economy fully reopens.”

Interested businesses can choose from three different tracks at http://MyStartup365.com/programs/scaleup. Class size is limited to allow significant time for questions and group interaction.

Session #6 Wednesdays: July 7 – Sept. 1, 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.

Session #7 Thursdays: July 8 – Sept. 2, 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.

Session #8 Thursdays: July 8 – Sept. 2, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

There is no cost to qualifying businesses. For more information, contact James Davis, jdavis@thurstonedc.com, or (360) 464-6051.

 

Letter from the President: Mental Health Resources

Dear Members, MBEs, Friends, and Colleagues,

The past year has put great stress on our collective mental health, worsening an already serious health and economic crisis. At the Council, caring for the health and wellbeing of our MBEs, members, staff and friends is deeply woven into our core values and goal of serving our community. We firmly believe that mental health should be valued, cared for and treated equally alongside our physical health.

Beyond the affect mental health has on individuals, it also has a significant impact on business. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. People who are grappling with anxiety, depression, grief, or trauma are not able to show up as their best self anywhere, and this includes the workplace. But WHO also found that for every $1 spent on treating common mental health concerns, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

In our commitment to deliver value to our Members and MBEs, we have compiled a list of mental health resources available to share with your teams, and best practices around employee mental health. While this list is not exhaustive, some key points to consider when building a strong workplace mental health plan include:

  • Health insurance benefits that offer good mental health coverage. If you are not familiar with how your employee health plan performs in this area, we encourage you to research it.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). An EPA is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.
  • Open communication and a pro-mental health culture. Talk about mental health openly in the workplace and encourage employees to take concrete steps to support their mental health.
  • Mental health education: standard training or onboarding that covers mental health, recognizing signs of stress, and ways to help. This is especially important for managerial roles.
  • Promote wellbeing by offering flexible schedules as possible, spaces dedicated to meditation or quiet, and encouraging vacation time
  • Ensure your leadership models healthy behaviors. A critical part of building a positive culture around mental health is ensuring your own actions as a leader model the behaviors you encourage. Employees who see their supervisor work through all their vacations will feel less comfortable utilizing their own vacation time.

The best approach for each business will vary depending on size, existing structure and environment. Whether you are a sole proprietor or a company of 200, we encourage you to explore resources available to you and your employees, including the enclosed list. After the collective stressors of the Covid-19 pandemic and social injustice upheavals over the past year and a half, note that even as the economy begins to return to pre-pandemic state, our lives and the lives of our teams and families are far from returning to ‘pre-pandemic business as usual.’

Sincerely,

Fernando Martinez, President & CEO NWMMSDC

To view and download resources, please click here

Tuck Diversity Business Programs and National Minority Supplier Development Council Partner to Help Diverse Business Owners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2021
Contact: Tammy Wilkins, Chief of Staff
Tammy.Wilkins@nmsdc.org | 212.944.2430

New York, NY, March 30, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Tuck Diversity Business Programs and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) have formed a partnership to support the growth of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) across the country.

NMSDC will award numerous scholarships to MBEs to attend one of Tuck’s signature Diversity Business Programs, Building a Successful Diverse Business or Growing an Established Diverse Business.

Building a Successful Diverse Business focuses on the essential tools that owners need to successfully establish their businesses in the marketplace. It is designed for emerging entrepreneurs who are looking to build a strong foundation of business knowledge and learn how to be a better supplier to corporations.

Growing an Established Diverse Business enables participants in established businesses to accelerate their growth. This follow-up program to Building a Successful Diverse Business helps participants overcome the challenges that business owners often see after several years of successful growth and helps them assess the alternatives to organic growth—strategic alliances and acquisitions.

The Tuck Diversity Business Programs started in 1980 and are the country’s oldest programs designed to develop diverse business owners at a graduate business school. Since its inception, thousands of business owners have participated in the programs.

“The Tuck Diversity Business Programs team is very excited about our relationship with NMSDC. They are one of the premier certifying organizations in the country and we look forward to sharing our programs with their membership,” said Emmanuel Ajavon, associate director of Tuck Diversity Business Programs.

How to Apply

NMSDC scholarships are open to NMSDC-certified MBEs.  Applicants to Building a Successful Diverse Business should have a minimum of three years of experience running a business and at least $250,000 in annual sales. Applicants to Growing an Established Diverse Business should have already attended Building a Successful Diverse Business or be able to demonstrate comparable experience and education.

Applicants who are interested in being considered for an NMSDC scholarship must complete the online application at and enter “NMSDC Applicant” under “Sponsor Company (if applicable).”

For more information, please contact Emmanuel Ajavon at emmanuel.ajavon@tuck.dartmouth.edu.

About NMSDC | https://nmsdc.org

Chartered in 1972, The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) was stood up because of the civil rights movement in the late 1960s and continues to be the leading minority business development organization in the United States. NMSDC supports the economic sustainability of more than 13,000 certified minority business enterprises (MBEs) and advances minority business development by facilitating procurement opportunities between its certified MBEs and its network of over 1,500 Corporate Members. NMSDC’s African American, Asian-Indian American, Asian-Pacific American, Hispanic American and Native American businesses provide products and services in many industries. The NMSDC network includes a National Office in New York, 23 regional affiliate councils, five international partner organizations and the Business Consortium Fund (BCF) as its funding arm.

Follow NMSDC on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

About Tuck Diversity Business Programs | https://dbp.tuck.dartmouth.edu

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth was the first U.S. institution of higher education to offer executive programs dedicated to advancing the capabilities of underserved entrepreneurs and executives. Since setting the standard in 1980, Tuck has continuously honed its program, expanding and refining what is covered to create the maximum impact on the businesses of its attendees.

Fernando Martinez Defines the 7 Attributes of True Leadership

“Leadership is the ability to motivate and lead individuals, teams, and organizations through discovery, discussion, and actions they would not have arrived upon on their own.”

It took a lifetime of work, research, experimentation, and refining before I arrived at my definition of leadership.  To become a great leader, more importantly a visionary-leader requires a significant deal of work and conscious effort. I had to be very intentional in my search for understanding what a great leader does, why a great leader seeks this role, and ultimately understand how to become a visionary.

1st attribute of Leadership – Desire:  I consciously committed myself to become a great leader.  It takes time, effort and risk.

2nd attribute of Leadership – Be a Teacher:  I have enough confidence in myself to be willing to share all my learning’s from my work, education, and experience.

3rd attribute of Leadership – Challenge:  I have been willing to lean forward into risk throughout my career and being a provocative thinker: consistently asking the question “So What?” – not to be difficult but to encourage thoughtfulness and deep level 2nd and 3rd level thinking (i.e., critical thinking).

4th attribute of Leadership – Courage:  Intelligently face challenges.  It takes courage to lead into the fray day-after-day, defining accountability, holding people accountable, and putting the right people in the right seats.

5th attribute of Leadership – Team Builder:  Respect for everyone is the foundation of building a team: Respect for themselves; their teammates, and, for the organization.  Respect for the leader that sets the course and helps them understand how to get there.

6th attribute of Leadership – Collaborator:  Very early in my career I found that all the good leaders pull all the appropriate resources/stakeholders together and help them achieve a common goal.

7th attribute of Leadership – Communicator:  Without the appropriate level of communication the other characteristics of leadership are of no value.  A good leader communicates, communicates, communicates!

Lastly, as these seven attributes build upon each other and become an innate skill, we achieve the pinnacle of leadership – Insightfulness – Visionary:  Through my years of experience I feel I have moved from being a first line employee to becoming a Visionary – a state of “Enlightened Competence.”  This is a state true leaders desire to achieve.  It is the state where we see things no one else sees as well as gaps, solutions, opportunities, and improved methodologies that no one else sees. This is the highest state of Leadership we can achieve – become a Visionary, become a Great Leader!

Download – Fernando Martinez Defines the 7 Attributes of True Leadership

Covid-19 2020 Impact by Fernando Martinez

President and CEO of the Northwest Mountain MSDC, Fernando Martinez, shares information regarding the impact of Covid-19 on Minority Business Enterprises and Corporate/Public Agency Members in 2020.

 

COVID-19 2020 Impact Presentation

Strategic Approach Samples by Fernando Martinez

President and CEO of the Northwest Mountain MSDC, Fernando Martinez, helps Corporate Members strategize Supplier Diversity efforts for the future. Below is a sample deck including some of the Council’s approaches towards equity in Diversity and Inclusion practices in supply chains.

Strategic Approaches Northwest Mountain MSDC Sample Deck

COVID-19 Small Business and Nonprofit Legal Clinic

The Communities Rise COVID-19 legal clinics are an opportunity for Washington State entrepreneurs, small businesses, community organizations, and nonprofits who have suffered adversely from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and cannot afford legal services to receive free legal advice during a 60-minute remote consultation with a volunteer attorney. This clinic is intended for small businesses and nonprofits that cannot afford legal services. To be eligible for pro bono legal services through this clinic, businesses must have less than $2 million in annual revenues or have a significant reduction in revenue, and must have a compelling reason for why they cannot afford legal services.

COVID-19 Client Intake Form

Attachments:

Client COVID Clinic flyer
Chinese Client COVID Clinic flyer
SPANISH2 COVID- 19 Communities Rise Clinic
Somali Client COVID Clinic flyer