Thursday, May 21, 2015

Changing directions

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     Opportunities to change directions are everywhere. Before you jump, do some careful consideration and planning.

     You might have never operated a business before, and you want to take the plunge. Or, you might be in business and want to take off in another direction. Either way, the road ahead can be rocky.

     Markets drive all businesses. Carefully check out the market you're about to tackle. Is it stable? Mature? Just opening up? Can you translate that market into numbers? Do the numbers make sense? Can you turn the numbers into a business plan?

     Example: Marcia was in corporate America and she was unhappy. She wanted to run her own operation. First questions: Should she buy an existing business? Should she buy a franchise? Did she have a compelling interest that she could turn into a business and start up from scratch? Second questions: Did she have enough money to buy, to start up, to support herself for at least a year? Would the market support what she wanted to do? Did her business plan give her the confidence to proceed? 

     Example: Tom is a chiropractor. He has a small office that has attracted a regular list of clients, but growth has leveled off. Most of his clients want evening appointments which left Tom with open time during the days. He decided to open a second office at a local truck stop. Truckers traveled the major interstate in large numbers and many of them had back and neck problems. Today, Tom spends about half of his time at each office. The "old" office is by appointment only. The "new" office is walk-in, and Tom has added a massage therapist to this side of the operation. 

     Example: Mary runs a small cafe. It seems to be lagging. Is it just the economy which, given time, will turn around? Or should Mary start a catering operation, reaching out to corporations, event organizers, weddings and the like? Should she start cooking classes and reach out to people who will pay to attend? 

     These examples pose questions that need answers. And the answers come from the marketplace. Before you change directions, do that business plan. 

     Your business plan reduces all the verbiage to hard numbers. All of us know that politicians can fudge in speaking words, but the bottom line numbers don't lie. It's the same in changing directions in business. Reduce your dreams to numbers and you'll sleep better at night.  


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