Business Plans

I met with a woman business owner – a scalable biz

by Norma Rist on October 16, 2010

 lily pad with flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: chatblanc1


One of my favorite things to do is to meet with a woman owner in the early stages of her business development and  find that her business can be scaled.  How exciting!  The business has the capability of being developed in a way that it could be very large – it can be scaled to a continuously larger size.  A traditional way to scale is by adding locations.  Sometimes growth can be planned by licensing a product or service to others across the country.  There are many ways to scale a business; that is an entire workshop; I will talk about that later.

This particular women owner has specific knowlege that is needed by large firms all over the county.  She can consult with these large firms and help them to save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.  But if she is the only one consulting then she is limited to one consulting job at a time, one:one service, and she is limited in earnings to the amount she can charge for the firms she helps each year.

The excitement comes when we figure out how to scale the company, a strategic plan for growth, that is a fit with the way an owner is comfortable growing.  In this case it appears to be a training program with a certification.  This is the only way to have a cadre of trained professionals to provide this type of consulting for Fortune 1000 companies all over the country.  We had so much fun outlining the nature of the training program, the target market for phase one of the training, and the certification process.

She can build a local consulting practice and at the same time be designing the national training program.  Once accomplished the certification will provide a significant boost for her branding – she will become the consulting expert for the corporate experts.  The credibility she will gain by having the certification program will carry over into her proposals for future clients.

We talked about the specific marketing plan to secure her next few local clients;  that effort will bring stability and constant cash flow,  and also will prepare her for the larger scaled firm, the company that will have value and can be sold one day.  I can’t wait for our next meeting.


To get your Business Stable and Sturdy

by Norma Rist on October 13, 2010

03/04/2011 Aspen Mountain
Creative Commons License photo credit: Aspen/Snowmass


What does it take to get your business stable and reliable?  And how long does it take?


In large part we measure small business success by the revenue and profit generated.  The business is not stable until you can count on the revenue being steady and that the cost to produce the revenue is less than the revenue so that there is a profit.

So we need regular revenue, not a large chunk of revenue twice a year and nother in between.  And we need enough gross profit (revenue minus cost) to pay the expenses and also  pay ourselves on a monthly basis.


Constant cash flow – that is the ticket.  And just how do you arrange that?  You need to master the process of securing good customers on a continual basis.  It is great to stumble on a good client once in a while, but that will not provide the stability needed.  Your ability to market to find the best prospects, and then your ability to listen to the prospect to determine if their needs can be satisfied with your solutions, and then your skill in closing the sale, providing the products/services, and collecting the bill.  When you master the ability to do these things, you can have a stable and study business.  It is not the size or how great each customer turns out to be, it is your ability to keep improving the process until you are very good at it!  We will cover more about the parts of this process in the next few blogs.

Pic – creative commons from Flikr – Eadaoin Flynn


There are so many things that need to be done to run a business and make a profit.  In the beginning there are a lot of one-time decisions, and then later there are a lot of areas to cover. 

You are responsible for all of these areas.  You can obtain advice from your CPA, your attorney, your banker, and other owners, but in the end you are making the decisions.  You will be wearing all of the hats, at one time or another each month.

Perhaps you are an expert in project management, so you may not need much help in operations, but the other areas will be more difficult.  If you were an accountant in a professional position before you started your business you will not need much help in this area.  Think about the different functional areas of your business – and what person could be an advisor in each of these areas, where you are not an expert:


Your CPA will help you to set up your bookkeeping.  Perhaps you will learn to do the input, or have a bookkeeper do that for you.  You can find a bookkeeper by 1) asking your CPA for referrals, 2) check with your Chamber of Commerce for members, 3) read your local once-a-week newspaper for ads.  Interview several and if possible ask your CPA to interview your selection to be sure your selected candidate is technically capable.


Most start up businesses cannot afford to hire outside marketing help, the help to locate and connect with your best target prospects.  So you end up figuring out how to do that yourself.  There is a super advantage to doing it yourself; when you learn to do the marketing for yourself (in the beginning) you will learn what works and what does not work; you will figure out what works and be able to repeat it time and time again; you will feel in charge of your future  and that you can create your own success.  There are lots of resources to help you along the way.  Talk with other owners is one.  Also read good books such as Riches in Niches by Susan Friedman.  Susan helps you narrow your planned target market in a way that you can become known as an expert in that area.  Read good blogs abour marketing; a great one is Chris Brown’s Branding & Marketing.


In the beginning you will be handling all of the operations.  If you are a graphic designer it will be up to you to find prospects,  prepare and deliver proposals, get  signed contracts, deliver the work, send the invoices and deposit the checks.  Usually the start up owner is very good at delivering the work.  The other functions you need to practice, do over and over again, until you are good at it.  I sometimes suggest that a new owner deliver some services to buyers outside of their little home town.  Then if everything is not as perfect as you would like, you will not run into the previous client in the grocery store.


You are responsible to talk with your attorney and use contracts and agreements that  are suggested.  If you want to prepare for the meerting with your attorney, read on line to be familiar with the content of a sales agreement, or a non-compete (for an employee or subcontractor).  Here are two sites that cover legal info in lay language: nolopress or legalzoom.  You can read up on the topic, and then be better prepared to discuss the law and your needs with your attorney (and you won’t spend as much time with her teaching you about different parts of the law).


Make a list of the other experts you may need.  Computer repair, IT installation, software training, transcriptions services, cleaning person, graphic designer, writer, etc.  Keep a list of the people you meet who might be good suppliers to call and interview when you are ready for their services.  This will help you get ready to wear all those hats!

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