What To Look For In Business Plan Software

While writing a solid business plan is a necessary first step in getting any new business venture off the ground, creating such a business plan is not always an easy task.

The goal of the many business plan software packages on the market is to make the process of creating a winning business plan that much easier.

When choosing from among the many business plan software titles on the market, it is important to know what to look for, and to know what you need from the business plan software you plan to purchase.

These software packages can be quiet pricey, so it is important to shop around for the business plan software package that gives you the greatest bang for your limited business dollars.

Making Sure The Business Plan Software Includes Sample, Examples And Templates

One important thing to look for when shopping for business plan software is the availability of a number of different business plan samples, examples and templates.

These examples and templates can make it a lot easier to create a quality business plan in a short period of time.

Look For A Flexible And Easy To Use Software Package

It is also important that the business plan software package you choose be easily customized to meet the needs of your own type of business.

Each industry has its own unique needs when it comes to business plans, and it is important for the business plan software to be flexible enough to allow changes to be easily made depending on the type of business.

Those business owners with more than one type of business will especially appreciate a business plan software package that is flexible and easy to use.

The Business Plan Software Should Easily Interface With Other Accounting Software Programs

It is also a good idea to look for a business plan software package that easily interfaces with the most popular accounting software, business software and general productivity software available.

It will be a big help to have the business plan software be able to pull in facts and figures from a variety of spreadsheets, accounting packages and other sources.

A business plan software that can use information from a variety of existing sources can greatly reduce the workload on an already overloaded business owner.

Translating Networking into Increased Business Dollars, Growth, Profits and Success

How would you assess your effectiveness as a small business owner or executive in these critical areas of business development?

  • I am a pro-active networker
  • I maximize every networking opportunity by asking: Who do you know who…?
  • I present myself in a way that is clear, succinct and generative
  • I enjoy promoting and creating visibility for myself and my business
  • I have a structure that is effective in organizing and promoting follow-ups
  • I model a professional look that represents who I am and what I do
  • I am satisfied with the bottom line outcomes of my networking efforts

If improving your skills in any of these areas would generate greater income, would you be interested? Most of us would answer yes. The question then is HOW?

First, networking needs to be defined. Lillian Bjorseth in her book Breakthrough Networking offers one of the best definitions for networking that I have read.

Networking is an active, dynamic process that links people into mutually beneficial relationships.

Business really is about relationships especially in today’s competitive marketplace where the economy has created numerous entrepreneurs who are all competing for the same piece of pie.
With the ever-increasing impact of outsourcing, the pie for many of today’s business owners has changed not only in taste but also in size. Knowing the right person or persons is critical to converting networking activities into billeable dollars.

The next step is to plan your networking and work your plan. This is really a series of steps that integrates the communication process, your strategic plan and professional image.

Turning Communication into Dollars

Understanding that communication is a process separates successful networkers from unsuccessful networkers. Effective networkers excel at active listening by:

  • Taking the time to listen
  • Being present
  • Listening using the FOR acronym – Feelings, Open Mind and Retention

These individuals respect the 55+38+7 Communication Rule and many have extended their skills into neuro-linguistic programming. Mark Twain understood active listening when he commented that if the good Lord wanted us to talk more than to listen, he would have provided us with two mouths instead of two ears.

Effective networkers also have developed an infomercial, tag line or elevator speech. In less than ten seconds, these individuals can state what they do. This short statement generates additional dialogue and interest. Creating this short statement is an evolving process that utilizes trial and error. However, the outcome is well worth the effort.

Aligning Strategic Plan with Limited Resources

In reviewing one’s sales activity, every effective salesperson understands how many contacts generate how many prospects which in turn result in a confirmed sale. A strategic plan based upon market and sales analysis helps to determine where individuals need to direct and align their networking efforts. These efforts may focus on local chambers of commerce or extend to professional networking organizations. Each effort needs to be regularly reviewed to determine the impact both on return on investment (ROI) and daily time.

Maximizing Professional Image

Professional image is three fold: physical appearance; business stationery and personal behavior. By combining all three of these areas, individuals create greater opportunities for business development.

Physical appearance includes color, fit, and style of clothing. However, physical appearance extends into other areas such as hairstyle, cologne, posture and even vehicles. Effective networkers present a complete physical appearance that is convincing and natural.

For many, business cards are one area that is often overlooked since they:

  • Reflect your professional printed image
  • Speak to your professionalism
  • Communicate who you are

This is the time to revisit the marketing section of your strategic plan as well as your advertising budget. Hiring a graphic artist to create a professional logo will be dollars well spent as long as you understand what your business does. Creating additional stationery from letterheads to brochures is much easier once your printed professional image is established.

Personal behavior encompasses everything from handshakes to common etiquette. By walking your talk, you project a consistent professional image. With much of today’s business coming from satisfied clients or informed business acquaintances, maintaining high standards of personal behavior will help to develop additional business. The following statements may help you determine if you are walking your talk.

  • I handle all personal contacts with confidentiality.
  • I refrain from negative verbal comments regarding competitors, suspects, prospects and clients.
  • I treat all individuals with respect according to my company’s values statement and my own personal and ethical beliefs.
  • I keep my word by responding within a designated time frame.
  • I have a positive attitude at all times.

Networking is an on-going experience in which we continually hone our skills. Successful individuals continually network and build upon those mutually beneficial relationships because business in today’s global market place is all about relationships.

What an Energy Broker Does, and How They Can Save Your Business Dollars

So what does an energy broker do, and how can they potentially save you money in your business?

If your business is spending thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars a year on energy, whether it be gas or electricity, there is a great deal of money that you could be saving on your energy spend by simply allowing an expert to negotiate the terms of your energy purchasing.

How You Traditionally Buy Energy

Traditionally when you purchase energy, you do it through a retailer. That retailer has a markup in order to make a profit in their business, but there is room for negotiation if you have the right information and someone with the right skills and knowledge to deal on your behalf.

Energy markets are somewhat like the stock market, in that energy prices are prone to fluctuations, sometimes very large fluctuations, which means if you purchase your energy at the wrong time, and are locked into a contract, that it can have major cost implications for your business.

But what if you had a way purchase your electricity or gas, but have an energy broker watching the ‘market’ so that you can purchase at the best time? A broker can also building a profile of your energy usage to take to energy retailers in order to get you the best deal.

The Role of the Energy Broker

Different businesses have different energy requirements, so some businesses may prefer to lock in their energy price with a contract, while others prefer to have more flexibility in their approach. Either way, with an energy specialist working with you, your purchase options can be explored and the broker can garner significant savings in several key areas;

• Getting you a better deal with Australian energy retailers

• Negotiating on your behalf

• Preparing ‘critical load’ data for energy retailers

Energy markets are complicated, as a business owner or manager, you may not have the expertise or knowledge in the nuances of the market to be able to negotiate the best pricing and structure for your business energy needs.

A better result can be achieved by someone who is an energy management expert, without you having to feel like you need to understand the intricacies of the marketplace. Your broker can advise you on both how to best purchase energy for your specific needs, as well as finding the best timing within a given time frame, so that you are buying at the best price available.