Professional Business Plans

You know you need a business plan. You probably realize that it is one of the best ways to get your business up and running. No matter what your business is, a business plan can help to focus its direction while providing the information you need to get moving. The most important thing a business plan will do is to provide your financial backers with a reason to give you their approval. It will show them how you plan to work your business.

So, how will you know what to write in your business plan? Do you know the first thing about writing a business plan? It may seem like an overwhelming task to try to figure out what to write for your personal business plan. You may have attempted to take out a few books at the library or even asked a friend to help you. But, are you satisfied that your business plan will be successful? Remember, you only get one chance to WOW people, so the first business plan they see will be the one they remember. What if it’s just not good enough?

Okay, that’s enough worrying! It is time to act! Your first order of business is to decide what your business goals are. Once you have a basic idea of what you need, you can then do several things to determine what type of business plan you need as well as where to get it. One of the best things you can do when in need of a business plan is to hire a qualified, experienced business plan service.

Not only will you obtain the best professional business plan available, but you won’t have to struggle over the words yourself. Now, how much better can that be? Using sample business plans from their website, you can see just how well their products can fit your needs. Sample business plans can be a great way to visualize the finished product. Using a sample business plan as a guide, you can determine if the product will fit your needs and plans. If not, perhaps you can see what is missing in your point of view.

Having a professional business plan will make all the difference during that trip to the bank. The trip to see if you qualify for funding is enough to worry about. Having a well thought out, professional business plan can give you the comfort and security you will need. The first impression you give the lender will be one of professionalism, attention to detail, and organization. That alone will help them realize that your business is worth the risk. What’s more is that there is just no real reason to not have a professional business plan. They are relatively inexpensive and pay for themselves when you secure that loan. Making a smart business choice begins with your business plan!

The Evolution Of Business Analysts

Software application development has only been around since the late 1970s. Compared to other industries and professions the software industry is still very young. Ever since organizations began to use computers to support their business tasks, the people who create and maintain those “systems” have become more and more sophisticated and specialized. This specialization is necessary because as computer systems become more and more complex, no one person can know how to do everything.

One of the “specialties” to arise is the Business Analyst. A Business Analyst is a person who acts as a liaison between business people who have a business problem and technology people who know how to create solutions. Although some organizations have used this title in non-IT areas of the business, it is an appropriate description for the role that functions as the bridge between people in business and IT. The use of the word “Business” is a constant reminder that any application software developed by an organization should further improve its business operations, either by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or increasing service level to the customers.

History of the Business Analyst Role

In the 1980s when the software development life cycle was well accepted as a necessary step, people doing this work typically came from a technical background and were working in the IT organization. They understood the software development process and often had programming experience. They used textual requirements along with ANSI flowcharts, dataflow diagrams, database diagrams, and prototypes. The biggest complaint about software development was the length of time required to develop a system that didn’t always meet the business needs. Business people had become accustomed to sophisticated software and wanted it better and faster.

In response to the demand for speed, a class of development tools referred to as CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) were invented. These tools were designed to capture requirements and use them to manage a software development project from beginning to end. They required a strict adherence to a methodology, involved a long learning curve, and often alienated the business community from the development process due to the unfamiliar symbols used in the diagrams.

As IT teams struggled to learn to use CASE tools, PCs (personal computers) began to appear in large numbers on desktops around the organization. Suddenly anyone could be a computer programmer, designer and user. IT teams were still perfecting their management of a central mainframe computer and then suddenly had hundreds of independent computers to manage. Client-server technologies emerged as an advanced alternative to the traditional “green screen,” keyboard-based software.

The impact on the software development process was devastating. Methodologies and classic approaches to development had to be revised to support the new distributed systems technology and the increased sophistication of the computer user prompted the number of software requests to skyrocket.

Many business areas got tired of waiting for a large, slow moving IT department to rollout yet another cumbersome application. They began learning to do things for themselves, or hiring consultants, often called Business Analysts, who would report directly to them, to help with automation needs. This caused even more problems for IT which was suddenly asked to support software that they had not written or approved. Small independent databases were created everywhere with inconsistent, and often, unprotected data. During this time, the internal Business Analyst role was minimized and as a result many systems did not solve the right business problem causing an increase in maintenance expenses and rework.

New methodologies and approaches were developed to respond to the changes, RAD (rapid application development), JAD (joint application development), and OO (object oriented) tools and methods were developed.

As we began the new millennium, the Internet emerged as the new technology and IT was again faced with a tremendous change. Once again, more sophisticated users, anxious to take advantage of new technology, often looked outside of their own organizations for the automation they craved. The business side of the organization started driving the technology as never before and in a large percentage of organizations began staffing the Business Analyst role from within the operational units instead of from IT. We now have Marketing Directors, Accountants, Attorneys, and Payroll Clerks performing the role of the Business Analyst.

In addition, the quality movement that had started in the 70s with TQM, came into focus again as companies looked for ways to lower their cost of missed requirements as they expanded globally. The ISO (International Standards Organization) set quality standards that must be adhered to when doing international business. Carnegie Mellon created a software development quality standard CMM (Capability Maturity Model). Additionally, Six Sigma provided a disciplined, data-driven quality approach to process improvement aimed at the near elimination of defects from every product, process, and transaction. Each of these quality efforts required more facts and rigor during requirements gathering and analysis which highlighted the need for more skilled Business Analysts familiar with the business, IT, and quality best practices.

Future of the Business Analyst Role

Today we see Business Analysts coming from both the IT and business areas. In the best situations, the Business Analyst today has a combination of IT and business skills. Each organization has unique titles for these individuals and the structure of Business Analyst groups is as varied as the companies themselves. However, there is a core set of tasks that most Business Analysts are doing regardless of their background or their industry.

The Business Analyst role becomes more critical as project teams become more geographically dispersed.
Outsourcing and globalization of large corporations have been the driving factors for much of this change recently. When the IT development role no longer resides inside our organizations, it becomes necessary to accurately and completely define the requirements in more detail than ever before. A consistent structured approach, while nice to have in the past, is required to be successful in the new environment. Most organizations will maintain the Business Analyst role as an “inhouse” function. As a result, more IT staff are being trained as Business Analysts.

The Business Analyst role will continue to shift its focus from “Software” to “Business System.”
Most Business Analysts today are focused on software development and maintenance, but the skills of the Business Analyst can be utilized on a larger scale. An excellent Business Analyst can study a business area and make recommendations about procedural changes, personnel changes, and policy changes in addition to recommending software. The Business Analyst can help improve the business system not just the business software.

The Business Analyst role will continue to evolve as business dictates.
Future productivity increases will be achieved through re-usability of requirements. Requirements Management will become another key skill in the expanding role of the Business Analyst as organizations mature in their understanding of this critical expertise. The Business Analyst is often described as an “Agent of Change.” Having a detailed understanding of the organization’s key initiatives, a Business Analyst can lead the way to influence people to adapt to major changes that benefit the organization and its business goals. The role of a Business Analyst is an exciting and secure career choice as U.S. companies continue to drive the global economy.

Training for the Business Analyst

The skill set needed for a successful Business Analyst is diverse and can range from communication skills to data modeling. A Business Analyst’s educational and professional background may vary as well some possess an IT background while others come from the business stakeholder area.

With backgrounds as diverse and broad as these it is difficult for a Business Analyst to possess all the skills necessary to perform successful business analysis. Companies are finding that individuals with a strong business analysis background are difficult to locate in the marketplace and are choosing to train their employees to become Business Analysts in consistent structured approaches. First, organizations seeking formal business analysis training should examine vendors who are considered “experts” on the field with a strong focus on business analysis approaches and methodologies. Second, you will want to examine the quality of the training vendor’s materials. This may be done by researching who wrote a vendor’s materials and how often they are updated to stay abreast of industry best practices. Third, matching the real-world experience of instructors to the needs and experience level of your organization is critical to successful training. Business analysis is an emerging profession and it is critical that the instructors that you choose have been practicing Business Analysts.

Business Loans Are Not Hard To Get

There has been a tremendous amount of talk in the media over the last few years about how small businesses cannot access business credit (loans, lines of credit, working capital advances or business credit cards).

In fact, several small business associations claim that 41 percent of small businesses cannot access business credit or business capital.

I say they are wrong. What they are actually saying is that they cannot access business credit on the terms they want or in the form they desire.

Clearly, getting a business loan in 2004 through early 2008 was a lot easier than it is now. But, what really happened was that business loan underwriting standards where drop or lessened – allowing individuals and business owners, many of who should not have gotten credit in the first place, to obtain risky loans – loans that were not repaid and could have never been repaid; very similar to what mortgage banks and mortgage brokers did with home loans.

They underwrote risky loans just to collect origination and processing fees then sold those loans off to investors (again collecting additional fees) – holding no risk in the end. What this did was put a lot of unnecessary toxic business credit in the market – loans that should not have ever been made.

Think about it this way. Let’s say that on a scale of 1 to 10 based on a loan difficulty – with 1 being the easiest option of obtaining a business loan. Prior to 2004 – business loans had a number of about 5. They were not easy to get or hard to get. Banks just followed standard loan underwriting protocols. Thus, those who should get business loans did and those who shouldn’t – didn’t. At that time, underwriting was based on costs of funds and risk of repayment.

But, when congress open the secondary market for these loans (just like they did for secondary home mortgage loans with Fannie and Freddie) – banks realized that they could quickly collect underwriting fees then pass off those loans without assuming any risk. Based on this (just like with the housing market) – they lowered their underwriting standards (why not as they had no risk – it was all up side for them). Thus, the difficulty number for business loans dropped from 5 all the way to 1 (where anyone could get a business loan regardless if they qualified or not).

Therefore, for years, business owners were able to quickly and easily get business capital if they were willing to pay the bank’s or lender’s fees.

Now that the market collapsed, the difficulty number for business loans has once again returned to its normal position of 5 – making them not easy or hard to get.

The 41 percent who claim that they cannot access business credit today are the ones who should not have gotten credit in the first place.

The bottom line is that business loans are not hard to get – they were just really easy to get a few years ago and have now resorted back to where they should be on the difficulty scale.

To obtain a business loan today – you must first understand why your business needs outside capital (it has to be for growth – anything else is wasted money) and then understand how your business, as it stands, can leverage itself to obtain those funds – there are as many ways to obtain business capital as there are request and each one is no harder than it should be.

Advantages Of Using Promos In Your Business

Promos are considered one of the most effective and cheapest means for marketing. Corporate gifts or promos are not very expensive and can be less than a dollar as well. According to the reports of an Advertising Specialty Industry, around 56% of people keep the promos, while 58% of the people remember name of the company printed on the promos. Promos are cost-effective means of advertising brand image of your business. This article discusses about some useful tips on how you can make the most of promos for a campaign.

You should be aware of the wants and desires of your prospective clients:

Promos that you use must be market driven. It is very important customers appreciate the promos that you give out; as this will help you increase your customer base. Therefore, what you can do is, make the promotional products the way your clients expect them to be. You will have to spend time conducting research, when it comes to determining the right promos.

You must be very cautious all through the process, because business organizations have the tendency of losing their core message in their attempt to target niche audiences. Your brand identity must be clearly expressed in advertising merchandise so that people won’t have any problem getting the message you want to promote.

Remember less is more:

You should keep in mind the concept of less is more while designing promos for marketing. You should keep the text and color to the minimum to attract attention of prospective clients. Too many colors and words tend to make the promos look messy and chaotic. There is amazing elegance in simplicity and this helps you effectively project your business message to your clients. Untidy presentation shows lack of professionalism and leaves behind a negative image in minds of the clients.

Many consider bargaining or haggling a desperate act in business. It is actually a business negotiation process that a wise entrepreneur does to cut down the overall cost. Once you are aware of the basic negotiation skills, you will be able to save substantial amount of money.

Some of the commonly used promos include T-shirts, pens, gym bags, mugs, and other useful pieces of merchandise. Targeted promos for your customers generate more sales and help attract attention of clients to your site. Make sure to give out good quality freebies, as your company image will crumble down when you offer cheap promos.

Using promos for marketing is one of the most affordable means to increase your profit margins and improve your business. So, keep in mind the three useful abovementioned pointers and create a brand image of your business with promos or promotional gifts. You will be amazed to take your business products and services to an altogether new height with such promotional items.

Benefits Of A Business Economics Major

The Business Economics major is a great complement to another major or minor in business, political science, history, accounting or marketing. Economics not only studies economics research and economics financial systems, but also social issues like poverty, pollution, inflation, unemployment, recession and economic growth.

Top market economists are analytical problem solvers who are useful in almost every major industry. They study how the optimal amount of production can be achieved to meet society’s needs. They study market forces that shape financial decision making. They look at how politics affect the commerce marketplace. They look at data to forecast, analyze trends and apply their understanding to a whole range of public issues.

To get an undergrad degree in Business Economics, students attending an accredited economics university will need to take courses like macro economics, microeconomics, financial accounting and reporting, calculus, economics statistics, econometrics, money/banking/credit, business writing, the stock market, labor economics, monetary economics, international trade theory, law and economics, industrial organization, economics and business strategy, organizational psychology, formal organizations and politics and the economy. Students should have a good understanding of math, politics and business. People often choose this major because they want a good job, they want to make a lot of money, they want to be a manager or CPA, they want to have a secure job or they want to get into a good graduate school.

The common starting salary for economists is $38,000 for a bachelor’s degree, $48,000 for a master’s and $70,000 for a PhD, according to a 2002 National Association of Business Economics survey. Those with an economics major enjoy the highest median income compared to other majors, experts say. Economics research also suggests that economics majors earn 20% more than business administration majors, 19% more than accounting majors, 18% more than marketing majors and 15% more than finance majors. When a potential employer sees this major on a resume, he or she immediately understands that you have a solid foundation of math, politics, business and economic theory. Your degree also shows that you have the capacity to process complex subjects and it highlights your problem solving skills, which is valuable in any field.

Individuals with a degree in Business Economics have been recruited by employers like the California State Controller’s Office, Cerner Healthcare Information Technology, Coca-Cola, Consolidated Graphics, Deloitte Services LP, Edward Jones, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ernst & Young LLP, General Mills, Inc., Insight, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Liberty Mutual Insurance Group (MA), Medix Staffing Solutions, PetSmart, Raytheon, Sherwin-Williams, Travelers Insurance and Wells Fargo Financial. The economics field is expected to grow 7% by 2016, adding another 16,000 workers. People with bachelor’s degrees can get almost any entry-level job in business. Master’s degree holders generally compete for sales and management trainee positions. Those who hold PhD degrees often go on to teach or become top market analysts in their fields.