Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Step-By-Step Art of Crafting a Business Plan

business planA business plan is a defined road map that outlines the goals of a company in written form. Because it is designed to be updated, it is considered a 'living' document. A solid plan outlines the future of a company and contains elements that guide company decisions. Quite simply, a business plan is a description of a company's future. Hence, you must have one no matter the size of your company.

Having a well-written plan is essential for several reasons, no matter the size of the business. Not only does it act as an internal road map for guiding decisions, it is a requirement for courting investors and lending agents. Therefore, not having one often means the difference between receiving funding or going out of business.

This article will help draft your business plan by looking at what a plan accomplishes, what the basic elements are and how to manage them. 

Goals of a Business Plan


business plan
A business plan has two distinct purposes. The first, as mentioned before, is to act as a road map to keep the company on course with a cohesive vision. Therefore, the plan outlines everything from your company description to the details of your marketing plan. This ensures everyone is working toward the same goal.

The second purpose is to show investors and lenders the company's plan to grow and profit. After all, no one will invest a dime without seeing a clear road map to success. Therefore, a well-researched plan demonstrates to banks that your company has a strategy for succeeding, mitigating the risk of default. As a result, the plan acts a forecast for a return of capital.

Business Plan Elements

  • Executive Summary: Acts as a snapshot for your plan, with an abstract about your company and goals.
  • Company Description: Provides information on what the company does, how it's different from competitors and identifies the markets for your product or service.
  • Market Analysis: Contains detailed research reports concerning your industry, competition and overall market.
  • Organization & Management: Outlines your organizational and management structure.
  • Service / Product Line: This section details your product or service, including manufacturing information and benefits to the customer.
  • Marketing & Sales: Provides details about your marketing and sales strategy.
  • Funding Request: This section includes a formal request for funding.
  • Financial Projections: These projections help an investor or lender visualize their return on investment.
  • Appendix: Contains sensitive information such as bank account numbers, deeds, patents, resumes, phone numbers, tax and credit history. The appendix is not for all eyes, but only used on a need to know basis.


Managing a Plan


business planIt is important to keep a business plan together once completed. Each element relies on the others for supporting information, and having to review separate documents can be confusing. To keep them tidy, have them bound. Staples offers an inexpensive binding service.

Your plan is a living document. As such, review annually or quarterly depending on the business. Due to shifting market trends, competition and changing technology your plan should adjust as needed in a timely manner. Ensure all significant parties are in attendance during review and are providing feedback. Also, when changes are made make sure all concerned parties are notified.

A strong business plan is the foundation for a strong business. Look for future articles on drafting the separate elements of a business plan, or contact Spotlight Publicity for a free consultation.

What business plan tips can you share for start ups or companies that are re-branding? Please leave your comments below.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Market Your Manuscript

market manuscriptUntil your last sentence is edited and you've put down your manuscript, you shouldn't concern yourself with marketing a book. Daydreaming about release parties and appearing on Oprah are nice, but they do little to keep your project on track. However, as we're going to discuss how to market your manuscript, we'll start from the presumption that it's ready to go.

Market Your Manuscript

For those authors who sign with a small publishing house as well as those who decide to publish on their own, the process to market a manuscript is the same. There are steps to be taken, though not necessarily in the same order, that encourage your book project to reach an intended audience. Small publishing houses rarely extend a comprehensive marketing plan when signing authors. There may well be some material that gets your manuscript mentioned, such as a publishing catalogue or web page. Even with the big houses, you will still need to do some marketing on your own.

market manuscript
In order to get things moving, your first step will be to discuss with your publisher your own marketing plan. They may have some things lined up, and working with them ensures you won't be doubling efforts. This might include press releases to local newspapers, publishing magazines and the like. Make yourself a list, with calendar references, of their plans and use them to support your own efforts to market your manuscript.

How To Market Your Manuscript

Working methodically and with the same energy you used to write your book is key to finding success in the sea of literary sales. To market your manuscript, use the following methods to achieve your goal. The order is irrelevant, but including each in critical.

  • Elevator Pitch - You never know when you will cross paths with someone who wants to pick up your book, so develop a solid elevator pitch to assist. This is a well-written, memorized synopsis that you can comfortably relay to a listener in the span of an elevator ride. Include a hook that interests a listener as well as the critical details of your plot points. You're not telling them about the entire project, but just enough to spark their interest. Limit this to 30 seconds.
  • Social Media- This should be obvious to anyone with any sort of marketing inclination. Build an audience with social media accounts dedicated to your writing. However, this should be stressed, this social media campaign is not about you. It is about your book. To market your manuscript, build dedicated social media pages that only focus on this project. If you have follow-up manuscripts, use your existing ones to garner the interest of your existing followers.
  • Outside Your Comfort Zone- Here's where your creativity truly comes in to play. Consider calling bookstores, radio stations, newspaper and libraries to share your manuscript and look for reasons they would benefit from speaking with you. Here, marketing yourself is as important as how you market your manuscript. Look for low hanging apples, such as your local library. Let them know you would love to come in and speak with budding writers in a workshop environment, or perhaps your manuscript is significant for the area because it draws from local places and characters. If you spend a little time figuring out what makes you special, you will have an easier time booking appearances. It's even easier if you have someone representing you that knows how to pitch your project and give a third party perspective. If you state how wonderful your work is it doesn't carry as much weight as a hired professional. 
  • Contract Help - There's quite a lot of work that goes in to promoting your work, and if done properly, it can be overwhelming. In this case, determine a budget where you can contract some assistance to market you manuscript. Boutique agencies such as Spotlight Publicity can design a marketing package that fits your needs without adding on a lot of minor contract points that you don't need.  

Market A Manuscript For Success

market manuscriptThe amount of effort you put into publicizing your book equates to how successful your campaign will be. If the extent of your efforts to market your manuscript include a Facebook page where you post once a month and blindly sending out query letters to publishing houses, you won't get very far.  In fact, it is a wise option to treat this publicity campaign as a second job. Dedicate scheduled time to research bookstores, reading groups, radio programs and whatever else you come up with to share your project. Write carefully crafted query letters to agents. Be methodical and precise, but also show them how you are unique to your audience.

Your success is up to you. If your manuscript is well written and edited, you will find your audience. All it takes is the persistence to help it along. If you are looking for more help, contact Spotlight Publicity for your free consultation.