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Business Plan and Start Up Newsletter Issue #1037-Simple Business Plan
December 14, 2006

The Importance Of A Business Planning BlogBusiness Planning 1-2-3Countdown to Success : Twelve Things to do Twelve Months in Advance New Page 2

Business Plan And Start Up Newsletter

December 2006
Written by Shaunta Pleasant
President, TL Manage Inc.

Everything banks, lenders and the SBA look for!  Produce your business plan quickly and easily... For entrepreneurs and small-business owners.   Find Out More...


********Table of Content********

Countdown to Success : Twelve Things to do Twelve Months in Advance...

Business Planning 1-2-3...

A Few Cool Helpful Notes...


Countdown to Success : Twelve Things to do Twelve Months in Advance
By Susan Friedmann

When a show’s a year away, it may seem like you have lots of time to get ready. But appearances can be deceiving. Twelve months is not long, especially with all the pre-show planning, training, and preparation you’ve got to do. Here is a checklist of sixteen vital items that need to be done approximately one year before you set up your exhibit:

1. Identify Where The Show Fits In Your Marketing Strategy

Every show has a purpose. Do you want to introduce a new product to a new market? Increase existing services in an existing market? Increase your visibility in a new geographical region? Reinforce existing customer relationships? Knowing what you want to achieve at any given show is vital to your success.

2. Decide Which Products To Focus On

Your company may produce dozens, even hundreds of different products. Obviously, you can’t showcase all these items at a trade show. Attendees would be overwhelmed. Instead, with one eye on your marketing strategy, select those products that need to take center stage. Remember that 70% of people attending shows are looking for something NEW!

3. Identify Your Target Audience

Ideally, every show would be attended solely by consumers desperate to buy your products and services. However, things don’t always work that way. Determine who the decision makers are in your industry, and exhibit at the shows they attend. You want to spend your time talking with the people who have the power to make purchasing decisions.

4. Identify Your Exhibit Objectives

Clearly explain to your booth staff what goals you expect them to meet during the show. Make these goals quantifiable. Examples could be number of leads generated, target sales figures, gathering marketing intelligence or educating your target audience.

5. Write an Exhibiting Plan

Writing out an exhibiting plan not only clearly deliniates what needs to be done before, during and after the show, what your exhibit team need to do, and a timetable. Include every step of the show in the written plan, leaving nothing out. Re-reading this plan will allow you to identify any items you’ve overlooked.

6. Establish an Exhibiting Budget

An exhibiting budget should include every item needed for show participation. Beyond registration and space rental fees, include charges for show services and transportation. Add in the cost of your exhibit design, signage, graphic, and display materials as well as advertising, promotion and special activities. And, finally, don’t forget your exhibit team’s travel, accommodation and meal expenses.

7. Reserve Your Booth Space

Prime real estate go fast! To get the booth space you want, remember to reserve early. Avoid ‘discounted’ spaces in out of the way aisles or near the bathroom. The savings realized won’t balance out all the attendees who never get near your booth – or worse, who go by in a big hurry with other things on their mind!

8. Pay Deposits

Check in with the accounting department to make sure deposits are paid on time. This often-overlooked item can cause all kinds of headaches, not to mention high late-payment charges.

9. Ensure Booth Design Meets Objectives

There are no one-size-fits-all displays. Make sure your design meshes with your marketing plan, helping to support current objectives while maintaining your corporate image. Booth layout is vital. Make sure it contains all the needed elements, including a ‘quiet’ place to talk with hot prospects.

10. Assess Your Current Exhibit

Give your current exhibit a critical once-over. Does it still look sharp and engaging, or is it tired, faded, and worn? Signage and graphics sometimes travel around the globe several times in a year – and they don’t always look better for it. Check flooring material for wear and tear as well as your other displays.

11. Purchase New Items as Needed

Order new graphics and signage as far in advance as possible. This way, if there are any mistakes, you’ll have time to make necessary corrections. Additionally, allowing yourself extra time gives you the room to negotiate for the best deals. As you replace worn items, make sure the old ones are disposed off – you wouldn’t want your booth staff setting up last year’s signage by mistake.

12. Order Show Services

Show services should be ordered in advance. These can include electricity, signage, audio/visual equipment, booth cleaning services, plants and flowers, telephone and computer hookups, waste removal, and furniture. You’ll be sure to get everything you need, and enjoy a substantial savings over those who wait for the last minute to order these items.

Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. For a free copy of “10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make”, e-mail:; website:

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Business Planning 1-2-3
By Jean Sifleet

Business planning helps you focus and grow your business. But, business planning is sort of like exercise; you should do it regularly but it's easy to put off because the benefits are not immediate.

To develop a clear, well thought-out business plan, use the 1-2-3 approach:

(1) Take a critical look at your current situation;

(2) Write down your goals for one year from today; and,

(3) Map out your action plan to achieve your goals on a timeline.

Planning is cheap. Writing a plan:

-Gets your ideas on paper;

-Allows you to examine alternatives;

-Surfaces your assumptions; and

-Enables you to get feedback from others.

Using a timeline helps you prioritize and focus. With a timeline,

-You have a visual framework in which to work;

-You can map out & compare alternative scenarios;

-You can see connections and sequencing of actions; and,

-Deliverables and milestones become clear.

Try to put a little fun in the planning process.

I suggest thinking of business planning like planning a vacation. (Your plan should, of course, include a vacation.) When you plan a vacation, you are constrained by many factors such as time, money and balancing the competing interests of your fellow travelers. It's the same with your business plan.

In business, you are constrained by many factors, such as existing customer commitments, limited time and money. You also have to balance a number of competing interests and possible routes. Planning lets you map out different paths on paper and examine the alternatives before making a commitment to action.

The first step is to take stock of your current situation. If you have been in business more than a year, you have some financial results to examine. Draw a calendar timeline and map out the highlights of each month for the last twelve months. Include your $ sales for each month as well as key events. It is a good idea to try and connect your actions with the results achieved. So, if you ran an ad in January and February, you may be able to directly relate increased sales in those months to the ad.

With the calendar timeline, you have a summary picture of your business operations over a 12-month period on one page. If you add your $ Expenses/month to this picture, you'll have a rough cut cash flow which will give you a richer picture with which to work.


Jan...Feb...Mar...Apr...May...Jun...Jul...Aug...Sep...Oct...Nov...Dec Key Events (e.g., ads, promotions, new customers, big projects, good news, bad news ...)

$ Sales/month

$ Expenses/month

Now, you can stand back and take a critical look at your business to determine what works and what does not work. This analysis is the foundation for your plan for next year.

The summary may be sufficient to give you insight into what was effective and is worth continuing. Or, it may prompt you to ask more detailed financial questions about your business, such as: costs, overhead, sales per category or location; how much of your sales was from new customers; how did you reach your new and repeat customers most effectively?

Another very important piece of information is the profitability of different parts of your business. There's an old adage that 80% of the profits comes from 20% of the business. Is this true for your business?

The next step is to determine where you want to go. This is easier said than done. Objectives need to be realistic and achievable. Objectives need to be concrete and measurable. For example, if the objective is to increase sales 50%, it needs to be stated how that will be achieved. Is it realistic? It depends. If this year's sales are $240K and the plan is to achieve $360K next year, this means sales/month on average need to increase from $20K/month to $30/K month. What would you need to do to achieve this?

There are a number of possible scenarios that we can plan out and assess. For instance, we could consider dropping low-end products/services and concentrating on high $/sale transactions. What are the implications of this approach? Or, we could go toward a higher volume business and sell through other channels.

Try mapping out your alternatives on a timeline for the coming year and see what picture emerges.

It's usually not good for businesses to shift gears too dramatically without some test marketing and quantification of the costs and benefits.


Jan...Feb...Mar...Apr...May...Jun...Jul...Aug...Sep...Oct...Nov...Dec Key Objectives & Action Plan (e.g., targeted action steps month by month..)

$ Estimated cost/month

Projected results

Making choices and determining your route.

With your timeline summary of the prior year and your projected timeline(s) for the coming year, you can make some choices about how you will use your time and resources. Planning helps you get your ideas out on paper, surface your assumptions, invite other people to review your ideas and assumptions and provide feedback. Planning enables you to make informed choices and, using the timeline, enables you to express your plan as an action roadmap.

To realize the benefits of planning, like exercise, you must do it regularly. I recommend at least quarterly reviews as a relatively painless means of updating your plan to reflect actual experience and changes in the competitive environment.

Jean Sifleet is a practical and experienced business attorney whose career spans many years in large multi-national corporations and includes three successful entrepreneurial ventures. Jean has extensive experience in dealing with intellectual property matters in the large and small companies and as a small business owner. She has authored numerous books and publications on avoiding legal pitfalls in doing business. This article is excerpted from her new book, Advantage IP – Profit from Your Great Ideas (Infinity 2005). For more information, Jean's website is

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