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Photography Studio Sample Business Plan

Starting up your photography studio will need a proper business plan and this sample will provide the guidelines.

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Photography Studio Business Plan

Executive Summary

Families need photographs to capture the special moments of their lives. Families of professionals are busy, and if too much time goes by between photos, these moments are lost forever. Babies, especially, grow fast and parents need photos of them several times a year.

While nearly everyone has a camera for snapshots, people need professional quality photos when they will be shown to an important audience, and when people want to be seen in the best light. The Internet has expanded the use of photos, making it possible for anyone to send them or to publish them for wide viewing.

Professionals often have business needs for high-quality photos, and through this familiarity, they acquire a taste for them. When these professionals need photos to preserve memories, or to display family photos when they entertain at home, they have the budget and the desire for similarly high-quality photos. Just as they appoint their homes with fine furniture and decorations, the photos on their walls need to exhibit their standards of quality.

Most people use professional photo studios only on rare occasions, such as weddings, yearbook pictures, or baby portraits. Because the client has to initiate the call, many special moments are lost and the studio loses potential business. Photo studios generally charge a large fee for CDs of their clients’ digital images. For these reasons, most photo studios are rarely used by families as a whole.

This photography business plan shows how Phoebe’s Photo Studio will meet the needs of professionals and their families to capture the special moments in their lives and present them in the best light. We will establish a relationship in which we initiate the calls to keep their photos up to date. Digital files of their photos will be available for free by e-mail, or with a nominal fee for CD.  Because of our relationship with the families, when something big like a wedding comes, there’s no place else they would go.

Phoebe’s will grow at an annual rate of over 40 percent by targeting families of professionals with newborn babies for baby pictures and then developing a relationship with the client over the years for ongoing photographs. The funding requested in this plan is projected to result in a comfortable annual net profit by Year 3.

The opening of Phoebe’s Photo Studio will mark a change in the way professional photography is delivered.  Rather than being a rare place to visit, this photo studio will be a fun part of a family’s lives, helping them capture special moments and share them in a digital world.

Mission

Phoebe’s Photo Studio helps clients preserve memories and portray themselves in the best light. We thrive on repeat business by developing relationships with our clients and calling them with timely reminders for new photos. We make professional quality photographs easily available in a digital format. We do this by using a pricing structure that makes our digital photographs a household staple and by making it fun for them to come here or to have us in their homes.

Objectives

In addition to livelihood, we’re in this business for the enjoyment of photography and having fun with people. We want to keep it simple.

Our objectives are:

  • To generate a comfortable net profit by the third year.
  • To develop systems of production for each product category that are easy to replicate with new clients to keep it simple and fun.
  • To have a client relationship system and call plan that will keep us on top of each of our client’s scheduled needs at all times.

Keys to Success

Our keys for success are:

  • Target marketing for the gateway products of baby pictures, high school photos and wedding albums.
  • Developing relationships with our clients through personal customer service, to turn one-time customers into lifetime clients.
  • Our system of tracking clients’ ongoing needs for photos and taking the initiative to call them for appointments.

Company Summary

Phoebe Peters has worked as an industrial photographer and freelance portrait photographer in Southern California for 10 years. She has found that personal customer relationships are the key to repeat business and will open Phoebe’s Photo Studio in downtown Eugene, Oregon on that premise.

Company Ownership

Phoebe’s Photo Studio is a sole proprietorship owned by Phoebe Peters.  It will open in a leased 800 square foot studio in downtown Eugene, Oregon.

Phoebe Peters is a graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California and is a member of the Professional Photographers of Oregon and the Professional Photographers of America. She has 10 years experience capturing the special moments of people’s lives.

Company Locations and Facilities

We will open in an 800 square-foot studio at 100 Main Street, the heart of the commercial district with ample free parking.  The space will be leased for three years beginning at $800 a month with cost-of-living adjustments made annually.

The studio will have a highly visible electric sign and a 20-foot wide display window visible to passing foot and auto traffic. Customers will enter a public area with a counter, samples of our photographs and albums, and couches for waiting. A separate playroom with props and other toys will accommodate children with sitting areas for parents, while a utility area off the back door will be set up to accommodate pets and their props. Children, pets and props can be brought into the photography studio for their photographs.  An office and working area will be used for assembling the final product.

Products

Phoebe’s Photo Studio will help our clients to look their best, will keep their photos up-to-date, and will capture the special moments of their lives.

Phoebe’s Photo Studio has a comprehensive program to preserve memories on an ongoing basis. We see individual pictures, especially baby pictures, as gateway products for our programs of ongoing photography.

All of our photos are created in a high-resolution digital format, from which our prints are made. Since the Internet and commonly used printers typically use the lower-resolution 300 dpi format, 300 dpi digital files are available to clients for a nominal charge. Higher-quality digital photos and prints carry full pricing. We will retain the high-resolution data and clients can order more prints from us if they wish.

Our photo studio includes quality props for portraits and baby, child and pet photography. The physical environment of the studio is fun and accessible, making families want to come here. We also go regularly to people’s homes and bring cameras and lights that are out of the budget of non-professionals.

Product Description

Our products include:

Baby Pictures
Our specialty is baby pictures. We have a unique combination of props and a passion for babies. Babies are also our prime gateway product for entering families into our programs of ongoing pictures.

High School Senior Yearbook Portraits
Senior pictures are a long-standing tradition that brings high school seniors into photo studios. By making these photos easily accessible in digital form, and by marketing prominently on the Internet, we hope to capture much of this market.

We offer a special package of a family portrait at half price with the senior picture. It is often the parents who are paying for the senior portrait, so we want to establish a relationship with the parents. The parents will want a picture of their senior with the rest of the family. This introduction to the family will allow us to market our other services.

Family and Pet Portraits
Portraits of the entire family are needed for display, to send to relatives and to use in family newsletters and websites. Most families have pets, and we can arrange family portraits that include them. While we don’t specialize in pet portraits, we have props and will take stand-alone photos of pets as well. There’s an additional charge for exotic animals.

Individual Portraits
Individual portraits are commonly needed for individual and business websites, business cards, brochures and annual reports.

Model’s Portfolio and Glamour Shots
Photos suitable for magazine publication.

Wedding Album
Weddings are one of the most special moments of life. Our wedding album includes up to 7 hours of wedding photography, with prints displayed in a custom photo album and digital images on CD.

Annual Portrait Program

We take the initiative to schedule the annual portrait and we replace it in last year’s frame while saving last year’s photo in a portfolio.

Baby Picture Program
We arrange pictures of the baby at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, and 2½ years.

Child Portrait Program
We arrange a portrait of the child at 3 years, 4 years and 5 years, or until the child begins to be photographed annually for school pictures.

Capturing Memories Program
We arrange an annual portrait of the family and individual pictures of each member of the family. Photos can include pets and the house and grounds, if desired.

Competitive Comparison
The competition for portrait photography is divided into several categories:

Award-Winning Photographers
Award-winning photographers are those who routinely deliver magazine-quality photographs. Their work is highly creative and spontaneous instead of routinely posing shots. They are rare and highly expensive.

Quality Photographers

These are professional-quality photographers, like us, who use a lot of posed shots. Most of the competition falls into this category.

Value Photographers

Low-priced, lower quality providers.

Same Day Photographers
Normally priced photo studios that provide lower quality photos on the same day.

Sales Literature

ACE Marketing Communications will develop the logo, electric sign, business cards, brochures, website and display ads.  All will contain branding information around the theme of capturing the special moments of our lives.  This theme is the backdrop of our program to maintain customer relationships and to take the initiative to schedule photo shoots at our studio, in our clients’ homes, or in nature, to preserve their special moments.

Technology

Our innovative approach makes the most of consumers’ fascination with the latest digital imagery. By playing to this market trend, we gain new customers and provide added value, with high-quality, small file-size images our clients can easily share with friends and family members.

Phoebe’s Photo Studio will use several digital cameras, and will require a computer fully loaded with image-manipulating software, such as Adobe Photoshop. We will also need an ongoing maintenance agreement for the computer and software, and nightly backups of image files, in the event of computer failure, theft, or fire.

Market Analysis Summary

Families with children are the biggest market for portraits. For the purpose of this analysis, these families are divided into three socio-economic categories:

  1. College graduates
  2. High school graduates
  3. Non-graduates

Families of college graduates are most likely to be professionals and to have the means and the taste for professional portraits.  There are nearly 20,000 such families in the metropolitan area.

We will target female professionals and wives of professionals, because women make the majority of purchasing decisions in these families.

The competitive environment is divided between luxury magazine-quality photographers, moderate professional photographers who mostly pose their subjects, and same-day photo studios.

The trend among our targeted consumers is toward more digital photography and more sending of digital images on the Internet. As the world becomes more technical, people need more personal support.

Phoebe’s Photo Studio will use a “high-tech, high-touch” approach to reach and retain clients for their ongoing photo needs. We will make it affordable and easy for them to disseminate their photos electronically.

Market Segmentation

People who who pay for professional photo portraits are generally status-conscious professionals who have children, and so we’ve segmented the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area according to the social status of families. We’ve used education as a measure of social status.

Families of College Graduates

Professionals are, almost by definition, college graduates. They are the ones most likely to have a need for professional photo portraits for career purposes. They are also most likely to have the means and taste to want professional photos for their families, as well.

Families of High School Graduates

People who have not completed college are assumed to be more likely to be employees or be in a trade. While many of them may have the means for professional photos, relatively few will use them. They are more likely to use home-made photographs, except for rare occasions, such as a high school photo or wedding.

Families of Non-High-School Graduates

These are families who are generally without the means to hire professional photographers on a regular basis.

Demographics

The Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area has a total population of 330,527. There are 74,836 families.

Some 25.5 percent of the adult population in the metropolitan area is composed of college graduates, which we will here define as professionals. Some 62 percent of the population is made up of high-school graduates.

The Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area closely conforms to the boundaries of Lane County, Oregon. The office will be located in Eugene, but clients are accessible throughout Lane County through physicians’ offices. Most Lane County residents are accustomed to doing occasional business in Eugene.

Target Market Segment Strategy

Our target market is families of college-educated people who are most likely to be professionals.  This is the population most likely to order professional photos on a regular basis, having both the means and the desire for professional quality photographs.

Since women make most of the purchasing decisions in families, our specific target market is middle-aged professional women in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area, roughly 19,554 people.

Market Trends

Photography has gone digital. Digital cameras are replacing conventional cameras faster than DVDs are replacing VHS in video stores. Even cell phones have digital cameras on them. The uses of photography have expanded as well because of Web pages on the Internet and email. Digital images are needed for printing uses as well, for such uses as brochures and business cards.

Photo studios have mostly switched to digital format because it also allows for easy processing and manipulation.  They have been less amenable to making digital files affordably available to clients, and this is a trend on which we intend to capitalize.

Market Growth

The growth rate used in the table is based on the 1.4 percent growth rate experienced by the Eugene-Springfield area over the past year. This growth is reflected in the accompanying chart and graph.

Market Needs

Families have photos taken to preserve memories. Most photos are taken by consumers with their own cameras, which are increasingly digital and are even part of their cell phones. Most of these photos are low quality but no one cares because only the family views them.

Consumers generally engage professional portrait photographers when the photos will be viewed outside the family and when quality matters. Professionals, such as those in our target market, often have business needs for quality photos and have acquired a taste for them. These professionals have families, too. They have the budget and the need to use them for their families because they often entertain at home and their family photos will be on display. Just as they appoint their homes with fine furniture and decorations, the photos on their walls need to exhibit quality.

Specifically, some of their needs include:

  • baby pictures
  • portraits for home or office
  • senior pictures for the high school yearbook
  • family pictures to send to family members
  • family newsletters
  • family, individual or business websites
  • portraits for business cards, such as for real estate agents
  • portraits for brochures and annual reports

The world has become increasingly digital, but many professional photo studios have made it difficult for people to enter the digital age. The traditional practice of retaining negatives to require clients to return for prints has been carried over to charging high fees for releasing digital files of their portraits.

The need to capture memories lasts for people’s entire lives, and business portraits require a regular update. But people generally don’t look forward to seeing a photographer. In fact, they find it a burdensome expense, have not established a relationship with a photographer and don’t think often about going to one. As a result, a lot of memories are lost and ancient portraits of professionals continue to be hung on walls and portrayed in publications. This makes them appear to be trying to preserve their youth instead of embracing their maturity and experience, and doesn’t show them in the best light.

Industry Analysis

The competition is divided between luxury magazine-quality photographers, moderate professional photographers who mostly pose their subjects, and same-day photo studios.

Phoebe’s Photo Studio is not a luxury, magazine-quality studio, but our service and photo quality is high compared to other moderate professional photographers. Our rates are comparable to theirs, but we add value through personal contact and easy dissemination of digital images.

Main Competitors

Competitor X is an award-winning, highly creative photographer with a style that one would expect to find in a national magazine.  His prices are the highest in the area, up to $15,000 for a wedding album.  His strategy appears to be to capture the high-end market, where a magazine look is a luxury that people can afford.

Competitor Y is a more typical photographer with more staged photographs and wedding packages running up to $5,000.  His strategy appears to be to occupy the middle-ground of quality and price where most of the market is likely to be.

Competitor Z offers same-day photos.  This is easier to accomplish with digital processing for a studio organized around speed, but quality is necessarily sacrificed.  The market for same-day photos doesn’t necessarily demand quality.  Prices are average.  The strategy of this studio appears to be to appeal to convenience and speed.
Competition and Buying Patterns

Purchasing decisions generally begin with an urgent need, such as a high-school senior picture or the birth of a baby.  Buyers are most likely to seek a professional by referral from someone who has used their services.  If this is not available, they are most likely to look in the Yellow Pages, but increasingly online, especially if they are young.

Distribution Patterns

Photo studios are generally located in commercial areas with high visibility, but many studios are run out of the owner’s home. This is possible because so much photography occurs on location: in people’s homes or offices and in nature or at social events.

Industry Participants

Photo studios are run by professional photographers with various levels of education and experience. There is considerable variation in quality and taste according to the ability of the individual photographer. This is a highly individualized, creative process that makes it difficult for large corporations to enter the market or to create “chain stores.” The participants are mostly individual photographers.

Click here to view this full business plan

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Professional Services

Security Guard Business Plan Sample

Protect your community by starting a security business using a security guard business plan similar to this one.

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Protect your community by starting a security business using a security guard business plan similar to this one to compile your own.

1. Executive Summary

Batten-Hatchez Security is a start-up security company founded by Chindit Batten, an experienced former police sergeant and security company manager.

Located in Coastalburg at its launch, the business will provide security guards, security audits, and referrals to equipment providers to commercial buildings, retail businesses, and, eventually special event venues and other clients.

The business seeks to acquire capital from an angel investor and will expand to additional cities in our state and beyond if successful.

Related: Free Business Plan Template Download

In the current political climate, with increasing fears of terrorist activity, and the current economic climate, which promises an upswing in general and in outsourced services especially, this business is launching at the right time.

The business will target large retail stores and building management companies first in order to establish a strong base of clients in Coastalburg.

Batten-Hatchez will grow its employee base of security guards carefully, based on client contracts, and use both full-time and part-time guards. The business expects respectable sales of in the first year, almost doubling by the end of the third year. Gross margins will be similar to the industry average, based on guard labor costs vs. billings.

Related: How To Start A Business With (Almost) No Money

After the initial investment and launch, a lean first year, and the establishment of an office and training space in the second year, the business will be poised to expand through its own financing after three years. After the business is proved replicable in additional cities, the business may be sold to provide an exit for the initial investor and founders.

Objectives

Batten-Hatchez Security will base its success on meeting the following objectives:

  • Employ 25 full-time equivalent security guards by the end of the third year of operation
  • Supply security guards to 15 buildings on a full-time basis by the end of the third year of operation
  • Earn $2 million in revenue with net profit over $300,000 in its third year of operation

Mission

Batten-Hatchez Security will remove worries for clients who require security guards for their buildings, facilities, and events by providing excellent customer service for clients and in-depth training for their employees.

Keys to Success

Batten-Hatchez Security believes the keys to success in its industry include:

  • Listening carefully to client concerns and objectives to create customized security guard packages
  • Knowing what the client does not know (bringing deep security expertise as well as knowledge of legal regulations and liability to the table)
  • Training security guards carefully and maintaining their training and certifications (e.g. to carry firearms)
  • Monitoring the quality of security guard service to offer quality assurance

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2. Company Summary

security-company-summary

Batten-Hatchez Security is a startup security company founded by Chindit Batten, a former police sergeant and security company manager with fifteen years in law enforcement and ten years in security work.

Related: 21 Steps To Start-Up

The business will provide security guards to commercial buildings, retail businesses, and special events. The business will launch in Coastalburg but will expand to additional cities if successful.

Company Ownership

Chindit Batten is CEO and founder of Batten-Hatchez Security.

He currently owns 60% of the business and the remaining 40% of shares are owned by his partner and co-founder, Viipuri Hatchez, COO. The business is incorporated as an S Corporation to enable additional investment for its launch.

The founders shares will be diluted as up to 40% of shares will be given to investors.

Start-up Summary

Batten-Hatchez Security will launch as a home-based business out of the home office of Chindit Batten. Initially, this will reduce the cost of rent and equipment.

Related: Conducting a Business Plan Market Analysis

Training for security guards will be provided in temporarily rented office space as needed.

Other start-up costs include the costs of incorporation and permits, such as concealed weapons permits, business license, and police clearances (legal fees), the initial website and brochure design and printing, and the first insurance premium for the business, including liability insurance for the guard’s work and carrying of firearms.

Long-term assets include mobile phones and headsets for all guards and employees, as well as two-way radios for guards working as teams.


3. Services

security-company-camera

Batten-Hatchez Security will provide well trained guards for one or more of the following purposes:

  • To guard entrances and screen guests/employees
  • To monitor clients’ premises with video surveillance equipment
  • To protect clients’ assets, employees and guests
  • To deter crime with visual presence
  • To organize response in the case of fire, evacuation, or other emergency
  • To respond to customer and employee health emergencies and accidents
  • To eject unwanted customers or trespassers
  • To liaison with police and city emergency responders

In addition, the principals of the firm will offer the following:

  1. Security audits and recommendations for security plans
  2. Referrals to providers of security technology (camera systems, etc.)

Batten-Hatchez will be a licensed, insured, and bonded business and will offer both armed and unarmed guards, based on client needs and budgets.

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All guards will be certified for security work and to carry firearms. Whenever possible, the same guards will be sent consistently to the same clients. However, substitutes will be necessary from time to time and the business will ensure that detailed data about the job is transmitted to substitute guards on those occasions.

Batten-Hatchez Security will build trust with clients as a partner, rather than simply in the specific guard or guards they grow comfortable with. Guards will keep in constant communication with their team via portable two-way radios and with the Batten-Hatchez office, as necessary through mobile phones.

The Batten-Hatchez office will be not be staffed full-time at launch, but the CEO and COO will be within reach by phone wherever they work. Guards who encounter criminal activity will alert the authorities immediately rather than going through a communications centre.

Once the Batten-Hatchez office is established outside of the home of Chindit Batten, it will be staffed full-time with a rotation of three call centre personnel who will cover the dispatches. Guards will either be stationed at desks or patrol on foot at all facilities.

Clients must provide vehicles if their jobs require vehicle patrol (i.e., a facility with several buildings), but this will not be a focus of Batten-Hatchez Security.


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4. Market Analysis Summary

security-market-analysis-summary

The market for security guard services includes building management companies, retail businesses, event venues, and other businesses. IBISworld.com reports that the security services industry as a whole was $29.7 billion in 2008.

While this number includes investigative services and armoured car services, it is estimated that security guards accounted for $22.3 billion. This represents approximately 540,000 employees in the security guard industry.

While market revenue has dropped 2% in 2008 due to the recession, it is expected that the market will rise again due to increasing outsourcing of security services by companies who will delay hiring their own full-time employees as the recession ends.

The continuing and growing concerns about security brought on by international terrorism are also expected to contribute to growth in the industry.

Of the potential targets available in Coastalburg Batten-Hatchez Security will focus on building management companies and retail businesses at the outset.

Related: 3 Key Law Areas To Know When You Launch That Start-up

These businesses require steady security needs and serving them is simpler than serving special events.

Market Segmentation

The market analysis table shows the market segmentation for Coastalburg among the major market segments for security guard services. Growth is slow among these markets as new development is not prevalent in Coastalburg currently.

Building management companies generally install surveillance equipment and employ security guards to monitor that equipment, to staff front desks/security checks, and sometimes for general patrol.

These companies often work with a number of commercial or residential buildings and look to establish a relationship with one reliable vendor for all of their security guard needs. While some buildings require night-shift guards, others require only day coverage.

Large retail businesses use security guards to deter theft and to provide safety. These include department stores and other retail stores over 4,000 square feet, although some smaller stores may use security guards if they sell high-priced items (designer fashion, jewelry, technology, etc.).

Retailers require more guards during the day. Some simply lock the store at night while some larger department stores use night patrols as well.

Related: How Do You Hit The Right Target Market For Your Business?

Event venues use security guards to monitor guest lists and fire capacities and to organize emergency response. Nightclubs and bars may be included in this category. However, most nightclubs and bars employ their own security personnel (or “bouncers”) directly and do not use vendors.

Event security has the same risks as other security, but there is limited time for security audits and situations change fast, making this a higher stress business that requires better trained guards. Events tend to happen in the evenings with weekday nights for corporate events and weekend nights for private events.

Educational institutions, such as primary and secondary schools and colleges, generally employ security officers to guard and patrol their buildings and campuses. Often these institutions employ their own in-house security staff, but they will sometimes use outsources security vendors. These institutions require night and day patrols.


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Target Market Segment Strategy

Batten-Hatchez Security will target the first two of these target markets initially, building management companies and retail businesses. Both segments require ongoing security vendors and are eager to establish long-term relationships.

Once relationships are established, good customer service, quality assurance, and competitive pricing can ensure that the relationships are retained and that the security provider is considered a true partner in the protection of the building or businesses’ assets and people.

Furthermore, the other two target markets listed will be taken on at a later date, if at all. Event venues require more specialised services and may be a slower market to tackle.

Related: Target Market Worksheet

Educational institutions are often eager to establish their own security staffs, making this a difficult market to establish a strong foothold in as well.

Service Business Analysis

According to IBISWorld, there were 41,000 security services firms in the U.S. in 2008 running 56,000 establishments. The average size of a firm was $700,000 revenue per year based on these numbers, meaning that the industry includes both small and larger companies.

There are few barriers to entry, as long as basic legal requirements are met, as the capital investment in the business is very low. The industry depends on a supply of labor, often using retired police officers as security guards.

As security guard services are sold business-to-business, marketing and advertisement is generally targeted on the markets and industries the security companies seek to serve. Businesses generally search for security guard providers on the Internet or through referrals from other companies they trust.

Competition and Buying Patterns

Top players in the industry include Securitas AB, Allied Security LLC, The Brink’s Company, and G4S plc.

Huge players provide services for a huge range of markets, including governments, chemical and petrochemical, colleges and universities, commercial real estate, financial institutions, health care facilities, manufacturing and industrial, residential communities, shopping centers, and temporary security services.

Smaller security companies achieve success based on the expertise and reputation of their founding managers and the growth of a team with a similar track record. The continued success of a company depends on client satisfaction, leading to referrals.

Larger institutions and governments may receive several bids for security contracts, while smaller businesses (such as many that Batten-Hatchez Security will target) often prefer to try out security companies and move on if they do not meet expectations.

The smaller the amount of assets being protected, the more willing a company will be to risk their security on educated hunches about a security company without feeling the need to do due diligence on a number of options.

IBISworld reports the following about the security industry:

  • While the public’s perception of the rising crime rate assists revenue, the most significant factor which increases the demand for this industry’s services is a breach of an existing security system, a break-in or a near break in. The economic crisis has hurt demand over the past two years but things will soon begin to improve.
  • In Coastalburg, security guard service competitors include securityguard.com, Top Guard Security, US Security Guard Services, and Trend Security Corporation.

Click here to view this full business plan


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Professional Services

Business Development Sample Business Plan

Using this sample business plan will allow you to successfully take the first steps in starting a business development company.

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Click here to view this full business plan

Business Development Business Plan

Executive Summary

We are currently in a highly lucrative market in a rapidly growing economy. The current trend towards an increase in the number of entrepreneurs and competition amongst existing companies presents an opportunity for an increased demand for market information and services that will enable companies to stay ahead of the pack.

Our services will be positioned very carefully: they will be of extremely high quality, relevant, timely and accurate, tailored to the clients’ needs so as to enable them to make the right decisions, in turn leading towards growth of their companies, benefiting the overall economy.

Palms and Bonds offers the expertise that a proactive-oriented and market-opportunity seeking company needs to develop and enter new product distribution and new market segments in new markets. We intend to provide a number of necessary services to the business community and to the public. These can be summed up in two main divisions — Business and Training Services. Our business services can be taken as marketing research, market research reports, project-based consulting, business and marketing plans, plan consulting and writing, high-level retainer consulting and company registration. Our training services include workshops and seminars on such topics as sales and marketing, as well as in-house training of receptionists, secretaries, and sales and marketing personnel.

Our marketing strategy will be based mainly on ensuring that customers know what needs the services are able to fulfill, and making the right information available to the right target customer. We intend to implement a market penetration strategy that will ensure that we are well known and respected in our respective industry. We will ensure that our services’ prices take into consideration people’s budgets, and that these people appreciate the services, know that it exists, and where to find it. The marketing will convey the sense of quality in every picture, every promotion, and every publication. Our promotional strategy will involve integrating advertising, events, personal selling, public relations, direct marketing and Internet marketing, details of which are provided in the marketing section of this plan.

Our target markets will range from persons in the corporate towers, small or medium businesses, to home institutions needing information on their particular area of concern. The common bond will be the appreciation of the importance of quality information that will enable correct decisions to be made, holding all things equal. Palms and Bonds prides itself on its analytical ability, its value-added service, competitive fees, its high standards of quality and its adaptability to changes in the market and in the method of its practice.

Palms and Bonds intends to provide the client with more than just information and planning tools. We intend to provide quality information that is customized to the client’s needs, in the process assisting them on how best to use the available information. By employing our services, our clients are assured of consultants dedicated to finding the right answers for their business and enabling them to benefit long after we have finished our work. We are in this line of work because we like efficiency and because we understand and believe in problem solving and market/marketing research.

As we grow we want to grow right. For example we recognize that we have to be in constant touch with our stakeholders to ensure market knowledge at all times. This is the nature of the channels we deal with. Also, we intend to build our management team correctly. We need the right people in the right place at the right time if we are to ensure optimum growth. We intend to develop our team so that our people can grow as the company grows — a mutually beneficial relationship.

In a nutshell, we don’t just intend to market and sell our service, but to market and sell customized information, solutions and a total-quality environment. This will ensure we establish a reputable corporate image.

1.1 Objectives

Our business strategy will revolve around the need to provide quality information to our various target clients/customers, in the process fully satisfying their needs. This shall be undertaken through recruitment of a professional marketing research and business consultancy team and the production of good quality reports designed to cater to the client’s needs. These reports/proposals shall be professionally done so as to be reflective of our intended image and reputation. We shall position ourselves as a quality service provider that strives to provide accuracy, relevancy and specific information. We intend to establish a good rapport with all the relevant government agencies and private institutions that may in turn refer us to aspiring entrepreneurs.

With time our presence on the World Wide Web will increase the knowledge of our services to the various market segments we shall be targeting. This is particularly so with foreign firms looking at establishing themselves in Botswana, hence providing them easy access to local information. In such a case Web presence is a natural objective in reaching the appropriate potential customers. We also intend to have brochures that will enable clients to have an understanding of the types of services we offer and advantages of doing so. In addition to well-done brochures, company profiles and business cards often have a triggering effect on clients contemplating investing in Botswana. These will undoubtedly generate increased sales of our products.

1.2 Keys to Success

The keys to Palms and Bonds success will undoubtedly be effective market segmentation through identification of several niche markets and implementation strategies. Along these lines the company intends to implement personal selling and direct marketing strategies to the target markets. Our personal selling marketing strategies will rotate around keeping in touch with investment and finance bodies for major clients and word-of-mouth for more individual investors. our key success factors will include the following:

  • Excellence in fulfilling the promise: completely confidential, reliable, trustworthy expertise and information. This dictates that we have the latest technology and software.
  • Uncompromising commitment to the quality of the work: that is, quality data, information and solutions.
  • Developing visibility to generate new business leads.
  • Leveraging from a single pool of expertise into multiple revenue generation opportunities: retainer consulting, project consulting, market research, and market research published reports.
  • Successful niche marketing: we intend to find and target the quality-conscious customer in the right channels, making sure that the customer will find us through aggressive marketing.
  • Timeous response to clients orders: we cannot afford to delay the client’s order for whatever reason as this will have a negative bearing on our image and reputation, including future business. We need to be continually communicating with the client.
  • Marketing know-how: in an increasingly competitive market there is need to aggressively market our business and the services we provide so as to be continuously at the top of our prospective and current clients minds.
  • Entrepreneurial Flair: market volatility and increasing duplication of business ideas advocates that we continuously keep abreast of new trends and our competitors.

1.3 Mission

Palms and Bonds offers clients reliable, quality information and proposals for business development, market development, and channel development that will maximize business development. A true alternative to in-house resources we offer a very high level of practical experience, know-how, contacts, and confidentiality. At Palms and Bonds we are able to provide comprehensive solutions to our clients’ problems that will foster business development. Clients must know that working with Palms and Bonds is a more professional, less risky way to develop new areas even than working completely in-house with their own people. Palms and Bonds must also be able to maintain financial balance, charging a competitive and realistic value for its services, and delivering an even higher value to its clients. Initial focus will be development of the local market clientele.

Our mission statement is:
“We endeavor to understand our customers’ business so well as to be able to offer comprehensive solutions to their problems.”

Company Summary

Palms and Bonds is a relatively new company providing high-level expertise in local business development, market identification and development, channel development, distribution strategies, and marketing strategies for all types of products and services. It will focus initially on providing and satisfying two kinds of markets:

  1. Providing market research to local clients looking at developing their businesses for the increasingly competitive markets, be they new or established.
  2. Providing market research services to foreign investors looking at investing in the local markets.

As it grows it will take on people and consulting work in related markets. It will also look for additional leverage by establishing relationships and representations with international market research organizations.

2.1 Company Ownership

Palms and Bonds is a Private Limited company. Its fiscal year is the calendar year. Messrs. TTT. and SSS. equally own the company.

2.2 Start-up Summary

Total start-up capital and expenses covered (including legal costs, logo design, stationery and related expenses) came to approximately P49,600. Start-up assets required and utilized included personal computers, vehicles, office furniture, and other office equipment.

Services

Palms and Bonds offers expertise in market research, channel distribution, channel development, and market development that allow clients to choose their preferred relationship: these include retainer consulting relationships, project-based consulting, sales representation and market representation, project-based market research, published market research, information forum events, business plans, and marketing plans.

Palms and Bonds offers the expertise a proactive-oriented and market-opportunity seeking company needs to develop and enter new product distribution and new market segments in new markets. We intend to provide a number of necessary services to the business community and to the public. These can be summed up in two areas — Business and Training Services. Our business services can be taken as high-level retainer consulting, market research reports, project-based consulting, business and marketing plans, plan consulting and writing, and company registration. Our training services include workshops and seminars on such topics as sales and marketing, as well as in-house training of receptionists, secretaries, and sales and marketing personnel.

3.1 Service Description

Our business planning services include: assisting companies with the research and structuring of comprehensive, written business and marketing plans; providing a written business plan package, which delivers a complete, detailed business plan to the client, specifically designed to meet their needs, that is, FAP applications, bank loans, NDB loans, restructuring, new product development, market expansion, etc.

In many cases, small businesses often consider next year’s budget an acceptable business plan. Any investor or banker will disagree and insist on much more information prior to making a financial decision regarding funding a business. We want to provide the opportunity for businesses, which have potential to receive the funding that would help them become solid employers.

Market research:  (Discussion omitted in this sample business plan)
Retainer consulting: (Discussion omitted)
Cash Flow Analysis: (Discussion omitted)
Project consulting: (Discussion omitted)

3.2 Sales Literature

The business will begin with a general corporate brochure establishing the positioning. This brochure was developed as part of the start-up expenses including the business cards and Company Profile, mainly for the large organizations that often recommend services to potential investors. Compliment slips are also on the cards so as to raise awareness of the company and its services.

Literature and mailings for the initial market forums will be very important.

3.3 Technology

Palms and Bonds will maintain the latest market research software and Windows capabilities including:

  • Complete email facilities on the Internet for working with clients directly through email delivery of drafts and information.
  • Complete presentation facilities for preparation and delivery of multimedia presentations on Windows machines, in formats including on-disk presentation, live presentation, or video presentation.
  • Complete desktop publishing facilities for delivery of regular retainer reports, project output reports, marketing materials, and market research reports.

3.4 Future Services

In putting the company together we have attempted to offer enough services to allow us to always be in demand by our clients. However, economics has provided us with a new era of opportunities for the small business in which we can only guess at the needs. The most important factor in developing future services is market need. Our understanding of the needs of our target market segments is one of our competitive advantages. It is critical to our effort to develop the right new services. We also have what we call a “core service engine” (market research) that will be the foundation of future products. In the future, Palms and Bonds will broaden its coverage by expanding into additional markets (e.g., the whole of southern Africa) and additional product areas. However in doing so we will strive to ensure that it is compatible with the existing services.

Now we have the possibility of new money being loosened for entrepreneurs and that means there will be a substantial increase in the number of feasibility studies and business plans. This provides additional business for virtually every area of business service we provide.

We are also studying the possibility of newsletter or electronic newsletter services (for the international market), or perhaps special on-topic reports, pending further research on client needs.

Market Analysis Summary

We are today experiencing a rapid growth in the economy of unsurpassed nature. This has been brought about by amongst other things, the relaxation of foreign exchange policies and macro economic policies geared towards attracting foreign investors into the country. The fiscal and monetary policies of the government geared towards maintaining growth with social justice have largely contributed towards this, evidenced by our economy averaging a growth rate of 7% since 1990 — very high by international standards.

The current drive and emphasis by the government on diversification of the industrial base away from the minerals sector presents an opportunity for Palms and Bonds to make a valuable contribution towards achieving this goal. This will result in implementation of modern market research techniques and transfer of knowledge. Having undertaken a thorough and comprehensive research of the market we realized that there was a need for a specialized market research firm that focuses on producing market research reports that are tailored to the clients needs. Though there are business consultancy firms currently on the market, some of whom have been in existence for a relatively long period of time, we believe that there is a market need for one (ourselves in this instance) that particularly focuses on market research. We intend to provide services of extremely high quality — something that cannot be over-emphasized in the international arena with the current drive towards globalization.

We appreciate that entering such a market is not a bed of roses and intend to implement an aggressive marketing strategy, well supported by the other business functions. The above prognosis influenced our decision to enter the business consultancy industry.

4.1 Market Segmentation

Palms and Bonds will be focusing on local businesses and foreign investors looking at investing in the country. These will be small, medium, and large-sized companies looking for a total service and quality work.

Our most important group of potential customers are foreign investors. These are potential investors who want to have a feel and understanding of the local markets and the opportunities, and constraints they present to them. They do not want to waste their time or risk their money looking for bargain information or questionable expertise. As they go into markets looking at new opportunities, they are very sensitive to risking their company’s name and reputation.

Large corporations: one of our most important market segment is the large organization looking at penetrating new or existing markets. These companies will be calling on Palms and Bonds for development functions that are better spun off than managed in-house, for market research, and feasibility studies.

Medium-sized growth companies: particularly in rapidly expanding markets, Palms and Bonds will offer an attractive development alternative to the company that is management constrained and unable to address opportunities in new markets and new market segments.

Small-sized companies: in an increasingly competitive environment entrepreneurs are becoming more cautious in the markets they seek to enter and on establishing new market opportunities. They are often seeking for prior research to be done to identify possible markets that are suited to their resources and capabilities.

Hence the most likely types of businesses to require our services would include:

  • New businesses seeking investment or start-up capital
  • New firms looking at investing in the country
  • Existing companies which are expanding or introducing a new product/ service.

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

Our marketing strategy will be based mainly on making the right information available to the right target customer. We will ensure that our services’ prices take into consideration people’s budgets, and that these people appreciate the service and know that it exists, including where to find it. The marketing will convey the sense of quality in every picture, every promotion, and every publication. There is already a sense of segment strategy in the way we define our target market. We are choosing to compete in areas that lend themselves to local competition, service and channel areas that match our strengths, and avoid our weaknesses.

Our strategy calls for the development of relationships with investment bodies, attorneys, accountants and financial institutions to support our business with referrals. Interviews with commercial loan officers have indicated that there is a serious need for a professional firm like ours to help their clients in market/marketing research, and development of comprehensive and concise business and marketing plans.

4.2.1 Market Needs

Palms and Bonds intends to provide the client with more than general market information. We intend to provide accurate, relevant, specific and timely information that will enable our clients to make more accurate decisions. This information we intend to be available to our clients at competitive rates.

We understand that our target markets need more than just information but information that will enable them to make more informed decisions. Our target client wants information that is relevant to their needs and easily understandable so as to make the right decisions. We don’t just intend to provide a service, but to provide one of unparalleled nature relative to the market.

4.2.2 Market Trends

Our intended markets are increasingly growing towards recognizing the difference between poor quality business consultancy service and that of high quality. This development is an important trend for us as it represents our target market, and hence opportunity. We now are having an increasing number of people who appreciate quality information and the importance of having comprehensive and concise market and business plans undertaken.

Another trend is the one toward greater use of specialized and focused consultants, instead of in-house resources. Companies are looking for out-sourcing (but unfortunately few offer such a service) and, in general, a preference for variable costs instead of fixed costs.

4.3 Positioning Statement

Although there are a number of attorneys and accountants who write or assist in writing a business plan, the reality is that these professionals provide invaluable services in the areas in which they specialize, but lack the imagination to write a comprehensive and effective business plan. The attorneys tend to dwell on the legal aspects and contractual arrangements while accountants sweat over the balance sheets, cash flow statements, product costs and income statements. Additionally, these vitally necessary professionals cannot afford to spend the many hours necessary to work on a business plan when they could be earning much more per hour concentrating on their particular field of expertise.

Our expertise lies in the ability to listen to a business owner and perceive their vision for their company over the next few years. We can envision what the business person is looking for in the future, then put it in writing and at a cost they can live with.

4.4 Service Business Analysis

The consulting “industry” is pulverized and disorganized, with many smaller consulting organizations and individual consultants for every one of the few dozen well-known companies. These other organizations often offer a service, which is not to the client’s satisfaction. In addition they often claim to offer a service, which they are not fully capable of providing satisfactorily.

Consulting participants range from major international name-brand consultants to hundreds of individuals. One of Palms and Bonds’ challenges will be establishing itself as a real consulting company, specializing in market research, positioned as a relatively risk-free corporate purchase. The business consulting industry may be segmented by economics and needs patterns. This incorporates some of the service type differences, but in a more practical sense:

Mainline Services: these include marketing/market research undertaken through advertising, direct mail, referrals and sales literature. Essentially these will be customized to the client’s needs.

Ancillary Services: these include services such as trading licenses and company formation, which tend to be similar with not much to differentiate amongst providers except speed of execution. We intend to have an extremely efficient and ‘state-of-the-art’ business centre that will cater to our clients’ needs. Service provider decisions don’t tend to be major decisions/events covering relatively insignificant amounts.

4.4.1 Distributing a Service

Consulting is sold and purchased mainly on a word-of-mouth basis, with relationships and previous experience being, by far, the most important factor.

The major name-brand houses have locations in the main mall, and executive-level managers or partners develop new business through industry associations, business associations, chambers of commerce and industry, etc., and in some cases social associations such as country clubs.

The medium-level houses tend to be general in terms of services and specific in terms of target market — targeting FAP seeking clients/individuals. They are not easily able to leverage their business through distribution, which we intend to be one of our competitive advantages.

4.4.2 Competition and Buying Patterns

The key element in purchase decisions made at the Palms and Bonds client level is trust in the professional reputation and reliability of the consulting firm. The most important factor in this market is the quality of the service. The majority of the investment referrals said they were not satisfied with the current plans often submitted for their approval as they were of poor quality.

4.4.3 Main Competitors

There are numerous companies operating in Gaborone who classify themselves as “business consultants”. However, upon contacting these, it appears that the vast majority of these companies are bookkeeping and secretarial services companies. There are some companies that provide services similar to those offered by us and that is good, but none of them specialize in market/marketing research. The following are some of our main competitors:

The high-level prestige management consulting firms

Strengths: Prime locations managed by owner-partners with a high level of presentation and understanding of general business. Enviable reputations, which make purchase of consulting an easy decision for a manager, despite the very high prices.

Weaknesses: General business knowledge doesn’t substitute for the specific market, channel, and distribution expertise of Palms and Bonds, focusing on local markets and products/services. Also, fees are extremely expensive, and work is generally done by very junior-level consultants, even though sold by high-level partners.

General Business Consultancy firms

Strengths: Expertise in certain functional areas particularly bookkeeping. Palms and Bonds intends not to compete with general business consultancy firms in these  markets.

Weaknesses: The inability to spread beyond a specific focus, or to rise above a specific focus, to provide actual marketing and market research expertise, experience, and wisdom beyond the specifics.

The most significant competition is no consulting at all, companies choosing to do market research, business development and channel development in-house.

Strengths: No incremental cost except travel; also, the general work is done by the people who are entirely responsible, the planning is done by those who will implement it.

Weaknesses: Most managers are terribly overburdened already, unable to find incremental resources in time and people to apply to incremental opportunities. Also, there is a lot of additional risk in market and channel development done in-house from the ground up. Finally, retainer-based antenna consultants can greatly enhance a company’s reach and extend its position into conversations that might otherwise never have taken place.

Attorneys and Accounting firms

Strengths: Able to provide sound accounting or legal advice and services with the plans being done by the partners.

Weaknesses: They often lack the imagination to write a comprehensive and effective business plan. The attorneys tend to dwell on the legal aspects and contractual arrangements while accountants sweat over the balance sheets, cash flow statements, product costs and income statements. Very little market research, if any, is often undertaken, and often ineffectively.

4.4.4 Business Participants

At the highest level are the few well-established major names in management consulting. Most of these are organized as partnerships established in major markets around the world, linked together by interconnecting directors and sharing the name and corporate wisdom. Some evolved from accounting companies and some from management consulting. These companies charge very high rates for consulting, and maintain relatively high overhead structures and fulfillment structures based on partners selling and junior associates fulfilling.

4.4.5 Competitive Comparison

We have sought to identify competition in terms of companies that satisfy the same client needs that we intend to. Our competitors are few in our main service, and, including Government agencies, numerous in our ancillary services. There will be a need to strongly differentiate ourselves from these other businesses. However on a broader scale our competition comes in several forms:

The most significant competition is no market research consulting at all, companies choosing to do market research, business development and channel development in-house. Their own managers do this on their own, as part of their regular business functions. Our key advantage in competition with in-house development is that managers are already overloaded with responsibilities, they don’t have time for additional responsibilities in new market development or new channel development. Also, Palms and Bonds can approach alliances, investment bodies, and channels on a confidential basis, gathering information and making initial contacts in ways that the corporate managers can’t.
The high-level prestige management consulting: XXX and international firms. These are essentially generalists who take their name-brand management consulting into specialty areas. Their other very important weakness is the management structure that has the partners selling new jobs, and inexperienced associates delivering the work. We compete against them as experts in our specific fields, and with the guarantee that our clients will have the top-level people doing the actual work.

The third general kind of competitors are the various trading and Investment bodies. These companies are formidable competitors for published market research and market forums, but cannot provide the kind of high-level customized consulting that Palms and Bonds will provide.
The fourth kind of competition are the business consultancy firms, which undertake business plans for various organizations. For example: LLL, MMM, NNN, and OOO Consultancy.
The fifth kind of competition are the numerous “fly-by-night” business consultants that claim to offer the same services as we do. Often they offer a below par service with no qualified personnel.

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Marketing Strategy Sample Business Plan

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Marketing Strategy Business Plan

Executive Summary

Last year the doors to 898,000 new businesses opened in the United States for the first time. Most of these businesses were created by entrepreneurs who envisioned an opportunity to develop a new product or service, and pursued that vision in search of independence and financial reward. While these visionaries started with solid ideas to form the foundation of their new ventures, most do not have many of the skills necessary to transform their ideas into reality. Additionally, the scarcity of talent in today’s market makes it extremely difficult for small business owners to attract and retain those skills.

Target Market

The Cambridge Strategy Group (CSG), L.L.C. is dedicated to providing marketing and management consulting services to small and emerging businesses looking for opportunities to increase their potential for success. Unlike traditional management consulting firms that focus on analyzing problems for large customers, CSG works exclusively with small business clients to develop concrete, practical, short-term action plans that will start moving their businesses in the right direction. The Cambridge Strategy Group takes advantage of the small business owners’ need for marketing and management skills, the scarcity of those skills in the market, and the lack of any major competitor owning the concept of “small business consulting.”

Management

The CSG management team brings a broad range of industry experience and training from both energetic small firms and experienced industry leaders.

John B. Gordon, Executive Director: John has worked in marketing, business development, and corporate strategy for a number of small and large firms, including EMC Corporation, IBM Corporation, and Larscom, Incorporated. John’s participation on the North Carolina Council for Entrepreneurial Development, plus his experience providing consulting services to small businesses, catalyzed the formation of the Cambridge Strategy Group.

Todd D. Kuczaj, Managing Director: Todd has worked in Internet consulting, Web design/development, financial services, and media publications for a variety of companies, including a Big Five consulting firm, Integrated Information Systems Inc., SunAmerica Securities Inc., and the Foothills Sentinel. Todd currently functions as an experienced analyst for a Big Five consulting firm, working with Fortune 100 and Fortune e-50 firms to solve their business and technology issues.

Ben S. Cordell, Managing Director: Ben has worked in business development, account management, systems engineering, marketing, and product development positions at LifeServ and ONE Co. (formerly DC Systems). Ben currently functions as a corporate strategy specialist at LifeServ, discovering and developing merger, acquisition and strategic partnership opportunities.

1.1 Keys to Success

UNIQUENESS OF SERVICES
The Cambridge Strategy Group is focused specifically on helping small and emerging businesses maximize their potential for success. We combine Blue Chip training with small business experience and local presence. We differentiate ourselves in the following ways:

Focus on small business. We place our best people on small business customers. Our mission is to help small businesses of today become the leading corporations of tomorrow. Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to own the words “small business” in the minds of our potential clients.

Cost-effective personal interaction with local consultant presence. Personal interaction provides small businesses with a level of comfort not available with remote consultants. There may be many occasions where the small business founders may ask the consultant to simply “stop by,” to react to a new development, or to answer a question. While this local presence and personal interaction is highly valued, business owners are often unable to afford the cost associated with bringing consultants to them from other areas.

A diverse network of consultants and alliance partners. Solving the unique problems that face small businesses today demands a wide range of skills and experiences. By relying on a nationally distributed talent base coordinated to work together remotely, Cambridge Strategy Group will be able to bring together the skills required by a particular client without incurring the expense of physically bringing all of the individuals together. In the book, 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout note that being first in the customer’s mind is more important than being the overall leader. In the world of small business, this is particularly true. With 898,000 small businesses starting each year, there is a significant opportunity for a consulting firm such as Cambridge Strategy Group to become the “first” consulting firm dedicated exclusively to small businesses in the minds of a number of these potential clients.

1.2 Objectives

The firm has very small capital requirements. Any capital that the firm obtains will be used to promote the “small business focus” of the firm and cover basic operational costs. For the firm to realize its full potential, the founders would require compensation equivalent to full-time employment while pursuing initial clients and creating a backlog of work requests. This would most likely need to cover at least one year’s salary for each of the three managers. Additionally, funding for initial marketing projects would help to ensure that the firm could establish a claim to the “small business consulting” concept in the target market. In exchange for the funding, CSG would provide an equity stake to the funding company. Ideally, we would like to work with the funding company to help its other clients succeed.

Company Summary

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION
Cambridge Strategy Group is a North Carolina-based consulting firm that responds to entrepreneurs’ need for practical business and marketing services to turn their innovative ideas into successful business ventures. Through interaction with a number of aspiring entrepreneurs, the founders of the Cambridge Strategy Group discovered a ready market of clients who were eager to take advantage of the founders’ skills, understanding, and insight into their businesses. The Cambridge Strategy Group is exclusively focused on small businesses. Our goal is to own the idea “small business” or “small business consulting” in the minds of our target market.

COMPANY ANALYSIS
The Cambridge Strategy Group has identified a real business opportunity that has been neglected by earlier consulting firms due to its complex customer base. Below, we have identified the opportunities and threats in the environment, as well as our particular strengths and weaknesses that will enable us to succeed:

OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS
The Cambridge Strategy Group has analyzed the market and believes that a real opportunity exists to provide services to small businesses. The following paragraphs describe the environment in which the company will compete, and the key success factors necessary to perform well.

Opportunities – The number of new businesses starting each year in the U.S. and specifically in the Triangle Area of North Carolina create a sizeable market. Many of these businesses are started by an entrepreneur with a solid idea, but little experience in creating the formal business strategies or marketing deliverables necessary to turn their idea into a successful business. With recent IPOs giving back much of their initial valuations, companies are now being forced to demonstrate profitable business models in order to maintain strong valuations. Venture capitalists need to focus on making their existing companies successful instead of simply prospecting for the next great idea. To accomplish this, founders need to effectively define and communicate their value propositions. Since this is not a core competency for many entrepreneurs, there is an opportunity to provide this skill set through outsourcing arrangements. Additionally, founders need experience in sales and marketing to exploit market opportunities and create early revenue wins. Finally, no business currently exists with dominant mind-share as a “small business consulting” firm.

Threats – Businesses in the early stages of their life cycles, usually through the Angel funding stage, tend to have extremely tight budgets. Once the business reaches the venture-funded stage, it often has more cash to devote to outsourcing of non-core competencies. Barriers to entry in this market are extremely low. Successful consultants will have to work to earn a few client successes and then aggressively build a reputation as the “small business consultants.” Building a reputation will require funding. High-profile consulting firms could quickly enter this market. In order to keep costs low, it is assumed that they would begin out of a major office, leaving the Triangle Area of North Carolina available. However, low cost of living in the Triangle Area may facilitate expansion. Establishing area contacts will be critical to hedge against new firms entering the area.

Services

The Cambridge Strategy Group portfolio is designed to provide targeted marketing and management services to small businesses. From helping entrepreneurs define their business plans to improve their chances for obtaining venture funding, to creating concrete marketing deliverables to promote their original ideas, the Cambridge Strategy Group seeks to help small businesses at various stages of development. Our services fall into four major categories.

Management consulting;
Market planning;
Communication services;
Technology.

MANAGEMENT CONSULTING
The Cambridge Strategy Group helps entrepreneurs build a solid managerial foundation from which the rest of their business can expand and grow. We construct organizational development blueprints for young firms searching for a solid structure to build upon, and assist in constructing business plans for fledgling companies to improve their chances of obtaining venture funding. CSG offers insights and ideas for how small businesses can discover and sustain their competitive advantage in today’s business landscape where a lack of continuous and constant innovation can be fatal. Furthermore, we offer expertise in other areas such as profit modeling to assist small businesses in their future planning, especially in today’s market where heavy emphasis has been placed upon a company’s ability to show profits rather than pure growth.

MARKET PLANNING
Deciding how to present an innovative idea to the market is critical. We have expertise in turning that idea into a successful business venture. Our market planning services help small business founders determine the best messaging for their companies through market and competitive analysis.

We then take the information gained in our analyses and create an effective marketing mix encompassing all of the elements of product or service definition. Finally, we can help our clients develop a launch plan to give their product or service a good chance at success. When necessary, we will help to develop marketing or business development partnerships.

COMMUNICATION SERVICES
Through our past experience in media operations, CSG provides expertise in a variety of communication formats. CSG composes professional press releases for the media as well as business proposals of all types for both clients and partners. Furthermore, with our understanding of how important company name recognition is to the initial success of small businesses, we help companies create and establish their image through proven branding techniques. CSG can also create marketing/sales collateral, business cards, and other business materials when needed by our clients.

3.1 Service Description

The Cambridge Strategy Group offers four types of services to help small and emerging businesses at various stages of their business development. Our services range in scope from helping to turn a business strategy into a detailed set of concrete actions and milestones, to creating websites and writing collateral for businesses lacking marketing expertise. These tailored services solve the problem of finding marketing talent while minimizing costs.

Management consulting: business strategy, organizational development, profit modeling, sustainable competitive advantage identification;
Market planning: market analysis, value proposition creation, partnership identification, marketing mix development, launch strategies, messaging;
Communication services: press release development, proposal writing, image creation, marketing/sales collateral construction;
Technology: website development, Web hosting, email enablement.

3.2 Technology

The Cambridge Strategy Group understands the importance of implementing the technological components of a small business as soon as possible in order to facilitate communication between the company and its clients, employees, and partners. Therefore, we offer assistance in email enablement as well as phone and fax set-up. CSG also offers expertise in constructing an Internet presence through Web development and Web hosting.

3.3 Future Services

STRATEGY
The Cambridge Strategy Group has a three-part strategy for managing business growth. Initially, CSG will be based out of the Triangle Area of North Carolina, which was ranked #3 on the sixth annual listing of Dun and Bradstreet’s “Best Cities for Small Business” from Entrepreneur magazine.

Starting from North Carolina, our three-part growth strategy is as follows:

  1. Expansion of Consulting Team: We will add new consultants in other U.S. and foreign cities to increase our skill base and provide more “points of local contact” for our clients.
  2. Introduction of New Services: New team members will bring new skills and potentially allow us to offer new services to our small business clients. One possible example is helping small businesses expand their operations overseas.
  3. Evolution of Business Operations: While our initial clients will be obtained through our consultants, ultimately we will create alliances with Venture Capital firms. Our goal is to work with clients and Venture Capital firms to help turn business ideas into successes.

Market Analysis Summary

The Cambridge Strategy Group intends to enter the market for providing marketing and management consulting services to new and emerging small businesses. The sections below discuss our analysis of the environment, the target market, our competitors, and the company.

The environment is well suited for the Cambridge Strategy Group. While the market for startups and skyrocketing IPOs appears to be cooling off, this slowdown provides an opportunity for CSG to establish a presence in the small business arena before the next growth period.

4.1 Market Segmentation

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
The following factors define the environment in which CSG hopes to succeed.

Physical: New businesses are being formed across the United States every day. Providing consulting services to these businesses will require local presence. North Carolina’s Triangle Area has recently been rated as one of the top three metropolitan areas for small businesses by Dun and Bradstreet’s Entrepreneur magazine.

Legal: The creation of the Limited Liability Company has made it very simple for new businesses to organize as formal business entities. Limited Liability Companies are ideal for small businesses as they avoid the double taxation characteristic of C Corporations, while providing limited liability for the company members.

Economic: Current economic conditions are continuing to challenge investors’ views regarding the potential for return. The market is no longer rewarding entrepreneurs solely on the strength of their ideas. Instead, business owners and Venture Capitalists are expected to show profitability before they will be allowed to reap the rewards of their hard work. While small business owners bring innovative ideas and possibly leadership qualities to their organization, they will need to rely upon skills from other disciplines, including marketing, to succeed.

Social: According to a Small Business Administration report, U.S. small business is at an all-time high (The Facts About Small Business, 1999) “interest in owning or starting a small business has broken new records [between 1993 and 1998].” While recent stock market corrections may have frightened a segment of potential entrepreneurs, the opportunity for financial reward keeps many small business owners diligently chasing their dreams.

Technological: Recent advances in technology have greatly enhanced the ability for distributed teams to work together on common projects. The proliferation of the Internet facilitates data sharing and communication. Voice-over-IP technology reduces the cost of conversation between CSG members working across the country.

With these conditions in mind, CSG will concentrate on initially building clients in the North Carolina area before expanding into other areas. We will be concentrating on all businesses that employ less than 100 individuals. CSG will not segment its market to any greater degree since the company wants to build clients as quickly as possible.

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

The target market is defined by the customer needs that create the market, the structural forces that govern operation within the market, and the attractiveness of the market based on strategic value, market size, market growth, and potential for profit. Each of these areas is described below.

STRUCTURAL FACTORS
Particular market forces affect the ability of the Cambridge Strategy Group to succeed. These forces are identified below:

Buyer Power: With almost 900,000 new businesses starting each year, there is ample demand for consulting services. If any particular business chooses to work with another consulting firm, there are still a large number of firms that can be targeted by CSG. Buyers have power in this market, but the size of the market makes it unlikely that buyer power will have any significant negative impact on the consulting firm.

Threat of Conventional Competitors: No other conventional competitor owns the idea of “small business consulting” in the minds of today’s business owners. A number of high-profile management and marketing consulting firms exist, yet most of these firms have a reputation for being expensive and much too theoretical for small business owners who have practical, short-term concerns. Still, there is potential for these firms to open distinct teams of consultants focused on this market place. These teams would have particular strength in an area where the competitors already have an established consulting presence, such as the major U.S. cities. By beginning our efforts in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, Cambridge Strategy Group will exploit an area that has a very strong market of small businesses, yet does not have many high-profile competitor offices outside of tax specialists. No smaller competitor has emerged in this area.

Supplier Power: Suppliers have minimal power over a consulting firm. The www.cambridgestrategy.net website URL as well as all of the Cambridge Strategy Group email addresses are owned by CSG. Our Web-hosting provider can be changed quickly in the event of any disruption of service. CSG intends to work with third party alliance partners to fulfill client projects. For example, CSG is in the process of entering into an agreement with a Web development firm. This supplier will provide website development for the www.cambridgestrategy.net website in exchange for first right of refusal for future client projects. Contractual stipulations have given the Group legal remedies to terminate the contract due to cost, quality, or time issues with the supplier. By crafting supplier contracts in a careful manner, we hope to limit our exposure to risk due to suppliers’ power.

Threat of Substitutes: Potential substitutes are a very real threat. Venture Capitalists could add more consulting services to their portfolio in order to have more points of contact with the new business. Additionally, non-profit groups such as the Council for Entrepreneurial Development offer basic business plan services, primarily focusing on pre-Angel businesses. Cambridge Strategy Group intends to form relationships with each of these potential substitutes. By working with Venture Capitalists, CSG is able to provide a set of core competencies in marketing and business strategy that complements the VCs funding and business model assessment competencies. Also, by becoming more involved with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development and other non-profit organizations, CSG will gain access to a number of firms who will be potential prospects for marketing consulting once they receive their initial funding.

Threat of New Entrants: This threat is significant as there are very few barriers to entry in a consulting market. Consulting firms do not normally have significant intellectual property that can be patented, and the requirements for creating these firms are minimal. Fortunately, the size of the new business market should sustain a number of firms in this area. The Cambridge Strategy Group will focus on gaining ownership of the idea “small business consulting” in the mind of the market. By owning that idea, CSG will minimize its exposure to new consulting firms with similar targets. Owning this idea is an expensive task that will have to start locally and move from one city to another as the company expands.

4.2.1 Market Growth

According to recent research from the U.S. Small Business Administration office, a record number of new small businesses opened their doors in 1998. This record was broken again in 1999 as the overall small business market grew 1.5%. The growth of the market is not nearly as important to the Cambridge Strategy Group as its size. CSG will need to focus on how to capture the most out of the existing market, even if it declines in size, before thinking about expanding. Potentially, the low growth may dissuade some competitors from entering the market, providing the Cambridge Strategy Group with an opportunity to capture market- and mind-share before more competitors enter.

MARKET ATTRACTIVENESS
The Cambridge Strategy Group is entering the market for small business marketing and management consulting services. The growing number of small businesses in the United States, particularly in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, constitute an enormous potential client base that demands the skills provided by the Cambridge Strategy Group.

Strategic Value: The small business consulting market is a strategic, and available, segment for the Cambridge Strategy Group. Many companies are able to get customers to associate a particular concept or idea with their firm. To date, there is no clear association for “small business consulting.” Over time, the Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to capture this association.

Market Size: The size of the market is an important factor. While the large number of small businesses starting each year will make it difficult to gain significant share of the market in the near term, it does help to ensure that there will be initial customers available to the Cambridge Strategy Group.

Potential for Profit: The potential for profit in this segment is very high. The operating costs required to address this segment are minimal, allowing a majority of service revenue to be turned directly into profit. While the barriers to competitive entry may be fairly low, no clear leader has gained the mind-share of the potential client market. Additionally, based on the overwhelming size of the market and the distributed nature of the potential clients, it is unlikely that any competitor will be able to dominate the market in the near future.

4.2.2 Market Trends

INDUSTRY BACKGROUND
The industry is ideal for the emergence of a firm such as the Cambridge Strategy Group. The following facts were listed in a November 1999 report published by the U.S. Small Business Administration:

In 1998; 898,000 new businesses opened in the United States – the most ever.

Interest in owning or starting a small business has broken new records over the last five years and part-time entrepreneurs have dramatically increased.

From 1994 to 1998, about 11.1 million net new jobs were added to the economy. According to Cognetics, Inc., virtually all were generated by small firms with fewer than 500 employees. Microbusinesses with 1-4 employees generated 60.2 percent of the net new jobs over this period; firms with 5-19 employees contributed another 18.3 percent.

Of the 4.5 million workers in high-technology occupations (scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and analysts), 37.9 percent worked in small firms in 1996.

Firms were started for very traditional reasons. Entrepreneurs had a clear perception of an opportunity to develop a business through a new product, coupled with a desire for both independence and financial reward.

The marketing strategy most frequently cited by respondents was either to be the first to the market with a new product or to find a market niche and develop it. These companies much less frequently wait for a market to develop.

Additionally, the fact that the stock market has been slowing during the past year will likely take some of the glitter off of the small business market. This will allow the Cambridge Strategy Group to establish a market presence and prepare to grow during the next period of rapid investment.

4.2.3 Market Needs

Within the small business market, there are a number of segments, each with distinct objectives, resources, and needs.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

CORPORATE FIT
The Cambridge Strategy Group is poised to take advantage of the trends identified above. By combining the marketing and management experience, small business focus, and local presence in key markets, the Cambridge Strategy Group will help the growing number of small businesses increase their chances for success.

The Cambridge Strategy Group is a Limited Liability Company designed to offer limited liability to the members. CSG is incorporated in North Carolina where it will initially focus its operations. The rapidly growing Triangle Area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Research Triangle Park, was recently ranked #3 on the list of large metropolitan areas in Dun and Bradstreet’s Entrepreneur magazine’s sixth annual listing of the “Best Cities for Small Businesses.” CSG’s initial address is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. However, with consultants distributed across the nation, CSG can easily expand its target client base to encompass other regions through the use of existing and tested technology. Currently, our consultants live in or near Phoenix, AZ; Chicago, IL; and Boston, MA in addition to Chapel Hill, NC.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

Competitors to the Cambridge Strategy Group fall into four categories:

  1. Segment Rivals: Segment Rivals offer the exact same services as the Cambridge Strategy Group. These firms must focus exclusively on small businesses and offer marketing and/or management strategy services. While the market is certainly large enough to sustain multiple segment rivals, the Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to ensure that its name is well known in all its target markets.
  2. Market Rivals: There are a number of available Market Rivals who compete with the Cambridge Strategy Group while having slightly different business focuses. Examples of market rivals include start-up focused branches of Big Five Consulting Firms, Management Consulting Firms, and Venture Capitalists who also provide business services. The Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to compete with these firms by demonstrating its focus on “small business consulting.”
  3. Generic Rivals: Generic Rivals represent alternative solutions. The main alternative to outsourcing work to a consulting firm is performing the work in-house. The Cambridge Strategy Group will attempt to demonstrate the value of outsourcing marketing and management work to a consulting firm in order to (1) utilize the core competencies of the consulting firm and (2) reduce the costs associated with hiring full-time employees.
  4. Structural Rivals: Structural Rivals are the forces inherent in the market through which the firm must operate. These forces were described in the previous section entitled Target Market Analysis.

4.3.2 Business Participants

A number of other firms will compete with the Cambridge Strategy Group. Due to the size of the available market, it will be exceptionally difficult for any of these competitors to gain significant market share. However, it will also be difficult for the Cambridge Strategy Group to control the market.

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