Thursday, September 20, 2007

Would $50,000 be enough to get you started?

How does $50,000 sound to get you off the ground? That's what Mirassou Winery is offering women entrepreneurs if their business plan wins the "Make Your Dreams Come True" contest they're sponsoring. That could buy all the things on my wish list: laptop, printer, virtual assistant, personal masseuse (just kidding, unfortunately) much more. The trick is you have to submit a rockin' business plan by December 15th, so that was incentive enough to get me (and a handful of the Mogulettes!) to sign up to Baruch College's 4-week Bootcamp on how to write them.

Elissa Grossman (that's her in the blue jacket next to yours truly) teaches courses on business management for college students that typically span a whole semester but she's doing an abbreviated version for entrepreneurs, starting with the elements of a business plan, which she covered in the first session, along with great examples of what an executive smmary should and shouldn't look like.

The second class was focused on the marketing plan, which is all about information gathering - where to get data about your target market, what the benefits and limitations are to different types of research, how to conduct surveys (one place to try out is, where you get the first 10 questions in a survey free), how to scope out your competition. Then she moved on to narrowing down your target market and selecting a marketing mix to reach them.

The third class centered around money - how much you need vs how much you want. This part was cool - Elissa recommends shutting your eyes and imagining the process that's involved in making a sale. Then make an outline of that in order to come up with a list of costs, like how much will the virtual assistant cost, plus the web developer, plus the computer, the desk and the chair, the masseuse (no...just kidding again) and so on, for each task. How much will be variable, or fixed? All this will help in coming up with a price for your goods and services. But that's not all that determines price - there's the perceived value (you can charge a premium for goods that are new in the market, or are complex, or where price comparisons are difficult). Competition also plays a role, as does strategy, like special pricing promotions that you might do.

The second half of the class was about sales forecasting and breakeven analysis, which I won't even attempt to summarize. But she made it interesting by giving lots of real life examples of how companies used these numbers to make adjustments and run their operations more efficiently.

BTW, Elissa's available if you'd like feedback on your business plan, as are other counselors on staff at Baruch's Field Center. These services are offered for free.

So, sharpen up your pencils and put your fabulous ideas on could win 50,000 big ones! Like they say: you gotta be in it to win it...

Next week I'll be away on a short vacation to Paris, yes, the "city of lights"! My friend invited me to stay with her and I'm using my miles to get there, so it's a great deal. Stay tuned for my report on how the French do business - I expect to be doing heavy duty research into their chocolate industry. Au revoir!

1 comment:

mezamashii said...

How awesome is that! Unfortunately I share our business with my hubby!