“It takes courage to start a small business and passion to fuel it” said Jill Franciosi, Senior Transaction Partner at EY as she started off the Sunnyvale Small Business Ignite. Coming up with a business idea doesn’t always ensure success, yet when an idea is fueled with passion, it is then that the foggy road leading to success becomes a lot clearer. The most difficult part of creating a small business is developing a business strategy that works.
On November 3, SVTP along with the City of Sunnyvale’s Office of Economic Development, and EY, hosted the 4th Small Business Ignite event at Nokia, to inform small business owners on the importance and “know how” of developing a business plan. Their collaborative efforts brought together a wide range of small business owners, from people who had owned a business for 4 years, or even 3 days, to some who had only an idea. The event was very helpful and informative because it gave attendees the opportunity to learn, create and network among peers.
The event began with a warm welcome from Connie Verceles, the Economic Development Manager of Sunnyvale who then introduced, Glenn Hendricks, the Mayor of Sunnyvale and our Executive Director Lea King. Lea introduced the EY team, Jill Franciosi, Amanda Powell, and Rachel Breen, who presented the objectives of developing a successful business plan.
The event took on a different pace as we began the Small Business Rapid Fire, an opportunity for small business owners to hear from each other and identify potential networking targets among themselves. Once everyone became acquainted and the target audience was identified, the EY team shared the logistics of developing a business plan and the importance of doing so.
For starters, developing a business plan forces you to review all business aspects at once and understand how to put your business together. More importantly it helps you monitor your progress and hold yourself accountable for any successes or mishaps you may have. Our partners from EY identified 8 steps needed to create a successful business plan:
1. Identify your Mission Statement and Vision
A mission statement describes who you are as a business. It is tactical and describes what your business does on a daily basis, summarizing your goals and philosophies. Your vision statement describes the bigger picture: Why does your business do what it does, what are you trying to accomplish.
2.Develop your Brand
Come up with an elevator pitch that captures people’s attention and makes them want to hear more about your business. A few sentences to summarize who you are and what you do, something short, sweet and to the point. Create a catchy tagline that is concise in presenting your business and will resonate with your customers.
3. Identify and Understanding your Customers
Know who you are trying to target. You may have a single target audience or multiple, either way you must develop a specific platform for each that identifies who they are and what they value. Understanding your customers will ensure that your business satisfies their needs.
4. Create a SWOT analysis
Identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is a good way to anticipate any potential concern or issue that your company might face. It is an excellent strategy for identifying where your company stands and differentiating yourself from your customers.
5. Create a Strategic Roadmap
As I stated earlier, your business needs to have passion, but you also need to be reasonable. A strategic roadmap allows you to envision multiple business outcomes and create a plan for each. This way whatever direction you business takes, you’re ready. During this phase it is important to create a budget and determine how long you can go without a paycheck while developing your business.
6. Develop Key Financial Metrics
This is your opportunity to identify and analyze your market size and competition. You need to forecast your costs and plan your finances. Clearly communicating these aspects will create a better chance of getting investors.
7. Hiring and Staffing
Here is where you determine who you are going to involve. It is important to identify people who know what you don’t know. This way you leverage each other’s strengths and in turn, increase the success of your business.
Know what you are going to do with your money. Consider all financing options and create multiple funding scenarios so that you are always prepared.
Aside from developing a business plan, as a small business owner, it is crucial to participate in a mentorship. Laura Bravo, the Project Manager at EY, shared the importance of networking and building a relationship with a mentor to help gain resources, contacts and improve your learning curve to minimize startup. When beginning this relationship it is important to set goals, boundaries and make plans to meet on a regular basis. Keep in mind that this relationship is mutually beneficial, it is a learning process for both as the mentor and mentee bridge their gap of knowledge. You can have multiple mentors but make sure each relationship is allowing you to propel yourself to where you need to be. As a small business owner, networking may seem like a daunting process but it does not always have to be. If you are not one to actively seek out mentor, you can let the relationship happen organically by remaining remain open, genuine and being a good listener. There is a wealth of resources around us, but it takes initiative to connect with people and interchange skills to allow your business and self to grow.
The event then ended with a breakout session where leaders and attendees were split up into three sections: Business Strategy, Marketing, and Accounting and Taxes. Attendees split up according to topics of interest they would like to learn more about and were given the opportunity to create and build their network.
Small Business Ignite is an example of a Public Private Partnership that SVTP created by recruiting pro bono volunteers in partnership with the City of Sunnyvale to serve small business owners in Sunnyvale. For more information about SVTP, please visit our website.