Business Planning in Omaha, NE – 2019
With the arrival of the new year, we asked local businesses what their goals are for 2019, and how they plan to go about establishing and reaching those goals. While business planning isn’t just something that you do in the final months of the year or into the beginning of the next, as it’s an ongoing process, it is a common time to take stock of what you accomplished in the last year and use that information to determine a game plan for the next.
If you are a business owner or a professional who is responsible for all aspects of an organization’s operations, you likely already understand that planning is critical to the continued success of your business. However, with so many different areas to concentrate on, you’ll have to rank your priorities. So, where to begin?
When planning for the year ahead, the key is to take a long-term, big picture approach. It is very easy to think in terms of what might save you money today, but that is not always the best long-term solution. Communicate with your network of advisors and consider all factors, such as market volatility, cash flows, seasonality of your business, etc. when determining your plan. The ideal plan would find the right balance between minimizing tax liability and maximizing protection from market risks.
As you meet with your business to discuss goals for the year, start by identifying strengths and weaknesses. This will require you to really analyze the previous year. What areas did your business excel at, and what areas need improvement? Think about things your business can change that would make a big difference. This could be done in the hiring process, or maybe even launching a new product or expanding your range of services. These are all good things to consider in the planning process.
For those of you who are maybe starting at square one and your plan is to start a business this year, your strategy will look a little different than existing business owners. Starting your own business and building it from the ground up is an awesome venture to pursue, but it is also risky. Have you considered franchising?
“Franchising offers individuals the opportunity to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves,” explains Shawn Williams with Summit Franchise Advisors. “The franchisor is there to provide support with all the different functions of the business. They have seen the issues that can arise in their business and know how to deal with any problems effectively. They can also provide advertising and marketing support to help build your business.”
Shawn goes on to say, “At Summit Franchise Advisors, our goal is to find an opportunity that will meet the specific needs of each individual we work with. To do this effectively, we first have to learn what those needs are. We will ask you a series of detailed questions, for example:
What business are you in now?
Have you ever owned a business of your own?
How do you feel about managing people?
How much capital do you have to start a business with?
Will you have partners?
How soon do you want your business to open?
Will you be involved on a full-time or part-time basis?
Sifting through over 2,000 franchise opportunities to find the right fit for you can be a long, tedious, and often overwhelming process—that’s why we did the legwork for you. Summit Franchise Advisors has pre-screened hundreds of companies from all areas of business in order to provide you with a wide variety of quality franchise opportunities. The best part is, our services are totally free! Get in touch with Summit Franchise Advisors this year so we can assist entrepreneurs like you in identifying, evaluating, and owning the franchise that best fits your personal and professional goals.”
One thing we made a point to ask the experts is if they could identify if there is anything that business owners commonly overlook in planning for the coming year, or if there are any other mistakes they’d advise against.
“Based on my industry knowledge and experience, business owners commonly overlook taxes and regulatory fees for expansion,” confirms Jethro Hopkins with No Coast Business Advisors. “I also see businesses underestimate their marketing budget for the year. Along with talking to a financial advisor, business owners need to meet with trusted marketing consultants to get an idea of how much advertising/promotion will cost to reach the marketing goals they have in mind.”
If you are not a business owner but your goal is to become one this year, or perhaps you are just looking to expand your current business, No Coast Business Advisors is a great resource. As a respected brokerage firm here in Nebraska, No Coast can assist buyers and businesses in finding and acquiring financing through their network of professional lenders. They can also get the businesses they put up for sale SBA pre-qualified by other SBA-preferred lenders in the network. Pre-qualified means that an SBA-preferred lender has reviewed the business financials and that it would provide a business acquisition loan to a qualified buyer.
In addition, by mid-2019, No Coast Business Advisors will be the only third party credited brokerage firm in Nebraska. They are one out of only a couple agencies in the state to be members of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) and M&A Source. The purpose behind being members of both organizations is to provide the maximum knowledge base to their brokers and the maximum possible exposure for their clients as each organization is geared towards a very specific segment of the market.
“If you are thinking about selling your business in the next couple of years, it’s crucial to focus on the financial records now,” addresses Jethro. “This alone will play a major role in the business’s value when it comes time to sell. It’s important to track all transactions, especially purchases, as a part of the profit and loss statements. Having a legitimate paper trail for all of the business’s finances can actually increase the value of the business because you have quantifiable proof to show potential buyers. Moreover, it is wise to begin paying yourself as an employee as opposed to taking your cut of the business’s profit.”
Another resource to reference in terms of business planning is No Coast Business Advisors’ new book, Exit Lever: How Smart Business Owners & Buyers Avoid The 10 Mistakes That Ruin the Sales of Businesses. Just released in December of 2018, this book offers great insight for anyone who is planning to sell a business, buy a business, or just want to get things right to increase the value of their business. Authors Jeff Dousharm and Jethro Hopkins published Exit Lever to help save more people from mistakes that are wasting both time and money. This book is available on Amazon.com.
If you’re a small business and you don’t have someone on your team who is a certified accountant and well-versed in the world of finance, then it’s recommended to bring in a professional to help you with this important aspect of the business planning. CFO Systems is here to provide practical, experienced financial and human resources leadership to middle-market companies in the Omaha area. When you need it, their team of professionals will offer guidance in the accounting and administrative departments, lender, or auditor relations, and sourcing of external experts, including attorneys, benefits advisors, etc.
Like Jethro mentioned earlier, marketing is not something you want to overlook when planning for the year. If you are a consumer product and services company, typical marketing budgets are 7%–10% of your gross sales. For business to business, look at spending closer to 3%–5%. View the money spent on advertising as an investment in the success of your company.
Don’t try to take on the marketing yourself if you don’t have the knowledge or time to do so. Marketing is NOT making a post on Facebook and calling it good. There is a lot more that goes into it.
“If you’re simply overwhelmed by all the details that go into producing and placing your advertising, leaving you with inconsistencies in your brand representation, let us help,” offers Shana Boyd with Eleven Twenty-Three. “At Eleven Twenty-Three, we partner with you. We find solutions. We’ll team-up and work alongside you to grow your business, as we’ve done for so many of our amazing clients.”
Eleven Twenty-Three focuses on traditional and digital media planning, event promotions, creative and social media development, and even boasts on-site video production capabilities. They have helped many companies to be creative and efficient with their advertising dollars.
Another terrific way to market your business is to join a referral group. A good goal for any business is to build stronger relationships with other professionals in the community. To accomplish this goal, become a member of Center Sphere. Far more than a referral or tips group, Center Sphere is forging new ground in the landscape of modern business networking.
“Founded right here in Nebraska, Center Sphere is a firmly established, vast network of business professionals whose mission is to share referrals, ideas, and resources while fostering genuine and meaningful relationships,” said Christopher Slater with Center Sphere. “Networking done right, with the power of an entire network behind you, is among the most effective means of marketing you can do in today’s relationship-driven business world.
Center Sphere has a structured and systematic referral process, strengthened by their comprehensive digital referral dashboard that produces undeniable and measurable results. Members meet weekly in chapters made up of one representative from each business industry, in addition to having access to countless networking events and professional development training that members can attend as part of their membership benefits. Chapters consist of no more than 35 members, yet events such as Coffee & Contacts and social hours often draw over a hundred at a time.
Philanthropically-focused, local chapters and members have raised well over $150,000.00 for non-profits in the past year. Members of Center Sphere are well-known and accomplished professionals in the community, motivated to grow their business and contacts, as well as yours. With over 80 chapter between Omaha and Lincoln, there is plenty of room for you and your business within Center Sphere in 2019.
Circling back to strategic planning as a whole, Andrew Storz with Virtual C notes that in order to stay competitive in the current environment, it’s important to consistently be reflecting on how your organization can improve upon its strategy, culture, and execution.
“Far too often, we’re overestimating how far out we can reasonably plan and strategize,” states Andrew. “When I used to run the budget process for a company, we would begin work in October determining in great detail what our business would like through the end of the next year, which is not uncommon for many businesses. By next December, 15 months later, that same budget and the goals we set could not have been more irrelevant to how our organization operated. Information stagnates faster than ever and we have to be mindful of that when we create our strategic and tactical visions.”
It’s also important to understand that when change is needed, your business will need to have the ability to respond and adapt. A topic that comes to mind in terms of change, especially in regards to how impactful it is on businesses in today’s day and age, is technology.
“We live in an amazing time when technology allows us to communicate and share information in ways not possible just a few years ago,” comments Andrew. “Technology and business today moves at a much faster rate than any time before. Failing to accept and embrace change can be a deadly choice for an organization. Make it your goal for 2019 to educate yourself on emerging technology trends to keep your business competitive.
Of course, understanding all there is to know about technology and the digital world is quite an undertaking—most business owners and working folks don’t have the time or the means to do this without assistance. We identified this gap in the business world wherein companies have nowhere to turn to gain trusted advice on technology. This is why we created Virtual C. Our goal is to deliver trusted advice by not reselling software or other services. We want to empower your company this year! Get in touch with us here at Virtual C, or stop by our Collaboration Center if you’re in Lincoln and hang out for a while so we get can to know you and your business.”
We wish you and your business team the best as you set goals and plan for the year. It’s a fun, exciting time! Especially when you partner with industry experts who can help you achieve success in so many ways. Together, let’s make 2019 a great year for businesses in Omaha!