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Finding the Right Businesses For Sale

With the economy in a slump, many people are suffering financially. Nonetheless, while many suffer financially, others are taking advantage of this slump and are only becoming more and more wealthy. This time couldn’t be better for those individuals to find businesses for sale, narrow down, and possibly end up buying out a business. With the internet so widely available nowadays, anybody can hop online and find businesses for sale. There is a lot more that needs to be done, mainly discovering the various factors that have inclined the owner(s) to sell the business.

Prior to jumping in, it is important to have at minimal basic knowledge of the current market where you are residing. As mentioned previously, everybody knows that the economy is not doing the greatest right now. It is important that you invest in a business that is growing at a positive rate, and not still declining. Knowing a few simple numbers can make the difference between success in finding the right business, or on the other hand, failure.

Without a doubt, it is recommended that you concentrate closely on businesses for sale that are in areas you have prior experience in. Now, this does not mean you cannot look at businesses in new markets, but statistics show you’re more likely to succeed if you have prior experience in the specific market. If you were in the advertising business for the majority of your career, then narrow down your search for businesses for sale in the Advertising Market. This same rule can be applied to any other market.

Now, why is the business owner selling their business? There are many possible reasons, including personal reasons, financial issues, relocation, retirement, or simply because they want out of the market. Whatever the reason, it is important to have a brief idea, and it never hurts to ask the current business owner.

It is extremely important to know how long the business has been around. The longer a business has been around, the larger the number of customers will be. Shortly said, it is much easier (let alone better) to buy an established business.

Last, but not least, it can be detrimental to not consider your budget when looking for businesses for sale. The sheer fact of signing into a business, only to realize your budget does not suffice, can be very disappointing. Thus, when looking at businesses for sale, it is always important to have a rough idea of your budget range.

Given you researched properly, it is not far-fetched to buy a business for sale and continue to run it successfully. If you take care of all the necessary business dealings to stay afloat and continue being successful then you should not have too much issues with your new business venture.

The Bank Won’t Back Your Business Because You Don’t Have a Marketing Plan

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all-time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) American professional football coach.

I started this article about marketing plans with one of my favorite quotes on winning, because in today’s world, where the average person has the attention span of a gnat, I believe that marketing is a lot like winning – “it’s an all-time thing”. If you aren’t marketing your products and services to your prospective clients almost literally every hour of every day, you can bet that at least one of your competitors will be.

Many businesses neglect this crucial aspect when they put together their business plan because they feel like they don’t have the expertise required to come up with a marketing plan. But businesses that want to live, thrive and survive in a modern marketplace will have to come to grips with marketing. Very few businesses can afford to sit back and wait for customers to beat down their doors. And even the few that are in that enviable position will see their customers drawn away to their competitors without some form of marketing.

Marketing, at its core, is about creating and managing opportunities for your business to grow its sales to both existing customers and to new customers. Having a marketing plan is about capitalizing on these opportunities and also about making your business more bankable. If you can’t show the bank that you have a marketing plan that will lead you to more customers and more customers to you, you’ve given them a good reason not to back your business.

In order to create an effective marketing plan, there are a few things you will need to know. Listed below are 8 things you need to know to create a great marketing plan.

  1. Know your marketing budget. It doesn’t matter if you have $500 or $500,000, setting a marketing budget is more about knowing what resources you have available to go out and “buy some customers”. (OK, I admit, the actual amount you have to spend does make a difference, but even a modest marketing budget spent wisely will reap benefits.) The key is knowing how much you have to work with and then actually doing something with it – don’t convince yourself that marketing is only for companies with a lot of money lying around. Treat your decision on how much to spend as an investment decision as opposed to an expenditure decision. Remember, it’s about how much it will cost you to “buy” each new customer and comparing that cost to how much you stand to make in sales to that new customer over their lifetime.
  2. Know WHO your customers are. The old cliche of target market. Well, it may be cliche, but it’s 100% spot on. If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach with your marketing efforts, you might as well be throwing your marketing budget away. It is critical that you get as precise as possible with this – try to narrow down your ideal customers’ demographics to the greatest extent possible. Then try to identify WHERE this group of people are most highly concentrated – that’s where you should be concentrating your marketing efforts.
  3. Know WHAT message you want to communicate to your target market. Good marketing makes your prospective clients “an offer they can’t refuse”. Your message should literally drive customers through your door armed with the knowledge of what they want to buy and why they want to buy it. Your marketing message should illicit a response.
  4. Know what works. To effectively craft a marketing message, you will need to know what works and what doesn’t work. Therefore, measurement is crucial to pinpointing your marketing messages. You can’t manage what you can’t measure – so keep careful track of the minute details of all your marketing efforts and regularly review the results. Then you can refine the message to make it more and more effective over time while relegating the bits that don’t work to the scrap heap.
  5. Know your strategy. Marketing strategy is about the exact methods you will use and actions you will take in order to effectively communicate your message to your target market. Will you use television advertising, radio, print, online, referrals, dropping leaflets from a helicopter? Marketing strategy is the “HOW” of communicating your message to your target market. This is the area where it is most likely that you will want to employ some expert advice. There are a lot of choices out there, and unless you’ve got an unlimited marketing budget, you will need to be convinced about which delivery channels are going to give you the most bang for your buck.
  6. Know how your marketing message and your marketing strategy fit in with your overall business plan. Remember that a critical part of any business plan is to establish your “school of thought” or your philosophy for doing business. Make sure that your marketing plan has the same “WHY” as your overall business plan. It’s not going to work if your marketing is at odds with your “school of thought” – the vision and the brand you’re trying to establish.
  7. Know WHEN you should be marketing. As mentioned before, in today’s marketing hurricane, it’s a good idea to be out flying your kite any time the wind is blowing. You don’t ever want to give customers the impression that your business has shut up shop by not marketing regularly, even continually. But every business will have its own unique business cycle to keep in mind. By addressing your particular business cycle with a marketing plan that includes different amounts and locations of strategic messages you can smooth out the business cycle and reduce the likelihood of wasting valuable time and effort.
  8. Know what your competitors are doing. Know what your enemies are up to, but resist the temptation to imitate everyone else in your industry and simply “go with the flow”. Marketing is, after all, supposed to differentiate you from your competition, not prove that you can be as boring and predictable as the rest of the herd. Marketing is about drawing attention to your business and its unique attributes that will draw new customers to you. Think of the marketing ideas that have most caught your attention and made you want to do business with a particular company. Chances are, those marketing ideas weren’t run-of-the-mill or mere carbon copies of what everyone else was doing. You should constantly look to innovate, update and reinvent your approach to marketing your business. Ask yourself, “What can I deliver to my clients today that is completely different from what I was offering a year or two ago, but that is still consistent with my “school of thought”.

One final word on marketing. Along with cutting staff, cutting the marketing budget is one of the most commonly resorted to tactics companies use to save on expenses in an economic downturn. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that companies that do so inevitably suffer in the long run in terms of sales revenues and profitability. While a marketing plan should take into account the certainty of change in today’s marketplace, a business that takes the attitude that they cannot afford to have a marketing budget when times get tough or when things begin to get more volatile than usual is fooling itself.

No business can afford not to market itself. Intelligent business managers will use calculated marketing efforts in bad times to keep delivering their marketing message to their target market while everyone else slips into a state of hibernation. Think about using the reduction in marketing message traffic during a downturn to make your message as visible as possible and drive even more business through your door while everyone else boards up their windows and waits for the storm to pass. How you handle tough times will differentiate you from your competition – you can choose to shut up shop and wait for the storm to pass with the rest of them, or you can set up a side business selling electrical generators. I’ll finish this article with a quote that makes my point about what your marketing strategy should be aiming to accomplish in the “downturn”.

“Use the economic slowdown to prepare your business for the upcoming market showdown.” -Alan Blair, The Bankable Business Builder.

The Eighth Reason – The Bank Won’t Back Your Business Because You Don’t Have a Sustainability Plan

Over the past several months, I have attended several presentations, forums and discussions centered around the idea of sustainable business practice. And although I have only just begun to get some sort of a grasp of what the industry of sustainability fully encompasses, I have come to one very important conclusion. If you are a business owner, and you haven’t already started to get a grip on the issues surrounding sustainability, you are in serious danger of falling victim to what I’ve called the eighth reason the bank won’t back your business. So what do you do about it? Is it even a problem that you’ll have to worry about in the next couple of years? Is it really worth it to “go green”? Let’s look at a couple of aspects of this massive issue.

Sustainability – What is it?

The term in all its modern day complexity defies dictionary definition. There are numerous factors included under the banner of sustainability. Climate change, water, energy, air quality, food supply, waste, population, natural resources and other elements (depending on who you ask) all combine to make for an issue that is hard to define and even harder to know what to do about. This is especially true for businesses, whether the organisation is small or large. We often hear terms like Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR), triple bottom line reporting, carbon footprint, carbon neutral thrown around; but what do any of these have to do with sustainability or with running your business?

Remember that I have said before that a key issue for any business seeking the backing of its stakeholders, particularly the bank, is being able to answer the question “Is there an underlying sustainable business here?”. Because Sustainable = Bankable. The idea of sustainability is further tied to my previous discussion of having a backup plan as well. If ever there was a time to start thinking about changes that could significantly impact on your business and having a backup plan to deal with contingencies, that time is now. Things will only get more complicated in this area, not less. The sustainability of your business is an issue – today. And it will become an increasingly more important issue as governments and businesses all over the world start coming to grips with what it means to be sustainable and what we should be doing about it.

It’s important that businesses start thinking about the issues surrounding sustainability now rather than waiting for the government (or your competitors) to dictate what their plans will be. Defining the issues that impact on the way you do business and coming up with a sustainability plan for your business now will put you on the front foot when it comes to your carbon footprint. Understanding what impact your business is having financially, socially and environmentally (the 3 measures included in triple bottom line reporting) on the wider community is an important step toward knowing if your business is a viable, sustainable organization. In other words, sustainability is about more than just saving money, saving power or saving trees – at its most basic level, its about whether or not your business will be around ten years from now.

The next big competitive advantage

There’s literally too much to consider to effectively communicate everything you need to know about the topic of sustainability within the confines of this article. So I want to concentrate on what having a sustainability plan can do for your business. The “what’s in it for me” aspect if you will. From the viewpoint of any stakeholder in your business, sustainability is about how you stack up to your competitors. How do you perform against the benchmark set for your industry? Is there a benchmark established for your industry? Are your competitors perceived as “greener” than you? Are you in an industry that is particularly sensitive to sustainability issues (think commercial fishing, manufacturing, fossil fuels)? Having a sustainability plan can get you thinking about your firm’s impact on the world around it and by simply going through this thought process, you could be getting a competitive edge on your rivals.

The first step in gaining an advantage from sustainability is to understand what benefits your business could derive from running a “green” operation. Can you save money, time, or effort by switching to greener alternatives along your supply chain? If so, you will already have one good reason to switch. Being the first to switch amongst your competitors could also give you a competitive advantage beyond cost savings. But in order for this advantage to be realised, you have to look for sustainable solutions that go beyond what is legally required, because everyone will have to do the things that are legislated. Simply achieving a level of “doing no harm” will not be a sustainable competitive advantage. That’s why you will need to fully explore what specific advantages you are going to derive at all levels (not just economic) because some of your competitors will look only at the costs involved and be turned back from copying something that could end up giving you a significant advantage in some other way.

The second step in sustainability planning is to look at your entire supply chain. This is about determining the impact of your inputs and following the process through all the way to the end users of your product or services. The less resources you utilize (natural, human or otherwise) to produce a set amount of output value (in terms of products or services) the better it should be for your business, your customers, the community and the environment. It’s getting to this stage, where you are measuring your impacts and asking “What can we do and how much can it save?”, that will really see sustainability become a competitive advantage. Because so much focus today is on becoming “carbon neutral”, the opportunity is there to move beyond neutrality to really seeing some efficiency gains across your whole organization and even the possibility of having an overall net benefit to your operations. Once you’re recognized as having achieved this, you can move to the third step and watch the benefits multiply exponentially.

Leveraging Sustainability

The third step in the process is reaching the point where you can leverage off of what you have achieved by applying the efficiencies you have implemented in your business to your whole supply chain – inside and outside your organisation. Proving that what you have done could be of benefit your suppliers and other stakeholders not only multiplies the efficiencies across the network, but sets you up as the expert in sustainable practice, at least with other businesses that are similar to yours. Being recognised as an expert in sustainable business (whatever the scope) allows you to reposition your marketing and cash in above and beyond the original savings derived from implementing your sustainability plan.

It is in the area of “green marketing” that you can see benefits that go well beyond your initial investment and the initial savings achieved. It has been proven that there is a not insignificant portion of the community that is willing to pay a premium for “green” products and services. The keys to tapping into this market power is to make sure you can back up your claims 100% and continually improving your leadership in the sustainability stakes. If you get caught out faking it or start to let your competition catch up to you at any time, you’ve lost the leverage and it will be extremely difficult to regain.

Beyond the marketing angle, being recognized as a company that is a leader in sustainable practice can lead to other positive outcomes. You could potentially consult to other segments of the business community and teach them (for a fee of course) how to achieve what you have achieved. You could attract significant capital from socially responsible investment schemes. There could also be the opportunity to spin off new technologies that you have helped create or whole new businesses ideas that have come from the innovations you have implemented. The possibilities are staggering.

Let me close by saying that I am far from being a sustainability expert. But in only a short time studying the subject, I have been convinced that there are good reasons to be out on the front foot when it comes to putting together and implementing a sustainability plan. I encourage you to find out what sustainability means for your business and get started figuring out ways to exploit the opportunities. The worst thing you could do is sit back and wait for the government to dictate how your business has to respond to sustainability issues.

In the end, as a reason for the bank not to back your business, you might not run into that particular brick wall for some time. But the day is coming that having no sustainability plan will be a reason for the bank not to back you. In the meantime, I believe that there are potentially significant benefits to being a leader in this field. The trick is to find out how to take advantage of sustainability savings now and being able to leverage those savings over the years to come. Pulling that off could literally change your entire business.