Monthly Archives: March 2011

Branding is a Key Element of the Business Plan

Branding from the Startup Garage

Branding is a Key Element of the Business Plan

Throughout the business planning process you will be put in the position to make many creative decisions. If you are serious about starting a business that creates value, then you should be ready to attack them head on.

Branding your business is just one of these challenges, however when your branding strategy is well thought out and intensely focused, the sky is the limit. The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers. In this process, you will gather all of the identifying characteristics of your company so far, such as your Mission Statement, Target Market, and Competitive Advantages, using them as a basis to build your brand.

Many business owners spend very little time to focus on their branding strategy. This may be due to the fact that there are many components that may seem more important to the plan, or simply that they are overwhelmed by the amount of decisions there are to be made, and feel like they do not have enough time to really zero in on this element. Do not make this mistake! Branding is actually an extremely powerful method of communication. If the design of the brand is right, it can deliver your message to your customers even without the aid of expensive advertising. A good brand should make you look credible, professional, and knowledgeable.

Several examples of strong branding that have left their footprints on our society are: When you think Volvo, you might think safety. When you think Nike, you might think of Tiger Woods or “Just Do It.” When you think IBM, you might think “Big Blue.” These are all brands that have been well established and are practically ingrained into our brains.

This part of the business planning process really gives you a chance to be creative. Embrace your creative side and conduct one or several brainstorming sessions in order to come up with names that reflect your business, your customers, and your mission statement/core values. After some consultation with friends, family, and other stakeholders in your business, choose the names and taglines that you feel most strongly represent your company and the image you want to portray. Your branding strategy starts when you are writing your business plan so it is a good idea to set up a nice foundation for the future to build upon.

After your business is up and running and the credibility of your company grows, your customers will easily associate your brand with your company. This can go a long way to solidifying your stance in your particular industry. Surely, there are many ways to become successful in any business endeavor, but there are few elements more powerful than having a recognizable, appealing and unique brand that your customers can easily associate themselves with, so do not sell yourself short on your branding!


Whether you have a question about branding your business or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Business Plan Brainstorming

Business Plan Brainstorming from the Startup Garage

Business Plan Brainstorming

Writing a business plan is not something that you should do all by yourself. There are many situations where you will not only welcome feedback from others, and it will be beneficial to you. It truly helps to have multiple people involved in the process so that ideas are flowing to and from more than one source. This flow of ideas is crucial in promoting creativity and diversity of thought, and is sometimes referred to as Brainstorming. Brainstorming can be the idea machine that churns out some of the most effective and important parts of your business plan.Here are some good ways to approach brainstorming.

Create a Brainstorming Team

This team might include cofounders, advisors, mentors, or even friends whose opinions you value. Once your team has been assembled, you are ready to set up your brainstorming session. Here are some guidelines to create a positive and fruitful brainstorming session:

  1. Give a heads up a day or two before the brainstorming session so participants can begin to gather ideas and thoughts.
  2. Choose an environment where creativity can thrive.
  3. Try sitting at a round table or in some environment where everyone will feel included and equal. If you do not have access to a conference room or the equivalent, try meeting at a coffee shop or holding a phone meeting.
  4. Go over the rules and guidelines of brainstorming before the meeting actually begins.
  5. Assign a recorder to keep track of all ideas.
  6. Allow and encourage everyone to speak freely.
  7. Piggyback off of others ideas and input.
  8. Although some fun and humor is expected and encouraged, stay on topic and on task
  9. Remember: this is a time for generating ideas, do not judge or discourage anyone, all ideas may not be used but will still be useful.

When writing a business plan, brainstorming can be useful when creating your mission statement, core values, core purpose, and branding strategy to name a few. Use brainstorming anytime you feel that collective thoughts would be helpful to your plan. Remember, you are supposed to use the help of others when writing your business plan and this is just one instance of that. Now that you know how to conduct a productive and creative brainstorming session you can move ahead with a more complete business plan.


Whether you have a question about brainstorming your idea or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

How to Come Up With Your Killer Business Idea

How to Come Up with Killer Business Ideas from the Startup Garage

How to Come Up With Your Killer Business Idea

One of the prevailing mysteries in the startup world is how to come up with your great business idea if you don’t have one already. There is no set system or tried and true list of steps that will automatically lead to killer business ideas, so this can definitely be a challenging endeavor.
One of the simplest ways to come up with a business idea is to use the following equation:

Find a common problem in your daily life + identify who is affected the most by this problem = create a solution that solves the problem.

Using this equation, you can come up with a list of business ideas. The solution that you come up with becomes your product, the people who are affected makeup your target market and the problem is what creates the need for, and value of, your product. This equation may not be create the game-changing idea that you’re looking for, but it will help you create solid ideas that have a clear value, target market, and product.

If this simple brainstorm exercise doesn’t help you find your killer business idea, watch this video and keep in mind that coming up with innovative ideas is usually a much more complex process. Eureka moments, where you go from 0 to a groundbreaking business idea in one moment of clarity, are extremely rare. If you want to come up with groundbreaking ideas, give yourself the opportunity to add to and combine your ideas with others over time.

For entrepreneurs specifically looking to create a disruptive business innovation, which are ideas that question the status quo of a given industry, there is a slightly different system. Instead of looking for a problem or pain point, a disruptive business idea is created by finding a mature industry in which the successful companies all operate on the same assumptions, and create a business that breaks those assumptions.

Even after using systems to create business ideas, developing them over time and combining them with other ideas, or taking the disruptive approach, there is still no way to tell if you are sitting on a great idea. At the beginning of a relationship with a new startup this past month, one of the founders asked me, do you think this is a good business idea? They were looking for a YES or NO answer (really a YES answer), but that question is much more complex than yes or no.

The reality is that the definition a good business idea is different for every entrepreneur, but there are two requirements that remain constant:

  1. Will the business, if successful, fulfill the personal and professional goals of the entrepreneur?
  2. Is the idea going to become a successful business?

The answer to the first question is different for every entrepreneur. Some of us are looking for a business that will simply allow us to support ourselves while doing something we love, others are looking to create companies that will revolutionize industries, disrupt the status quo and create fortunes.
The second question is impossible to answer. There is no way to predict with accuracy whether or not a business will succeed. The best thing that you can do is to create a complete, well informed strategy to achieve success by writing a professional business plan. A complete business plan will give you a clear picture of what success could look like (market research, goals and projections), and what you’ll have to do to get there (strategy).


Whether you have a question about your business idea or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

Unexpected Uses for a Business Plan

Unexpected for a Business Plan from the Startup Garage

Unexpected Uses for a Business Plan

Most entrepreneurs understand what a business plan is at its most simple level: a document that organizes a companys goals and their strategy for attaining them. A business plan is generally quite detailed, including the strategy for all divisions of the business, as well as market research that defines the external environment in which the business will compete. Most people look at a business plan as being solely written document, and most do not analyze it any further than this. If youve never written a business plan before, you may not realize the additional aspects and benefits of the business plan writing process. Trust us, as we are about to show you that when it comes to a business plan, just like the venerable Optimus Prime, there is more than meets the eye!

First and foremost, a business plan is a SYSTEM. A S.Y.S.T.E.M. is a process that (S)aves (Y)ou (S)tress, (T)ime, (E)nergy and (M)oney in building your business idea into a complete business strategy. This system is more time intensive up-front, but it will save you both time and money once you have launched. By going through the business planning process, you will be able to prevent and correct mistakes in your strategy that you would have not otherwise seen until you were in business. If you find mistakes after youre already in business they will generally result in extra costs and missed opportunities for revenue. If you discover strategic mistakes in your business plan, all you have to do is hit the backspace key and update your strategy.

Secondly, a business plan is one of the most compellingtools available to enroll others in your mission. Once youve written your business plan, youll most likely realize (if you didnt already) that you wont be able to successfully build your business without the help of other people. These people might include business partners, employees or investors. Each of these types of people will have different questions and needs that you must answer and fulfill before they are willing to work with you. Without a comprehensive business plan, you may find it difficult to get help in the areas where you need it most, and in reality, this could make or break your venture. Whether these stakeholders physically read your business plan, or just talk to you about your mission, going through the business plan writing process will empower you to answer these questions completely and specifically, with the ability to back up your answers with documentation. This will prove to be invaluable to you and gives you a much greater chance of success.

Finally, a business plan is going to be an internal tool that will guide your company through the first several years of business. When you finish your business plan, you will have created a cohesive business strategy for the first 3-5 years of your business. When you launch your company, you can follow this document as you run your business. You will have already laid out your internal operations, your marketing strategy, your product delivery, and allocate your resources in your business plan, so all you have to do is execute the plan. Of course, the strategy you laid out in your business plan wont be perfect, especially after several months or years after youve launched. Business planning is an iterative process, because you will be constantly learning more and more about your company and the environment you are competing in. You will start to see new opportunities to undertake, as well as gain a more complete understanding of the environment you are operating in. In order to continue to use your business plan as an effective tool, you must go back and update it as necessary. It is good practice to look it over every few months just to see where you are at compared to where you predicted you would be, and will aid in planning for the future.

In conclusion, a business plan is indeed a written document, however contrary to popular belief there is a lot more to it than just words and paper. A business plan is one of the most advantageous toolsthat one can have to work with when starting a new business. The benefits associated with creating a high quality business plan will pay more dividends in ways that many entrepreneurs overlook.


Whether you have a question about your business plan or you’d like to discuss our business plan writing services, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!