Paul Morgan is a serial entrepreneur, author, teacher, coach and guest speaker. Having helped launch hundreds of start-ups, Paul has experienced everything there is to experience when it comes to business ownership.
Paul is using his vast experience to help small and medium sized business start up properly through proper business planning and setting up businesses to operate efficiently and effectively in all aspects of business operations. He works with a group of strategic partners to offer a “one stop shop” for small business owners.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some of the most common mistakes you see clients make when it comes to writing up their business plan?
Paul: People think that it is the weight of the plan that counts and to that end miss giving the reader what is really important. A business plan only has to have the following elements:
1. Overview of Concept
2. Financial Forecast
3. Start-up Costs
4. Marketing Strategy
5. Roster of key players
An idea is not a concept. You have to tell the reader what you are doing and how you are planning on doing it. Your concept has to be so clear in your mind that you can actually close your eyes and see yourself working in your business a year from now. You have to see EVERYTHING. You also should always “test” your concept. Ask people: “I am thinking of opening up a ‘Lingerie and Bait Shop’ downtown, what do you think?” And don’t ask your neighbor or brother-in-law; instead ask other business people who will give you objective responses.
You then have to “prove” your concept by doing a thorough financial forecast. Sources of revenue, sales, cost of goods sold, labor cost, other expenses all have be identified month over month. Do the work, and then do the math to see if what you thought was a good idea is actually a viable concept. Knowing BEFORE you open a business IF you should open it is the key to success. It is essential before you cash in your savings and sign a personal guarantee to secure a lease that your concept is feasible and you have a real chance for success. Your forecast speaks volumes.
Identify ALL your start-up costs. If you don’t do your homework here, you’ll run out of money early in the game and then expect the new business to not only fund operations; but also fund pre-opening expenses. Capital improvements, rent deposits, utility deposits, training et AL. Do your research and pin down costs to the penny.
Develop a marketing strategy to show that you can achieve your revenue projections and make your case that you have identified a “hole” in the marketplace and intend to fill it.
Have a list of key strategic partners in your plan. Show the reader that you have “help” in the form of professionals – lawyer, accountant, business advisor – as well as mentors. It is important to be seen as someone who knows that they can’t “go it alone”.
Those are the 5 elements of the modern business plan. The financial piece is the cornerstone of any plan as it shows the reader that you have the ability to make money. Miss any one of those and watch out!
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice would you give to someone planning to open their first restaurant?
Paul: Love your numbers. The restaurant business is, always has been and always will be about numbers – number of covers, average check, labor costs – and if you embrace the fact that you live and die by your numbers, you’ll beat the odds and succeed. Of course you have to have a clean establishment, good food and great service; but that is the “fun” side of the business and where most owners spend the majority of their time. Instead, owners must work their numbers to stay ahead of the business. Is it hard work? Absolutely; however with skimpy margins, if your food cost is up 2% and your labor is up 5%, you’ll be in trouble. People get into the restaurant business because it looks like fun – and it is – but it is still work. I have a video about how I started my first restaurant.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you expand on how good bookkeeping practices can help boost profits?
Paul: If you are on top of your bookkeeping, you’ll be the first to know if something is “off” in your business. I encourage all entrepreneurs to be their own bookkeeper until they get a handle on the money flow and understand all the “ins and outs” of the business. I still do my own bookkeeping. I know where every dollar is all the time. I know what I bring in to my business and what I pay out. Obviously as the numbers of transactions grow, you may have to hire someone to help, but you should never lose touch. You need journals for revenues and expenses, accounts payable and accounts receivables. If you are “on top of your numbers” with good bookkeeping practices, you’ll make your sales tax remittances on time and you’ll have an accurate set of books for your accountant at year end. The better you are at bookkeeping the better chance you’ll have of succeeding because you’ll be able to respond to changes in your business. You’ll truly have your finger on the pulse of your business. Maybe you have to charge more for a product or service to show a better bottom line? Maybe you need to trim your packaging costs or your labor costs to improve your profitability? Good bookkeeping ensures that you always have accurate information in a timely fashion – and that is what you need! Know the math behind your business and you’ll always be ahead of the game.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to write a series of “HaffHour Handbooks” and what do you hope that the average reader walks away with?
Paul: I wrote my HaffHour Handbook series in response to the numerous comments that I received from my customers. “Is there a book out there that gives me what I need to know and isn’t the size of War and Peace?” “I haven’t got time to go to night school or take a course online, I just want the facts.” I responded by writing handbooks that people could download onto their smart phones and read as they commuted to work or school. I wrote them so someone who wanted to know about a specific business topic could get that information fast and easy. You can read one of my handbooks in less than 30 minutes and I write like I talk so that it is an “easy” read. If you read one of my handbooks you’ll come away with a clear understanding of a subject without all the “fluff”. I give the reader the straight goods. For example, someone wants to understand cost of goods sold. I have a handbook that not only explains the concept but also shows through the use of spreadsheets the process of how you derive it from the numbers you collect every day in your business. There are samples that “walk” the reader through the entire process. In 2014, people don’t have any time – or they think they don’t – and want to “get on with it”. I see myself addressing the needs of the marketplace with my handbooks.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you provide some tips on creating quality “local area” marketing program?
Paul: Local area marketing is all about the business owner. Getting out into the community and supporting your community is paramount to the success of a business. You can get “loud” in advance of opening by geo-targeting your local area through your social media channels. You can support a local mixed slo-pitch baseball team. You can be active in the Chamber of Commerce and support the local cancer run. You can offer businesses in your area the chance to have an account set up so they can charge their purchases (backed by a credit card). The owner has to be the “face” of the business. Gustavo Fring from “Breaking Bad” was a good local area marketer for his chicken stores (lol). He was everywhere all the time; but most importantly he still worked the line even when he was a successful owner. As a business owner, you have to be seen to be heard; so it is important to stay in touch with your customers. Collect email addresses and build your mailing lists. Send out special event notices. Don’t just “sell” stuff; instead be seen a source of good information for what is going on in your local market. Support other businesses. “Tweet” out good news about the area and other businesses. “Re-tweet” information sent out from the town office. “Like” other businesses on Facebook. Local area marketing is as much about other businesses as yours.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share a bit about your plans for continued expansion of your suite of services and what that means for the direction of the company?
Paul: I am constantly looking for new people who operate complementary businesses who can join me under my umbrella. I currently have experts in SEO, Sales, Graphic Design, Training, Bookkeeping, Web Design, Marketing, Construction, Interior Design, Videography, Business Planning, Photography, Operations, Accounting, Legal Services and the list goes on. Each one of these businesses is a business onto themselves; so as I refer clients to them, they refer clients to me and others within the group. I have a couple of high-performing websites; therefore I am in most cases the catalyst for action “under the umbrella” but still business is always flowing back and forth amongst all of us. Obviously as a group of business owners we help each other as much as we help outside businesses. If the photographer needs help with his website, he can turn to his associate under the umbrella for help. My goal is to be the “one stop shop” for small business and to that end I am continuing to identify holes that need to be filled and expand the services offered under my umbrella. As I continue to expand my suite of services, I can reach out and help more and more business owners and not only generate more revenue for my own companies; but also all those companies that work with me. I truly believe that if I help others, you’ll always win in the end.
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