Global Greenhouse Sector

What exactly is a Greenhouse? It is a name given to a structure with roofs and walls made primarily out of a transparent substance like glass. Within a greenhouse, plants that need regulated climatic conditions are cultivated with an aim of healthier output. These buildings vary in size from smaller sheds, to larger commercialized structures. In this current scenario, greenhouses are part of modern-day farming which is focused towards protected cultivation of plants in an enclosed shelter, without allowing any type of damage to the product as well its nutrients.

People who love home-grown veggies and fruits will definitely prefer a greenhouse. This is due to its ability to provide an effective method to cultivate plants protected from the harsh external environment. Greenhouses are usually equipped with clear or glass-plastic walls that enable them to preserve heat, while also allowing light to enter. The resulting situation brings the ideal factors for cultivating many kinds of plants.

Quite a number of commercial glass greenhouses are categorized under innovative production houses for flowers and vegetables. The active greenhouse market trends are surely leaned towards modern facilities. The inclusion of heating, lighting, screening installations etc., are needed for the automated growth of plants. Moreover, various techniques are implemented for ensuring a significant decrease in production risk before the cultivation of a particular crop.

Smart Greenhouses

To meet the needs of the sector, greenhouses are produced for high dependability and performance. These types of structures offer valuable data regarding a material’s stability, composition, response to wear and tear atmosphere and external factors. Greenhouses thus contain applications for different types of processes like food production and scientific research.

For instance, the smart greenhouse is an innovation in farming and is a climate managing, a self-regulating procedure that is perfect for plant survival. It helps to create a micro-climate environment which is like a new climate in a restricted zone. This zone is created by the use of sensors and various applications. The smart greenhouse contains different components like monitoring system, actuators, and control system. The concept of smart greenhouse aims to ease growth situations for plants and creates an autonomous growing process.

Extended Growing Season

Plants grown in a greenhouse are not subjected to the same degree of temperature differences which is needed for plants cultivated in an outdoor garden. Based on latest trends, greenhouses trap radiation that comes from the sun into its insides and enables the retention of heat within the enclosure. The controlled climate that is achieved in a greenhouse helps farmers to lengthen the growing season of plants which may not survive the colder climate outside of the greenhouse. This allows consumers to buy locally cultivated vegetables, flowers, and fruits which are out of season.

Control over the Produce

People without a garden are bound to buy their food at the groceries or farmers’ market. On the other hand, commercial farms usually use toxic pesticides and chemicals, to enhance the living situations of crops and improve production. When businesses try to prepare a greenhouse industry analysis, the first aspect that they learn are the crucial advantages that are connected with the implementation of greenhouses.

A test conducted by an environmental group revealed several vital facts. It found trace amounts of toxic stuff over the produce even after the harvest. Greenhouses help farmers grow their own food to gain absolute control over their environment. This process produces tasty and fresh food without the risks of toxic chemicals, which can potentially be hazardous.

Food Boost from Plant Isolation

A greenhouse maintains the plants in isolation, preserved safely from the external world comprising pests, rodents, and insects, along with other animals. According to the research gathered by big universities, gardeners must isolate their plants by using a greenhouse which is sealed and caulked. An efficient greenhouse with absolute isolation and tightly sealed, along with expertly managed air flow which offers protection from insects, pests and even from diseases should be preferred by the farmers.

Printed Pens and Press Releases: Marketing on a Budget

Multi-million marketing budgets probably won’t do a business any harm, but for a small business which is just finding its feet it’s completely unnecessary. There’s plenty of ways of making your modest budget go that bit further, to maximize your potential revenue and ensure that you’re not getting lost in a sea of competitors.

What you need is big budget results on a small budget.

If it works, stick to it

Trial and error isn’t always advisable when it comes to business, but with marketing it often is. Trying lots of different techniques on a small scale will help you clarify which methods work best for your particular industry. Usually these will vary from business to business, but there are lots of more general concepts which can be used in all sorts of industries.

Make sure you inquire how your leads have come across your business. This will help you identify whether your printed pens or your website is working hardest for you. There’s no need to continually trial new, fad marketing styles. These will usually only work for a very short time (and by the time you’ve heard about it, it could well already have run its course).

What we’re saying is don’t write off the traditional physical marketing techniques like brochures and printed pens.

Market for your business

It might sound obvious, but what works for huge brands categorically will not work for your small café in the center of Leeds. Big brands can get away with all sorts that won’t work from small and local businesses.

Keep things simple, and always keep your customers at the front of your mind. Don’t use language which they won’t understand, or try and over-complicate your product or service. Simple, easy to understand concepts sell best because people don’t feel as if you’re trying to manipulate or trick them with language.

If you have several products, produce a brochure for each to keep things very simple.

Promotional marketing

When you attend trade shows or simply when you’re signing contracts, a printed pen is great to have on hand. These are useful resources which all of us will use at least once a day. It means that your key information will always be on hand. If nothing else you should include your logo, your website address, and your telephone number.

Printed pens are incredible value for money, as they have such longevity.

Cutting Costs Without Reducing Your Team

One of the things that many businesses around the world are notorious for is layoffs of their workers when they have to cut costs. It appears as though the least required asset for these companies is their workers. As brutal as it may sound, many businesses reduce their team sizes to reduce their costs every day. It is quite surprising because there are in fact dozens of different ways for businesses, especially small ones, to cut their costs without sending their employees home. Not to mention, small businesses aren’t in the best position to terminate their employees when they are already struggling with growth and expansion.

Let us first look at the circumstances and reasons why small businesses resort to firing their employees and terminating their contracts.

Reasons Why Businesses Terminate Their Employees

Your Employee’s Performance is below Requirements

The biggest and probably the most valid reason for firing an employee is when they are not able to perform according to the set targets. Despite this being a valid reason, you should always follow the complete procedure and let go of your employee most ethically and professionally possible. Tell them that they also have the right to quit a company when a company does not pay them as promised and vice versa.

Your Employee Isn’t Honest

You have noticed that your employee is not honest. They try to spend time doing nothing behind your back and are interested in things that they should not be concerned with. It is a risk to have such a worker working at the company.

Your Employee Is Having a Hard Time Assimilating

One of the reasons why many employees are not able to give their best is because they can’t fit in the culture of your workplace. It’s either their religious, personal or moral beliefs that don’t let them feel being a part of the team.

Your Employee Doesn’t Care

Believe it or not, some employees don’t care about the rules and regulations of your workplace and being at a professional place. They bully people around them, try to act pretentious, are not punctual and do not pay any attention to the dress code policy.

Your Employees Cost You Too Much

This is quite an oxymoronic situation where the people who bring you business are the ones costing you money. Sometimes, companies become financially weak, and the only way they have to reduce their costs is firing employees. This helps them save money on employee compensation, bonuses, and incentives.

Is Employee Termination the Only Way to Cut Costs?

Not at all! There are many other ways for companies to reduce their costs without letting go of their employees. Here are some.

Negotiations with Vendors and Suppliers

You can look into your current list of suppliers and vendors and look for opportunities to reduce costs. You have to realize that there are group purchasing organizations developed specifically for this purpose. Furthermore, there are online search engines designed specifically for businesses where you can find other businesses that can help you reduce your costs.

Buy in Bulk

One simple way to reduce your costs is to purchase in bulk. Whether you are buying products or subscribing to software or online platform services, bulk purchases will always help you reduce your costs. As a business, you are subscribed to dozens of different online services and buy various items on a monthly or weekly basis. Buy them for several months or a complete year to save your costs.

Reduce Lavish Expenses for Now

It is amazing that businesses offer their employees with refreshments, coffee, and teas for free, but there is a time when you can do this with ease. Until and unless you have reached a point where affording such luxuries do not bother you at all, do not introduce them.

Invest in the Right Technology

Whether you are buying an electric generator for your office, bulbs and lights, ceiling fans, air conditioning units or machinery, you must invest in latest and energy-efficient technology.

Market Wisely

Marketing can suck a lot of your capital out of business depending on the type of marketing you are doing. However, it will be rewarding for you if you use analytical data to narrow down only the marketing campaigns that are lucrative for your business. Spend on them and keep away from spending on marketing efforts that have not yielded any good results.

Similarly, you can find many other ways to reduce your costs without sending your employees home.

Risks Associated with Firing Your Employees

While firing your employees should be the last thing on your list of methods to cut costs, you must also know the many risks that come with employee termination. Here are a few.

Sharing of Company Secrets with Competitors

When employees are not happy with your decision of firing them, they may not care about what action you can take against them. They may go for interviews with your competitors and share your trade secrets. This can be a big set-back for you if your competitor decides to take advantage of the situation.

Lawsuits

When employees believe they have been fired based on unreasonable grounds, they may try to take you to court. If any wrongful termination is proved, it can be expensive for your company. Always be sure to complete the procedure of termination or make sure the termination is justified.

Attack on Brand Image through Social Media

Today, people have a voice, and some people are ready to listen to their voice. Social networking platforms are great places for employees to discredit your brand and slander your image if they believe they were terminated by you wrongfully.

Bad Performance of Existing Employees

It does not matter how much you care about your employees. They may have a stronger connection among themselves than they have with you. Therefore, when you terminate an employee and cause some dissention among the ranks.

So, it is highly recommended that you consider the many other ways of cutting costs for your small business before choosing to terminate your employees.

Best-In-Class Is Not Necessarily Best-For-You

Everyone is constantly talking about best-in-class, and very often, for the wrong reasons, labeling themselves as such or indicating that is what they strive for. According to the business dictionary, best-in-class is defined as:

“Highest current performance level in an industry, used as a standard or benchmark to be equaled or exceeded. Also called best of breed.”

So what is this thing that many companies strive for, and is it truly what they should be trying to achieve? Sometimes by focusing on best-in-class, are we missing what is best-for-you?

No two businesses are exactly the same — that is a truism. Comparatives are always interesting and knowing what others are doing is of value — what is working or what is not. But there is a danger when looking at best-in-class — who decides what it is, and furthermore, when looking at instituting what someone had deemed as best-in-class — are you perhaps trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

Often times, corporations are disappointed with the results from their efforts to emulate somebody else “best-in-class. Too often, these corporations spend a couple of years trying to implement something, which truly didn’t make sense for them, but because they were told to achieve “best-in-class” and as this is what the “best-in-classes” do, they felt obligated to try. Furthermore, who is it that decides that a certain approach, company, whatever is best-in-class. Where is that Oracle of Delphi that makes this determination?

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of seeing what has worked (or hasn’t) for other firms. Yet once you’ve done that — then look at the business you’re running, and see if it makes sense for you. Having been an executive in many different industries, and consulting in many more, I can comfortably say that the Pareto rule is alive and well. That is to say that 80% of the aspects of the business are similar — processes, business drivers, etc.. However 20% are unique. What I have also learned it that if you ignore that 20%, anything you try to institute is doomed to failure. It is the square peg, round hole scenario.

So let’s give “best-for-you” more credence. Create your own horizon — take heed of the lessons learned from others, but don’t follow blindly — just because some amorphous mass tells you this is what should be done. Create your own footprint… and who knows — tomorrow someone might be calling you best-in-class!

The Dangers Of Overhead Power Lines Best Practices

Every year people at work are killed or seriously injured when they come into contact with live overhead electricity power lines.

If a machine, scaffold tube, ladder, or even a jet of water touches or gets too close to an overhead wire, then electricity will be conducted to earth. This can cause a fire or explosion and electric shock and burn injuries to anyone touching the machine or equipment. An overhead wire does not need to be touched to cause serious injury or death as electricity can jump, or arc, across small gaps.

One of the biggest problems is that people simply do not notice overhead lines when they are tired, rushing or cutting corners. They can be difficult to spot, eg in foggy or dull conditions, when they blend into the surroundings at the edge of woodland, or when they are running parallel to, or under, other lines. Always assume that a power line is live unless and until the owner of the line has confirmed that it is dead. This guidance is for people who may be planning to work near overhead lines

where there is a risk of contact with the wires, and describes the steps you should take to prevent contact with them. It is primarily aimed at employers and employees who are supervising or in control of work near live overhead lines, but it will also be useful for those who are carrying out the work.

Types of overhead power lines

Most overhead lines have wires supported on metal towers/pylons or wooden poles – they are often called ‘transmission lines’ or ‘distribution lines’. Most high-voltage overhead lines, ie greater than 1000 V (1000 V = 1 kV) have wires that are bare and insulate but some have wires with a light plastic covering or coating. All high-voltage lines should be treated as though they are uninsulated. While many low-voltage overhead lines (ie less than 1 kV) have bare insulate wires, some have wires covered with insulating material. However, this insulation can sometimes be in poor condition or, with some older lines, it may not act as effective insulation; in these cases you should treat the line in the same way as an insulate line. If in any doubt, you should take a precautionary approach and consult the owner of the line.

There is a legal minimum height for overhead lines which varies according to the voltage carried. Generally, the higher the voltage, the higher the wires will need to be above ground. Equipment such as transformers and fuses attached to wooden poles and other types of supports will often be below these heights. There are also recommended minimum clearances published by the Energy Networks Association.

What does the law require?

The law requires that work may be carried out in close proximity to live overhead lines only when there is no alternative and only when the risks are acceptable and can be properly controlled. You should use this guidance to prepare a risk assessment that is specific to the site. Businesses and employees who work near to an overhead line must manage the risks. Overhead line owners have a duty to minimize the risks from their lines and, when consulted, advise others on how to control the risks. The line owner will usually be an electricity company, known as a transmission or distribution network operator, but could also be another type of organization, eg Network Rail, or a local owner, eg the operator of a caravan park.

Preventing overhead line contact

Good management, planning and consultation with interested parties before and during any work close to overhead lines will reduce the risk of accidents. This applies whatever type of work is being planned or undertaken, even if the work is temporary or of short duration. You should manage the risks if you intend to work within a distance of 10 m, measured at ground level horizontally from below the nearest wire.

Remove the risk, the most effective way to prevent contact with overhead lines is by not carrying out work where there is a risk of contact with, or close approach to, the wires. Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. If you cannot avoid working near an overhead line and there is a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, you should consult its owner to find out if the line can be permanently diverted away from the work area or replaced with underground cables. This will often be inappropriate for infrequent, short-duration or transitory work. If this cannot be done and there remains a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, find out if the overhead line can be temporarily switched off while the work is being done. The owner of the line will need time to consider and act upon these types of requests and may levy a charge for any work done.

Risk control

If the overhead line cannot be diverted or switched off, and there is no alternative to carrying out the work near it, you will need to think about how the work can be done safely. If it cannot be done safely, it should not be done at all. Your site-specific risk assessment will inform the decision. Things to consider as part of your risk assessment include:

the voltage and height above ground of the wires. Their height should be measured by a suitably trained person using non-contact measuring devices;
the nature of the work and whether it will be carried out close to or underneath the overhead line, including whether access is needed underneath the wires;
the size and reach of any machinery or equipment to be used near the overhead line;
the safe clearance distance needed between the wires and the machinery or equipment and any structures being erected. If in any doubt, the overhead line’s owner will be able to advise you on safe clearance distances;the site conditions, undulating terrain may affect stability of plant etc;
the competence, supervision and training of people working at the site.

If the line can only be switched off for short periods, schedule the passage of tall plant and, as far as is possible, other work around the line for those times. Do not store or stack items so close to overhead lines that the safety clearances can be infringed by people standing on them.

Working near but not underneath overhead lines – the use of barriers. Where there will be no work or passage of machinery or equipment under the line, you can reduce the risk of accidental contact by erecting ground-level barriers to establish a safety zone to keep people and machinery away from the wires. This area should not be used to store materials or machinery. Suitable barriers can be constructed out of large steel drums filled with rubble, concrete blocks, wire fence earthed at both ends, or earth banks marked with posts.

If steel drums are used, highlight them by painting them with, for example, red and white horizontal stripes.
If a wire fence is used, put red and white flags on the fence wire.
Make sure the barriers can be seen at night, perhaps by using white or fluorescent paint or attaching reflective strips.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

The safety zone should extend 6 m horizontally from the nearest wire on either side of the overhead line. You may need to increase this width on the advice of the line owner or to allow for the possibility of a jib or other moving part encroaching into the safety zone. It may be possible to reduce the width of the safety zone but you will need to make sure that there is no possibility of encroachment into the safe clearance distances in your risk assessment.

Where plant such as a crane is operating in the area, additional high-level indication should be erected to warn the operators. A line of colored plastic flags or ‘bunting’ mounted 3-6 m above ground level over the barriers is suitable. Take care when erecting bunting and flags to avoid contact or approach near the wires. Passing underneath overhead lines, if equipment or machinery capable of breaching the safety clearance distance has to pass underneath the overhead line, you will need to create a passageway through the barriers, In this situation:

keep the number of passageways to a minimum;
define the route of the passageway using fences and erect goalposts at each end to act as gateways using a rigid, non-conducting material, eg timber or plastic pipe, for the goalposts, highlighted with, for example, red and white stripes;
if the passageway is too wide to be spanned by a rigid non-conducting goalpost, you may have to use tensioned steel wire, earthed at each end, or plastic ropes with bunting attached. These should be positioned further away from the overhead line to prevent them being stretched and the safety clearances being reduced by plant moving towards the line;
ensure the surface of the passageway is leveled, formed-up and well maintained to prevent undue tilting or bouncing of the equipment;
put warning notices at either side of the passageway, on or near the goalposts and on approaches to the crossing giving the crossbar clearance height and instructing drivers to lower jibs, booms, tipper bodies etc and to keep below this height while crossing;
you may need to illuminate the notices and crossbar at night, or in poor weather conditions, to make sure they are visible;
make sure that the barriers and goalposts are maintained.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

On a construction site, the use of goalpost-controlled crossing points will generally apply to all plant movements under the overhead line. Working underneath overhead lines. Where work has to be carried out close to or underneath overhead lines, eg road works, pipe laying, grass cutting, farming, and erection of structures, and there is no risk of accidental contact or safe clearance distances being breached, no further precautionary measures are required. However, your risk assessment must take into account any situations that could lead to danger from the overhead wires. For example, consider whether someone may need to stand on top of a machine or scaffold platform and lift a long item above their head, or if the combined height of a load on a low lorry breaches the safe clearance distance. If this type of situation could exist, you will need to take precautionary measures.

If you cannot avoid transitory or short-duration, ground-level work where there is a risk of contact from, for example, the upward movement of cranes or tipper trailers or people carrying tools and equipment, you should carefully assess the risks and precautionary measures. Find out if the overhead line can be switched off for the duration of the work. If this cannot be done:

refer to the Energy Networks Association (ENA) publication Look Out Look Up! A Guide to the Safe Use of Mechanical Plant in the Vicinity of Electricity Overhead Lines.2 This advises establishing exclusion zones around the line and any other equipment that may be fitted to the pole or pylon. The minimum extent of these zones varies according to the voltage of the line, as follows:
– low-voltage line – 1 m;
– 11 kV and 33 kV lines – 3 m;
– 132 kV line – 6 m;
– 275 kV and 400 kV lines – 7 m;
under no circumstances must any part of plant or equipment such as ladders, poles and hand tools be able to encroach within these zones. Allow for uncertainty in measuring the distances and for the possibility of unexpected movement of the equipment due, for example, to wind conditions;
carry long objects horizontally and close to the ground and position vehicles so that no part can reach into the exclusion zone, even when fully extended. Machinery such as cranes and excavators should be modified by adding physical restraints to prevent them reaching into the exclusion zone. Note that insulating guards and/or proximity warning devices fitted to the plant without other safety precautions are not adequate protection on their own;
make sure that workers, including any contractors, understand the risks and are provided with instructions about the risk prevention measures;
arrange for the work to be directly supervised by someone who is familiar with the risks and can make sure that the required safety precautions are observed;
if you are in any doubt about the use of exclusion zones or how to interpret the ENA document, you should consult the owner of the overhead line.

Where buildings or structures are to be erected close to or underneath an overhead line, the risk of contact is increased because of the higher likelihood of safety clearances being breached. This applies to the erection of permanent structures and temporary ones such as polytunnels, tents, marquees, flagpoles, rugby posts, telescopic aerials etc. In many respects these temporary structures pose a higher risk because the work frequently involves manipulating long conducting objects by hand.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. The overhead line owner will be able to advise on the separation between the line and structures, for example buildings using published standards such as ENA Technical Specification 43-8 Overhead Line Clearances.1 However, you will need to take precautions during the erection of the structure. Consider erecting a horizontal barrier of timber or other insulating material beneath the overhead line to form a roof over the construction area – in some cases an earthed, steel net could be used. This should be carried out only with the agreement of the overhead line owner, who may need to switch off the line temporarily for the barrier to be erected and dismantled safely.

Ideally, work should not take place close to or under an overhead line during darkness or poor visibility conditions. Dazzle from portable or vehicle lighting can obscure rather than show up power lines. Sometimes, work needs to be carried out near uninsulated low-voltage overhead wires, or near wires covered with a material that does not provide effective insulation, connected to a building. Examples of such work are window cleaning, external painting or short-term construction work. If it is not possible to re-route or have the supply turned off, the line’s owner, eg the distribution network operator, may be able to fit temporary insulating shrouds to the wires, for which a charge may be levied. People, plant and materials still need to be kept away from the lines.

Emergency procedures

If someone or something comes into contact with an overhead line, it is important that everyone involved knows what action to take to reduce the risk of anyone sustaining an electric shock or burn injuries. Key points are:

never touch the overhead line’s wires;
assume that the wires are live, even if they are not arcing or sparking, or if they
otherwise appear to be dead;
remember that, even if lines are dead, they may be switched back on either automatically after a few seconds or remotely after a few minutes or even hours if the line’s owner is not aware that their line has been damaged:
if you can, call the emergency services. Give them your location, tell them what has happened and that electricity wires are involved, and ask them to contact the line’s owner:
if you are in contact with, or close to, a damaged wire, move away as quickly as possible and stay away until the line’s owner advises that the situation has been made safe:
if you are in a vehicle that has touched a wire, either stay in the vehicle or, if you need to get out, jump out of it as far as you can. Do not touch the vehicle while standing on the ground. Do not return to the vehicle until it has been confirmed that it is safe to do so;

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines, be aware that if a live wire is touching the ground the area around it may be live. Keep a safe distance away from the wire or anything else it may be touching and keep others away.

Underfloor Air Distribution

In our houses, we have vents in the floors and ceilings that shoot out cool or warm air depending on what season it is and whether we have the furnace or the air conditioner on. Because the vents are in a set position on the floor, it makes furniture rearrangement that much more tricky and doesn’t allow for you to re purpose rooms as easily as you may imagine, but it gets hot and cold outside and we want our homes to be cooled or heated at will and this is how it is done.

More and more buildings on a bigger scale however have underfloor air distribution built right in as they are constructed making floor plans more flexible and without the need for static vents in strange places.

This technique is used in areas like data centers that produce a lot of heat from computers and equipment that is constantly used. In this application, isolated air conditioner zones are associated with raised flooring. Perforated tiles are placed under the computer systems to direct air to them, cooling them down in the process. The computing equipment is designed to draw the cool air from below and get rid of the warm air into the room. The air conditioner unit will them draw air from the room, cools it and forces it again through the raised flooring for the cycle to be complete.

Of course, raised flooring and underfloor air distribution go hand in hand and it is all part of the HVAC system in a building. This system makes for improved comfort for individuals in the building, better ventilation for equipment, machinery and of course, staff and improved energy efficiency for the building itself. It also results in reduced life cycle costs and is used in places like museums, schools, churches, offices and airports, all places where lots of people gather and lots of equipment is continually used.

One of the best parts about underfloor air distribution is the fact that reconfiguration of the space is a lot easier, it is also great for computer rooms as they are constantly cooled, reducing the effect of over heating on their operating systems. The only place this newer technology isn’t effective is for wet areas like kitchens, bathrooms, pool areas, gymnasiums and dining areas but it is widely used in common buildings around the country like the New York Times Building and the Bank of America Tower to name just two.

Plans for Your Business Venture

Whatever the health and condition of your business venture, it will benefit from planning. Business planning of all types provides a road-map that guides the leadership team to successfully achieve business goals.

I’ve taught business plan writing for more than 10 years and I’ve also developed a one-day business plan writing workshop. As I see it, the process of business planning gives company leaders opportunities to see the big picture and remove “magical thinking” from the process. Business planning first reveals if the proposed goals are potentially viable and second, requires that we devise strategies that will make them a reality.

What your team wants to achieve will shape the plan that is written. For example, if the mission is to launch a start-up that will require significant outside investment, then the plan will include detailed financial projections. Additionally, marketing strategies that delve into customer acquisition, the competitive landscape, the logistics of the product or service launch, messaging and sales distribution, along with operational aspects such as manufacturing, staffing and quality control, must be thoroughly detailed.

Solopreneur consultants will focus heavily on marketing, in particular defining the target clients and client acquisition; providing services for which there is adequate demand; and appropriate pricing. Financial planning will focus on allocating the budget to support promotional strategies and marketing campaigns.

Whether the plan will be used to launch a big venture and attract outside investment money or open a boutique-style consulting service, include the following elements:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Present the business mission statement here. Include as well the date the business was formed; the leadership team and other key management personnel; the credentials or experience that make you and the leadership team uniquely qualified to launch and successfully run the venture; the business legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietor, or Corporation); the products and services; one or two key competitive advantages; a concise overview of sales projections; and the amount of capital needed if recruiting investors or obtaining bank financing is a goal.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

It’s traditional to present a brief description of your industry and its outlook, nationally and regionally. Give the details of your products and services and briefly discuss how they’ll be used by target customers. Identify whether the venture is B2B, B2C, or B2G. If the organization holds a patent, review the competitive advantages that it will convey. Have there been any technological advances that will help or hinder the enterprise? Divulge the details here.

MARKETING

This element is a big tent that encompasses sales, product or service distribution, competitors, advertising, social media, PR, networking, branding, customer acquisition and pricing. Plans written for a small organization will spotlight the role of marketing because for Solopreneurs, success hinges on identifying and reaching paying clients, as well as pricing the services advantageously.

FINANCE

Whether you’re wealthy enough to self-finance or the venture is small and not especially demanding of capital investment, the leadership team nevertheless needs to know with a reasonable degree of certainty how much money will be required to achieve important goals.

The plan might be written to support financing for the acquisition of new office space, additional staffing, or manufacturing equipment. Bank loans typically require a business plan to demonstrate how the investment money would be used and how the organization will generate funds for loan repayment.

If the goal is to attract investors, they’ll need to be convinced by the projected sales revenue figures (as will the bank), so they’ll know when their investment will be repaid and when to expect profits if they are made co-owners of the business. A break-even analysis, projected income statement, projected cash-flow statement and projected balance sheet are required by those who will need significant money.

OPERATIONS

How will day-to-day business processes function? Tell it here, along with providing the organizational chart, the business location, the method of producing that which you sell (if you are, for example, a freelance book editor or graphic designer, you produce the service yourself), your usual sub-contractors (if you are a special events organizer, who are your preferred caterer, florist and limo service?) and quality control methods. This element is about logistics.

Your Business Need A Sales Funnel

It may sound obvious but often a business will forget the fact that the only way to make money is to get customers to buy. And the best way to get customers to buy is to have am effective sales funnel.

A sales funnel is set of steps where you guide a prospect through a series of communications that results in them buying from you.

But what happens after that first sale is made? Existing customers are the people who are most likely to buy from you again.

How Does A Sales Funnel Work?

At the top of the funnel, you offer something for free in return for getting a prospect’s contact information. This could be a report, checklist, video or eBook. Then you begin marketing, following up with emails and other communications to attempt to make a sale.

Throughout your sales funnel process, you should have several offers that complement each other. For instance, before you buy a car, you take it for a free test drive. If you like the car and buy it, the salesman doesn’t just hand you the keys and then vanish. You’re offered extended auto warranties, enhancements like upholstery and wheel options.

After a couple of months the salesperson will contact you to see if you’re happy with your new car, and let you know about a discount or sale going on.In the future, you’ll be contacted with opportunities to trade in your vehicle and the sales process goes on and on.

How Many Levels In The Sales Funnel Process?

As you can see from the example above, there can be many different levels in a sales funnel. A one level funnel is where after a customer buys from you, you move onto the next prospect.

But this a critical error.

It costs 6 to 7 times more to get a new customer than keep an existing one. It makes sense to market to someone who has already purchased one of your products, rather than try to convince new people to buy your services. An existing customer already knows you and your business. If they have received excellent value from you once, they’ll be more prepared to spend money with you again, rather than somebody who has never heard of you.

There is no “ideal number” of sales funnel levels. Each business, product and service is different. Just make sure you are continuously providing your prospects and customers opportunities to improve their lives or solve their problems with future purchases from you.

Finding a Great Job

Many businesses have high turnover rates due to unhappy, unsatisfied, and/or unappreciated employees. There are several ways a company can create loyalty, happiness, and more positive attitudes towards employee’s jobs. One such approach is through increased company functions and gatherings that help develop office friendships throughout the company. Also, the creation of management teams and developing a teamwork mentality will help employees gain the feeling of ownership in their company. Instead of an us versus them attitude between departments, friendships throughout the company will also help build a complete team attitude. Many prominent companies create outlets for their employees to volunteer, fundraising, and help their community. The following suggestions will also increase employee pride, happiness, and ownership of their responsibilities at work.

• Family Atmosphere – This type of environment creates a climate of fairness, equality, respect, and makes it safe to express dissent. This atmosphere is welcoming and creates a friendly environment to introduce new ideas. Employees teams may encourage a challenging but supportive environment and strengthen loyalty and teamwork throughout the organization.

• Recognition Programs – Company programs that recognize hard work, commitment, effort, and contributions breed organizational success and loyalty. The recognition program should include monthly awards and gift cards or a free lunch. Recognition from a supervisor at least two ranks above an employee makes a meaningful, engaging difference in employee morale.

• Organizational Pride and Belonging – Promote activities that development and establish pride and loyalty which is the backbone of any businesses long-term success. Employee turnover is extremely expensive and productivity and product or service development suffers. An engaged employee is a person who is enthusiastic about their work. Improving employee engagement directly impacts measurable business outcomes. Employees who are committed to success, emotionally attached, and socially involved with a company demonstrate qualities that business managers thirst to have. Engaged employees are more productive at work, take less sick days and exhibit other favorable behavior, promote the business to others and show their happiness to customers.

• Mentor Programs – Thinking long-term for future company success. A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser that assists in developing competent employees and future leaders. Mentoring program train and encourage seasoned employees to be mentors. A mentoring program can facilitate dynamic skill growth throughout an organization. Informal learning can be as important as formal learning programs.

• Volunteering Options – Look for opportunities for your company employees to get involved in the community. Allow your employees to volunteer their time or fundraising for a good cause. It is good public relations for companies to show their communities they care about their customers. These activities will create good-will among the local community and your employees. Create a team to decide what cause your company will offer financial support for a charity or cause.

Employee engagement can be improved by aligning the goals of individual with the goals of the business. Employee motivation should be associated with traditional rewards, such as pay and compensation, but also with emotional rewards such as personal growth, working for a common cause, being part of a high-performance team, and being recognized for achievements.

Creating Clients for Life – Thank You

As a parent of four daughters, my wife and I have focused our children on the art of sending thank you notes. We started them at a young age that included a cute piece of paper with crayons through their teens with a formal card and well thought out hand written message. It included birthdays, graduations, recent wedding, and the unusual when a nice gesture was done for them.

As we move into our business careers, many of us forget about that lost art and the powerful impact it still has vs. an electronic email. It is definitely a strategy that can set you apart. As real estate professionals there are many opportunities to drop a thank you card. I have even seen some studies that indicate a person who receives a thank you card will share it with 3 other people.

Make it part of your daily routine to send out at least 5 thank you cards per day and increase it as your business increases. Types of Thank You notes include:

  • Purchased a Home – This is the most obvious and the start of the process to create that long term referral. Don’t forget to offer your availability to help them if they have needs for recommendation for local services etc
  • Home Showing – Working with buyers requires time and patience. Why not send that thank you for the opportunity to show them a home and reinforcing your skills and enthusiasm to continue to find the client their dream home
  • Listing – Thanking that home owner for selecting you and remind them on why they did select you along with some of the marketing already in place.
  • Referrals – We all work for referral, so thanking that customer for a referral, whether or not that referral selected you will continue to bear future fruits
  • Listing Appointments – Meeting with homeowners that are looking to make that decision to sell their home requires the thank you be sent immediately. Timing becomes critical. Pick that one moment from the meeting that you felt you connected with the home owners and include that in your note
  • Cold Calling/Prospecting – When meeting someone for the first time, and follow-up with a thank you for their time and offer them a personal contact method.
  • Rejection – There will be times that you do not get the home listing or do not find the buyer that home. A thank you and keeping in touch for future developments may lead to future business.

Make sure each thank you note is hand written, has a stamp (not metered), is signed, and includes your business card