How Business Networking Can Help Launch Your Small Business From the Ground Up

What is key in any business success story is an adequate networking plan–a plan that can help launch your small business from the ground up.

Generally, it is hard for a new business to become noticed, and even harder to gain your first few clients without any success stories to back up your claims. Your formal marketing plan should therefore project the right networking mix. The right networking mix is about being proactive-in a sense that you leverage your business and personal connections to bring you regular supply of new customers. The whole idea about business networking involves relationship building-and it must be strategic and focused on networking for business growth.

Professional Network Services

With business networking, you step up to the challenge to find avenues of opportunity that you may have otherwise never discovered. You really do not want to start your business to fail due to the decisions that you the owner makes. In other words, for your enterprise to grow, you have to be prepared to work hard, make decisions, and spend money where it matters. For instance, you may consider using a few prominent networking organizations who have successfully created models of business networking activity. A few notable examples of professional network services include LinkedIn, Viadeo, XING, and WiseStep. Using these professional network services can, in fact, be most effective in terms of generating business opportunities than advertising or public relations efforts.

Online business networking can also be a cost effective method of launching your small business. Businesses are today increasingly using social networks as a means of growing their circle of contacts and promoting themselves and their business online. And with the global expansion of businesses, social networks make it easier to keep in touch with other business contacts around the world.

Small Business Awards

Further, face-to-face networking through referral business clubs also have the potential for higher quality business relationships. There are also a vast majority of awards given to businesses locally, countrywide, and globally. The different type of these awards, such as, but not limited to, small business awards, innovation awards, new business awards, local and entrepreneurial awards, are a great way to project your business accomplishments to a wide range of community of prospects. For instance, for more than 50 years, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contribution in their local communities and to the nation’s economy. The range of National Small Business Week award categories include:

· Small Business Person of the Year Award

· Small Business Exports of the Year Award

· Small Business Development Centre Excellence and Innovation Award

· Veterans Business Outreach Center Excellence in Service Award

· Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award

The US Chamber of Commerce also hosts the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards Program sponsored by Sam’s Club. The other National Small Business Awards you can win cash for, gain national recognition and valuable networking opportunities include:

· The SCORE Awards

· The American Business Awards

· Inc. 500/5000 Awards

· Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Women Awards

· Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

· The Better Business Bureau Torch Awards for Marketplace Trust

· The SVN Innovation Awards

Do I Really Need a Budget Plan for My Business?

Many entrepreneurs wait until it is too late to appreciate the benefits of having a budget.

Although budgets are important to be prepared throughout the entire life of your business, it is ESSENTIAL BEFORE starting your business.

Why?

You must determine if the business has the ability to cover its business expenses because if it can’t, the business will be broke before it even starts to earn money (generate revenue).

Therefore, the business must be able to pay its own way for its expenses or it will not be able to continue.

It is obvious why this is so important!

What is a budget plan?

Briefly, budgets are used for planning the expenses the business will require and the revenues the business expects to generate.

Simply put as an entrepreneur you must:

• understand the cash outflows (expenses) and,

• understand the cash inflows (revenue) of your business.

Since all entrepreneurs have the same goal: To Be Profitable – it makes sense that a strategy to measure if the business will be profitable must be put into place.

A budget can help to achieve this.

Although budget plans are often considered to be challenging – they are essential and should not be ignored.

The money, the numbers are often considered to be one of the driest parts of a business – some would even say boring!

However, especially if you are a new entrepreneur, you should learn from the start how to have a healthy respect and appreciation for “working with the numbers” in your business.

Focus on the vast amount of benefit and information that budgeting can provide for you.

Is Creating a Budget Plan Difficult?

There is no doubt that budget creation can be very complex. The level of detail, time frames and assumption that can be part of the budgeting process is often difficult even for those well versed with it. However, it is usually larger companies, government and expansive non-profit organizations that need for the budgeting process to be more complicated and involved. They are creating budgets for more than just owners, it is for a number of interested parties and stakeholders that have an interest in the company.

However, there is a difference for new, start-up businesses with regard to their budget. Like business plans, it is not necessary for the small business owner, especially start-ups to prepare overly lengthy and detailed budgets.

New entrepreneurs should have a Preliminary Budget Plan that will include the main financial essentials of start-up for the first year.

The intent of this Preliminary Budget Plan is to get you:

· Understanding the benefits of creating your first budget.

· Feeling “at-home” with creating a budget.

· Committed from the beginning to the habit of establishing and having a budget.

· Feeling in control of how budgeting works.

· Lessening your frustration/anxiety about creating a budget.

Often times it may seem as though everything has been considered, but there can be certain aspects that have not appropriately been addressed from a financial prospective… that can leave you feeling unsure and doubtful of your abilities as an entrepreneur.

Why is it called a Preliminary Budget Plan?

Note there are many formats and versions of budget plans, however they have similar features and are created for the same purpose: to help you determine what the revenue is expected to be in the company, the direct costs associated with generating this revenue and the expenses that are anticipated to be incurred.

Assuming that you are starting a new business and are in the start-up phase, it is not necessary to have an overly detailed budget plan.

It is called the Preliminary Budget Plan as it is a starting point budget that is intended to get you, the entrepreneur involved in the habit of establishing and having a budget, right from the beginning. It is presented in a straight-forward, step-by-step fashion. A Preliminary Budget Plan is also shorter and easier to understand and prepare.