Archive for May, 2009

Insider to Insider: Mami Ogata, Owner of Botanical Art Design

This week’s insider was referred to me by Kelly Simants of Sweet Pea Events.  Kelly loves Botanical Art Design in Dallas, Texas for their fresh and modern approach to wedding flowers.  Owner Mami Ogata has always had a keen attachment to nature having spent her younger years living in the Japanese countryside and near the ocean south of Tokyo.  Today, Mami thrives on the interaction with her clients and the challenge of creating original designs with natural materials that invoke the aura and mood her clients want to establish in their space or at their event.

Mami Ogata

Mami Ogata

Botanical Art Design
Mami Ogata, Owner
Dallas, Texas
www.botanicalartdesign.com
established 2003

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

Doing exquisitely detailed hand work.  Mami is stimulated by the avant garde and experimental designs and does not hesitate to bring interesting lighting into the mix to create a desired effect, or to design original containers of stone, bamboo or Plexiglas to set off her materials and truly create original designs for her clients.

What is your best tip for time management?

Make a detailed time schedule.

What is your little marketing secret?

Constant Contact and FaceBook have been tremendously successful in expanding business for Botanical Art Design.

What is the funnest trend you are seeing in the industry?

Crystals and immersed flowers are fun trends that are being used at all types of events these days.

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

[I would have] had a step-by-step business plan in the start of my business.  [I would have also] focused on networking rather than advertising for spreading the word about the business.

Thanks Mami!

May 29, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Writing Your Business Plan, Step 12: Appendices

Today, we are working on the final piece of your business plan: The Appendices.  Here is where you can give your Plan a little more oomph.

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Creative Commons License

You may want to include more information about your business.  This is particularly important if you are seeking financing from a bank or investors.  These are usually additional information which link to the rest of your business plan.  Here are some details that SCORE recommends you include:

  • Brochures and advertising materials
  • Industry studies
  • Blueprints and plans
  • Maps and photos of location
  • Magazine or other articles
  • Detailed lists of equipment owned or to be purchased
  • Copies of leases and contracts
  • Letters of support from future customers
  • Any other materials needed to support the assumptions in this plan
  • Market research studies

Next Step

VOILA! We made it!  On Monday, we’ll be wrapping things up with a discussion of fine-tuning our business plan.  Come back tomorrow for a fabulous industry insider!

May 28, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Writing Your Business Plan, Step 11: Financial Plan (Future)

Today we are writing the last part of the Financial Plan: The Projection.  A projection, or forecast, is written as a goal-setting tool for the financial future of your business.  It serves as an estimate of your company’s ability to be profitable.  It is great information for potential financiers of your business, and a great exercise for you to plan your financial road map.  If you don’t have a map, how do you know where you are going?

The following 5 templates are taken from SCORE, SBA small business counselors, and are spreadsheets that will constitute your financial plan:

12-Month Profit and Loss Projection

This projection shows your expected income and expenses by month for the next year.  You may find it helpful to use the sales forecast that you created in Step 6 during your marketing plan.  You’ll want to make sure to explain any assumptions or exceptions in your projection.  For example, the wedding industry generally has seasonality in its revenue stream.  You’ll want to explain those variations in your projection.  This is the template from SCORE: 12 Month Profit and Loss Projection.

Three-Year Profit Projection (Optional)

If you are seeking bank financing or outside investment, you’ll want to provide a three-year profit projection.  This will be important to your financiers in determining the long-term viability of your business.  This is the template from SCORE: Three-Year Profit Projection.

Projected Cash Flow

The Cash Flow Projection is probably the most helpful tool for small businesses.  The number one reason most businesses fail is poor cash management.  With the seasonality of the wedding industry, having a good handle on the ins and outs of your cash stream is very important.  You’ll want to use the profit and loss statement to determine where you expect your cash to come from (sales, loans), and where you expect it to go (expenses, debt repayment).  Here is the Cash Flow Projection from SCORE.

SCORE recommends explaining your major assumptions, including:

  • If you make a sale in month 1, when do you actually collect the cash?
  • When you buy inventory or materials, do you pay in advance, upon delivery, or much later?
  • How will this affect cash flow?
  • Are some expenses payable in advance?
  • Are there irregular expenses, equipment purchase, or inventory buildup that should be budgeted?

Projected Balance Sheet

Your Projected Balance Sheet will show your assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity as expected for the 12 months you’ve covered in your 12-month profit projections.  You’ll want to take a look at your current Balance Sheet (remember we did this in Step 10) and use your profit projections to determine what your balance sheet will look like in a year.  This is the Projected Balance Sheet from SCORE.

Breakeven Analysis

The Breakeven Analysis enables you to determine what you have to earn in income to recover the costs of doing business.  This is a powerful tool for all businesses, but more so for new businesses.  Here is the SCORE template for Breakeven Analysis.

Next Step

Tomorrow we’ll be discussing the appendices and addendums to your business plan.  These are the items that go at the end of your plan to give it just a little more meat.

May 27, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Writing Your Business Plan, Step 10: Financial Plan (History)

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Creative Commons License

We are in the final section of the Business Plan, the Financial Plan. You’ll recall that we have broken down the financial plan into 3 parts:

  • Preparation (what to prepare before writing the financial plan)
  • History (looking back on the finances of your business)
  • Future (looking forward on the finances of your business)

Last Thursday in preparation for today, I had you prepare the following information:

  • Assets – what do you own in your business? (computers, inventory, etc.)
  • Liabilities (AKA Debts) – what do you owe in your business?
  • Equity – how much have you invested (or has someone else invested) in your business?
  • Revenues – how much did you make in sales in 2008? (this can typically come from your tax return)
  • Expenses – how much did you spend in 2008? (also should be traceable to your tax return)
  • Cash – where is that cash register? (not the physical register, but that paper thingie that tracks which checks you’ve written)

We are going to take these numbers and create the financial history of your business: your financial statements. Because I don’t expect you to be an expert accountant, I encourage you to ask questions (post a comment below) or talk to your accountant to put some of these details together. If you use a program like Quickbooks, you’ll be able to pull some of these reports from that.

The “History” of your business

You’ll want to include the balance sheet and income statement for your business going back 3 years. (If you’ve been in business less than 3 years, then provide what you can.) I’ll provide a little Accounting 101 on some of these financial statements.

Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet is a snapshot of your business at any given moment. It shows what you own (assets) and what you owe (debts or liabilities). The balance sheet basically looks like this: Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity

In plain English:

What you own = What you Owe + What you have invested in your business

Here is an EXCELLENT template in Excel for your Balance Sheet, courtesy of SCORE.

Income Statement

The Income Statement (also called the Profit & Loss, or P&L) gives the history of your business performance in a period of time. Typically you’ll create this for the most recent year. It typically looks like this: Revenue – Expense = Net Income or Net Loss

In plain English:

Sales – Expenses = Profit or Loss

Here is a RAD template in Excel, direct from the Microsoft website.

Personal Financial Statements

If you are applying for a loan with a bank or seeking investors, you should also include your personal financial statements. Bankers may want you to personally guarantee you commitments, depending on the size of the loan. For example, if you own a portion of your home, this may become collateral for your business loan.

You’ll want to list out your personal assets and your personal debts:

Assets

  • Home or Property you own
  • Automobiles that you own (that are paid off)
  • Any investments that you’ve made

Debts

  • Loans – personal (mortgage, auto, student, etc)
  • Credit Cards

I recommend including all of the details of your debts including to whom the loan is payable, the original amount, the outstanding amount, the interest rate, and the monthly payment.

Here is an AWESOME template, also from SCORE, for personal financial statements.

Bonus Stuff

If you are applying for a loan or seeking investors, you should have some additional financial information prepared. Financial ratios allow comparisons between some of your numbers. (Here is where we go really nuts with the math and the Excel – but WOW – it is powerful information.) For example, showing what your cost of sales is in relation to your sales gives your investor an understanding of your profit margins.  Here is a GREAT template, also from SCORE, that helps you put together some of these ratios.  If you are not seeking outside financing you may decide to opt out of this information.

Next step

Tomorrow, we’ll be wrapping up the Financial Plan and digging into the financial future of your business.  So, start thinking of what the future of your business will be!

May 26, 2009 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Insider to Insider: Barbie Hull, Owner of Barbie Hull Photography

Courtesy of Laurel McConnell Photography

Courtesy of Laurel McConnell Photography

There are few people in the world as energetic and positive as Barbie Hull.  I first met her a few years ago through BNI (Business Networking International).  She is a SUPER networker.  If you want to connect with someone, tell Barbie.  She can make it happen.  These days, Babs and I are partners in Get Hitched Give Hope.  OH – and guess what?  She’s an amazing photographer to boot!  Check out her blog.

Barbie Hull
Owner, Barbie Hull Photography
Seattle, WA
www.barbiehull.com
established 2001

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

I love everything about weddings, the planning, the love, the excitement – but most of all that first look where the groom sees the bride for the first time and he remembers why he fell in love with her. (so sweet!)

What is your best tip for time management?

Ah – time management is always fun to deal with. – My version is to keep a list of deadlines and make sure to always check a few days a head – so you are never surprised and always prepared.

What is your little marketing secret?

Talk to everyone! You never know who you are sitting next to on a plane. I once sat next to the marketing director of a big Seattle based company – we chatted the 6 hour flight away and sure enough I was hired for a big project the very next week!

What is the funnest trend you are seeing in the industry?

I LOVE the silly photos – business isn’t all about being serious & “professional” its about being yourself and letting your creativity flow.

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

If I were to start over and do it all again…. I would hire out for EVERYTHING non photo related for sure. I see now that spending my time learning & re-learning things that I eventually had to hire out could’ve been time spent growing my business. Work on your business, not in it right?? But – all said, I love my business, I love the place I’m in and wouldn’t change it for the world!

Thanks Barbie!

May 22, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Writing Your Business Plan, Step 9: Financial Plan (Preparation)

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Creative Commons License

Did you fire up your calculator?  We are going to work through the financial plan.  This is the final segment of your business plan.  HURRAH!  It requires some prep work and is a bit lengthy.  So, we are going to break this down into 3 posts:

  • Preparation (what to prepare before writing the financial plan)
  • History (looking back on the finances of your business)
  • Future (looking forward on the finances of your business)

First: Preparation

The financial portion of your business plan requires some planning and preparation.  Let’s break it all down.  (NOTE:  This is just the summary in preparation for the actual writing of the financial plan which will take place next Monday and Tuesday.)

Soooo… here is what you are going to need to know.  We’ll assemble this into financial statements next week:

  • Assets – what do you own in your business? (computers, inventory, etc.)
  • Liabilities (AKA Debts) – what do you owe in your business?
  • Equity – how much have you invested (or has someone else invested) in your business?
  • Revenues – how much did you make in sales in 2008?  (this can typically come from your tax return)
  • Expenses – how much did you spend in 2008?  (also should be traceable to your tax return)
  • Cash – where is that cash register?  (not the physical register, but that paper thingie that tracks which checks you’ve written)

Spend the weekend putting these numbers together.  Next week, we’ll be putting them into the “magical” financial statements of your business.

Come back tomorrow for a little business plan break.  We’ll be featuring another fab industry insider.

May 21, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Excel for the Wedding Professional ~ The One-to-One Custom Series

salesforecastASK and ye shall receive…

I’ve had several requests for some one-to-one coaching in Microsoft Excel.  People have been asking me to sit down with them and teach them the ins and outs of Excel… how to build spreadsheets that are specific to their business needs.  So here we go!

I am offering FOUR 1-hour sessions of
personal coaching on Microsoft Excel for $199.

Here are some of the details…

  • 4 sessions tailored to your business needs and level of experience
  • Introduction or Brush-up on Excel
  • Integration of Excel with Google Spreadsheets
  • Here are some things we can do (or anything you have in mind):
    • Set up of spreadsheet(s) to track client inquiries and follow-up
    • Set up of spreadsheet(s) to determine the return on your advertising investment
    • Set up of spreadsheet(s) to manage client budgets
    • Creating expense budgets and sales forecasts for your business in Excel
    • Basic accounting and bookkeeping
    • Overview of which “numbers” are good to know

A little bit about me… and why I’m doing this…

I’m a super Excel nerd.  Braced with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and experience working at Deloitte, you can say I’m pretty saavy with numbers and spreadsheets.  And, I love it.  I think every wedding professional should hire an accountant to do the nitty gritty work.  But, to be successful, you really need to know the ins and outs of the numbers.  And, if you are using Word for many of your functions, you’re making a lot of work for yourself.  I value this industry and want to see the people in it have stronger and smarter businesses!

If you’re interested in this service, please sign up here: Excel for the Wedding Professional.

For now, I’m only offering this in the Seattle area.  I do travel quite a bit (particularly to Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco), so let me know if you are interested in doing something like this in your market… you never know when I’ll be in your town!

May 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm 2 comments

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