Early Winter 2008
Personal Interview with Michael Marshall, ‘The Business Doctor’
Thanks for meeting with us again.
Also, thanks for your willingness to share information, knowledge and insights with us as well.
We would like you to clarify and discuss with us the difference between a business plan, a business model and strategy.
The business plan normally incorporates the business model and strategies.
To thoroughly discuss each of these subjects would require spending the time in some advanced university courses and trainings.
Substantial experience in these things is also needed.
All business organizations no matter of size or market need a business plan.
Knowing that many of the small business owners and leaders may lack education, training and experience to develop and implement these important business fundamentals, they do have easy access to assistance.
Office supply stores may have easy to use software programs to help guide them with these things in addition to local (SBA) Small Business Administation agencies that are available to help.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a government agency that assists small businesses in a variety of things. This is definitely a good first for small businesses to get some valuable assistance.
I will try to briefly explain these business fundamentals to you a little more but will keep it simple.
You just mentioned that education, trainings and experience are needed to be competent.
Are most individuals developing business plans, business models and strategies well educated and trained in addition to having good experience?
This is a very good question but also a very sensitive question.
Can we presume that most are not?
Again this is a sensitive question and answer.
I would say that many are not adequately educated and trained to be as competent as they could be?
I would also say that what experience they may have, may not be all that complete to assure competence.
Those that are educated, trained and experienced in these things can certainly benefit from updated training and education to assure competence and keeping current to what is effective and what is not.
How can an organization make sure that management and senior leadership are educated, trained and experienced in these things?
Simply speaking, just hire those talented individuals with the combination of education, training and experience plus have an organization culture that routinely send their staff to trainings to keep current in these things as well as other important things.
Make sure that only these individuals get into management and senior leadership positions.
I do not know of any other ways to make this happen.
How important is a business plan, business model and strategies?
These things are very important to business organizations just like a rudder, a compass and a map is to a ship trying to reach a destination.
We have heard you use this phrase before to explain the importance of certain things.
Do all business organizations have business plans, business models and strategies developed?
No, not all do but all should.
Of those business organizations that have these things developed, do they implement them?
This is another good question.
For those that do have these things developed, many do not fully implement them nor aggressively support implementing them.
Many do not keep the business plan, business model and strategies current and up-to-date to reflect market changes and current market conditions.
Some studies indicate that most plans or strategies that fail tend to fail due to not being adequately supported and not being implemented fully; and not due to the actual plan or strategy being wrong.
If these things are so important how can this happen?
As I mentioned earlier; management staff and those in leadership positions need a combination of education, trainings, experience and current up-to-date training in these fundamentals as well as other important things.
If they are not of this level, they need to be retaining a highly skilled business consultant helping them with these fundamantals.
As I mentioned earlier, for small businesses, there is assistance available from Small Business Assistance Agencies.
What is the difference between a business plan and business model?
Generally speaking, a business model is an outline or brief description of what products or services an organization is going to sell to who and how?
This can be for an entire business organization, a division, a department or a product or service line.
A business plan incorporates far more details.
As I stated earlier, developing business plans, business models and strategies truly requires extensive education, trainings and experience to be competent.
What about strategy or strategies?
Within the larger business plan, strategies will be incorporated.
There are several strategies to be developed and implemented as part of the larger business plan.
Market strategy including pricing and positioning
Marketing communications strategy
Advertising and PR public relations strategy as part of marketing
Sales channels strategy
Distribution strategy, if any
Sales representation strategy, if any
National versus international sales and marketing strategy
Product and services strategy
Product/services life cycle and obsolescence strategy
New product development strategy
Company/products/services differentiation strategy
And there are some others
These strategies incorporate marketing fundamentals, sales fundamentals and influencing buyer’s fundamentals.
You just mentioned fundamentals of marketing, sales and influencing buyers.
Please explain these just a little more.
Again, as I mentioned earlier, these things require extensive education, trainings, experience and continual up-to-date training to be competent.
But let me explain a few of these fundamentals in a simple way that most can understand.
Marketing is often referred to as having four P’s.
Influencing buyers can often be referred to as the buying funnel.
1. Attract buyer’s attention
2. Stimulate buyers to desire more information about your products or services
3. Stimulate buyers to see how your products and services can be a benefit to them
5. Stimulate buyers to prefer your products and services
6. Stimulate buyers to purchase your products and services, now
The implementation of strategies help succeed in these things.
Another way to simplify the fundamentals of marketing, sales and influencing buyers, and how a business plan is important; just answer eight simple questions.
1. What are you selling?
2. To who are you selling?
3. How will you find and communicate with the potential buyers?
4. How will you deliver or get your products and services to the buyers?
5. Why do buyers need your products or services?
6. Why should they buy from you instead of others?
7. Why should they buy your products or services, now?
8. What are your obstacles to prevent you from selling and meeting your goals?
You have explained these things in a way that is fairly easy to understand.
I can understand why you promote and advocate the need for extensive education, trainings, experience and continual up-to-date training to be competent.
Regarding experience, not all experience will be good experience.
Sure one should learn from both good and bad experiences as well as failures and successes.
All too often, individuals may think they have learned from good experience when in fact the experience may not be so good and what they learned not adequate.
Then these individuals may go forward repeating inadequate things thinking they have good skills and knowledge.
This can be a rather false impression to their actual skills and knowledge level.
This is why education, training and continual up-to-date training are so important.
I think we have enough information on these subjects if we are to keep it simple.
It has been most interesting and insightful as usual.
Thanks again for sharing knowledge and insights.