Jeff Nock, CEO & Founder of Prescient Consulting, LLC. Prescient, which is a management consulting company that helps fund early stage and mid-cap companies achieve their vision and growth goals.
By offering services that include C-Level mentoring, strategic planning, business planning, business model ideation/evolution, market analysis, competitive niche analysis, finance, business development, operational efficiencies, and brand evolution.
While all companies should have a strategic plan that connects to each individual’s role in the organization, companies should only invest time in a formal business plan when there is a specific demand for that business plan.
Such demand could come from potential investors, banking institutions, potential partners and potential acquirers.
Since the strategic plan provides the guidelines for the daily, quarterly, annual and three to the five-year direction of the company, much of the content in the strategic plan will also be of value for the business plan.
Jeff Nock understands that it is important to know your audience when writing a business plan. Before putting a lot of work in, ask the people who have requested the plan what they would like to receive.
In most cases, it is no longer necessary to write a 30-page business plan as it was many years ago.
In today’s world of bytes of information, it is important to be more concise. Often a 10 to 12-page plan will hit the mark. Highlight the following in one to two pages; Executive summary, company description, market analysis, competitive analysis, product/service description, marketing plan, sales plan, leadership overview, financial projections.
Write this section last. It summarizes, in one page, all the other sections of the plan. Make sure to emphasize the highlights as some readers will only read this section and the financials.
Describe your business model. What problem or opportunity is your company addressing? What is your value proposition? Who is your target market?
This section will show the reader that you thoroughly understand the industry you are planning to enter. Use data to show where the market has been and where it is going to be in the coming years.
The last thing a potential investor or partner wants to hear is that you think you have no competition. Every company has competition even if it is the status quo. Educate the reader on who the leaders are in the industry and why.
Now that you have described your competitors, describe in some detail your product or service and be specific about how you differentiate from the competition. Why are you better than the rest? If you aren’t, you won’t be able to compete against existing, entrenched companies.
Marketing is your “one to many” strategy for how to establish your brand and drive interest in your product or service. Describe how you will establish your brand in the market and how you will get potential customers to believe in your value proposition.
Sales are your “one to one” strategy for influencing potential customers to purchase your product or service. Describe how you will close prospects.
Often investors and partners go with a strong team of people even over a great idea for a product. Make sure to share who your leadership team is and why they are a great team. Jeff Nock understands a company’s culture can be a huge key to future success. Describe your company culture and why people want to work hard to make your company and themselves successful.
Share your revenue, expense and income forecast for the next year by month and for years two and three. Be pragmatic with these numbers.
You don’t want to be so conservative that the reader sees no potential in your company, but you don’t want to be so optimistic that you lose credibility with the reader.
Typically reviewers of business plans will cut revenue forecasts considerably.
When a business shares their business plan with an investor, vendor, client, or whomever they desire, they must be accountable for not only the successful outline of their initiatives but also their passion about the company.
The fervency of this passion is one of the most critical aspects of the business plan’s authenticity.
CEO, consultant and startup savant Jeff Nock has worked for years to improve the output and success of small businesses and established corporations. He advocates mentors for startup businesses and discusses the potential for the improvement they bring.
As CEO & Founder of Prescient Consulting, LLC, Jeff Nock understands the challenge of operating a business and maintaining responsibilities as a father at home. He shares with other business-centric parents what he believes to be the best methods of balancing work and family.
Both work-life balance and the traditional roles of parents at home have changed tremendously in the past few decades. Child-rearing isn’t delegated solely to mothers anymore, and an increasing number of mothers take on top roles in busy, demanding businesses. Some professionals choose to avoid having kids in order to put their careers first, but many more try juggling parenthood with steady work.
“It’s a challenge to designate enough time to both your family and work, but it’s not impossible,” says Jeff Nock. “While my kids will always come first, they also understand that I need to provide for them and that I enjoy my work. The key is good communication and scheduling. While the kids know I will be there for them, my business clients have to know they are a priority. Sometimes this leads to long days!”
Jeff Nock is CEO of Prescient Consulting, LLC and is compelled to work long hours to see his business thrive. However, as a father, he understands that at times a child’s sports game or graduation ceremony will take precedence over a business meeting.
“While business success is gratifying, our kids only grow up once and it happens so fast. I will do whatever it takes to coach or watch my kids in all of their activities while also making sure that our clients are happy. This can be accomplished by staying on top of the kids’ schedules and communicating with clients as to their deadlines and expectations,” says Jeff Nock. “In the end, you have to make sure the kids and clients know they matter.”
In the past, people have had to choose between their priorities, but today they can maintain family commitments as well as professional careers by relying on technology and new modes of communication to be present in multiple places at once. For instance, parents can spend needed time with their families while phoning in remotely through chat or video to important meetings when needed. Alternatively, if business trips take busy professionals out of town, they can use the same modes of communication to contact loved ones and spend quality time from afar.
As a CEO, Jeff Nock has come to the realization that a healthy work-life balance isn’t an end goal, but rather a balancing act that requires constant consideration of what’s most important on any given day.
“Sometimes you have to excuse yourself from work in order to be present for family events,” says Jeff Nock. “Other times you have to ask for forgiveness from your family if something at work is too pressing to put off until tomorrow.”
He concludes that positive communication is your ultimate ally in these circumstances and that there should always be an open dialogue between you and your work, and you and your family, so that both parties stay in the loop. This way, he says, you’ll seldom disappoint either.
Performing competitive analysis allows businesses of all levels the chance to observe competitors’ movements and gauge the effectiveness of their own strategies. Jeff Nock of Prescient Consulting, LLC shares his perspective on the usefulness of competitive analysis below.
Thorough market analysis is a necessary component of any successful business strategy. Success depends on how well a business sells its product or service, and comprehension of the market and potential competitors will inevitably factor into sales plans. Understanding what one company gets right and how another business fails can be interpreted and applied to improve any business strategy. In that way, companies can evolve and keep up with a changing market by using competitors’ results to enhance their own efforts.
“If you’ve developed a business plan in the past, then you’ve already conducted thorough research on your niche market,” says Jeff Nock, CEO & Founder of Prescient Consulting, LLC. “It’s just as important to explore the competitors within your niche and track their success or failures. This will allow you to anticipate shifts in the market and respond appropriately, among other useful benefits.”
A competitive analysis must include more than a subscription to competitors’ email lists and keeping an eye on their social media accounts. While these are very useful tactics, quality competitive analysis will include an all-encompassing strategy to monitor your competitors throughout various channels on an ongoing basis. Whether businesses choose to follow only a few of their main competitors or else study as many companies as they can is ultimately a strategy choice, which is likely factored by available manpower and resources.
However, Jeff Nock reminds businesses that the competitive analysis is not something to skimp on or dedicate only a small fraction of time to. Especially not with all the help available to businesses today.
“There are plenty of resources available online to help businesses monitor and track what a competitor is doing,” says Jeff Nock. “Subscribing to all competitor channels and online domains is easy. Companies can also use tools like those offered by Google to get detailed and accurate reports of competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in real time.”
Google is the world’s leading online index of professional services and they offer a range of complex tools (many free of charge) to help businesses keep a fresh and precise depiction of their markets. Google AdWords Keyword Planner informs businesses which keywords and phrases are trending online, how often they appear on competitor sites, and what their current bidding price is. Google Trends and My Business help companies link up their efforts with the successful trends sweeping a market at any given moment. Google Analytics, meanwhile, delivers a well-rounded snapshot of how users find and interact with a given website, allowing them to make alterations and test their success or failure.
“Competitive analysis will never fail you,” says Jeff Nock. “It’s a cheat sheet to your niche market that can empower your business and ensure strength and longevity over the competition. Refusing to conduct thorough market or competitor research will only hinder business potential.”