Business plans kit for dummies 3rd edition pdf

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The Nifty Fifty 1. To my sister, Roz, whose encouragement made a difference. Best of all, being in these groups allows you to network with others who do exactly what you do. A brand is a name or a symbol of identification. Coming to Terms with Your Landlord Obviously, the ease with which you can come to an agreement with your landlord greatly depends on the type of landlord you have. Business plan kit for dummies forms download Business plan kit for dummies forms download 5 stars based on reviews brightsales. Ask what they think of your ideas.

Ask what they think of your ideas. Ask whether they think your ideas will work. Many times, you can determine whether people think your idea is good by monitoring their reactions when you tell them about it. Generally, the wider their eyes get, the more they like your idea.

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If you get this kind of response, consider it a favorable indicator that you should go ahead and pursue your dreams. If the idea is good enough, they will eventually jump on your bandwagon. Letting it flow In the free flow stage, you focus on coming up with — or expanding on — an idea, a solution, or a game plan.

For this brainstorming session, gather a small group of people who are interested in helping your business succeed. During this session, you can use the questions that I present in the following section to help focus the thoughts of those in the group. Thoughts or suggestions that seem to be out in left field can often spawn great ideas. Squeezing Your Dreams into a Signature Line Crafting a signature line, a key phrase that defines your business, is a critical element to the success of your business.

Capturing an often abstract dream in one short phrase can seem an impossible task. The Nifty Fifty 1. In an ideal world where money was no object , what would your store look like? Because money is always an issue, what does your store actually look like? How can you improve your store design? What kind of merchandise do you carry? Where do you buy your merchandise? Do you like to carry expensive merchandise?

Do you let the merchandise you carry determine the type of customer you want to attract? Are you customer focused? Describe your ideal customers: If you have more than one type, describe each one.

Why do you consider them to be your best customers? How do you communicate with your customers? If a customer put something in layaway and the item was subsequently marked down, how would you handle the situation? How would you handle employee theft?

Do you believe that you should treat all customers the same? Do you believe that you should treat all employees the same? What does quality mean to you? What criteria would you use to classify a store as average, weak, or a leader? What makes that store weak? How do you plan on making your store different from that weak store? What makes that store a leader? How do you plan on making your store the same as that strong store? What good ideas does that store use that you could implement at your store?

What type of store do you normally shop at? What type of store would you love to shop at? What makes your store different? Why should someone buy from you rather than from your competition? Why should customers go into your store instead of buying merchandise online? What is the ultimate benefit that your customer receives by shopping at your store?

It Starts with a Dream Do you want to make a difference in your community? In your industry? If so, how? How important are social issues to your business? Do you believe in getting involved with charities or with community organizations? If so, why? What do you want customers to say about your store? What do you want non-customers to say about your store? What do you want your friends or family to say about the store? What do you want your fellow merchants to say about the store?

What do you want customers to say about you? What do you want your fellow merchants to say about you? What do you want the community to say about you? What do you want customers to say about your employees? What is the one thing that customers will talk about after being in your store? Fill in the following blanks: What makes people talk about your store?

More blanks to fill in: How important is it to show a profit in your first year? Where would you like your business to be in three years? In five years? In ten years? Where would you like to be in the same time frames — professionally and financially?

During your first year in business, you may want to review your responses quarterly. Print it out and use it for future analysis. Evaluating your responses If you answered the questions in the preceding section honestly, you probably know a lot more about yourself and your business than you did before. Will the merchandise you carry be the most important aspect of your business?

Will the way that your merchandise is presented and the overall look of your store be your most distinguishing factor? Will the way that you provide service to your customers be the element that sets your store apart from your competitors? Will the price of your merchandise determine your focus?

Will your advertisements be what your customers talk about? Will profitability determine your business decisions? Financial considerations can prevent you from doing things that could change your focus.

I always wanted a big clock in front of my store that everyone would talk about. See what I mean? Will the type of people that you hire and the training that you make available to them become your focus? All these considerations make up your brand and help you and your customers identify your business and understand its position in the marketplace.

Does every business have a signature line? No, but every one should. A signature line is more than just an advertising slogan: It communicates who you are and what you do — and what your customers can expect from you.

Undoubtedly, they have served as inspiration for countless businesses around the world. Let them help get you thinking about a phrase that could define your business. With your responses to the Nifty Fifty in hand, do the following: When you care enough to send the very best. Hallmark just sells paper and ink, but this signature line conveys a sense of excellence that positions the company as the best in its industry.

When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight. Unquestionably, Federal Express stands for speed and efficiency. Quality is Job One. Ford was forced to abandon this signature line due to the problem it had with its tires. The company would have been out of alignment if it had continued with this line. Too bad, it was a great one. Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. I think that says it all. Rejuvenate your business with a signature line Several years ago, I was approached by Ed, a frame store owner.

Unfortunately, his store, which did wonderful work, had an otherwise nondescript reputation. He wanted me to help him come up with an attention-grabbing signature line.

For starters, I had him go through the same Nifty Fifty questions that I present in this chapter. When Ed finished answering the questions, we looked at his responses. Several words and phrases stood out: From the naked tomato to the stuffed potato. The phrase had attitude and shock value, and it worked. With this information, Ed and I developed a signature line for his store: Where the artists go for framing.

The phrase provided Ed with Chapter 3 Branding: A brand is a name or a symbol of identification. Gotta have it? Remember that a brand becomes whatever consumers associate with it. So be careful what people think about you — your reputation is also a component of your brand! Getting to Know Branding In the last few years, the concept of brand or branding has dominated the pages of almost every business publication — it has become part of everyday business vocabulary everywhere. But, in actuality, branding is as old as business itself.

There is no room for error. When you advertise your business, your brand has to be consistent. Testing the Retail Waters So what does a brand do?

First of all, it breeds familiarity — and familiarity represents trust. Is this reputation always deserved? Not necessarily. But consumers tend to think that if a business has a recognizable brand, its product must be okay.

And products with strong brand names can often even demand higher prices. He branded dead chickens! Perdue chickens are more expensive than other kinds of chicken — but they sell.

People are willing to pay extra for an Intel chip because of what the brand represents. Fields branded her chocolate chip cookies. People who buy the Mrs. Plenty of people make chocolate chip cookies better than or at least as well as Mrs. Fields does — but she branded hers, so they fetch a higher price than unbranded cookies. It costs more than regular tap water, but it sells.

These are powerful associations, but neither of them have anything to do with thirst. My message is this: Chapter 3: Whoever owns the brand holds the purse strings.

Making your business your brand A big mistake many new retailers make is to focus on the brands they carry, and not on their own name. Because different manufacturers and lines fall in and out of favor, build your business with an eye on establishing your store name as a recognizable brand. If you do this, your store will stay strong regardless of fluctuating trends. Repeat this phrase times, write it on the blackboard another times — and before you go to sleep every night, say it again.

Your goal should be to carry merchandise that is unique to your store. The flame broiling is what distinguishes BK from its competitors — what builds its brand. Many designer lines are made up of purchased items. The high profile retailers in the list above purchase merchandise from manufacturers and sales reps just like you do; they just go on to make those items a part of their own collections.

The richest people in America were retailers. This direct advertising initiative raised consumer awareness of their products. The shift was on: The purse strings, or profits, were moving from retailer to manufacturer. Over the last 20 years, however, the purse strings have started to shift back to the retailer.

Because retailers have figured out that if they promote and feature their own store brands, they can earn extra profits.

The most important brand you can carry is the name on your front door. The bottom line: If you do this, your business will be a success. Even at that point, however, the stronger your store name, the better the sale. For more on running sales, flip to Chapter Understanding brand associations Branding is a game of associations.

As a retailer, you need to control the associations the public makes with your business as much as possible. The following is a list of the most common brand associations and the reactions they elicit from customers: You have to make sure that your brand is unique and recognizable.

To help you clearly define your brand, ask yourself the following questions that are based on the 8-Point Retail Filter see Chapter 1 if you need a refresher: The price range of the merchandise in your store affects your image and ultimately your brand. The products you choose to carry define your brand. Your employees are central to your brand this is especially true in a smaller store.

For sales reps to enjoy doing business with me? Your public image on paper newspaper ads, promotional flyers, catalogs, store display signs — even sales receipts is the tool with which you build your brand.

If not, what can I do to strengthen it? Taking Steps to Build Brand Power The strategies I present in this section can help you establish your business as a brand that reflects the merchandise you sell, the service you provide, the uniqueness you offer, and the kind of customer you want to attract.

Finding a niche and becoming an expert In this age of specialization, consumers are more than willing to pay extra money to deal with a specialized professional — someone who really knows his or her business, a real expert.

In fact, the more you specialize, the better you get at what you do and the more customers will travel farther or pay extra to do business with you.

Establish your business as the expert in a particular retail niche, and customers will come. Do your homework Thanks to the Internet, becoming a recognized expert is not as difficult as it used to be.

You have access to unlimited amounts of information with just a few clicks of your computer mouse. Be sure that you do your homework and study your category thoroughly.

Try to attend every seminar that your industry offers. Know more than your peers. If you spend just 20 minutes a day reading about your industry, you can be an expert in less than 18 months. How can you be an authority in such a short time? Obtain credentials If your association, such as the Jewelry Association or the Photo-Marketing Association, offers any type of certification program, get certified.

It adds to your credibility — and that can only help your business. Although your customers may not know what your certification means, the fact that you are certified can inspire trust. Contact the different media outlets, and let them know that they can call on you to comment on various issues that affect your industry.

Send out a press release every time you go to a trade show to share with the public all the insights you gained from your trade show experience. Soon people will be coming to you for your expertise. Share your knowledge You can strengthen your brand and underscore your expert status by conducting seminars in your store. The public wants to know about whatever you sell. Actually, small groups of four to six people are perfect. Be sure that you offer your customers things they want to know.

At my store, we gave seminars on how to be the perfect mother-in-law. These seminars attracted the type of customer I wanted and helped establish me as an expert on mothers. It was a win-win situation. If you own a gift shop, offer a class in your store on how to select the perfect gift. If you have a hardware store, give classes on how to fix stuff. And if you own a jewelry store, think about this: To avoid a security disaster, keep the gems locked up and conduct the class with the help of some good pictures or a PowerPoint presentation instead.

Share your knowledge — doing so builds your brand power. The first business to discover a niche usually becomes very wealthy.

Understanding who your customer is When considering what kind of customers you want to attract to your business — your ideal customers — think about their income level, their education level, their lifestyle, and the media they are exposed to especially the magazines they read. All this information helps you determine how best to build your brand to appeal to your ideal customer.

This makes them good indicators of what the people who buy them are really like. Testing the Retail Waters Creating a logo A truly great logo is one that is both a powerful image and a specific representation of your business — not just a pretty picture.

It can be simply your name presented in a distinctive font, a symbol that represents your business, or a combination of these. Understand that different fonts elicit different emotions — some fonts are very formal while others are more casual. A good graphic designer knows the difference. But before you turn this project over to a graphic designer, you must do some homework.

First, determine the look and feel that you want to create. Think of the types of people you have defined as your ideal customers. What would appeal to them? What stores do they already shop at? Collect logos that appeal to you.

Next, present your ideas to your graphic designer and let her create a sample logo for you. Finally, show the proofs of this new logo to friends, colleagues, enemies, family members, professionals, retailers, or anyone else you can think of, and gather their opinions. When you listen to advice, remember that brilliant people can make stupid mistakes.

Make your own final decisions. Owning a word or phrase You can really make your brand stick in the minds of your customers if you can find a word or phrase that specifically represents your business yet has a broad and catchy appeal. I included this phrase in all my advertising. You could be building brand equity in an item that will eventually die out.

Go for longevity — invest in yourself! Creating trade dressing Trade dressing simply refers to the colors that you use to represent your business. Red, white, and blue. Yellow and black. The For Dummies books? Also yellow and black.

Retail Business Kit For Dummies

You get the idea. Pick your colors and use them on everything that you possibly can — on all your packaging, on your signage inside and out , and in your ads. You can try to include your trade dressing in the interior of your store, but the colors that make great packaging and signage rarely make for good interior design.

Yellow and black are great colors for bags but terrible for a store interior. Providing consistency Your logo, your fonts, your signature line, and your colors must be the same every single time you use them.

Make sure that your brand looks the same every time. Consistency builds brand power more than anything else. Got it? Protecting your brand Anything you do in your business must be good for the brand that you are building. If you say that your salespeople are professionals yet you fail to train your staff, you hurt your brand. Testing the Retail Waters Everything you do or that your staff does affects your brand.

Even posting a simple handwritten paper sign in your store affects your brand. If all your signs are handwritten on paper, no problem. But if making a handwritten paper sign was just a shortcut, you hurt your brand. Having a staff that is familiar with nearly every customer — what she bought the last time and what turns her on or off — is key.

In this chapter, I help you define your ideal customers so that you can figure out what motivates your customers to buy. Recognizing the Customer Types Knowing who your customers and your potential customers are prevents you from depleting your precious resources by marketing to people who will never buy from you. And the first step in the process of discovering who your 38 Par t I: Testing the Retail Waters customers are is to know what kinds of customers are out there in the first place.

The more you know about your potential customers, the easier it is to make them your customers. Identifying Your Ideal Customers Please understand that you can have more than one type of ideal customer.

To attract the customers that will help your business succeed, you need to know everything about them: You can then make sure that your vision for your business matches your vision of your ideal customers. In this section, I present a couple tools that can help you identify what kind of people you want your business to cater to. Going undercover to uncover what customers want Prior to developing a new luxury car, Toyota sent engineers to live in the most affluent areas of North America for a nine-month period in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of its ideal customer.

What did those potential customers value? Where did they dine? How did they spend their discretionary income? Toyota wanted to build and sell a luxury car in the United States, so it needed to design one that would appeal to its U.

Chapter 4: These tools of identification are the easiest to use and remember. The key to using these tools to identify your customers is that all your sensory responses should be in alignment, giving you a consistent message. Use your sense of sight real or imagined to help you envision your ideal customers: What do your ideal customers look like? Do their jeans sag to their knees, or do they wear neatly pressed suits? Do they have strands of pearls around their necks, or do they sport nose rings?

What kinds of things do your ideal customers own? Do they drive luxury cars, or do they get around in broken-down jalopies? Do they struggle under the weight of worn backpacks, or do they carry executive briefcases? Getting an earful Use your sense of sound to help you imagine your ideal customers. You can consider this sense in the following two ways: What do your ideal customers sound like when they speak?

Do their voices seem refined, or do they sound uneducated? What kinds of music do your ideal customers listen to? Also, keep in mind the feel of anything fabric, metal, glass, china, and so on that your ideal customers could be associated with.

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Sniffing around Because we associate particular smells with certain types of customers, you need to know what you want your ideal customers to smell like — and what smells you want your ideal customers to like: What fragrance emanates from your ideal customers?

What will your ideal customers think of the way your store smells? Will they be attracted to it? Think of a bakery or of a leather goods store — their smell is part of their ambience. Making it palatable For the purposes of this discussion, taste refers to the preferences of your ideal customers — and you want to attract customers with distinct tastes. What kinds of merchandise, service, setting, location, selection, price, and ambience do your ideal customers prefer?

Push your ideas of your customers through the 8-Point Retail Filter as follows: What type of customer is likely to buy the merchandise that you plan to sell? Is there another store in the area that carries similar products?

If so, what type of customer does that store attract? What kind of customer would be drawn to the procedures you plan to implement in your store — be they time saving or customer pampering?

What kind of customer would be attracted by the prices that you plan to set for your merchandise? What type of customer will enable you to afford the cost of implementing your business plans — whether they include unique displays or extra business hours?

What type of customer is likely to relate to your personnel, who share your business vision? What type of customer is likely to be attracted to your brand — whether it focuses on value or status? Know thy customer, save thy business A few years ago, a downtown organization asked me to give a workshop on how to run a sale.

Part of my responsibility was to personally invite local business owners to participate. I decided to stop by a hobby shop that had one of the worst locations in town.

The store was crammed with customers who were buying the most expensive stuff — model airplanes. Talk about finding a niche! I invited him to the upcoming workshop, but he surprised me with a few questions of his own.

I nodded. Customers are drawn by my selection of hard-to-find model airplane parts. My markups are reasonable, and customers come from all over to do business with me.

Knowing your customer is paramount to the success of your store. You have to take everything down off of the walls — all the fixtures and pictures and what-have-you. One of the things we took down was a collection of four hand-painted plates my mother had made.

Off we went to a big box store. When we reached the framing department of this big store, I unpacked a plate, took off the newspaper, and started to talk to the sales representatives. I wanted to know that this store could do the job. The sales rep was fine, but then the manager walked through. He looked at the plate, looked at me, and then looked back at the plate, and then back at me. I might not have been as diplomatic as I could have been, because his response let me know he was feeling offended: While we were outside, I noticed a little frame shop.

Margie told me that it had been there a while, and a friend of hers had had a picture framed there and was pleased with the work. So in we went. This experience was completely different. My mother did it. He congratulated us on our great idea.

Then I added that I was thinking about mounting the plates on velvet. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to sell to them. You can put a retail spin on the Golden Rule: Instead of treating everyone the way that you want to be treated, you should treat everyone the way that they want to be treated.

In this section, I help you to further define your customers by showing you what motivates different customers to buy.

Selling to the eight buyer types Why should someone buy from you? How low can you go? Although no one ever wants to overpay, a price buyer is almost obsessed with finding the low prices.

Add new merchandise regularly and make additional markdowns on a weekly basis. Your price buyer will become loyal to this section of your store — providing that it has the lowest prices, of course.

They will never be loyal to you or to your store: They are only loyal to the lowest price. Do you have the coolest merchandise? Doing business with WOW! These types of buyers love to shop smaller stores because that is where they are most likely to uncover a treasure that no one else has even seen. Although WOW!

Testing the Retail Waters eagerness by charging them an arm and a leg, they are willing to pay a premium for the excitement of being the first to have a certain item. You can motivate WOW! When everybody has the item, it loses the WOW! Can I depend on you? Trust buyers rank security as one of the most important factors in shopping at a business or buying a product.

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This sense of trust creates loyalty. Trust buyers want to do business where they feel secure. You must work hard to develop the name of your business for trust buyers. Make sure that you have adequate lighting in your store and in your parking lot so that your customers feel safe. Trust buyers want to know that you stand behind what you sell.

If you have a Web site, and you want trust buyers to purchase from you over the Internet, make sure that your site is secure. Can you save me a hassle? If you can save convenience buyers a little time, you can own them. The bigger your selection of merchandise, the more attractive your business is to them.

Get ting to Know Your Customers Before You Even Have Any Ten ways to lose a customer One way to determine what motivates customers to do business with you is to look at a few reasons why retailers lose customers. The following list presents the top ten reasons customers give for not wanting to return to a store. The interesting thing about this list is that price is not even on it. The store personnel or even the owner were on the telephone when I needed assistance.

The store was inconvenient in a number of ways. The salesclerks had no product knowledge. I had to wait in a long line. I was ignored by the salesclerks. The salesclerks were pushy. When I was ready to check out, there was no one at the cash register. Other reasons people might not return to your store include the following: Price is not the only factor that can turn people off. Yet more than 70 percent of the retailers I have consulted believed that the only reason a customer would shop at their store was because of their low prices.

When you own a niche or a category, you have category dominance. Within that narrow niche, I carried a broad assortment of manufacturers and styles. You saved me so much time! If you bought a dress for an event that night, we could alter it immediately.

The service was not free, but rarely did anyone complain about the price. My customers were willing to pay for the convenience. Make it easy for your customers to maneuver around your store: This alone is not enough, though — plenty of stores that are in convenient locations are otherwise inconvenient.

Will you give me the royal treatment? Status buyers want you to make them feel important. Many of these people even register for platinum cards — despite a ridiculous annual fee — just for the status.

I admit that I sometimes succumb to the lure of status. I fly almost exclusively on Delta Airlines — and will even pay a little extra to fly with them — because they reward me with frequent flyer points, give me a separate line to check in, grant me advance boarding, and bump me up to first class if any seats are available. By the way, in first class, the flight attendants call you by name. Delta makes me feel important. Offer your preferred customers special, exclusive services.

Actually, you should try to do this with every customer. Do you know more than anyone else? Expert buyers want to do business with people who are the authorities in what they sell. Whether they need a watchmaker, glassblower, or furrier, they want to do business with stores that specialize in a specific area. When O. Simpson was shopping for an attorney, do you think he was concerned about price, WOW!

No way! He wanted an expert — and he was willing to pay extra for it. To attract expert buyers to your business, you must establish your store as the expert in your niche.

But he chose to send them out only to his best 78 customers. His cost per customer was exorbitant, but the return on his investment blew away any other mailing he had ever done: He knew what motivated his best customers, and the specialized advertising paid off.

Focus on one aspect of your business, study it for an extended period of time, and specialize in it. Submit articles on what is new and happening in your corner of the retail market to local newspapers, magazines, and radio stations. For more on spreading your word in the media, see Chapter Do you want to help others?

Caring buyers want to patronize socially responsible businesses. Some retail associations give out awards for retailers that excel in the area of community service.

Supporting a cause shows that you care. Taking care of our planet and environment is more important than ever before. Caring or cause marketing can be a powerful tool.

Can you show me a good time? Entertainment buyers, the newest and fastest growing category of buyers, want to be entertained when they go shopping.

In this day and age, when people spend entire days looking at computer screens, they view shopping as a social experience. Creating a fun shopping experience for your customers can separate you from the rest of the retail pack. You can motivate entertainment buyers by giving your store a fun, lively atmosphere. But if you know who your customers are, you can be flexible to their changing moods, needs, and wishes — and form an established customer base that will set your business on the road to success.

It deals with finding sources of merchandise and doing business with various types of vendors. I also include information on controlling your buying, selecting the right location for your store, and designing what your store will look like. Along with the joys of finding merchandise, choosing a location, and creating your store design come the rules that help take the guesswork out of these processes.

Chapter 5 Location, Location, Location: Exploring Your Location Options Different types of businesses do well in different types of locations. In some cases, a business can do more business in one location but make more money in another. Beauty salons are a good example. They do well in mall locations, but renting a mall location is expensive. As you consider where to settle, keep the following two factors in mind: Determine how far your customers are likely to travel to reach your kind of business.

A dry cleaner should be close by, but a jeweler can be a bit farther away. Your freedom to set your own store hours, to close one day a week if you want to, or even to decorate as you please depends on the location you choose. Retail locations generally can be divided into two categories: Everybody has to pay to get business. Either you pay a landlord a lot of money for a high-traffic location, or you pay a smaller amount on rent and spend more on marketing and advertising to bring customers to your store.

The big box concept Before we explore the various types of locations for retail businesses, you need to understand a concept that has changed the retail landscape in recent years: For a long time, retailers clustered together in downtown locations or in other shopping areas. They thrived on the one-stop concept whereby shoppers would shop at several stores in an area.

But this philosophy changed as customers became more mobile and time starved. Led by Wal-Mart, big box stores reinvented the old one-stop concept of clustering retailers in one area.

These stores determined that they could be destination locations. And the concept has worked not only for big boxes but for smaller specialty businesses as well. A jewelry store is a perfect example of a successful destination retailer.

There are good and bad aspects of this concept. But retailers building individual businesses all over the place have also contributed to urban sprawl. Chapter 5: Convenience, selection, and visibility are the trump cards.

Downtown Main Street locations Downtown shopping is on its way back, and a location right on Main Street may be the perfect place for your new business. Most downtowns offer great opportunities for new and old retailers alike.

These organizations offer such benefits as money for signs, low-interest loans, and educational programs that are funded with state or federal funds earmarked to help rebuild downtowns. Downtown businesses are usually owner-occupied specialty stores that fall into two basic categories: These include drugstores, print shops, coffee shops, quick-food restaurants, and beauty salons.

They generally provide services for the people who work or live in the downtown area. These include high-end apparel stores that provide personal service, gift shops, craft stores, computer service stores, jewelry stores, appliance stores, candy stores, and hobby stores.

The major drawback to a downtown location is parking. Think about this before you sign a lease. How far will your customers be willing to walk? Check to see if adequate parking is available during peak shopping times. Locations off Main Street In many towns, the strongest businesses are on side streets.

And because side street locations generally cost less, businesses can spend more money on advertising and 53 54 Par t II: Often, side street locations have their own parking — a major consideration in locating in or near a downtown area. Neighborhood locations Neighborhood locations are the closest retail locations to where your customers live and work — they offer the feel of a village community.

You can also find plenty of neighborhood shopping areas near manufacturing facilities, truck terminals, farm co-ops, and even fishing docks. These locations work best for stores that customers shop frequently like salons, grocery stores, and drug stores. You can expect the peak hours of a neighborhood business to be early in the morning.

You want to catch people before they go to work. The second busiest time of the day is usually between 11 a. Main Street draws artists Artisans are among the retailers who are finding homes on Main Street. They are one reason for the rebirth of downtowns.

Their businesses include art galleries, glass shops, pottery shops, and consignment art stores that sell everything from oil paintings to handmade one-of-a-kind clothing to quilts to furniture. Why are these businesses settling on Main Street? Because the rents are affordable. Many downtown landlords purchased their properties at bargain-basement prices because of the deterioration that occurred in the last couple of decades, or they have owned the property for so long that they can make money on reduced rents.

I once worked with a gift shop in a small Iowa town. Finding the Right Place to Do Business Roadside locations Roadside locations are just that — locations alongside the road but not Main Street in freestanding buildings.

Plenty of smaller independent stores have opted to build in their own locations along a road. If you choose a roadside location, you have to rely on your own ability to do business.

You must provide a reason for them to make the trip. Obviously, the ideal is to have a highly visible, very convenient location. Convenience is king, and visibility drives sales and helps you save on advertising costs. Often, you have to search until you find a location that offers acceptable amounts of both. Watch out for urban sprawl: Many municipalities are addressing this issue with new codes and restrictions.

Before you sign any agreements, check with the office of community development or economic development or even the Chamber of Commerce to see whether any zoning or regulation changes could affect your business. Strip mall locations Strip mall locations are very similar to neighborhood locations in that they attract convenience- and service-focused businesses.

Instead of having to traverse the crowded hallways of the mall, customers can park in front of the store of their choosing and quickly make their purchases.

Generally, you find these malls where they can serve a population of approximately 10, people living within 10 minutes or less. They range in size from 3 or 4 stores to as many as 20 to 30 stores. This type of center generally welcomes independents and owner-occupied businesses, many of which do exceptionally well in strip centers. Locating in a shopping center involves a lease, and with every lease come rules to live by, such as your business hours, the type of store sign you can use, the kinds of window displays you can create, and even the type of sales promotions you can do.

Although the existence of these rules sounds like a negative, the rules are absolutely necessary. They exist so that all the merchants in the center can do more business. And justifiably so. Can you imagine having 20 or 30 stores all doing their own thing? Community center locations Community shopping centers are mid-size planned shopping centers.

A supermarket is often located at one end, and a major discount store such as Target or T. Maxx is at the other end. In between are businesses such as hardware stores, apparel stores, and appliance stores — all the everyday stuff that shoppers need. Most tenants in these community centers are national or regional chains and franchise groups, but many centers welcome independent retailers.

These centers are generally 15 minutes away from a potential buying community of up to 90, people. These centers have at least a general manager, a maintenance department, and a security department.

Regional mall locations These are the big malls that have it all, with 2 to 5 department stores referred to as anchor stores and more than other retail stores. Locating in one of these centers is expensive, but regional malls deliver customers to your door. Once upon a time, being located in a regional mall was considered a ticket to success. Now, however, malls are going through their middle age. Few, if any, new malls are being built.

Shoppers are more pressed for time than ever before. Customers want to park in front Chapter 5: Finding the Right Place to Do Business of the store of their choosing, walk inside, get what they want, and walk out.

The days of spending the day shopping multiple stores seem to be behind us. With that in mind, some independent retailers are rethinking the attractions of the mall. We see this trend with jewelry stores across the country: Once wildly successful in malls, many are now opting to open freestanding stores. Malls are protective of their brand and hesitant to allow independents in. A store located in a good regional mall gives up some independence for the sake of the mall.

This may not be a negative: But getting lazy about your standards in a mall can be very costly. You could be in violation of your lease and be asked to leave or forced out, and whatever investment you may have made in the property will be lost. Specialty center locations A specialty center is exactly what its name implies: These centers are unique because of the merchandise they carry, the types of stores they house, or the physical characteristics of the space. They can either be high end, with exclusive merchandise, or low end, featuring discount prices.

Factory outlet centers are good examples of these specialty centers. Shop till you drop — literally The largest regional mall in the United States is the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, managed by Simon Properties, the premiere shopping center management and development firm in the world.

The Mall of America is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States, with stores and more than 12, employees. This mall is so large and famous that its entertainment complex and amusement park compete with Disney World for visitors. They represent a new trend in real estate development. These communities are designed so that residents can live, work, and shop within the limited area of their community.

The innovative developers working on these projects have created shopping centers that look and feel like the old downtowns of the s. The stores are a mix of interesting and diverse storefronts, all with deliberate architectural features that make them unique.

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