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Our Nation's Economic Recovery Hinges on Small Business
By Richard B. Sanford

Small businesses are considered the backbone of the American economy and with national leaders saying the economic revival begins with small firms and their entrepreneurs , a well executed business strategy has never been more important.

In past recessions, independent smaller businesses helped fuel economic recoveries. But tightened credit, government regulatory impediments and a lack of Federal support for Community Banks the principal source of capital and financial support for small business has many modern day entrepreneurs fearful of what the future may hold! Proper planning and a well-executed business strategic plan for growing their business, though, can clear the way for a smaller enterprise to expand and take reasonable risks that will lead to an improved bottom line.

Most people are not aware that the American small business first year success rate is 20% and has been unchanged, decade after decade, according to the U.S. Small business Administration. And for those enterprises surviving the first year business obstacle course, only 20% of them make it to the third to fifth year winners circle. But, in spite of this dismal record, a miracle continuously occurs year after year. Small business generates approximately 72% of all new jobs in America, every year! Small business is the job generator in our country. The challenge facing American entrepreneurs is to increase this job producing success rate!

"How" to do it, is the real challenge. This challenge faced me personally, in 1969, when I left big business marketing management and became an entrepreneur. The tools I had available to me in a big business setting were; staff, a budget ($$$), giant computers, extensive and expensive software, huge data banks of marketing , sales, and consumer preference surveys, all were non-existent to a start-up entrepreneur!

Searching for texts on strategic planning revealed (the ones I discovered anyway) were aimed at big business and were focused at telling the reader 'what' to do, not 'how' to do it! As a result, I created a simplified strategic business planning model I used to create and grow eleven successful small businesses, most generating income in the six figure range, one in the seven figure range and one at $136,000,000. What I learned from the experience was "the heart and soul of any small business is its strategic business plan", and a formal strategic plan increases an entrepreneur's odds for success. I have observed coaching entrepreneurs that every small business failure is a direct result of insufficient planning and the faulty decision making that follows, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Here are some Simplified Strategic Planning tips for Entrepreneurs, gleaned from this inter-active desk-top Handbook

• An enterprise's strategic plan is the foundation and framework that outlines how to think, how to plan, and how to take action to power the enterprise forward to ever-increasing income and profit.

• You must have a strategy. An entrepreneur's dreams for a successful business venture require strategic planning to turn them into reality. If you don't have a strategic plan, create one before you make another mission-critical decision.

• You become what you think about all day long. If you can visualize success, chances are good you'll achieve it. But, if all you do is fret about potential failure, it can and often will, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Think success and encourage your business team to do the same.

• There may be situations out of the control of an owner, but customer service is not one of them! Every business controls how they serve their customers. The ones who can't get a handle on that simple fact will fail, plain and simple!

The irony of small business is that, as a business sector, it should be considered 'too big to fail'. The problem is, small business does not have the luxury of a government bailout. It needs to heal itself from the inside, using only available resources and the wits and intuition in their leader's heads . With all things being equal in the market place, no matter the economic conditions, strategic planning makes the difference between success and failure every time. And simplified strategic business planning makes it a whole lot easier!

About the Author:
An entrepreneur from the age of 14, who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War,
Richard B. (Dick) Sanford has built distinguished careers in adult education, investment management and the insurance industry while leading the cause of small business in his home state of Michigan, where he lead the organizing of the Small Business Association of Michigan in 1969,which has grown to become the largest business trade association in the state . He continues to serve as it's Founder and Honorary Chairman.

Small business entrepreneurs now have available, a new strategic planning model that simplifies the strategic planning process, one that is easy to understand , easy to comprehend and easy to execute. It's called Success By Design and can be found at www.ssbp.biz .

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