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Howard County MD Business Law Blog

Succession planning for business stability

Maryland business owners need to think about succession planning for a number of reasons. Often, the founder of a company is very talented, hard-working and difficult to replace. As the founder ages, potential recruits to the organization might turn down offers for fear of instability when the founder leaves.

Those within the organization might be concerned as well and might be more vulnerable to offers from headhunters. People may be anxious about who will take the founder's place, and there might also be long-term issues that need to be addressed like renewing leases. Even for employees who remain with the company, work may suffer and morale may drop as people become concerned about this.

The components of an effective business plan

Entrepreneurs and business owners in Maryland and across the country are constantly reminded of the importance of putting a comprehensive business plan into place, yet many of them still decide to take a wait-and-see approach to cope with the uncertainties and complexities of the modern market. While having a rigid plan that is difficult or impossible to adapt when the situation changes can be a hindrance, having no plan at all can turn even a fundamentally sound commercial venture into a gamble with very long odds.

Business experts are quick to point out that the vast majority of new commercial ventures fail relatively quickly, but studies have found that companies founded by entrepreneurs who take business planning seriously are usually still going strong after three years. An effective business plan begins with clear goals that can be used as benchmarks to measure success and highlight areas that require attention, and entrepreneurs should also ask themselves if they are truly prepared to put in the kind of effort that will be required to achieve these goals in a sometimes ruthless and unforgiving marketplace.

Developing a content marketing strategy

Having a content marketing plan is very important for Maryland business owners. While the strengths of the product or service that is being sold is crucial, the target customer must be told about the product or service before they can purchase it. To attract potential customers, businesses can use content marketing strategies to promote their products on the platforms that their target customers visit.

Identifying the right platform is a crucial part of any content marketing strategy. Before advertising products that are aimed at a target customer, business owners must understand the habits of their target customers so that they can reach them on the websites that they frequent. The content that is used must be geared towards the targets and catered to their interests and the keywords that they tend to search for.

Tips for creating a winning business plan

Starting a business is an exciting experience, and one that requires hard work and forethought, as many Maryland business owners know. However, unforeseen events and misfortunes can occur from time to time, and a strong business plan can help keep the company afloat. Here are some tips for creating a strong business plan.

One of the biggest setbacks for many startups is that they run out of money because the owner underestimated the company's operating costs. It may be that the demand for the company's products or services was low, the cost of supplies was higher than expected or the company lost income because of unpredicted circumstances. To counteract these losses, an effective business plan will reflect solutions to keep the business operating as smoothly as possible.

How to make an effective strategic business plan

Most business owners in Maryland understand that strategic business planning is key to a company's success. However, understanding its importance and actually executing a strategic business plan are two different things. When a business plan just sits on the shelf, it becomes nothing more than a static document.

Strategic business plans often fail to create change in an organization because they do not contain clear directions. To be effective, a business plan should set the trajectory for a company by outlining specific goals and articulating clear vision statements. A solid plan for how to reach the specified goals and achieve the company's vision should also be included in the strategic business plan.

Startups require intelligent planning

Although many Maryland entrepreneurs aspire to become iconic mavericks who fly by the seat of their pants, business plans are a must. Start-up company owners may be misled into believing they can survive with lean strategies that forego in-depth strategies or mistakenly think they don't require well-documented plans. On the contrary, entrepreneurs who have business plans could find it easier to make forward progress and take charge of their development.

Startup plans ought to be created by teams who work together to develop such documents over time. This process can keep employees on track as they determine whether they are actually reaching their goals. Consistently rethinking a business plan may also help companies prune unnecessary details.

Planning for businesses effectively

It is a smart move for small business owners to write business plans. Maryland entrepreneurs are much likelier to succeed when they have good plans in place. Writing an effective one involves stepping back and viewing the business through a holistic lens, including several key things.

One mistake business owners make is failing to think about and to include all of the key players who will help the venture to be successful. This list could include suppliers, consumers, subcontractors and others whose input and assistance are essential. Owners should both list all of these people and then include them in their plans. Owners also often work to come up with mission statements, and many of these statements are often uninspiring. Instead, they may want to think about what their visions are for their companies. By sharing those visions with everyone, getting people excited about the business is easier.

Personal planning for Maryland business owners

For many entrepreneurs, the line between business financial planning and individual financial planning may be blurred. This is because the success of their businesses may translate to their overall financial health. However, it is critical that a business owner not assume that financial success in business will translate to being successful with personal finances. Instead, business owners should take the time to answer questions about their current financial picture as well as plan for retirement.

While a business owner may have most of his or her net worth tied to his or her company, diversification still matters. If a death in the family or another financial emergency occurs, it may be necessary to leave the company, even if it's not the best time to sell. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to have another source of income in the event that a business owner is forced to sell at a loss or otherwise less than market value.

Why small businesses fail in Maryland

Studies show that around 80 percent of small businesses fail within the first 18 months of operation. This is generally not due to major and obvious mistakes or lack of effort on the part of owners. Instead, things like lack of marketing, poor customer service and a bad location can be all that it takes to keep a business from doing well.

No matter how great a product or service is, if people aren't aware that it or the business that offers it exists, the business will struggle and likely fail. It's important for business owners to determine what the best methods of advertising their goods and services are and to make sure that they are making potential customers aware of their existence.

Wine entrepreneurs share their business lessons

The biographies of those who have made it to the top of the business world through persistence and hard work are reliable sources of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs in Maryland and around the country, but successful business figures can also provide those thinking of starting a commercial venture of their own with valuable guidance. The lessons learned by the founders of California-based Barefoot Wines were revealed in a June 20 article, and they could help budding entrepreneurs to avoid a number of new business pitfalls.

Business lessons tend to be learned the hard way, and the founders of barefoot Wines say that many entrepreneurs focus so much on the big picture that they fail to take care of more mundane tasks like securing necessary permits or paying attention to minor details. The founders also say that their road to success was unpredictable, and those hoping to follow in their footsteps should develop a more flexible approach.