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    7 Replies Latest reply on Jun 21, 2008 2:46 PM by Mergent

    What topics would you like to see in a business workshop?

    Mergent Adventurer
      Greetings,

      As a company that writes business and marketing plans, I have discovered that there are a lot of typical questions and answers, and that people are looking for a one stop shop for information on starting a business.

      I am exploring the possibility of putting together a seminar session (probably 2 to 3 days) to help cover ALL topics for starting a business. Obviously, someone could stand and talk for weeks on end about starting a business, but I want this to be a clear, concise, and basic seminar that will get to the meat of starting a business.

      Topics I have already thought about are:

      • Business Plan and its importance
      • How to structure a business plan, and topics that will need to be in ALL business plans, regardless of industry
      • Importance of E-Commerce
      • Legal Issues
      • The power of branding
      • Creating a winning executive summary
      • Avoiding common business plan mistakes
      I am open to any and all suggestions, and I hope that this forum will give me some GREAT ideas, because this is as much for my benefit as yours.

      Thanks again, and if anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at brian@mergentplanning.com.

      Best Regards,

      Brian Mosko
      Mergent Planning
      702-944-9188
      702-538-1798
      brian@mergentplanning.com
        • Re: What topics would you like to see in a business workshop?
          Lighthouse24 Ranger

          I answered a related question in another thread (see post #5 there):

           

          http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.banko
          famerica.com/thread.jspa?messageID=24965

          I see that you're in Vegas and we have done a lot of seminars and workshops there. Here's one thing to keep in mind about training on this topic in that particular locale: There are lots of resident agents, PMB outfits, and incorporation businesses that conduct some version of a business planning and start-up seminar as a feeder to their real profit centers. The training isn't necessarily good, but there are still a lot of players offering it from a customer perspective.

          Do you have training space of your own? If so, my suggestion would be to design and offer a program much like community college courses. It's a challenge for emerging business owners to make time to attend a traditional full day/multi-day program (many have regular jobs). So breaking the program into a series of two-hour courses that are offered two or three different times each week, could really work.

          If you don't have your own classroom space and need to rent a meeting room or hotel, then it takes a fairly large audience or a big margin per seat to break even on multi-day programs. You can't generally draw enough attendees or charge them that high a fee on this topic (at least, in my experience). So you have to have some back-of-the-room product to sell with a high margin to make the numbers work (for instance, a mystical magical business planning software solution).

          Hope some of that helps. Best wishes.
            • Re: What topics would you like to see in a business workshop?
              Mergent Adventurer
              Lighthouse24,

              Yes, I do have my own space. I do beleive it can hold about 30 to 40 people. I guess I did not explain my concept as well as I should have. I would have the people pay for the class or seminar, and we would actually go through the actual steps of writing a business plan.

              What would happen is that they would be mailed a packet prior to class, fill out all the information that is needed regarding them, their business, and what not, and then I would actually work with them to write their business plan in the two to three day span, or at least get alot of the frame work done, and then they could make appointments with me on an individual basis at a later date, free of charge, to go over and revise their plan. I would take one day, and go over strictly the business plan, then the next day go over the financial section, and through out the sessions, interject tips and tricks for starting a business, from E-Commerce in the sales section, to ways to get free advertising in the marketing section.

              I am a business plan writer by profession, so that is my only profit center, hence by having them pay to come to the seminar, I am in essence getting more clients and dealing with them in a classroom setting.

              I do however, like your idea of doing the night time class and spreading it out for people to attend. I will consider that strongly as I try and figure this thing out.

              But back to my original post, what sort of topics would you as a person who has done these seminars like to see included?
                • Re: What topics would you like to see in a business workshop?
                  Lighthouse24 Ranger

                  If the terminal objective of your training session is for the attendee to complete a business plan, then I'd think your Course Outline would pretty much follow the Table of Contents of the business plan format you utilize -- and as you went through each section, you'd explain what it is, why it needs to be there, and how to develop the details.

                  Since people can download a business plan boilerplate for free and fill it in themselves, your training has to promise perceived value that exceeds the registration fee. So I'd assume that the topics of greatest focus would be the ones where you are best positioned to do that cost-effectively. One obvious way to add value is to provide credible expertise -- for instance, if an attendee is developing the marketing section of a plan for a new restaurant, having a facilitator who knows the local restaurant business and has done some recent and reliable market analyses would be a real asset. If your expertise lies in financials, then the pro forma statements would be a possible area of focus.

                  Even with all that, however, it can be a challenge to convince people in advance that the workshop fee you have to charge is worth it. A lot of emerging small business owners don't realize until after they've already been in business a year or two (and are struggling) that they needed a little professional planning assistance and expertise up front. Heck, some don't realize it even THEN (they think their lack of success is just bad luck rather than poor planning). So DO realize the value in advance, but are starting off on shoestring budgets and can't afford formal training or professional advice (except when they can find it in forums like this). So again, I think the topics you select and emphasize have to be the ones that enable you to draw paying attendees. (I hope I explained that in a way that made sense.)

                • Re: What topics would you like to see in a business workshop?
                  Mergent Adventurer
                  Lighthouse,

                  Can you e-mail me at brian@mergentplanning.com, and tell me how much you charge for those services?
                • Re: What topics would you like to see in a business workshop?
                  LUCKIEST Guide
                  What topics would you like to see in a business workshop??

                  You are exploring the possibility of putting together a seminar session to help cover
                  ALL topics for starting a business.
                  Lighthouse always has good answers.
                  Maybe this can help. SCORE has an online Seminar with 26 FREE courses.
                  Go to www.score.org

                  Good luck, LUCKIEST
                  • Re: What topics would you like to see in a business workshop?
                    Mergent Adventurer
                    Lighthouse,

                    Thanks for the e-mail. I e-mailed you back.

                    Does anyone else have any suggestions for the topics that should be covered?