Developing Your 2012 Pipeline and Preparing For a Great Year of Winning Business

If you are anything like me, you’ve dealt with three challenges during the holidays – trying to keep from overindulging too much and gaining hard-to-shed pounds; fighting off a recurring cold; and trying to juggle family time with proposals that are due early to mid-January. By the way, I am officially envious if you faced no challenges or dealt with them through advance planning and orderly life. You are my hero.

This article is for everyone else who is not a planning maven, or like me, tends to pile the plate so high that no amount of planning is enough, no matter how hard I try. Now that the holiday hustle and bustle is over, and there is relatively smooth sailing through the frigid months ahead, it is time to slow down for a day or two and finally plan. Dust off your crystal ball, sharpen your pencils, and let’s talk about getting your company (and you) to that next level of growth.

My first question to you is, what does your opportunities pipeline look like for 2012? This question is relevant to everyone – not only the executives, but also capture and proposal staff, and even proposal consultants. Every business has to have a healthy pipeline to thrive. It is surprising, however, how many simply do not have one, have proposal staff that don’t know about its existence (if there is one), or have one but are skeptical about its quality and usefulness. I hear a common story that bespeaks of broken pipelines from small and large companies alike:

• “We only submitted a handful of proposals last year; we could be proud that we are picky but our win rate is so low.”
• “We cannot find opportunities that match our exact area of expertise, so our pipeline is small and won’t sustain our desired growth.”
• “We bid on everything – I think our bid-no-bid process is broken – and having everything under the sun in the pipeline simply doesn’t make sense.”
• “We keep going after bluebirds – we haven’t updated our pipeline in a while.”

Or better yet,

• “We don’t know what our Bid and Proposal budget is. Because no one has planned the pipeline for the year. Therefore, we have not decided how much investment is needed to win the opportunities that show up in the pipeline to reach our annual goal, while factoring in our win rate.”

If you recognize your company in the statements above, or have other pipeline challenges, it is time for change. You have to put business development higher on your priorities list, because a quality pipeline directly correlates to your future revenue. Or lack thereof. If you are a business owner, executive, or a consultant, make sure that you make this an investment year into your pipeline development. It will contribute to your peace of mind, and give you greater control over your destiny.

If you are working in a proposal department – wouldn’t it be nice to bring some degree of planning and order into your resources, time, and efforts? Perhaps, you would be compelled to act bolder and ask your management for more resources knowing that you are facing a churn-and-burn proposal stretch. Maybe you could dedicate more time to capture – even if you could do a little bit at a time while you are busy on other pursuits. All of it will lower your stress and contribute to your quality of life.

My second question is, have you looked at your industry’s trends? What does the immediate future hold for you and your company? For example, with the government moving more and more work to the Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) vehicles and GSA and VA schedules, have you caught up and learned how to turn your company into a task order winning machine? What was the last time you have looked at the legislative changes impacting government contractors? What areas will continue to grow, like Cyber and Security fields – and what industries are bound to shrink with the budget crunch? How are your target customers changing their procurement behaviors given the state of the economy? How will you adjust the type of opportunities you are bidding on?

Also, what are your competitors now doing to beat you? Are they cutting costs – and if so, how are they doing it? Are they investing into new initiatives?

Answers to these questions will shape your pipeline even further.

These questions may seem irrelevant to proposal managers, coordinators, writers, editors, and other proposal professionals not as directly involved in strategy and planning – but I beg to differ. It will make you a better rounded professional if you understand what the industry is doing and how your company is likely to react – and you can adjust accordingly if there are certain risks on the horizon.

Which brings me to my third question – have you looked at your career and growth opportunities for 2012? What will you do to advance yourself, earn more money, and get greater job security, while helping your business? Will you stay in the same field or will you expand your abilities? In the business development field, there are always ways to command higher pay, be more in demand, and ultimately become more successful. On the other hand, many proposal professionals narrowly specialized in one field may find themselves in less secure positions.

To change this situation, it is important that you don’t succumb to burnout-induced complacency. Explore professions that are adjacent to your fields to increase your competitiveness and pay grade. There are natural career paths for certain professions. For example, proposal managers would greatly benefit from getting training in management, capture management, orals coaching if your customer set uses orals, technical writing, pricing, desktop publishing, and graphics skills – and could definitely use training in cost proposals development. Capture managers should expand their skills into proposal management, business development, price-to-win, and cost strategy. Technical writers should consider proposal coordination and proposal management as a career path if they are comfortable with higher levels of responsibility over the team. Proposal coordinators could venture into desktop publishing, graphics, and editing; or step up and becom e proposal managers.

For executives, investing into developing more versatile proposal teams means higher success rate in winning proposals, and ability to rotate personnel from one role to another on a variety of proposals, preventing team burnout. And, ultimately, getting a more skilled resource pool may mean a different type of pipeline where you can be more aggressive in pursuing opportunities.

Determine what training courses you are going to attend in 2012 to expand your capabilities, and definitely plan to make it to the APMP-NCA’s educational events.

Well, onward and upward, as some of my dear friends like to say. If you haven’t already asked yourself or your colleagues these three questions, it may be time that you do. Life may not go according to a plan, but it is better to have one anyway. Life without a plan is almost guaranteed to have much less spectacular results. I wish you a professionally and personally rewarding year!

The Business of Information For Speaking and Writing – Exposed!

Are you an entrepreneur curious about productive business opportunities worldwide? Did you know that the oldest and most common of all economic systems is capitalism? The opportunity for today’s economic challenges are fruitful as we put new spins to old ideas. Develop your autonomy by using Information Technology to promote business and create revenue.

If you are looking for a valuable investment that is affordable, then consider the business of information. From big business and corporate structure to small business development, the secret uses of information are instrumental in obtaining continual revenue. Invest in yourself as an information entrepreneur for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Speaking and writing are the most successful methods of communication. The development of niche groups using information, multimedia and technology is advent of a new economy. Evolution empowers individual business survival through the autonomy of in-home self employment.

Entrepreneurs are now able to use informative household business models to start a successful in-home career. The evolution of communications in the 21st Century has developed many inexpensive tools. Free and inexpensive high quality software products replace personnel and unnecessary equipment. These affordable applications are necessary and in demand worldwide.

The stress of big-business and corporate misappropriations discloses hidden knowledge. If this information is used in any niche, it will create income and revenue. Due to a growing population of people, the computer age enables the use of information to create continual profit.

Setup requires a computer, high speed Internet connection and software. With today’s technological advances, most business products are affordable or free and usually with a guarantee. Have access to a reliable website membership. It should specialize in the Internet marketing of information products.

Be aware of situations and conditions favorable to obtaining your specific business goal. A good chance, position or prospect will come, as it defines the law of attraction. The business of information for speaking and writing knows the ropes to in-home self employment skills.

Starting a Home Based Business and Goal Setting

Introduction

When you look back over human history, the concept of working from home is not new. A lot of paid work was done in the home. A shoemaker, for instance, would make his shoes in his own house and there are many other examples that can be given where people in times gone by worked from home.

However, with the onset of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, the locus of work shifted from the household to the factory. Now, with the advent of the computer and the World Wide Web, many people are discovering the rewards of starting a business that enables them to work from home.

Home based businesses are, in fact, some of the most rapidly growing segments of today’s business world. If you are looking to start a business working from home this article will provide you with some home business start up tips and also look at goal setting when working from home.

A Summary of the Work from Home Benefits

When you work from home, you have many advantages that other business people do not have. You have no additional expenses incurred by rent or mortgage on the building. The start-up costs are likewise reduced or even eliminated, since the entrepreneur may already have the necessary items such as a telephone, computer, a printer, a fax and other office items. Time and money spent on commuting to and from work are also eliminated. All these factors have led many entrepreneurs around the world to start a home based business.

Starting a Home Based Business – Business Start Up Tips

Along with setting your goals there are a number of actions that need to be taken when setting up your business. Below you will find a selection of business start up tips that will help you set up and run your home based business.

1) The need to be flexible in business. As times change adapt your home business to keep up with the trends in the home based industry implementing business opportunities, information products, software and training programs that compliment the business you have already set up and which help move you forward.

2) Consider what work you enjoy doing yourself and outsource the rest. Build a ‘dream team’ of outsourced workers who can help you complete the numerous daily business tasks.

3) Don’t go it alone, select a business mentor. Research your marketplace and find the top ‘players’ in your niche and follow them learning from their experience. Opt into their subscribers list and learn from them. Work with a mentor who has been there and done it and who can support you with your business through coaching, education and training. Choose mentors who pass onto you their experiences so that you can avoid making the mistakes that will slow your business development down.

4) Do a vision book – having set your business and personal goals which look at what you want to achieve in the short medium and long term – visualize them? Put pictures into a scrap book, in a folder or on your home office wall and look at them every day to remind yourself why you are doing this in the first place. This will help you keep motivated. For example, if you want to make money on line and set up automated systems so that you have more time with the family put pictures of this into your vision book.

5) What business model to follow – Whilst working online from home you will find that many business opportunities hit your inbox. However, how do you decide which one is right for you? Well, once you know what type of business you want to build, what you are passionate about and why you want to do it, then you will build the right type of business from the outset because you will only take on businesses that meet your own criteria. Don’t feel obliged to join everything going. Just join what works for you and businesses that help you ‘build the right business the right way’ so that you fulfil your own goals and dreams but also help others solve their problems along the way.

6) Have a daily plan of action – Each night, go over what you have done in the day, see what you have accomplished, congratulate yourself and figure out how to carry it forward to the next day. Write up daily plans of action, cross them off as you do them and feel good about what you have achieved. This way you are looking at what you have done and not what you have not done.

7) Read inspirational stories and listen to music that motivates you – Find articles in books, in magazines, or online, about people who have been successful at similar businesses. Play music that gives you a lift each day and which makes you feel upbeat and motivated.

8) Read out loud personal and business declarations – Do this each morning as you get up. An example might be “No one will ever fire me again because I am my own boss” or “I will be debt free through my business ventures” or “I am now on a course to change my life totally and pull in millions of dollars”. Why would you do this? Well, because it helps you remove any limiting factors and by reading out your own declarations each day it helps you maintain your focus, stay positive and remove any limiting beliefs you may have every day.

9) Parallel Lines: Basically, you can stay in the system and the same place or choose a different path which allows you to leave the system and achieve your goals and financial freedom. Do not make excuses not to do something – Just do it; your attitude is what propels you to go forward. Make excuses not to do something and you will stay put!

10) Register yourself with the appropriate Tax and Vat offices.

11) Set up your account with an accountant and set up a business bank account.

12) Get your home office set up with the Utility Company for the telephone lines, internet, mobile phones, gas and electric and buy and set up your computer system.

13) Look at what you are passionate about. What knowledge can you share with the world? Having decided upon the niche you are going to work in put your foundations in place by setting up your products, services, landing pages, auto responders, websites and educating yourself about marketing offline and online.

It’s great that you know which business opportunity you are going to join and develop but don’t make the mistake of not educating yourself about marketing. There are many elements to a successful business and if you take the working online route then as well as having an affiliate product or your own product or service to promote, you will need to learn about building squeeze pages and websites, list building, and investing in marketing and how to set up marketing funnels.

14) Work in a team or join an online community in your niche. Be a pro-active member adding value to the team and community that you are in by sharing your knowledge for the good of the team. In this way you will build your profile and also be able to feel part of a community of like minded people with a common goal of helping each other succeed.

15) Consider exactly what type of enterprise will you be running? Will you be selling products, or will you be performing services? Or maybe your home based business will be offering both. What kinds of products and/ or services will be offered? How will you go about obtaining those products, or the skills needed to perform the services? And how will you pay for them?

16) Your target audience – What kinds of customers are you targeting? The general public? Local People? A Global Audience, Men only, or Women only? People in a certain age group, such as middle aged people or the elderly? And how much money do you expect to make from this venture?

17) What will the name of your business be? You should choose a name which both clearly indicates what the business is about and sounds attractive to the potential customer. For the work from home internet marketing niche the branding tends to be personal so that a website would have the domain name of the individual marketer.

18) Finally, check to find out about any licensing and legal requirements for your chosen business opportunity.

Goal Setting When Working From Home

In addition to setting up your new home based business, goal setting is crucial; it must be taken care of at the start of your business and it is also a good strategy to continue to set new goals as your home business develops.

The goals you set for yourself should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. A specific goal that is measured through statistics and analytics, that is achievable and realistic so that you are not setting a goal that is out of your reach. A goal that can be achieved by implementing a business opportunity and working it within a period of time that is not unrealistic.

In my experience goal setting can often be overlooked at the start of a home based business and many people know what business they want to run but they don’t know why! If the ‘why’ isn’t big enough then quite often the motivation dwindles and the business does not help the individuals meet the goals they have set for themselves.

Once the task of goal setting has been taken care of, you now have the challenge of putting those goals into action. This won’t happen overnight, so remember you won’t get rich quick, it will require work and dedication.

Starting A Home Based Business – Final Remarks

Finally, remember that, as with all human ventures, there will be times when your work gets you down and you may feel like throwing in the towel. Don’t quit!

Now you may seem to be getting nowhere, but the next opportunity may be just around the corner. If you quit, you may be missing out on that opportunity. See it through and don’t quit! Keep going with your business, persevere, develop a no quit attitude, take yourself on a journey to success and work through all the barriers that will surely present themselves.

In the end you will win through and you will find yourself with a successful home based business on your hands where you not only are helping many people along the way but also making a very decent living working from home.

The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Modern Business Development

There are many factors within general business practices that are altering to ensure that every person benefits from the continued functioning of the company. Previously many businesses have subscribed to practices that may have had negative effects on their stakeholders. This is now changing as the realisation sets in of the true importance of the different stakeholders in any particular business. There are many different manners in which a company can implement corporate social responsibility measures for the benefit of all concerned. The manner in which each different company implements the changes will be dependent on what aspects of the company could be considered as having produced negative effects.

Corporate Social responsibility can often be confused with corporate charity, but it is a very different thing. Corporate charity can involve the donation of money and the provision of opportunities to members of the community and stakeholders. This is very different to the considerations that a company must abide by to ensure that their actions fall with the acceptable corporate social responsibility guidelines that have been established. These can include guidelines that relate to the environmental impact that a particular action can have or they can relate to the impact that an action can have on the local community. The guidelines are intended to ensure that any negative effects that an action could possibly have are eliminated or reduced as far as possible.

The concept of corporate social responsibility is intended to provide each business with a far greater ability to create sustainable development. This can help to provide ongoing benefits for the business and its stakeholders, regardless of the size of the business. The business can become more competitive once it begins to create and follow guidelines to enforce the concept of corporate social responsibility within the company and its surrounding community. The greater the sustainability of a business’s developments, the more successful it can become. The attraction of corporate social responsibility for many businesses is that it can help to increase sustainability without creating negative effects.

The type of business that implements changes to come in line with accepted corporate social responsibility guidelines will also determine what sort of changes will need to be made. The size of the investment that will be required to ensure that the business conforms to acceptable guidelines will also be affected by the type of business it is. The resources that are expended for this purpose do need to be viewed as an investment rather than an unnecessary expense since the positive results can more than repay the investment.

The term corporate social responsibility may seem to be one of the current buzz words in business, but the concept is one that has been formulated by many people over many years. The concept is one that is seen as being important for the continued well-being of the vast majority of companies and essential for the community that surrounds them. The importance that is placed on business actions conforming to acceptable corporate social responsibility standards can ensure that these guidelines are treated with the respect that they merit.