Investing and Global Finance News

David Albright on Small Business Plans

Greenwhich Time recently discussed small businesses in an interview with David Albright. As former president of Pepperidge Farm, Inc.and Godiva Chocolatier Worldwide, Albright has extensive experience in the business world. Next week he will will present “How to Develop a Business Plan in Six Easy Steps” at the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce at Greenwich Library. Throughout his career Albright has learned how large business experience can significantly aid in small business planning, and offered a sneak peak into his insights.

How did you turn your attention to small businesses?

After “retiring” at a relatively young age (55), I was interested in finding an opportunity to use my business experience, continue to be challenged and to give back to the community. SCORE provides the perfect combination. SCORE allows business executives to contribute in a variety of ways, but the backbone of what we do is face-to-face counseling and educational workshops. I’m engaged in both. It is very rewarding to help small businesses grow and help them succeed.

How do your big business experiences translate to small business?

Having done a start-up venture in my mid-30s, for which I helped raise $10 million, I have a real empathy for the challenges that small business entrepreneurs face every day. On the other hand, having run multi-national companies I have learned that the basics of running a business successfully are universal. Focus on the customer. Be clear on your “promise”/niche. Assemble a talented team (employees or virtual). Have specific financial goals and a basic plan so that your priorities are clear. Then, execute with a relentless focus on results. While the specific issues SCORE helps our clients work through are many, these overarching principles help give them context and direction for what they are trying to achieve.

What is a small business plan?
It is a statement of your business objectives and your plan for achieving them. Specifically, business objectives are one’s sales and earnings goals and the plan basically lays out what needs to be done, by whom, by when and at what approximate cost. It should be brief (not longer than eight to 10 pages, plus attachments) and be an action plan against which one measures their progress and adjusts as necessary. It’s not a term paper that is done and filed away.

What are the most common mistakes that start-ups make?

Aside from the over-arching issue of under-funding, here is my short list:No experience in the industry they are entering .

Trying to do too much themselves.

Believing that the financials are the bookkeeper’s job.

Loving their work but hating to sell.

– No plan, so no goals, no clear priorities. Manage by bobbing and weaving as opposed to managing with a purpose.

What piece of advice would you offer someone starting up a small business?

From my own start-up experience as well as corporate experience, I would say “face reality every day.” Why? Small businesses have no safety net. Coke can have the worst failure in consumer product history (New Coke) and yet they are still #1 and growing worldwide. Small businesses do not have the cash reserves to handle that kind of setback; therefore, they have to stay on top of their business, catch problems when they are small “P” problems, and respond in a timely way.How do you face reality every day? Stay close to the customer. No one will be more honest than a customer! No business survives first contact with a customer. Surround yourself with experienced, candid people. I think Jack Welch said: “candor unclutters.” I agree.

Have a business plan with concrete goals and action plans, broken down by time, so you can monitor if you’re on or off track. Numbers are a business person’s friend because they tell the unvarnished truth. Bill Parcells said that (paraphrased) “you are as good as your record says you are.” I agree.


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