Business plans and solutions for new and changing businesses

Media Works is a small graphic and web design company even by Bozeman’s standards.   Lucky for us, we’ve found somewhat of a niche in the market.  We typically work with small-mid size companies who want a web and graphic design firm that will work with them, being a supportive partner for their business.  Very often we work on projects involving a change in company identity, or a new company’s first branding and exposure.  With these projects we’re consulting with clients on the details of their business and what they want to focus on.  That is where having a well thought out business plan can assist us as we work with a client.

Many businesses, mine included, must have a business plan for one reason or another.  But once you write the plan, it’s easy to leave it in a folder, or on your hard drive, and forget about it.  That can be a mistake because the plan is what keeps you focused.  The business plan details where you want to go and how you plan to get there.  With a well written plan, you’ve already outlined the obstacles and how to get around them.  You’ve clarified your target market and how you will reach it.  The expectations for your business are clear, and all you have to do is stick to them.

This is easier said than done.  I catch myself getting enamored with big ideas that may be fantastic, but they are outside of my plan for our business.  If we focus on work that isn’t within our plan, we can lose track of where we are going and what we want our company to become.  Getting back in touch with that business plan helps keep us focused so we know when to say yes to projects and when to step away from those that are out of our realm.  We’d love to do it all, but that’s just not practical with the size of our company.  I like being a small home-based business and plan to stay that way.

Lucky for me Jason is a businessman with years of experience in sales and marketing, teaching business skills and consulting.  He has stepped into a new role at Media Works as Director of Project Management.  It’s his job to assure that Kory and I stay on track.  That may seem like a simple thing, but Kory and I are both individuals who want first and foremost to make clients’ happy.  It’s difficult to say no or to say we can’t do that immediately.  We would love to be able to drop everything and fix a problem when we get a call, but unfortunately that can’t always happen.  Jason reminds us of that.  We still strive to provide the utmost in customer service, and to be available at any time for our clients. We’re just learning to maintain our work priorities and communicate realistic expectations to clients so we will work better for everyone with these processes in place.

Another change is we have Kory programming a customer service support system for us.  What we hope to end up with is a easy to use (for both customers and us), efficient system to manage client requests for help.  This is for the calls such as “my network is down- what do I do?”  or “my printer stopped printing- ugh!”  that we get regularly.  We’re happy to provide phone assistance as well as on-site service for IT work. Kory tries his best to get to every email and phone message as quickly as possible, but it’s easy for something to get lost in an inbox.  We’re going to remove the inbox from the equation and have a system that will automatically filter our emails (anything to Kory, Jim, Jason or I) for support items, and immediately send them to a program which provides them with a “service ticket number” and a response.  We will then have a standard place to check for all customer service needs.  We hope this will allow all of our customers to feel that we’re working hard to be sure we get to everything they need in a timely manner.  Stay tuned for the roll-out of this program in a few months.

In the meantime, working with a project manager is going well for us.  He’s keeping us on track and on time with all of our work.  It’s going so well in fact, that we’ve recommended his business consulting services to some clients.  He assists with writing business plans, and working out details that may confound the rest of us who don’t love marketing and sales.   If you need help with getting your plan into action, or even coming up with a plan for a new business, think about giving Jason a call.  A well developed strategy for your business is worth it.