Small Business Start-Up; Part One: Building Foundations

“A big business starts small”

– Richard Branson


Every great corporation and business empire started somewhere. There are foundational truths that all successful companies are built on. Today, we are gonna talk about some of those on this episode of Straight Shot Marketing Podcast.


Welcome to a new series we are doing on Small Business Start up.

In this series we are going to talk about the roots and fundamentals of owning a business and then talk with several local resources that business owners and entrepreneurs have at their disposal.


That’s right we have several interviews lined up from various organizations and resources that are available to both new and existing businesses.


But today’s episode is the start of it all and we are going to talk about the foundational elements to owning a business.


These will also serve as a good reminder and thinking-back for existing business owners as well.


So there may be a little tough love in this episode. We are going to be talking about money and the elements that should be done when starting a business. If you are an existing business, this may be information that you missed out on and need to revisit. If you are a new entrepreneur, then this information will be gold for the journey ahead.


We are going to give a lot of information today and then in the coming episode, we’ll talk more about the resources that are available to help you achieve what we talk about today. So, fret not.


Three major areas that a business is built on

  • Legal/Administrative/Back Office
  • Operations/Productions
  • Communications/Marketing


As a business owner, or someone in leadership, your business is propped up by these three columns. They build you towards success.


And they should be evaluated each business cycle, normally annually.


Blue Print Planning for Success

There are several “rules of thumbs” and “best practices” when it comes to operating and growing a business in the most effective and efficient ways possible.


So we are going to discuss Setting Up Your Business For Success:

When first starting a business’s journey towards success it is imperative to set up it’s foundation. You have to set up:

  • your structure legally (i.e. S-corp or LLC, Board of Directors, licenses, and permits, insurances, compliances, admin support) – this is all part of the administrative function
  • the physical operations (location, raw materials, tools, employees, etc.) – this is obviously an important role – it’s about how you go about making the product or performing the service that you provide to the public
  • And your brand that will be used in business communications.- This is our area – what the agency here specializes in – also known as marketing.


Once your brand is developed, it is used to develop marketing tools that will communicate who you are, what you offer, how you are different, and what you are about to the public in ways that will help them to remember you and choose you in the market place. It is imperative that those tools be their most effective and used in the most efficient ways possible. That’s a lot of responsibility for the company.

-Once that happens, your business starts to grow.

-and that growth reinforces your foundation and leads to more awareness and support for your brand, provides profits and the ability to invest more into your business operations and communications for expansion, etc.


Your brand brings value to your business. We talked about that in the Rise and Fall of Atari episode… and the Lessons From Coca-Cola series.


So that’s an overview of the set up and basic patterns for business. But while businesses are set up to make money, there are initial investments to get it set up and started down that path.


The Costs of Business:

All business costs have an initial investment, as well as on-going.


While Administrative/Legal Compliance is always important to business, Marketing and Operations are the two most essential elements to running a business and both take considerable investment.


Cost will vary depending on industry, the product or service being offered, the number of employees and raw materials necessary to physically bring that product or service to the public.


On the Operations side, some elements, like a building or shop and the equipment needed to operate have an initial cost and then their upkeep/maintenance is less expensive. And you also have Payroll, utilities, and inventory that are also necessary to operate the business, representing more on-going costs.


In Marketing, elements like brand development, consumer targeting, initial design, and production often have an initial cost and then advertising, postage, reprints, and events that are necessary to communicate those elements of the brand represent the more on-going costs. So be mindful of both initial cost and on-going costs when you build your business plan.


Yes, and then plan for growth revenue to be invested back into the company before profits are realized. This is what spurs growth and expansion.


Now the reinvestment for administrative and operations will depend largely on the industry . But the business standard for setting a marketing budget is 8-20% of the business’s gross revenue. A new business, prior to having an established brand, should be spending 20-30% in a more aggressive strategy.   Remember the magic 20% from the Lessons From Coca-Cola series we did?


This is all after the administrative, operations, and brand foundations have been established.


Again, there are initial and then on-going costs of business.


Now, since we work in the marketing column of this business house. Let’s spend a little more time with it because statistically lack of business communications and branding is one of the highest reasons that companies fail. For some reason, people can understand the need for production but they don’t understand, or remember anyway, that they need to tell people about what they are producing.


Every business consultant or successful CEO is going to tell you that you have to market your business. If you look at the stories of successful businesses, you can see it .. but for several people, it seems almost like an after thought.

It’s one of the columns your company is built on, without it, it will crumble.


More than 50% of your business is:

  •  communication of who you are
  •  communication of what you have to offer
  •  communication of why someone should choose your business in the marketplace
  •  communication and presentation of  the products/services that you provide


Yes and proper, effective, and efficient communications are built upon having a defined brand foundation.

So how do you know if you have a defined brand foundation?

  •  Do you know what your brand is?
  •  Who are you outside of what you do or sell?
  •  Has your brand been professionally developed?


In the early stages, you have to build that foundation but

before you can do that, you have to plan. I’m a huge proponent

of planning. And financial capital organizations and individuals, expect it…. On paper


So let’s break that down. Let’s talk about preparing for success, building that foundation, and planning for your company.


Little disclaimer here, as we get more info the numbers and processes:


I AM NOT A CPA. Zachary is not a CPA. But, based on our observation and experiences with companies…and Zachary acts as an interim and outsourced CMO of many companies…and a Business Coach.


Let’s discuss, let’s advise the good people in our audience.


Organize Financial Information

The first step to creating a business plan and budget is to get organized about your financial situation.


Understanding your finances starts with organizing your information:

  • You need to know how much money your company makes on a monthly basis and the variations that might exist.
  • You need to know how much money your company spends on a monthly basis and the variations that might exist.


New businesses will be based on projections


Existing businesses should base Everything On Last Year’s REAL numbers. Your CPA should be able to provide that to you if you don’t know what they are.


Categorize them under each of the three business columns we discussed:

First comes set up costs - that foundational element.


1) Administrative/Legal

  • Business Planning
  • Insurances
  • Legal
  • Compliance
    • LLC, Corp, Etc.
    • Registrations
    • Certifications
  • Office
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Recruitment


2) Operations/Production

  • Business Planning
  • Place of operations
    • Warehouse
    • Factory
    • Store front
    • Restaurant
  • Equipment
  • Raw Materials


3) Marketing/Communications

  • Business Planning
  • Brand Development
    • Mission Identification
    • Consumer Research/Targeting
    • Campaign Concepting
  • Foundational Elements
    • Corp ID
      • Trade Name
      • Logo
      • Bus. Cards & Stationary
    • Website
    • Signage
    • Business Décor
    • Uniform design
    • Collateral
    • Promo & Sales Materials
  • Strategic Planning
    • Launch
    • Ongoing


If you are an existing business and any of these elements are missing, we need to plan for catching up. Getting these taken care of as soon as possible.


Then we have on-going expenses:

1) Administrative/Legal

  • Insurances
    • Legal/Compliance
    • Accounting
      • Income
        •  subcategorized
      • Profit
      • Finance
  • Office
  • Utilities
  • Recruitment
  • Salaries, Bonuses
  • Continuing Education
  • Professional Services
    • CPA, Legal, Janitorial, Business Coaching, etc.


2) Operations

  • R&D
  • Production Materials
  • Professional Services
  • Utilities
  • Rent
  • Salaries, Bonuses
  • Continuing Education


3) Marketing Communications

  • Advertising
  • Internet Related
    • Website, Email, Social Media, SEO/M. etc.
  • Sponsorships
  • New Initiatives
    • Referral Program
    • New Offerings
    • New Opportunities
  • Networking
  • Print and Production Services
    • Uniforms, Reprints, Promo Items, etc.
    • Postcards and Mail-outs
  • Mailing & Shipping
  • Public Relations
  • Event Related
    • Expo Fees
    • Expo Materials


Again, see where you are with each of these. Some of the marketing items won’t apply because of your industry (for example, maybe your industry doesn’t have an expo and event marketing is not in your strategy) or even because of the limited budget during your early years but Known Where You Are – knowledge is power.


Now, I am a proponent of planning as a mentioned.. And I believe that your business plan is a living, breathing document that grows each year.


I think all 3 columns, need to have a strategic plan for the coming business cycle each year to present at budget meetings.


As part of our process, Reformation Productions measures the success of our clients at the end of their year and then we make a new strategic plan for either company growth or maintenance for the coming business cycle based on activity during the preceding year.


Financials  Summarized:

  • Income (revenue)
  • Expenses:
    • Administrative
    • Operations
    • Marketing/Communications
  • Profit



Beginning of the Year

  • Employees
  • Locations
  • Web Site Visitors
  • Web Site Contacts
  • New Customers
  • Repeat Customers
  • Press Coverage
  • Brand Awareness
  • Brand Acceptance


End Of The Year

  • Same Information
  • To Be Finalized After Year


At the end of the year when preparing for the next biz cycle

Make and Analyze Benchmark Comparisons

  • What did you accomplish?
  • How did you do it?
  • Where did you struggle?
  • Why?


Again Know Where You Are

Knowledge Is Power


Set Goals Based On That Information

  • What do you want to accomplish?
    • Long Term
    • Short Term
  • Where can you continue your current growth?
  • What has changed in the marketplace?
    • Technology
    • Audience Perception
    • Audience Lifestyle
  • How much more can you re-invest?
    • Do you need additional funds to grow?
  • Where can you afford to expand?
  • How can you reach more people?
  • How can you better reach people?
  • What opportunities can you not afford to miss?


Plan Where You Are Going

Proactivity Is Efficient


Set A New Year’s Budget

  • Projected Income
    • Sub-categorize by source
  • Planned Operations
    • Make an organized plan based on goals
  • Proactive Marketing
    • Make a strategic plan based on goals
      • Analyze your competition
      • Explore best practices
      • Research upcoming trends
      • Team up Marketing and Sales


Ok, that’s a lot of info. Let me give out some helpful info that is relative to our sponsors today.


One of the areas we discussed was administrative. And this episode is sponsored by Tresta. Tresta's virtual business phone system helps you communicate smarter with unlimited calling, texting and call management tools in an easy to use app. It turns any smartphone, into your business phone. While keeping your personal and business lives separate. Call and text on your business number from any device with the Tresta phone app. There is a free 30 day trial at tresta.com/straightshot.


And of course, we have the agency – Reformation Productions.


We specialize in the brand marketing column.

  • Everything from brand development and consumer targeted through designing the strategies and the marketing tools like logos, websites, brochures, etc. and then of course the ongoing management of your advertising and social media presence.
  • Just contact us at reformationproductions.com or email us at info @reformationproductions.com or you can call us at 678.825.8086


Now without all three of the columns, your business comes crashing down – whether it’s too many missed calls or voicemails or not having a proper brand for your company. Let’s talk a bit about how all these elements work together. Zachary, I believe you have an example for us:


Set Goals Based On Brand Development Information

  • Facts and Goals
    • Started in Atlanta
    • Wants to become worldwide
    • Wants to build a legacy
      • Family and Industry
  • Brand Foundation
    • Quality
      • Products
        • Premium materials
        • Hand made
        • Not discounted
      • Employees
        • Screening & Training
        • Scholarships
        • No Sundays
        • Charity
      • Locations
        • Experience Focused
        • Physically
        • Behavior
  • Strategy
    • Deliciously Different
    • Eat Mor Chikin



Build Your Foundation & Expand



So Zachary, in the way of our Straight Shot for this episode. How does a company achieve these goals for success.


  • Be thorough, don’t miss these fundamental steps. It’s hard work, but do it.
    • I am a creative, not a fan of the planning, but I see the need for it
  • Ensure you are following best practices and have a good brand foundation
    • If you don’t know -  we offer several levels of Communications Critiques. You can contact ReformationProductions.com. Typical budget range for those is $200 - $1000 depending on the depth of the analysis.
  • Market towards targeted consumer segments for your business
    • Creative should connect with them emotionally
    • Creative should be brand focused and not product/service focused
    • Creative should show how you are different from your competition
    • Strategy should be planned to intersect with your consumers where there are
  • Make sure your brand is true
    • Only promise what you deliver.
      • If you promise superior customer service, make sure you are investing in your employees.
      • If you promise speed, make sure you invest in accomplishing that.
      • If you promise quality, start with the best and stay with the best.


Now, if you need help… tune into the next episode of the series! Because we are going to have a guest that is a resource to help you with business planning.


Now, here at the agency, we can provide a business check up, like I mentioned before, business coaching and all the elements of the marketing column. So if you have the other two columns mastered, we can help with the third.


  • Brand Development
  • Consumer Targeting
    • Critiques
    • Focus Groups
    • Surveys
    • Interviews
    • Mystery Shopper
  • Campaign Concepting
  • Strategic Planning
  • Creative Production
    • Web Design
    • Logos
    • Business Cards
    • Brochures
    • Photography
    • Video
    • Radio Spots
    • Signage
    • Vehicle Wraps
    • Point of Service
    • Product Packaging
    • Social Media
    • SEO / M
    • Event Planning
    • Public Relations
    • App Development
    • Referral Programs
    • TV Commercials
    • Handbooks
    • Musical Composition
    • Forms
    • Flyers
    • Print Ads
    • and more….


You can reach us at reformationproductions.com or call 678.825.8086.


Now if you have a question about this topic - small business start ups or business planning. Let us know and we’ll answer it during the series. We have guests from remarkable organizations coming in and we’d be happy to help. Just email us at info@ straightshot.net or direct message us on social media. Call us, whatever works for you.


I do hope you got value out of the show today for your business. Please take a minute to like and subscribe  - hit the little bell on youtube - and visit our sponsors. That stuff really helps us out from an administrative stand point for the show. Thank you very much


But that’s it for today’s show. So until next time, Bye

Category Straight Shot Marketing Podcast


Reformation Productions is a full service marketing agency in the Atlanta, GA metro. To find out more about the agency  visit www.ReformationProductions.com. Connect with us on Facebook at fb.com/reformationproductions. Blog content is © Reformation Productions. To receive more marketing tips and insights, sign up for our newsletter, Straight Shot, at www.ReformationProductions.com/contact.html to be one of the first to know when they are published here at www.ReformationProductions.com. You can also sign up for notifications by texting "Reformation" to 90210 from your mobile phone.