This article explores basic business planning ideas that you should keep in mind as you are starting or continuing your business.   It is intended to provoke deeper thoughts for you and your executive team.  From business continuity, to free coffee and free WiFi, we’ll look into ideas that are important to businesses… and to customers.

Business continuity

Plan before the disaster strikes

How does your company deal with Business Continuity? Business continuity planning is almost always a difficult endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Business continuity planning for small businesses sometimes feels even more difficult.  Before discounting the idea of planning for disaster, realize that sometimes changing small practices can make significant impacts on continuing your business during adverse situations. In the case of one of our Home Health Agency customers, the strategy is to put as much computing power “in the cloud” as quickly as possible, reducing our Recovery Time Objective to near zero.

See this article for more information on Business Continuity.

Physical security

Lock it up!

Physical security is more than just a lock on the door or a guard at the gate.  Many times the first consideration is cameras — the thought is that if we deploy a large network of cameras, then our site will be physically secure.  But truly, when it comes to security solutions, cameras (or at least cameras alone) are simply not the best practice.

Cameras and photo evidence

Cameras cameras cameras

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, and this is true in forensic analysis. Capturing a photograph of the bad guy in action will go a long way in identifying and catching a thief. But as many law enforcement agents will advise, cameras don’t do much to stop a thief.

What is better?  On of our Time Share Communities was being hit by midnight bandits stealing items off of boats.  In this community, a two fold solution was employed. First, deploying motion (passive Infrared) lighting throughout the community made it difficult for a thief to find dark areas in which to hide. Second, reducing access to the protected area through easily designed terrain choke points helped to make it difficult for a thief to plan an exit strategy. These two effects
tended to make potential thieves simply find a new pillaging ground.

In this case, the protected area was specifically a boat trailer lot, adjoining ramp, and marina slip area. Reducing access involved creating a single entry point with natural artifacts like large rocks surrounding the area. Restricting access with a keyed gate was considered but decided against because of aesthetic appeal.

Are lights high tech? Nope. Are lights a trending practice in the industry? Some will advise yes.  But most importantly, did the combination of lights and pleasingly aesthetic choke points solve the problem at the community?  Yes, it did solve the problem.  Two years running, and there have been no recurring incidences of theft.

Free coffee

Who doesn’t love coffee?

Deploying free WiFi is the modern way of providing free coffee to your customers.   It creates a hospitable environment for your customers, an environment that may appeal to them in a very homelike, friendly way.  Not everyone will be drinking the coffee, and not everyone will even care.  In the same way, most customers who have a WiFi enabled device are likely to already have data capabilities from their phone provider.  So why do it?  Because everyone will see the sign that says “Free Coffee”, and everyone will see the sign that says “Free Wireless Internet”.

The return on investment for “free guest WiFi access” is difficult to establish for a cost conscious executive.  Free anything is marketing.  It is just a way to reduce the “salesman vs customer” feelings, and create an environment where your customers are, well, at home.  It helps to keep them around.

Wireless access deployment

Free WiFi!

What would you pay to keep your customers around? How about if keeping them around was cheap, and useful for you all at the same time?

There is a current trend in the business community to provide free WiFi Internet access for customers.  You see it at McDonald’s, at Starbucks, at Home Depot, and at your local grocery store.  But why?

Will deploying WiFi cost money and impact your revenue?  You bet.  Your company will incur a capital expense in buying the equipment, as well as a recurring expense of both maintaining the equipment and the cost of the internet.  Then why do it?  Remember, you are trying to keep your customers around. Who cares if they are looking at their Facebook or Twitter feed? If it keeps them in your building, maybe they’ll remember something else to buy! Marketing is costly, and it gets your customers into your facility. Once in your facility, you want them to stay!

Concluding remarks

There are quite a few ideas to consider with your business.  The ideas presented in this paper go beyond the tasks of pursuing licensing and legal constraints, and gets deeper into the ideas of how your business deals with adverse conditions.  If you have other ideas to consider, please drop me a line.

If you have any questions or comments on this article please leave me a note by clicking here.

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