by Howard J. Grossman, AICP
Chess is a famous game, but not everyone knows how to play. Business chess is just as fascinating and has ramifications of the game.
Think about what it takes to start a business and the moves begin to play out like a chess match.
The procedures in the Pocono-Northeast are not too dissimilar from other regions of the nation, or, in fact, from a global perspective. The development of a business plan, the finding of financial support, the hiring of personnel, the location of the business, the competition that may exist for the same product or service and much more become chess moves to have a successful business venture and to be in a position to enhance the profit-making capability of the regional business.
The competitive nature of whatever business is decided upon is essential to whether or not a start-up is the appropriate move or just working for a business makes better sense, or investing in someone else’s business may be an opportunity that need to be examined. There are many places to find out how a business may become vital such as the Small Business Development Centers in the region, SCORE chapters where someone who has been successful can provide guidance, and other measures such as the NEPA Alliance (formerly Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania), Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, many regional chambers of commerce, banks, accountants, financial advisors and many public officials who have access to grants and especially business loans.
The history of business development in the region includes a plethora of support systems that can help and bring a sharp measurement to a creative approach to enhancing how and in what manner a business idea can flourish. Starting with a business plan that includes many parts of a commercial concept, the plan tells the story of who, what, when, where, how and why, and should talk about the sense of commitment that the user has in starting or perhaps buying a business. The moves that are made reflect a chess game, the opponent of which may be the centerpiece of challenges that exist when thinking and acting upon business facilitation.
While financing is often a factor that stops a business from occurring and is certainly not an easy pathway to success, there are quite a few programs that development agencies have or know about, that chambers of commerce may have in place, that certain county agencies have available such as the Luzerne County Office of Community Development, among others.
There are several words that best describe what needs to take place, accenting with the acronym “PODSCORB.” These initials stand for planning, organizing, developing, staffing, coordinating and budgeting. These words focus attention on business chess since each move is conditioned on finding solutions to a problem facing the business developer.
Planning is what is referred to previously as a business plan. It should be strategic in nature, have the benefit of looking at assets that are reasons why the business can be successful and liabilities which counter the benefits. The more assets there are, the more likely the business adventure can be positive.
Organizing means the ability to have all of the factors in place that can be a meaningful and eventful program of thoughtful involvement with as much insight into competition and where such elements are located. This aspect of the plan is often neglected or not given much thought ahead of time.
Directing means establishing the process by which the business owner may have to be a one person effort, early in the process of building a business, and the hour spent can be enormous. Be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of time on your new goal of creating a business opportunity. It is really directing yourself accordingly.
Staffing means in the beginning, you probably are the staff, and as the business grows, more personnel can be employed. The entire plan should have a three-year perspective as to where you would like to be with the new business and outlining appropriate staffing capacity.
Coordinating means you makes the contacts with public officials on permits, with agencies that may have something to say about your actions such as environmental entities, construction requirements and many other situations.
Reporting means you may need to make it known to partners or potential involved investors, regulatory agencies, financial entities such as local banks, and others who become important players in business development. You have the responsibility to ensure that all appropriate people are notified about aspects of your business development process. This element is just like a chess game where you need to think through what your opponent may be planning if you make one or more moves in subsequent factors that are considered important to successful business capacity.
Budgetin g is essential in knowing the costs of your business, what can be expected in the way of contingency costs if the unexpected happens, and where financial support may come from as noted previously. At the minimum, a three year budget should be prepared, and if possible perhaps up to five years.
There are support elements that can and should be utilized, with some suggestions noted. The heart of the business plan is what you can give to making the business become what you believe. Chess is not an easy game, and neither is business chess, but think of what economic development is in this region – mainly small businesses that provide tens of thousands of jobs that help stimulate the economy for the betterment of the regional future.