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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 13, 2015 • Issue 15:07:01

The one man show: Strategic business planning

By John Tucker
1st Capital Loans LLC

It's amazing what you can accomplish as a one man (or one woman) show. Many of us can raise families, start a political movement and operate in one of the most competitive industries in commercial finance ‒ all as a one man show.

I'm John Tucker, Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, and I have over eight years of experience within our industry operating as a one man show. The two primary products I have sold are credit and debit card processing and settlement services (mainly to medium and high-risk merchants), as well as merchant cash advance products. These years have been interesting, challenging, depressing and enriching. I have gone from being homeless to living solidly in the middle class, and I did it all by being a one man show.

I'm writing a series of articles designed to foster a transparent discussion on the various issues that a person would juggle while operating as a one man (or woman) show. This series will touch on a variety of subjects including strategic business planning, business-to-business (B2B) sales, family relations, college graduation, raising capital, good credit, strategic partnerships, market research, depression, and quality accounting and legal resources. To begin the series, I'll discuss strategic business planning.

The unique value proposition

As an independent agent or merchant level salesperson, you operate on a 1099, which means in every sense of the word, you are an entrepreneur. No entrepreneur should begin a business pursuit without a well-defined UVP, that is, a unique value proposition. The UVP is the measurement for all of your business planning, which then allows you to properly determine your forecasts and return on investment.

Your UVP should answer the following inquiry: Understanding the generic marketplace, what will I specifically bring to the segment that isn't already being provided by the current crop of solution providers? This question has three individual sections that must be answered:

  1. What is your market segment?
  2. What are the characteristics (price, value, service, structure) of services within your industry that are being sold to that market segment?
  3. What are the services you will uniquely provide to said market segment to address their particular needs?

As a one man (or woman) show, you can't afford to be everything to everybody, because you just don't have enough "capital." When I mention the word "capital," I'm referring to not just your marketing budget, but also your time, energy and mental health investments.

Your distinct approach

For today's market and going forward, everything must be strategically detailed within your business plan. It starts with you determining who will be your market segment. Maybe you will target high-risk merchants or B2B merchants. Maybe you'll pursue business-to-government merchants or health clubs. Maybe your niche will be mobile merchants or online merchants.

Once you pinpoint your market segment, you must carefully examine all the current solution providers serving that market segment to figure out how they are doing it now and how can you do it better. In terms of doing it better, are you going to match the level of quality but offer a lower price? Are you going to offer a higher level of quality, which might demand a higher price? Are you going to offer both a higher level of quality and a lower price?

Organizing and addressing these questions will also allow you to determine what ISOs you will seek as partners, because your partners should have the various platforms, resources, people, etc. that will allow you to fulfill your mission statement to your identified market segment.

In my next article, I will delve further into the topic of strategic business planning for the one man (or one woman) show by discussing how you should properly, carefully and efficiently select your ISO partners. end of article

John Tucker is Managing Member of 1st Capital Loans LLC, as well as an M.B.A. graduate and holder of three bachelor's degrees in Accounting, Business Management and Journalism. Tucker has over 8 years of professional experience in Commercial Finance and Business Development. You can contact John Tucker by email at tucker@1stcapitalloans.com or by telephone at 586-480-2140.

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