New York City has a weird spot in my heart, a place I have never visited has influenced me a great deal. A lot of the media I consume is created or is based there: comic books(MARVEL), music(A Tribe Called Quest), films(Ghostbusters), art(Warhol), and TV shows(Seinfeld) have all made me feel like I kind of know the place. I do plan on visiting the cultural mecca someday but it hasn’t been in the cards yet.
One thing I look forward to when I get there(besides the great delis and visiting MARVEL HQ) is seeing all the little things that have built the NYC image in my mind such as this iconic coffee cup. While I am not a coffee drinker the Anthora coffee cup design by Leslie Buck for the Sherri Cup Co. has been subtly burned into my mind through years of product placement in TV shows like Mad Men and the many, many Law & Order series. It was first brought to my attention as an iconic design when found the ceramic version for my wife as a gift and now I notice it any time it is on the large or small screen.
It’s that attention to detail I bring to my designs for clients at MasterPlans. If your business plan is lacking that added spark you are looking for perhaps you need a Premium MasterPlan design – ask for it by name and let them know Thomas sent you.
Here at MasterPlans, we do extensive research for a plethora of industries using IBISWorld; “Our Industry Research Reports are a powerful business tool that provide strategic insight and analysis on more than 1,000 US industries. Extensive, objective and easy to digest, IBISWorld research offers the very latest content on every US industry to help you make better decisions, faster”. IBISWorld helps us generate strategic insight about your industry including; market research, relevant business information, market conditions, forecasting, competitor activity, industry risk and more.
Since I am getting married next month, I figured ‘Wedding Services in the US’ would be a fun industry to do a little more research on. With just a quick overview, I can see that the supply chain consists of; consumer spending, marriage rate, population etc as its key economic drivers. There are also many supply industries (and products) like florists, beauty, baked goods, photography etc. The Wedding Services has no major players, meaning the market is not saturated or monopolized by one company and concentration in this industry is low.
At a glance, we can see that Wedding Services is a 59.2 billion dollar industry, expecting a 2.2% growth from 2015-2020. Due to an improvement in our economy and unemployment rate, the industry is slowly back on the rise. Wedding Services is a mature industry, and will continue to be significant for Americans.
This is just a quick look at the extensive information we can find for your new business and its industry. Our writers spend hours researching the information you need for you and your business plan to be successful!
IBISWorld US – Industry, Company and Business Research Reports and Information
See more examples here.
Here at MasterPlans, many people call us to get more information about what we do and how we execute our business plans. One question many people ask us is ‘where are you located?’ Well, we dwell in Portland, Oregon, USA! Many of our clients are spread not only across country, but all over the world. I would like to showcase parts of the glorious pacific wonderland we live in. I am amazed by the magical state of Oregon, and I would like to share it with you all from time to time.
Today, I would like to mention the beautiful Columbia River Gorge that offers countless hikes in Oregon and Washington including the famous Multnomah Falls Hike. There are waterfalls, trees and various wildlife aplenty. I try to hike as often as I can since hiking is not only great exercise, but it also improves mental health. Not to mention, I live in a pletheria of hiking opportunities.
Here are a few of my favorite hikes;
On the Washington side of the gorge is a difficult and rewarding hike up Dog Mountain. Spring brings an abundance of beautiful wildflowers along the trail and summit, making it a favorite hike for many. With a climb of nearly 3000 ft, the hike is strenuous, but all the more worthwhile once you reach the top to see the breathtaking view.
Angel’s Rest, on the Oregon side of the gorge near Corbett, OR, is an easier hike with a beautiful view at the summit. I enjoy taking my dog Oliver, pictured below, on this hike since I do not need to worry about too many steep drop offs. Angel’s Rest is a good hike to gain the endurance for the more difficult hikes in the gorge.
Lastly, I’d like to show you all Horsetail Falls. This is the easiest hike on the list that offers stunning views of Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls. TLC may have said “don’t go chasing waterfalls”, but I would have to disagree. The sound of the water whilst among nature truly is serenity.
If any readers happen to be in Oregon anytime, I would recommend a day in the gorge on one of these, or one of these other hikes, to experience it yourself! See you on the trails.
]10 Dog Mountain
Our switch to virtualization has begun. We have packed up our former office in the Lovejoy building and have started on working mostly from our homes. We decided to keep a home base for those who would like options on where to work, and agreed on a semi-private community space at Centrl Office. We shall see how this transition turns out! We’re digging it so far.
Has anyone worked from home, or switched to a virtualized set up? How has it worked out for you?
Once upon a time, a social media manager named Alicia, was hired at a business plans company called MasterPlans. They needed her help to improve their social media presence, and for her to take the journey to get into the magical land of Facebook. Facebook has been locked for years, and there was no way inside. They had their defenses up, and their gates were closed. Alicia knew she had to find a way in, but how? After countless emails and grueling hours of searching for an entrance, Alicia found a glimmer of hope! She could peer inside the walls of Facebook, but still could not reach the inner walls. Then, a support group appeared and offered to grant Alicia access into the mighty Facebook Kingdom-but it came with a price. Alicia had to deliver a notarized statement from her boss to the glorious Facebook Queen. Alicia gathered her resources and set foot to the legendary notary.
After a long, and righteous journey, Alicia returned with the notarized documents. Alicia swiftly handed the documents to the support group. After some deliberation, the Facebook Queen began to unlock their walls! With stars in her eyes, and a grin on her face, to her amazement, the Queen had opened the doors and let Alicia inside! What a day, indeed! She thanked the Queen and her staff, and went along her merry way.
]1 Alicia’s mother Lori, in Boulder, CO. Circa 2014.
Photo Credit: Alicia Luebben
One of our Project Managers, Paul Hightower, spoke on the board at the Cannabis Collaborative Conference a couple of weeks ago. ICYMI, here are the highlights of his speech:
As a company of business planning experts, it should come as no surprise that we often counsel client to, well, plan. While important for everyone seeking to start or expand their business, planning could not possibly be more important for those looking to claw their way into the cannabis industry. For now the pie is getting bigger at a staggering rate and this is good for everyone, but already regulations and licensing laws are coming down in a dizzying array of forms.
At its infancy, this industry handsomely rewarded the first movers, those who had the panache and foresight to jump into things with little more than a good idea and a bit of cash. Now, it’s increasingly more difficult for someone to hang their shingle out and call themselves a canna-business. It has become increasingly apparent that there are growing numbers of preconditions (both explicit and implicit) that stand between you and your dream of owning a successful company in the cannabis industry. The licensing requirements that are coming down in states open to cannabis are setting the hard and fast rules you need to abide by and checkboxes which you must check before you serve your first customer or client. These requirements are time-consuming, not necessarily intuitive to understand, and at the end of the day can cost you large sums if you’re not ready.
Enter your plan. By taking the time to educate yourself on what needs to happen and mapping a timeline for major milestones, you can prepare for the task at hand without making yourself crazy or running through that vital capital allocated for start up.
Plans take any number of forms, but the most important part of any plan is the actual process you work through while building it. This forces you to understand not only your own business but the landscape in which you will operate and the players you’re going to either be working with or competing against. To make this a quicker process and to build the best plan possible, recruit a professional with the right experience and resources to lighten the burden a bit and save you from common missteps. Anyone you work with should not only offer you a great final product, but should also have the resources to help you educate yourself and at the end of the say save you time and money for the long road.
Back in November of 2008, one of our writers mentioned that ‘Facebook is not a marketing strategy’. The digital world, and how businesses are marketing themselves, has fully evolved, and this claim may now be invalid. According to Business2Community, “Of the 7.2 billion people on earth, 3 billion have Internet access; 2.1 billion are active on social media; and 1.7 billion use social networks from a mobile device (LinkHumans)”.
Of course, Facebook alone should not be a sole marketing strategy; but rather included into a social media category of your businesses entire marketing plan. Including social media outlets like; Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest can organically improve your ranking on search engines like Google and Bing. By posting and reposting relevant content onto your social media channels, your business will likely receive more exposure and reach from your potential audience.
This does not mean you need a large budget for your social media marketing. Small businesses can get by with little to no spending on Facebook and Twitter ads and still get their brand’s message out there. Just a few hours a week posting engaging content on social media may not increase your ROI, but can casually spread the word about your business. ““Engagement” (such as likes, shares, etc.) is considered the most important metric for evaluating social media marketing success, with 80% of marketers identifying it as one of the top three metrics. Audience size (61%) and website traffic (56%) round out the top three” (SimplyMeasured)”.
How does your small business utilize social media? What positive impacts (if any) has it had?
Read more about Social Media Marketing Stats and Facts here
2015 was quite a year for the EB-5 Visa Program and a roller coaster for EB-5 stakeholders. Change seemed inevitable at the beginning of 2015 as the Regional Center Program was set to expire on September 30, 2015. The year kicked off with legislation introduced by Representatives Jared Polis and Mark Amodei that largely kept the main components of the Regional Center Program intact, while making the Program permanent. This early proposal would have effectively increased the number of visas available to investors (by stipulating that spouses and children don’t count towards the limit) while also providing key reforms to address security concerns within Regional Centers. Then, in June, Senators Grassley and Leahy introduced Senate Bill 1501, which sought to significantly reform many of the fundamental components of the Regional Center Program as a condition of its re-authorization, changing the minimum investment and TEA rules of the EB-5 Program as a whole. A full synopsis of the bill is the topic of a previous post of mine, which can be found here, but in summary, the bill represented a major shift from the current law and included a sharp increase of the minimum investment (to $800,000 in a TEA and $1.2 million in a TEA) as well as two changes that were to become sticking points for negotiations on reform in the ensuring months: a drastic change in what qualifies as a TEA, and a cap on indirect job creation for projects sponsored by Regional Centers.
In the run-up to the original September 30th deadline, lawmakers’ negotiations intensified. But as the deadline came and went, no new legislation was passed; rather, the Program earned a temporary reprieve as part of the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress. A new deadline (December 11, 2015) was established, and debates between Congress and EB-5 stakeholders raged on. As the 11th drew near, word came that a draft legislation from Leahy, Grassley, and Representative Bob Goodlatte was being fine-tuned and would likely pass with the omnibus spending bill. The new draft legislation retained many of the security reforms of the original Leahy-Grassley bill as well as the increase to the minimum investment. Notable modifications and additions to the legislation included an expanded definition of a TEA compared to the original Grassley-Leahy bill (though still more restrictive than the current law) and a provision that would earmark 2,000 of the available 10,000 visas for rural projects, urban/poverty areas, and non-TEAs, each. Despite attempts to find middle ground, there was no agreement in Congress (even with a second Continuing Resolution that bought another five days of debate!). On December 16, to the surprise of most observers, Congress reauthorized the Program through September 30, 2016 with no changes at all.
The most recent bill to emerge from the rubble promises to pave a path for reform and begin the negotiations anew. Introduced on December 17th by Senators Flake, Cornyn, and Schumer, S. 2415, the “EB-5 Integrity Bill” includes many of the oversight and integrity reforms at the Regional Center level that have long been supported by both sides of the debate, but does not address or seek to reform the current law related to TEA designation, indirect job creation, or minimum investments.
So here we stand at the beginning of the new year, exactly where we were at the dawn of last year… the sunset of the Regional Center Program is off in the distance in Q3 and there remains a resolve to reform the Program. What’s changed is that the blueprint for new legislation is in place, the debates have already been raging and now, ostensibly, it is only a matter of time before the middle ground – that sweet spot that protects the integrity of the Program without strangling the life out of it – is found and we have the new rules that will shape both the Regional Center Program and the EB-5 Program as a whole moving forward. Will 2016 be the year? Given the events of the past year, there is no guarantee. But, I’m betting it is.
Here at MasterPlans, we’ll be keeping an eye on how everything unfolds, and we stand at the ready to produce Matter of Ho compliant plans for both EB-5 direct and Regional Center projects looking to file before the law changes, or preparing a project for a filing post reform.
Does your visa application need a detailed business plan? Here is a brief story illustrating how MasterPlans can help…
This month is a busy (and nail-biting) one for the EB-5 world. With the EB-5 Regional Center program set to expire at the end of September, Congress in recess until after Labor Day, and a whole host of issues that need to be addressed once Congress is back in session (Iran nuclear deal, anyone?), there is concern and a lot of speculation about what will happen to the EB-5 program, especially given the recent push to reform it. I wrote about the bill introduced in June by Senators Grassley and Leahy in a recent blog post, and in the months since, another bill has been introduced in the House by Representatives Gutiérrez and Lofgren. Whether these bills will be adopted, amended, or Congress will kick the reform can down the road a little longer and simply reauthorize the program are the unanswered questions that every stakeholder has in mind this month. I will leave speculation about what route Congress will take to those experts in the industry who have their finger on the legislative pulse. In the midst of this uncertainty, though, what is clear is that those with projects that can be filed before September 30th are clamoring to do so.
We here at MasterPlans have definitely seen a surge of new EB-5 projects come our way, many of them on a tight time frame. We’re seeing new projects for direct EB-5 investments as well as large-scale projects sponsored by Regional Centers. Both types of projects require a Matter of Ho compliant business plan, but the development, content, and information relayed in EB-5 direct plans versus EB-5 Regional Center plans is quite different. Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to submit an article to EB-5 Investors Magazine, one of the leading publications in the industry, about this very topic. The article addresses the differences between EB-5 direct and EB-5 Regional Center business plans, and outlines how each type should be developed to ensure it is Ho compliant. The article was published in the magazine’s July issue, alongside some other very interesting articles about the pending legislation as well as some updates on the impact of the EB-5 program with vignettes of real people whose jobs were created as a result of EB-5 projects. It’s a good read, and I encourage stakeholders to check out the site, magazine, and of course, my article.
For those who are planning on filing before September 30th but still don’t have a Matter of Ho compliant business plan ready, give us a call. Even if you’ve made a business plan draft already but need to have it reviewed to ensure compliance, we can check it over. Whether your case is for an EB-5 direct investment or a bigger project sponsored by a Regional Center, MasterPlans has got you covered.