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Cassandra Cavanah

Consultant In A Box

As an entrepreneur, you may consider a business consultant a luxury--something that would be great to have but about as likely as waking up to find a Rolls Royce in your driveway. At a cost of anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour, business consultants are not often found sitting around the kitchen table working with the typical entrepreneur to iron out why the cash flow every August is so dismal or analyzing the effectiveness of a direct-mail advertising piece as compared to its cost. There are a plethora of consultants who can help make your business successful--the problem is being able to afford them. Now, with the help of some innovative software makers, there are a few new, affordable tools out there to help keep your business on track.

Another area in which small-business owners often need advice is marketing a product or service. Many entrepreneurs jump into the ring with a new product without doing extensive market research or analysis. Although sometimes such a strategy works by creating a buzz around a business that succeeds when all the experts thought it would fail, more often than not, this flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach will hurt you. Instead of acting on sheer instinct, try using Business Resource Software's Business Insight. This program is designed to answer key feasibility questions such as, Can you compete in the marketplace on price and features? How much will you need to invest in marketing? What market segment is most likely to purchase what you have to offer?

Business Insight will ask you close to 500 questions about your product, the market you are in, your competition and so forth; analyze your answers; and then assist you on your strategy. A "Quick Start" feature limits the process to about two hours--one hour for input and one hour for initial feedback.

Getting to work with Business Insight is simple. Installation took me just a few moments, and the overview of the program was easy to follow. Within minutes, I was analyzing the potential success of a new service-based business I was planning. Just a note: Although the questions appear simple, they require significant knowledge about your personal and professional goals for your company.

The program includes knowledge culled from more than 100 experts in marketing, planning and strategy. There are more than 35 charts and graphs to help you visualize your strategy and links to over 100 Web sites that specialize in marketing and planning.


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