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Do You Have a Plan?

Interesting question, eh? What kind of plan? A life plan? A personal development plan? A business plan? For the purposes of this article, we’ll be talking about the ultimate combination of passion and purpose – a business plan. This is a bridge between worlds.

A bridge between worlds? What does that mean?

Okay, so where do your brilliant business ideas or insights begin? Someplace other than the physical world, right? Regardless of the source, something has to be done to make them real, to make them tangible in the world. A business plan forces you to write things down, put into black and white the concepts and ideas to make them real.

That is a great piece of awareness, right? How do you do it? How do you write a business plan? Most people have never written a personal life plan, so how are they supposed to write a business plan. Of course they could hire someone. Most consultants changer thousands of dollars to write business plans. Is that an option for most people? Probably not.

Still, there are pages and pages of resources available with a simple Google search. Most of them are information on the components of a plan in outline form with some brief descriptions of what you need to put in the sections. Does that help you write it? Sometimes you can find examples in sample business plans. How do you craft YOURS, though?

Well, there are many classrooms that you can get the information, most of them with a cost involved. Still, you have to take the time to redefine your schedule in most cases. Do you have that kind of time. Some make it. I taught business plan writing classes for women and minority business owners. Some of them became very successful.

Surprisingly, the classes would start with 35-40 people in them and by the 10-week class was over there would be 6-8 left. That is a very high attrition rate. Great ideas don’t often find their way into a workable plan. Sometimes life events happen and the time devotion necessary to complete a plan just isn’t available. Some choose to devote whatever time is necessary.

Now, a decade or so later, I’ve taken the classroom workbook and re-written it so it walks you through the entire process independent of a time frame. You can do it when you have time. I deliver it over 10 weeks so that you are more apt to work on each module when you get it.

There is also a set of excel financials, spreadsheets that are integrated into a fill-in-the-blank workbook. You don’t have to create the formulas that produce the numbers you’ll need for acquiring investors or loans. Everything is already done for you. Pretty cool, huh?

E-Business Trends

CTC1E-Business Trends and Forces

E-Business has revolutionized the worlds of business to business, business to consumer, consumer to consumer, business with Government, and Nonprofit relationships. Although e-business is not ubiquitous in its applications to every consumer, niche and target marketing have become a necessary focus of the evolving business models. Products and services offered via the Web are growing at an astounding rate and simultaneously growing the marketing methodologies. This process is not only synergizing marketing strategies; it is transforming the way business is done. Education, across the spectrum of child to adult and life-long learners, is also part of this transformative expansion.

Educational Trends

At the time of this writing there are 116,910 public and private schools with K-12 students in the United States alone, of which 89,508 are public. Virtually every public school is now connected to the Internet. In the US alone, there are over 52 million K-12 school students and 4.2 million K-12 teachers. USD 351 billion was expended on K-12 education in 1999 with an additional USD 232 billion spent on post secondary education, not including vocational, specialty and professional development training. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics) It is also estimated that schools write 25 million purchase orders in a year at a cost of between USD 100 and USD 150 above the actual cost of the product for each requisition. (Source: Lamar Alexander, CEO of Simplexis.com, February 1, 2000). .

The Information Age and the pundits of propaganda (traditional textbook producers) are at war. Public schools, even with the technology that is now being incorporated, are slow to respond to the changes in the learning behaviors of students. The incorporation of the Web in the classroom is underutilized by most students due to the unavailability of technology in the classrooms themselves. Web-based learning, along with the use of LAN and WAN capacity development, is increasing faster than most schools can manage. Technology is changing at such a rapid pace that even the best Technology Plans often fall short due to the lack of skills, or resistance to change old teaching patterns within the classroom.

Inclusion of new information regarding the nature of learning, including multiple intelligences and emotional intelligences, puts even more pressure on the professional development of teachers and the need for state-of-the-art curriculum. Some schools have incorporated computer-based instructional programs that have been developed to meet or exceed State Standards for educational proficiency levels, or levels of mastery of the material. These programs incorporate multimedia, which is supposed to make the material ‘interesting’ and ‘fun’ to learn for the students, yet provide little more than clicks and giggles. The ‘giggles’ come from students who think they are ‘getting by’ simply by following the same linear educational philosophy of the industrialists (Dewey, et al.) who created the current system. There is very little challenge for them.

Charter schools that have incorporated these ‘stand alone’ programs often have less-than-adequate teachers at the helm of the classroom, believing that following the bouncing ball (prescribed path) will meet the educational needs of the students. Of course, that is providing that there is adequate technology in the classrooms of the charter schools, which unfortunately is usually not the case. Many schools have donated computers that essentially are the leftovers after companies have upgraded their own. Charter schools, although publicly funded, do not receive the same financial contributions per student as district public schools. This affects the level of utility that a charter school can effectively perform for the community it serves.

CTC Trends

A Community Technology Center (CTC) is where people get free or low-cost access to computers and computer-related technology, such as the Internet, together with learning opportunities that encourage exploration and discovery. Partnerships create shared ownership of vision and distribute responsibility of task completion in the achievement of collaborative missions, utilizing both click and brick assets. Socially responsible action in creating low-cost solutions for educational content and delivery to the end user creates community utility.

“Enormous resources are being spent in the public and private sectors on education and workforce development. Last year, an estimated $5.7 billion was spent on technology in schools alone. The challenge here is not finding resources but deploying them effectively. There have been many experiments deploying technology and training in low-income communities over the last decade. These promising models, from technology training programs for youth to online content development efforts, provide useful lessons for going to scale — lessons not yet widely applied. There is a growing constituency for these issues: business leaders concerned with a quality workforce, parents who want opportunities for their children, and educators and others who want to see technology tools for youth not only in schools but in after-school programs, housing facilities, faith institutions and libraries. Elected officials are interested in technology, workforce, and education issues and are ready to move ahead with policies that suit their districts and state.” (Children’s, 2003)

E-Content Forces

Global E-commerce revenue will top USD 1.1 trillion by 2002, up from USD 15 billion in 1997, according to recent estimates from Deloitte Consulting. (Source: Forrester Research) The following figure charts the increasing activity of the internet sector and projects continued acceleration in growth over the next few years.

Updated Info

The US is expected to generate the majority of the total Internet generated revenue, USD 842 billion. The rest of the world’s regions together would generate the remaining USD 300 billion. The Asian market is predicted to generate USD 50 billion in revenue. In addition, there are 92 million US and Canadian web surfers over the age of 16 and another 150 million people worldwide who actively use the Internet. Over 60 percent of these surfers shop on-line. By the end of 2005, it is predicted the global market will grow to over 300 million surfers of who 225 million will shop on-line. Nearly 70 percent of this Internet “universe” will be outside of North America. (Source: The Computer Industry Almanac, December 1999)

“The great untold story of online commerce is that business-to-business sales have already eclipsed the higher-profile business-to-consumer (B2C) market by a long shot. Annual B2B e-commerce is projected to soar from $34 billion in 1998 to $1 trillion by 2003, according to Forrester Research, while the consumer market swells from $7.8 billion to $108 billion in the same period.” (Source: Business 2.0, September 1999) According to the Gartner Group, 7% of the forecasted USD 15 trillion total global sales transactions will be done through B2B e-commerce. Updated figures by the Gartner Group on January 26, 2000 estimated the B2B market to grow from USD 145 billion in 1999 to USD 7.29 trillion in 2004.
Differentiation

The target market for this project includes K-12 learners, young adults, and life-long learners. These individuals are in public and private schools, at home, and at various places of employment throughout the world. The CTC framework allows low-cost accessibility of curriculum, assessment, and State reporting as a result of data storage and retrieval capacity within the local data center and direct links with similar facilities nationwide. Features and functions of the CTC website include most of the standard models of e-business, such as shopping carts, real-time inventory (ASP feedback), customer service (on and off-line), product information and catalog, customization for specific programs, wish lists, and intelligent agents. Marketing to educators, schools, home-learners, training and development departments, correctional facilities, and other potential clientele will occur through a combination of e-direct, reciprocal links, industry publications (on and off-line), and referral networks. Benefits of this project/program include time-saving lesson development and topic-specific thematic units, low-cost access (shared resource), training and development templates for ease of instruction, career and professional development for working professionals and life-long learners.

Conclusion
Educational reformation is unavoidable and is happening whether we like it or not. Much of this process is happening through underdeveloped or underutilized programs and click and mortar structures caught in paradigm paralysis. This paradigm paralysis occurs because there are no new models, no working examples, of what is truly necessary to develop strong youth and adult learning programs and ultimately a strong community. It is apparent by our ‘walled communities’ that we have forgotten the essence of what makes us strong as a nation. Sustainable growth comes from community involvement that is facilitated through the inclusion practices of the organization; developing a community capable of raising the new genre of children through a systems approach to learning.

References
Children’s Partnership, The, Young Americans and the Digital Future Campaign, (2003) [WWW document] URL: http://www.childrenspartnership.org/youngamericans/overview.html

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