It's your company's first big PR break. A local reporter wants to interview you as an "up-and-coming" entrepreneur. You dream of the business this will bring in and worry that you won't be able to return all the sales calls fast enough. You're so busy fantasizing about the future that you don't prepare for the present. The end result? You can't describe your company in 25 words or less. You stumble over essential data: the date you opened, the market you're targeting, the product lines or services you sell. You come off sounding more like a new employee than a business owner, and you suddenly realize this was a test--and you've failed. To avoid this fiasco the next time the media comes calling, prepare a company profile. Designed to give the reader a "snapshot" of your business, it is a brief summary of the company and the principals involved.
The key word here is "brief." Miles Spencer, co-founder of Norwalk, Connecticut-based MoneyHunt Properties LLC, a multimedia company that helps entrepreneurs find financing, advises the profile be kept to one page. "Too much more, and the eyes will glaze over," cautions Spencer, whose clients use profiles as part of their efforts to solicit financial backing. "Include in the first two or three sentences what's unique about the business, why it's going to change the world."
"We typically call this `the New York version'--meaning we deliver it quickly, yet communicate the critical factors to the intended audience," says Lance Chastain, 37, president and CEO of Interex, a Wichita, Kansas, developer and marketer of computer accessories and peripherals. Here's a look at the key elements of a company profile:
1.Open with your "hook." What is remarkable about your company? Maybe you offer a service that no one else does or have the sole marketing rights to a particular product. Emphasize that which sets you apart from your competitors.
2.Describe your target market, current customer base and any significant projects you've undertaken. If your prospective and existing customer base is one which shows growth, such as the teen market, point that out as well.
3.Summarize your business background, emphasizing any past successes, either in the same field or in business in general. If it's the latter, the key is to draw parallels between the past and present. Maybe you started a landscaping service during high school, and now you own an interior design business. Different fields, but both require a commitment to customer satisfaction and the ability to meet deadlines. When your accomplishments are supported by specialized training, you'll come across as a two-time winner.
4.Talk numbers: sales history and growth. When did your company open, how well have you done, and what future earnings are projected? A short-but-sweet financial summary provides the reader with just enough information to assess your company's success without disclosing sensitive information. You should also include the business form (sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation) and stock information, if applicable. Be sure to mention any new developments or expansions.
5.Close with the all-important contact information. List your name and that of other key contacts; mailing and street addresses; phone and fax numbers, including area codes; and e-mail and Web site addresses. After you've spent all that time developing your company profile, make sure it creates the right impression. Use good-quality paper. Proofread carefully for grammatical errors and typos. Your company profile not only has to impress potential clients, but also has to catch the eye of journalists who see countless pieces of business information each day.
Nancy Christie (http://home. earthlink.net/~nmchristie) is a freelance writer who specializes in career and business topics.
How can you use your company profile? Let us count the ways:
- Include it in presentation folders and sales packets to introduce prospective clients to your company.
- Attach it to press releases, press conference invitations and requests for coverage to give the media accurate information and additional details to round out stories. When in doubt, use it!
- Add it to the paperwork when seeking financial assistance from lenders to show your business' strength and potential.
- Use it as a recruiting and training tool for new employees to educate them about the company's background and goals.
Interex, (316) 636-5544, ext.225
MoneyHunt Properties LLC, (203) 866-2503