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FEAS draft v4


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FEAS draft v4

  1. 1. Venture Description BrandU (or ‘the Company’) will offer premium personal branding and content creation services catered towards student needs and budgets. It will be the organization’s mission to assist students to accomplish their job search, graduate school, or scholarship goals by creating a reliable, accessible network of talented student writers (see Exhibit 1). This will allow the Company to bridge the gap between students and the high-quality content they require to achieve their career and educational aspirations. The organization will provide two primary services: job search materials and admissions essay review. The former will include the creation and development of critical job search tools such as the résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and online portfolio. The admissions essays stream will target students seeking to apply to professional school directly after their undergraduate degrees, and will provide proofreading, analysis, and development of existing content. BrandU will target high-achieving, ambitious undergraduate students at Western University (Western) during its first year of operations. Subsequently, the venture will leverage its minimal start-up costs and simple structure to expand to numerous campuses in Ontario, establishing itself as the go-to personal branding network for Canadian post- secondary students. Further, BrandU will not only provide essential services, but will also give talented student writers the opportunity to gain practical work experience by contributing their skills to their communities. Goals and Objectives: Quantitative
  2. 2. Within the first year of operations, BrandU’s primary goals will be to maintain positive cash flow in order to remain capable of mitigating unforeseen obstacles while also breaking- even on all fixed and variable costs. These goals will be accomplished primarily through the training and mentoring of a team of five part-time writers, all of whom BrandU hopes to retain throughout the fiscal year. This will allow the Company to accomplish its goal of serving 270 clients within the first year of operations. To support this objective, BrandU will aim to develop a significant social media presence by establishing a Facebook page and acquiring 1000 likes 1 and 500 Twitter followers1 . This goal will be attainable when considering that Western retains nearly 40,000 likes2 and student-run organizations such as the Pre-Business Students’ Network (PBSN) have gained over 1,300 fans3 within two years. During the third year of operations, BrandU’s primary objective will be to expand to the University of Toronto (U of T) due to the institution’s demographic similarities to Western. This central location in a large city will also facilitate expansion to additional Toronto-based universities and colleges, establishing BrandU as a sustainable long-term venture. Qualitative The organization’s foremost goal is to provide exceptional, high-quality content created by a network of skilled student writers. In doing so, BrandU will assist students seeking career or educational advancement to discover, communicate, and leverage their 1 Demonstrates support for the page, all users who ‘like’ or ‘follow’ a certain page or company will receive updates on the content that the page shares. 2 Source: 3 Source:
  3. 3. brands. This will be done by establishing a flexible work environment, increasing BrandU’s credibility, and developing the Company’s brand. As BrandU will consist of student writers and a student sole proprietor, operating in a manner that provides the flexibility to succeed academically while completing business responsibilities is paramount. The success of this venture is highly dependent on the writers’ capabilities. Thus, another objective is to create a comprehensive training and certification program that will increase the organization’s credibility. Finally, BrandU intends to become the premier organization for students seeking personal branding and content development services. As such, it is critical that the organization develops and communicates a compelling brand and reputation of its own through maintaining an online presence and on-campus visibility. Survey Analysis BrandU’s market research approach focused on survey distribution to assess demand within Western’s campus. The survey was distributed at the University Community Centre (UCC), Ivey Business School, student residences, and various libraries across campus. This approach permitted the collection of comprehensive results that identified the characteristics of the organization’s target market. To begin, the survey (see Exhibit 2) asked diagnostic questions to assess respondents’ attitudes towards their résumés. It was assumed that the vast majority of students would possess this job search tool and so it could be used to determine their attitudes towards their career-related content. These questions confirmed that approximately 40% (see Exhibit 3) of respondents disagreed or were unsure that their résumé accurately reflected their abilities and the value they could provide to an
  4. 4. organization. In addition, 66.6% were not confident that their résumé would get them an interview with their target organization. These results indicate that the majority of students do not feel that their current résumé will assist them in achieving their career goals, thus evidencing the need for BrandU’s personal branding services. As content quality was a common concern among respondents, it will be paramount that the Company’s marketing initiatives reflect BrandU’s ability to increase clients’ confidence in their job search materials by assisting them to communicate their brands compellingly. An obstacle that the organization will face will be the stigma surrounding employing trained student writers. As such, questions five and six were intended to assess respondents’ attitudes towards paying for services from students. Results demonstrated that 57.5% of respondents would pay to have their job search content overhauled by a professional writer, whereas 34.1% would hire a trained student; however, the majority of respondents did not switch to being completely unwilling to pay for student writers, as evidenced by the neutral section rising from 23% for professionals to 35% for students. This evidences the need to establish an intensive training program for writers in order to promote BrandU’s credibility as a premiere personal branding service It will also be paramount to establish a quality assurance method wherein the Owner and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW)4 will be extensively involved in ensuring that BrandU consistently produces high-quality content. The market research team primarily targeted first year students to ensure that there was interest for personal branding services among Western’s youngest demographic. This was because it was assumed that the Company’s client base during the first fiscal year will likely consist mostly of first and second year students as a result of third to fifth year 4The CPRW designation is the industry’s leading certification for strategic resume writers, awarded by the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches:
  5. 5. students being unwilling to consider BrandU as a credible alternative to their own capabilities. Despite this, results exhibited consistent demand for BrandU’s services across all age groups, indicating high potential for a sustainable venture. To determine appropriate pricing for the Company’s services, questions six through nine assessed the amount that the market would be willing to pay for BrandU’s services. To encourage informed responses, the industry average prices for the various services mentioned were incorporated in footnotes. Responses for the offerings varied significantly between $0-$199, indicating the need for an assortment of packages that fit a number of different budgetary restrictions. Question ten assessed the demand for a variety of services that BrandU could offer with the goal of determining which offerings would be most valuable to the student market. It was discovered that only 4.2% of respondents would not want to receive any of BrandU’s services, indicating a strikingly positive attitude towards the Company’s offerings. Though high demand was exhibited for both ‘editing’ and ‘overhauling’ categories, editing options were selected by an average of 12% more respondents. This indicates that BrandU should offer both editing and content creation services to maximize revenue. An unanticipated result was the high demand for revisions on admissions essays, with 48% of respondents indicating that they would be interested in receiving this service. This supports the notion of offering two service streams: admissions essays and job search materials. Finally, it was assessed that demand did not vary based on faculty, indicating that BrandU should engage in campus-wide advertisements as opposed to focusing on specific student groups. Environmental Analysis
  6. 6. Canada’s youth are facing an increasingly competitive job market. Statistics Canada reported that “In 2012, the unemployment rate of youths aged 15 to 24 was 14.3%, compared with a rate of 6.0% for workers aged 25 to 54…” 5 indicating that youth are decidedly disadvantaged in the job search. This is coupled with Ontarian youth in particular facing unemployment rates that fluctuate between 16-17.1%6, a trend that has been rising consistently since 2006 and that surpasses the average Canadian youth unemployment rate of 13.5-14.5%6. Furthermore, youth in the London community experience unemployment rates of upwards of 20%6 , a figure that exceeds unemployment in large city centres such as Toronto. As a result, 28.1%5 of unemployed youth have never worked. BrandU’s ability to provide premium personal branding services will address this growing concern by assisting our target market to become more attractive to employers at top tier organizations. Job search trends indicate that organizations increasingly use social media networks for recruitment, with 93%7 having used LinkedIn to recruit in 2012. In contrast to this, 46% of students have never used LinkedIn, and of those who have, the majority said that it was not a priority in their job search strategy8 . This indicates the need for campus-wide education on the importance of contemporary job search techniques, which can be incorporated into BrandU’s marketing strategy to drive awareness and thus demand. This trend also implies that the organization should offer LinkedIn and social media related services. 5 Bernard, André, Unemployment Dynamics Among Canada’s Youth, Statistics Canada 2013 6 Geobey, Sean, The Young and the Jobless: Youth Employment in Ontario, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives 2013 7 Social Recruiting Survey Results, Jobvite, 2013 8 The Student Employment Study, Millenial Branding and AfterCollege, 2013
  7. 7. In the increasingly fast-paced recruiting environment, recruiters spend 6.25 seconds9 or less examining a resume. This indicates the need for BrandU to incorporate design and keyword optimization7 into the Company’s job search services in order to capture recruiters’ attentions. In addition, recruiters who participated in a study executed by TheLadders gave professionally re-written resumes a 60% higher score9 than amateur resumes, emphasizing the importance of professional résumé writing services and BrandU’s potential as a personal branding service catered towards students. Direct Competitive Analysis BrandU faces direct competition from two primary organizations whose virtual operations will impact the Company’s market share. As yet, there are no known businesses that solely target students with a similar service as BrandU offers; however, both Resume Target and Resume Centre offer packages catered towards student and entry-level clients. Resume Target’s primary competitive advantage is its search engine optimized website, an asset that ensures that it is one of the first businesses to show up in a search for résumé writing services. The organization offers numerous different packages that include the creation of materials including the résumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. Resume Target has created packages for clients ranging from zero years of work experience to C-level executives. As a result, there is little specific focus on student needs or budgets. This is evidenced by the basic offering’s price of $2008 , an investment that 0% of BrandU’s survey respondents would be willing to make. Resume Target also offers a 9 Adams, Susan, What Your Resume is Up Against, Forbes Magazine 2012 7 Incorporating important keywords for targeted roles to demonstrate fit with organizations and prevent being screened out by computerized tracking systems Source: Diana YK Chan 8 Source:
  8. 8. 100% satisfaction guarantee and 90-day interview guarantee. This implies that BrandU should consider advertising a similar promise in order to mitigate consumer doubt about purchasing the Company’s services. Resume Centre is an online service with hundreds of writers that allows clients to customize the services they receive instead of investing in a pre-made package. Resume Centre notably fosters no connection between writer and client in the form of a consultation or telephone call. This renders the service impersonal andbudget-conscious students may not feel comfortable sending their job search content to be re-done by a writer who would not consider their personality or skills while writing. This implies that BrandU should attempt to combat the impersonal nature of virtual businesses by implementing a mandatory initial consultation and fostering relationships between writers and clients. Both Resume Centre and Resume Target are at significant disadvantages with the student market as a result of their minimal social media presences. Despite both being multi-national businesses, their respsective Facebook pages have less than 500910 likes. The student market is highly interconnected through social media, indicating that it would be in BrandU’s interest to gain market share by leveraging these online platforms. Indirect Competitive Analysis Two competitors may impact BrandU’s market share indirectly: on-campus career services and free career advice blogs. On-campus career services offered through Western provide free advice on career and job-search related topics. In addition to there being no financial risk to visiting career services, the location is highly accessible for students. Though they only offer resume and 9 Source: 10 Source:
  9. 9. cover letter feedback as opposed to direct editing, the credibility that they possess as a result of their direct affiliation with Western could impinge upon BrandU’s market share. This indicates the need to establish a quality assurance system and training program to develop BrandU’s credibility. Career advice blogs are additional free alternatives to purchasing BrandU’s services. As a result of the highly accessible nature of the blogs, a segment of the Company’s target market could prefer to rely on them as opposed to investing in BrandU’s offer ings. Advice blogs may be considered by some as credible sources; thus, it may be prudent for the Company to create a blog on its website that contains career-related articles that communicate the importance of BrandU’s services (see Exhibit 4). It could also be important to gather testimonials and include before-and-after resume examples (see Exhibits 5 and 6) on the website in order to pique clients’ interest. Human Resources The Storyteller BrandU seeks to build an accomplished network of talented student writers. The Company’s employees will be called Brand Strategists, colloquially referred to as ‘Storytellers’. The term Storyteller conveys the Company’s brand by communicating accessibility and creativity while adhering to BrandU’s overarching mission: to assist clients to discover, develop, and communicate their personal brands or ‘stories’. The ideal team of Storytellers will be third or fourth year undergraduate students from various faculties. Storytellers will possess extremely strong writing abilities combined with compelling interpersonal skills. The Selection Process
  10. 10. During its first year of operations, the Company’s Storytellers will be the ideation team. In March of the first fiscal year, BrandU will begin recruiting new Storytellers for the following year by engaging its social media following and advertising through student groups at Western. This will address both Storyteller graduation and projected growths in demand. BrandU does not anticipate experiencing difficulties attracting applicants to become Storytellers as the position will yield numerous benefits. In addition to gaining practical work experience in a consulting and business writing role, all Storytellers will receive the training they need to identify and develop their personal brands to excel in their job searches. They will also benefit from working on flexible schedules (see Operations) that they have significant influence over. To create a strong team, each applicant’s writing aptitude will be assessed through a comprehensive review of their résumé, cover letter, and a 300-word writing sample that will be a description of their personal brands. Storytellers who are deemed to be in possession of the necessary core competencies will be selected for an interview. This interview will assess their interpersonal skills, professionalism, and maturity. Training Program To establish credibility, all Storytellers will undergo a 20-hour intensive training program to ensure standardized competency and promote community building. To facilitate BrandU’s development into a student-friendly, cohesive enterprise (see Exhibit 7), it will be crucial that strong relationships between Storytellers develop throughout training. Thus, the training program will feature community-building and skill development components in an optimal manner (see Exhibit 8). BrandU will refine Storytellers’ existing competencies,
  11. 11. disseminate key success factors for effective client service during consultations (see Exhibit 9), and assist them to create their own personal brands. Storytellers will be paid $100 each for their time. Community Building To maintain BrandU’s company culture though Storytellers work independently, the Company will schedule one mandatory social each month. These socials will provide the CEO with the opportunity to review successes, identify areas for improvement, and encourage team bonding. This will promote employee retention by cultivating relationships between Storytellers. Marketing Target Market Due to the need for personal branding amongst youth established in the environmental analysis, it became apparent that university students, those most extensively impacted by job search issues, would be a viable market to target. This, in combination with survey results that exhibited consistent demand for numerous personal branding services across Western’s campus, indicates a need for BrandU’s offerings. Lastly, when considering the Company’s direct competitors, it was determined that students were an under-targeted market in the career industry. Thus, BrandU will target undergraduate students at Western University. As a result, the Company’s market will be constantly refreshed by incoming students and so will enjoy extensive growth opportunities. Client Profile
  12. 12. As students, the Company’s clients will consider three factors when determining whether or not to invest in BrandU’s services: the assurance that they are receiving significant returns on their investments, the Company’s credibility, and convenience. This market will have budgetary restrictions; thus, it is paramount that BrandU maximizes its value offering so that clients are able to justify the purchase of a package. In addition to this, students will be more likely to purchase a service that has been recommended to them by their friends or that has high visibility on campus. Lastly, as a result of their academics and other commitments, students will also value convenience, indicating the need for online operations. Corporate Capabilities As a student-run start-up, BrandU will possess limited initial funding. To combat this, the Company will leverage the skills of its employees (see Exhibit 7). The Owner possesses extensive experience overhauling and optimizing job search materials for professionals with junior to C-level experience. She has worked with executives in industries ranging from healthcare to consumer packaged goods, having notably assisted business strategy, accounting, organizational development, finance, sales, and Sig Sigma Black Belt11 certified professionals. The Owner is a CPRW, and was trained by Diana YK Chan, former Google Recruiter and current Career Coach. Chan will serve as BrandU’s Venture Advisor, and has provided her extensive expertise as an entrepreneur in the career industry to assist the Company to identify opportunities and make informed decisions, a relationship that will continue into the foreseeable future. 11 Second-highest caliber certification in Six Sigma program; Black Belt’s use extensive statistical analysis to identify opportunities to improve business performance. Source:
  13. 13. BrandU’s combined Storyteller and Marketing Director will contribute her expertise optimizing social media campaigns to drive the success of the Company’s promotional campaigns. This employee has executed nationwide marketing strategies and is skilled at building brand awareness. Furthermore, the Company’s Storyteller and Graphic Designer will apply his talents to creating BrandU’s website (see Exhibit 8) and compelling advertisements. Products To maximize revenue, it has been determined that BrandU will offer numerous job search and admissions essay packages to cater to the budgetary restrictions and needs of multiple facets of the target market. Job Search Packages Survey results indicated that an average of 12% of respondents would prefer to have their content edited as opposed to overhauled. This could be a result of students not understanding what high-quality, marketable content looks like. To spearhead a greater appreciation of this, the Company will offer a less expensive proofreading service, during which the Owner will edit clients’ content and identify areas for improvement while educating customers on the difficulty of securing work experience as a student without marketable content. Those who purchase this service will be offered a 20% discount on their choice of a more expensive package (see Exhibit 9). The components of the job search packages were determined based on the demand measured by the survey. The majority of respondents indicated that they would be interested in résumé and cover letter overhauling in comparison to other services, indicating that all of BrandU’s packages should include these offerings.
  14. 14. In order to achieve BrandU’s goal of becoming a credible service that creates high quality, marketable content, all packages will include a 100% satisfaction guarantee that involves unlimited revisions. As a result of this guarantee, clients will not be permitted to receive refunds. This will also combat the hesitation the target market may feel towards investing in the Company’s services. Following the resume and cover letter in respondent interest were the personal website and LinkedIn profile, which were selected at a rate of 38% and 32-36% respectively. This equal split in demand led BrandU to consider an average client’s needs, concluding that a LinkedIn profile would be a prudent investment to complement a resume and cover letter. Thus, the LinkedIn profile and pre-made outreach and thank-you letters were added to the Advanced package. This, in combination with bonus free updates 12 will justify investment in BrandU’s services. The Premium package will contain all aspects of the Advanced package as well as an online professional portfolio and a mock interview session. A professional website hosted by WordPress was considered to be an exceptional addition to the package to encourage sales. The 1-hour mock interview session will involve clients meeting with the CEO to practice their interview skills, focusing on how to structure an interview answer so that they can convey their personal brand. Clients will be provided with video recordings of their sessions so that they are able to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. This was incorporated at the recommendation of Diana YK Chan, who has stated that mock interviews are one of her most in-demand and useful services for young professionals. Admissions Essays 12 When a client gains experience and wishes to change their job search materials to reflect that
  15. 15. Survey results revealed high demand for revisions to admissions and scholarship essays. Thus, it was determined that BrandU will offer admissions essay packages. This will be in line with the Company’s mission because it remains important that students showcase impressive personal brands in this content in order to differentiate themselves from other applicants13. To capitalize on demand, BrandU will offer two packages: Proofreading, and Analysis (see Exhibit 10). The Proofreading service will involve a basic sentence structure and grammar check and will not necessitate a consultation. For clients who would prefer a more in-depth review of their content, the Analysis package will include a thorough examination of the structure of the essay(s), how to maximize the impact of the client’s message, and a critique on the relevance of the content. These essays would be submitted as part of an application, implying that the content must be the original work of the student. This renders a complete ‘overhaul’ of an essay unethical. To uphold BrandU’s integrity, this stream of services will be a more collaborative effort between Storyteller and client (see Operations). In place of the ‘Results’ segment of the 30-45 minute initial consultation, the Storyteller will go through the client’s essays with them, ask questions, clarify details, and identify weaknesses. This will allow the Storyteller to effectively refine existing content By-request Products: To build BrandU’s credibility,, the Company will also offer additional services that can be provided with or without the purchase of a package. These products include video resumes, Prezi and Slideshare resumes 14 , and personal websites. These offerings will 13 Source: Diana YK Chan, former Recruitment Managerfor Executive MBA admissions at Ivey Business School 14 Visual, online platforms that allows users to create and design interactive resumes
  16. 16. communicate BrandU’s credibility by evidencing its ability to remain informed about contemporary job search trends. Price BrandU considered three factors when determining appropriate pricing: survey results, an examination of the Company’s direct competitors, and the consideration that Storytellers will be performing specialized tasks and must be compensated fairly. Survey results indicated that students would be willing to pay a wide range of prices for BrandU’s services. Notably, a negligible amount of the surveyed population would be willing to pay the prices of packages offered by BrandU’s direct competitor, ResumeTarget. On the other hand, Resume Centre’s prices appear to fall within the student budget, though this company does not offer as wide a variety of services as ResumeTarget. As noted by the price perception map in Exhibit 11, BrandU would benefit from occupying a space in between ResumeTarget and ResumeCentre, wherein a wide variety of services are offered for a price that is not so low that it negatively impacts perceived quality of service. . It was determined that BrandU’s services will be priced between $29.99-$159.99 for job search packages and $29.99-129.99 for admissions essay packages (see Exhibit 12). This will allow the Company to appeal to its market while compensating its Storytellers and encouraging employee retention. Placement The Company’s competitors operate online and are thus convenient and accessible. To compete effectively and cater to clients’ busy schedules, BrandU’s operations will feature a high degree of online service (see Operations). The Company seeks to differentiate itself from its competitors’ impersonal services by building relationships between Storytellers and clients; thus, it will be integral that they meet face-to-face, either
  17. 17. over online tools such as Skype and Google Hangout15 or in-person. Since both Storytellers and clients will be students at Western or an affiliated college, it will be encouraged that consultations occur at an on-campus location. Furthermore, if possible, clients’ initial consultations with the Owner will be done in-person. Promotion and Brand Awareness BrandU will differentiate itself from competitors by leveraging the extensive, interconnected student network that its target market participates in while executing on- campus initiatives to increase visibility. The Company’s direct competitors have minimal social media presences. Since the vast majority of BrandU’s target market will be connected to social media platforms, it will be paramount that a significant portion of BrandU’s marketing occurs online. The Company will run paid Facebook advertising campaigns to reach its target demographic (see Exhibit 14). BrandU will invest in per-click advertisements as opposed to per-impression because one of the Company’s primary objectives will be to increase its page’s Facebook likes to 1000 during the first year of operations. BrandU will also invest in four sources of on-campus advertisement: one coupon in the Westernizer16 , one full day of booth placement in the University Community Centre (UCC) in each of September and January, poster placement in high-traffic areas including the UCC and the Social Science Centre (SSC), and the distribution of flyers containing BrandU’s value offering. Operations 15 Enables group video calls. 16 Agenda distributed to 17,000 Western students annually. Source: Ian Greaves, Manager – Advertising Marketing Office, University Students’ Council.
  18. 18. Core and Non-Core Process Outcomes The client profile assisted BrandU to determine that the core process outcomes for the Company’s operations will be a combination of price, quality, and service, as these factors will have significant impacts on sales. Quality and service are interrelated factors that the operational process must foster. To establish credibility, BrandU must create high-quality material; to encourage this, the operational process will take into account the amount of time it takes to develop exceptional job search materials, and will necessarily have to sacrifice time-savings in order to achieve quality. This also applies to client service in that it will be paramount that the Company invests the time necessary to build relationships with clients in order to promote brand loyalty. The student market will also be price sensitive, indicating that the Company’s operations must find a strategic balance between providing exceptional service while minimizing the cost of the Storytellers’ labour hours. A non-core operational factor is the speed at which the packages will be completed. BrandU’s direct competitors specialize in producing content within a very short turnaround time, resulting in an impersonal process that leaves limited time to build brand loyalty. BrandU’s packages will be investments for students and so it will be likely that clients will value quality over speed, indicating that BrandU must focus its operations on catering each package to the individual client’s needs as opposed to offering fast turnaround times. Operational Process - Packages In accordance with the core and non-core operational outcomes, BrandU has established a unique process that will optimize business activity (see Exhibit 13 and 14).
  19. 19. To foster a relationship between BrandU and its clients that will aid in client retention, each client will meet directly with the Owner prior to purchasing a package. At this time, the Owner will review the client’s existing job search or admissions materials and provide recommendations for package purchase. By centering the sale of the packages on the Owner, BrandU will communicate its brand effectively while encouraging the Storytellers to rely on the Company to facilitate sales, thus minimizing the risk of employees deciding to leave BrandU and begin their own independent enterprises. These meetings will also facilitate quality assurance because the Owner will have full knowledge of the clients’ expectations and will be able to monitor Storytellers’ progress. When a client purchases a package, the CEO will connect the client with an available Storyteller. The Storyteller will then contact the client directly and set up a time to meet either in person or over video call. The Storyteller will then begin work on the client’s package. The estimated duration of work was concluded on based on the Owner’s experience creating job search content for professionals (see Exhibit 13). The Storyteller will forward version one of the completed content to the Owner for a brief review to ensure quality. Upon receiving the Owner’s confirmation, the Storyteller will send the completed content to the client and apply any revisions that the client requests. When the clients’ final, written approval of the content has been received, the Storyteller will be sent a commission of 43% of the sale price through PayPal. This was determined as sufficient compensation as a result of the numerous benefits that the Storyteller will receive in addition to it will provide Storytellers with between $12.50-13.80 per hour of their time depending on the package purchased. Furthermore, the Owner will be paid a salary of $145 per week to compensate her for her time.
  20. 20. Capacity The Owner’s experience optimizing job search content has led her to conclude that each Storyteller has a maximum capacity of three clients per week in addition to their academic obligations. It has been determined that each package can be completed within 2-5.5 hours (see Exhibit 15), and that the turnaround time for each package will range between 2-5 days. Since the Company will be heavily influenced by seasonality (see Exhibit 16 and 17), this turnaround time will allow for flexibility while assisting to manage clients’ expectations during high demand periods such as January and February. Expansions Though the first two fiscal years will be focused on perfecting operations within Western, the Company intends to expand to U of T in year three. The U of T branch will mirror the parent company’s organizational structure in years one and two, with the exception of the Branch Manager reporting directly to the Owner at Western (see Exhibit 15). The operational process will remain the same and will not involve the Owner . The parent branch will be responsible for training Branch Managers and supervising the selection and instruction of new Storytellers. In this manner, the Company’s brand will stay consistent across campuses. Package structure and pricing will also remain constant as all clients will purchase BrandU’s services through one, centralized website. Finance BrandU’s business model makes it able to rely on limited initial investments and cash infusions (see Exhibit 18 for full financial statements). As a result of the Company’s virtual business model, only two assets – a printer for business use and a promotional banner –
  21. 21. need to be acquired. An initial equity infusion of $7000 by the Owner and $3000 by the Marketing Director for Common Stock will be directed towards fixed costs that include marketing initiatives, employee training, and the Owner’s salary. The Company’s equity infusion will assist BrandU to achieve its objective of maintaining consistently positive cash flow. In the event that marketing initiatives fail to promote the sales anticipated or Storytellers end their employment contracts unexpectedly, BrandU will remain solvent enough to mitigate the financial impact of changing circumstances. To project sales assumptions in the first fiscal year as accurately as possible, data regarding the student population of each faculty at Western was considered. Western’s 2012-2013 undergraduate enrolment total was 22,070 17 . Though survey results demonstrated fairly consistent demand across faculties, only the faculties of Social Science, Ivey Business School (Ivey), Medicine, Science, Social Science, and Engineering were considered in order to produce conservative estimates. It was discovered that 14,82723 students were potentially within BrandU’s target market. The Company then noted that 34% of respondents stated that they would pay for their content to be overhauled by a student writer. To remain conservative, this number was decreased to 30%, leaving 5041 students within the target market. Lastly, BrandU considered that it will lose a segment of this population depending on multiple factors. It was concluded that a conservative population to target would be approximately 6% of the 5041 potentially interested students, leaving 300 clients. This number was further reduced to 270 when considering that it will take a period of adjustment before operational efficiency will be achieved. 17 Source: ‘Five Year Enrolment Comparison’, Western University, 2013.
  22. 22. Subsequently, the Company concluded using survey results that 60% of clients would purchase job search packages, 25% admissions essay reviews, and 15% the proofreading package. Though 47% of survey respondents indicated interest in admissions or scholarship essay revisions, it was assumed that BrandU would need to establish credibility before more advanced students would rely on the organization to assist with these services. It was also assumed that a significant percentage of sales would be from the job search content proofreading offering until BrandU establishes the reputation necessary to warrant investment in more expensive packages. This prediction decreases to 10% in years two and three in order to account for the increase in credibility that BrandU will aim to achieve. These numbers result in a break-even net income projection in the first fiscal year, thus indicating that BrandU’s goal of not relying on external sources of cash is achievable. The cash margin of safety of 1.3%, though low, is not particularly daunting as a result of the minimal investment required to begin operations. Year two profits of $258118 would result in a 1219.3% return on investment with a cash margin of safety of 18%, indicating that BrandU’s business model facilitates extensive returns by allowing minimal investments in assets. During the third fiscal year, BrandU will expand to U of T and has altered sales projections accordingly. In addition to a 10% growth of sales at the parent branch, it is estimated that the new branch will attain 270 clients This was concluded upon as a result of U of T’s large undergraduate population of 38,154 students and location in a city centre that is highly impacted by youth unemployment. This boost in sales volume will result in an additional $7538 in profit, with the cash margin of safety rising to 26.7% despite the additional investment in fixed costs including training and salaries. This indicates that the expansion will be a safe undertaking. To demonstrate the value of expanding across 18 Assuming sales increase of 20% and employment of three additional Storytellers
  23. 23. campuses, year four was projected assuming no growth at the Western branch and a 10% expansion at the U of T branch. This will yield a net income of $15,232, which will provide funding in excess of the amount needed to expand to an additional university. Thus, as a result of minimal initial investments and a $10,000 cash infusion, it is predicted that BrandU will consistently break-even while maintaining positive cash flow and ideal margins of safety. This indicates that the Company is a financially feasible venture that will be sustainable in the long-term. Action Plan In mid-July, 2014, BrandU will implement its website using WordPress. The Company will also take advantage of WordPress’ free SEO plugin19 to keyword all online content. Subsequently, BrandU will begin to establish its online presence by creating a Facebook page and Twitter account. To attain an initial fan-base, Storytellers will be encouraged to reach out to their networks on Twitter and Facebook. To increase follower engagement, BrandU will use HootSuite to coordinate daily posts to Facebook and Twitter. The Company will also publish weekly, original career and job-search related articles on its blog while linking them to Facebook to direct social media users to BrandU’s website. BrandU will dedicate its first social media campaign towards increasing awareness of personal branding and job search techniques among the student population. In this manner, the Company will promote the target market to consider BrandU’s services as a viable means to accelerate their next job search. These advertisements will be posted to the Company’s Facebook page and will include a link in the description to a blog post that would expand on the topics, thus driving traffic to the website. The Company will also begin investing in paid Facebook advertising to maximize reach. 19 Source:
  24. 24. During the final week of August, the Owner will host the five Storytellers at her home to complete a 5-day, intensive training program. In September, BrandU will begin increasing visibility on campus by distributing flyers and hanging posters in high traffic areas, particularly at the Company’s booth in the UCC, a space that BrandU retains for one full day during this month. All promotions will direct potential clients to the Facebook page and website, where they will encounter BrandU’s second promotional campaign, which will grant a free Advanced package to a Facebook user who has both liked BrandU’s page and shared the contest advertisement to their Facebook profiles. This package be completed by the Owner at no cost to the Company. Following the month of January - considered to be the organization’s peak period - the Owner will assess BrandU’s financial performance to determine opportunities for improvement. If it is determined that sale volume is unacceptably low, the Owner will initiate the contingency plan. Contingency Plan If BrandU does not meet a sales target of 150 clients by January 15th , the Company will initiate its contingency plan. This will involve partnering with Diana YK Chan and executing a 3-month long promotional opportunity in which clients who purchase an Advanced or Premium job search package can have their content reviewed by Chan, whose clients have gone on top tier companies including Boston Consulting Group, Google, Deloitte, TD Bank, Nielsen, and more. Having spoken to multiple audiences of over 300 attendees at Western, Chan possesses high credibility on campus and her participation will assist to drive sales. In return, Chan will receive a 20% cut of the packages she would be involved in reviewing. She will also benefit from continued access to BrandU’s email list and
  25. 25. social media following. The terms of the partnership have been negotiated and agreed upon.