at each in turn to show how they can helpyou manage your business.
If you’re getting started in business ortrying to guide your existing business ind i ff e rent directions, Business Plannercould very well provide a lot of help.BP is a program that combines a data-base of business information with a setof wizards and templates to help youdevelop a business plan and a market-ing strategy. As Figure 1 shows, BP o ff e r sdetailed articles and tips about plan-ning, operations, legal issues, financ-ing and marketing. Clicking in any of these areas takes you to a table of con-tents (TOC) that lets you dig further intothe content.To help you pre p a re your plan or strat-egy, BP steps you through a set of inter-views; you fill in the blanks for somedetailed questions. At any point, you canmove from the wizard to the included arti-cles or the linked online re s o u rces. Onceeverything is complete, you can selectf rom a variety of templates to format andadd to your document. The entire pro c e s stakes a long time, but business plans andmarketing strategies should. What B Psucceeds at most is teaching new entre-p reneurs about the issues surro u n d i n gbusiness launches. BP is also very adeptat keeping you moving through thep rocess.
SMALL BUSINESS CUSTOMERM A N AG E R
The purpose of SBCM is to help you withcustomer analysis and communication.You import your customer contact infor-mation from Outlook and any data onyour customers from your accountingp rogram. You can use S B C M’s views of your data to track customer activity andreport it by email to whomever you wish.SBCM integrates with other Office pro-grams to send mail merge letters fro mWo rd to selected customers and perf o rmother tasks. The program also ties in wellwith Publisher, the desktop publishingpackage included with several versionsof Office 2000.The core of SBCM is its data views.T h e re are four main categories of views:Customers, Products, Sales and Pro f-itability. All are accessible from the Vi e wmenu (as you’d expect) or from a sep-arate Views toolbar. Simply open yourdatabase and select the view you wantand SBCM displays it in the main win-dow.These views let you sort your data ina wide variety of useful ways. For exam-ples, you can sortyour customers bysales volume oro rder volume, or bythe date they lastplaced an ord e r.P roducts can besorted by quantityand by the date theyw e re last ord e re d ,and sales aresortable by sales-person, re g i o n ,p roduct and cus-t o m e r. You can alsoget a look at yourp rofitability byp roduct, salesper-son or customer( F i g u re 2). There arem o re options, butthese give you agood idea of what’savailable here.The program also gives you a buttoncalled Hot views. These are designed forf requent use (and hence easy access),and they include lists of your top cus-tomers, your top products and your topsalespeople.S BCM’s Activity Tracker (Figure 3) keepstrack of the activities you’ve perf o rm e dwithin SBCM and within Outlook foreach specific customer. In this sense, thep rogram is similar to Outlook’s Journ a l ,except that Journal keeps track of all
Figure 2: The Profitability views let you see at a glance how profitable your company has been.Figure 3: Activity Tracker gives you a quick look at which activities need tobe completed for a given customer.Figure 4: The Direct Mail Manager wizard scansyour hard drive for Outlook folders and presentsthe Contacts folder for opening in DMM.