What I Learned from Going Bust

Business startup lessons

Every business owner can learn valuable lessons from studying how successful businesses are born and grow. Looking out for, and replicating, key drivers of success in other businesses, can help to drive our own business forward.

However, vital insight can also be gained from business failures. In many cases, what we can learn from terminal business mistakes can prove even more illuminating than what we can glean by following the high-flyers. (more…)

10 Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Business Plan

Business Plan tips and advice

When it comes to writing a business plan, there is one single golden rule that dwarfs all others – your business plan must address each of the key concerns of your potential backer.

If you fail on this first point, all the other things you should and shouldn’t do pale into insignificance and even a great business idea might fail to get backing it needs. A good business plan keeps the investor happy, so follow these 10 Dos and Don’ts to ratchet up your chances of success: (more…)

How to make realistic sales forecasts

how to make realistic sales forecasts

So, how do you do forecast sales realistically?

Every startup benefits greatly from making a cash flow forecast. But if your business hasn’t opened its doors yet, how is it possible to estimate the kind of sales you will get in your first month, let alone year of trading? We asked Robin Booth of Brixx.com to explain. (more…)

How to Make a Cash Flow Forecast for a StartUp

cash flow forecast for start-up

How can I forecast my cash flow when the business doesn’t even exist yet?

That’s a question most new startups wrestle with as they are planning their new business. It may seem to some to be an impossible task, so we asked Robin Booth of Brixx.com to show how you can produce a cash flow forecast for a new business. (more…)

Perfecting Your Pitch: 10 Principles for Entrepreneurs

Perfect business pitch to potential investors

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, of course, but many of the most innovative entrepreneurs are creative contrarians. They are outsiders, gainsaying the doubters that say it cannot be done.

In fact, many entrepreneurs are introverts, which can be a major barrier when it comes to that vital part of the entrepreneurial process: pitching. (more…)

How Good Planning Will Make You a Better Leader

lead your business more effectively by planning ahead

Most people have some opinions on what makes a good leader. High on the list in one form or another are “resolve” and “vision” – but these are pretty nebulous terms. How are aspiring leaders meant to achieve these qualities?

Neither quality guarantees success, and if a leader suffers setbacks, changes track or fails to provide the leadership they strive to, then that “resolve” and “vision” become harder to maintain. (more…)

3 Plain and simple steps to build a winning start up strategy

startup strategy tips

You have a great business concept. Now you just need to sell it – not to customers, well, not yet. But to your backer.

Your top sales tool is a business plan. But take care. Potential investors banish the vast majority of plans to the bin, so you need to make sure business plan does the business. (more…)

Planning a shakeup – How to plan for big changes in your business

Planning for change at your business

The only thing you can be certain of in business is that things will change. This might be a slow change or a sudden sharp one, but either way, it’s important to prepare for the future.

These changes are a lot easier to predict if you are the instigator of the change. You may decide to take on a partner, move location, change the way you sell, change what you sell, or even sell the business itself. (more…)

Market research – what do you need to find out about your customers?

market research customer

Market research is often assumed or anecdotal. A few good words here and there, enthusiastic leads, handshakes and happily resolved issues from existing customers can lead to the pleasant feeling that you know your market.

However, if your business is to thrive, you really need to develop a deep understanding of your customers. To help you to do this, we’ve asked Robin Booth to explain the steps you need to take. (more…)

Long term planning – how far into the future can you look

long term business planning

Long term planning is an oft-ignored aspect of running a business. Why is it so ignored? Because people think…

  1. It’s not useful.
  2. It’s not possible.

In this article, I’m going to explain why long term planning is both useful and possible, and also provide some practical advice about how far ahead you can look when devising your long term plan. (more…)

Why Your Startup Needs a Good Plan and a Flexible Strategy

what to include in your business plan

Every start-up company needs a good business plan and an effective business strategy. They’re distinct but equally necessary and you shouldn’t confuse one with the other.

You can’t expect to get past first base without a plan. A clear, well-written explanation of what you intend to sell and when you intend to sell it, is the document you will take to your bank manager if you want to get a business loan and to investors if you’re seeking financial backing. (more…)

Short term planning – how to balance your time and detail when planning

Business planning - how to plan for the short term

In a previous article, I described the differences between short term and long term planning. A challenge to both types of planning is how much detail to go into.

I’ve seen accountants trying to create perfect 30 year financial models based on the level of detail they use for tracking the day to day running of the business.

Needless to say, they quickly find an already large job turning into a mountain of work. When the time comes to update the plan (1-12 times/year depending on the organisation) the battle to ensure accurate detail in the plan needs to be taken up again.

So how do you get the right level of planning for your business? (more…)

Financial planning – 6 steps to a successful plan

steps to successful financial planning

Good planning is important for both startups and established businesses, and a financial plan is no exception.

As a new business owner, you have probably never had to produce a financial plan, so it can definitely be a daunting prospect. However, investing a little time and effort in making a financial plan for your new business can save you a lot of money and pain down the line.

So to help you get your financial plan right we asked Robin Booth of Brixx.com to outline the 6 steps to develop a coherent, holistic financial plan of your business. (more…)

How you think about your business affects how you plan

factors affecting your business plan

Thinking about your business in different ways affects how you plan for the future, opening up some new avenues, but making others potentially harder.

By being aware of how you view your business you’ll also invent new ways of thinking about it, which will give you a more balanced and flexible approach to financial planning. Robin Booth of Brixx.com explains how to think differently about your business, and the benefits of doing so; (more…)

Planning short term and planning long term

planning your business for short term and long term success

Planning ahead is important. It helps you to understand where you want to get to and how you’re going to get there.

However, financial planning can be a bit of a mystery for many small business owners. So to help demystify it, we asked Robin Booth of Brixx.com to answer the questions business owners often ask about financial planning;

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A beginner’s guide to testing your financial plan

test financial plan

According to Bloomberg’s infamous, mythical study, 8 out of 10 businesses fail in their first 18 months.

The Bloomberg figure has been shown to be nonsense, but business failure statistics given by other sources still report business closure rates of 20-40% within the first 2 years of trading, which is still a very high failure rate.

In this article, I’m going to explore one of the ways to avoid the financial pitfalls many businesses find themselves in. I’m going to talk about not just having a financial plan – but understanding the discipline of testing it.

There are myriad reasons why such a large proportion of businesses don’t succeed, but for small businesses cash flow problems are one of the most common reasons. There are practical ways to stave off cash flow problems – but much better if they can be avoided in the first place. (more…)

A beginner’s guide to financial reports, and what they reveal about your business

Financial reports for business

Financial reports are standardised measures of a business’ financial health. They are a necessity for publicly traded companies, but this does not mean that they are only useful for large organisations.

Each of the various types of financial reports in this article takes a different view of the business. These reports can seem intimidating at first, but you don’t need to be an accountant to understand them. With a little knowledge you’ll find new ways to look at and analyse your business.

To help you get a fresh insight into your business, I’m going to show you what the purpose of each financial report is, and the kind of information it can reveal about your business. (more…)

Top 10 business planning tips for start-ups

Writing a business plan is an important step in the business start-up process. And, if you want to raise funding for your new business, you simply must produce an up-to-date business plan to show potential backers.

Even if you don’t place much importance on the business planning process, the simple act of writing down your thoughts can help focus your mind on aspects of the business which you may otherwise have neglected.

So to get you started on the right path, here are 10 business planning tips to help you produce an effective plan; (more…)

Guide to successful business planning

There is a lot to be gained from business planning but many businesses will search for a million reasons to avoid it. However large or small your business is, planning for the future is critical to its success.

Apart from the obvious benefits of setting your stall out for the year ahead, creating an annual strategy will motivate, inspire and focus you on what needs to be done and when.
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Guide to writing a winning business proposal

If you’re starting-up or running a small business the ability to put together a persuasive business proposal will really help you to succeed.

If you have impressed a prospective client or partner after an initial meeting, phone call or email, you will frequently be asked to submit a business proposal.

This is not the time to become complacent. There will be others on the short list too, so a well-written and attractively presented business proposal is a crucial sales tool. It is often the difference between getting the go-ahead with your idea or missing out on a lucrative new opportunity.

Fortunately, if you follow these 10 golden rules, it’s not too difficult to put together a winning business proposal (more…)

Why you need a cash flow forecast and how to produce one for your small business

One of the most useful bits of advice that established entrepreneurs give to people starting their own business is this: ‘cash is king’.

It doesn’t matter what business you’re in and how profitable it is, if you run out of cash, your business will struggle to continue. If you can’t pay suppliers you’ll have nothing to sell, and it’s a quick, vicious circle from there to insolvency.
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Business Plans for Business Angels – Part Two

The second instalment of our two-part guide to writing a business plan for business angels, examines each of the main chapters in detail, highlighting the areas that need particular attention if you are to successfully attract funding from a business angel or private investor. (more…)

Business Plans for Business Angels – Part One

This guide has been written for ByteStart by John Courtney of Beer & Partners Ltd.

There are many books on writing business plans – all the banks provide a handy checklist for example. Yet business plans should always be written with the audience in mind. This guide is therefore aimed at helping you put your message across to one particularly critical audience – the business angel.

We see nearly 2000 plans a year and we know what our angel investors are looking for; more importantly perhaps we also know the pitfalls and howlers to be avoided. (more…)

The 60 minute marketing plan for small and start-up businesses

Marketing your business should be fun and simple. Surely there can be no better way to spend a day than working on something which is going to help you achieve your objectives more quickly?

Sadly many business owners don’t see marketing that way. They see it as a necessary evil; something that “must be done” rather than something to look forward to and clear time for.

Often this is because they’re not really sure where they should be spending their time and marketing spend.

If this is you, you need a plan. And the good news is you don’t have to spend hours on it. You can put together a very good marketing plan for your business in just 60 minutes. It’s just a case of answering a few simple questions, doing a little bit of thinking, then adding the magic ingredient: (more…)

5 warning signs your business plan is unrealistic

As you start up your business, the need for a well thought through business plan is clear.

Even if you are just going to be you sitting in your spare bedroom selling things over the internet, you need a business plan to understand how you are going to market your products or services and actually turn a profit.
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Online tools and resources to help you write an effective business plan

One of the keys to success in any venture is having an accurate and informative business plan. It will set a clear direction and ensure you spend your time productively. As a vital document, you need to invest time getting it right before you make any key business decisions.

There are numerous tools and sources of information online, that allow you to research and plan virtually any business idea. Here are a few of our favourites.
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How to prepare your business to cope without you

Starting your own business is a really exciting thing to do. You get to take a dream that you have been harbouring for years and turn it into reality.

That means lots of planning and thinking about your business and how you want it to pan out. You can decide where you want to be years down the line and aim for it.
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How to restructure and reorganise your business

Restructuring a business can be a turbulent time; you may be juggling legal issues with disgruntled employees, expansion plans with uncertain investors or faced with frustrated customers.

However, that isn’t a world away from the day-to-day nature of running a business, and you shouldn’t feel unnecessarily daunted just because you’re moving in a new direction.
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Guide to Writing a Business Plan – Part 1 – Introduction

The following 8-part guide on how to write a business plan serves as an outline for anyone who is thinking of starting their own business, or improving an existing business.

The aim of this guide is to focus your ideas and create an easy-to-follow plan which can be shown to potential investors, bank managers and business partners.
(more…)