Small start-up businesses will initially use their business plan as a blueprint or a guide to help set up and get their enterprise off the ground. However, the plan you started with may start to become ineffectual after a while, once your business has found its feet. (more…)
Business Plan Tips
Good planning is important for both startups and established businesses, and a financial plan is no exception.
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…)
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.
If you know what to look out for, these financial reports are great tools for businesses of all sizes. (more…)
When you decide it’s time to get your business started, you’ll find the first piece of advice given by most experts is to “get a business plan written”.
And they’re right; that is the first step to turn your business dream into a reality. But many people find it the hardest step to make. (more…)
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…)
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…)
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 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…)
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…)
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 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 is an oft-ignored aspect of running a business. Why is it so ignored? Because people think…
- It’s not useful.
- 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…)
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…)
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…)
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 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;
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…)
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…)
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.
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…)
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.
Many of the world’s most successful business people became that way with help from a key figure in their lives.
When you have a mentor or a coach, you are involving someone else in the decisions you need to make to grow your business. They will help you stay focused, on track, and get the most out of yourself.
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…)
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…)
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…)
Life can be great when you’re running your business as a one man band. You get to escape the shackles of employment including a boss telling you what you do and when.
Of course there are downsides, such as the loss of a regular salary and other employment perks. And the most serious of these is how you would continue to earn money if something happened to you or your business.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A business plan is a document which captures how you expect your business will grow, according to a large number of factors such as funding, how the market behaves, the people involved in the business, and – of course – how successful you are at selling your product or service.
On day one of your new business, as you sit at an empty desk wishing the phone would ring, you think about the future and how exciting it will be to be busy.
Fast forward two years to when you are working 14 hours a day, six days a week (with enough work to fill your sleeping hours) and your wish has come true, but turned into a nightmare along the way.
If this is happening to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. It’s a common problem that affects many small business owners. The hard work and long hours to get the business off the ground never seem to stop.
With all the excitement of starting and running your own business, it’s easy to overlook what might happen if it all goes wrong.
A disaster could strike your business at any time, in any form. What if your main sales person was lured to an aggressive competitor, you lost your data, or your building was destroyed in an accident? It’s rare, but it happens.
Here are seven simple steps to a writing a simple but powerful disaster recovery plan:
It’s easy to focus on the day-to-day running of your business, especially when you have only just started-up. But once your business is established, it is actually time to start planning again. Here’s why you should review the performance of your business and how to get started.
Expert opinions may vary, but in general there are some standard analyses that a business plan ought to have, regardless of specifics.