Five Things To Do Before Writing Your Business Plan

Five Things To Do Before Writing Your Business Plan

Five Things To Do Before Writing Your Business PlanStarting a new business comes with hurdles; being prepared for those hurdles—and trying to get ahead of them—can decrease the impact they have on your business. An important step in preparing for the challenges that your start-up might face is writing a solid business plan.  What goes into a business plan is easy enough to figure out, but there are more abstract things to consider before you write it out.

Determine your Purpose

Making a profit is important, but it’s hardly the only thing that matters when you start a business, experts say.  “Business plans … encourage entrepreneurs to focus on what they are going to do,” said Alan Williams, co-author of The 31 Practices. “This overlooks two more important questions: ‘why’ – why it exists and why employees would want to get out of bed in the morning, and ‘how’ – the values of the business, what it stands for, how people representing the business will behave.”  Williams noted that entrepreneurs should take time to identify and articulate the business’ core values, which will serve as your organization’s compass for all decision-making.

Build your Vision

Experts say the key to success is having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish as a company. Before you write a business plan, you should come up with three to five key strategies that will enable you to achieve that vision, advised Evan Singer, CEO of SmartBiz. “Sometimes, less is more,” Singer said. “It’s far better to do three things very well versus 10 things not so well.” Tied in with building the vision for your business is also putting together a mission statement. The mission is the “why” you’re doing what you do From there, it is an easy transition to develop your “value proposition” statement that defines what makes you unique in the marketplace.

Clarify your Business Model

A good financial model should include many of the details you would put in your formal business plan – for example, hiring, pricing, sales, cost of acquisition, expenses and growth. As with a business plan, your model should be revisited and updated as the realities of your business start to unfold.

Identify your Target Market

This can be a tricky obstacle to get through. To help narrow down your market, Grant Leboff, CEO of Sticky Marketing Club, suggests you answer the question, “Why am I uniquely placed to solve the problem?” “If you are unable to answer the question, you either have the wrong target market of the wrong offering,” Leboff blogged. “In this case, more work will need to be done before you start targeting your potential customers.” If what you offer isn’t the most attractive option to the type of client you want, you might need to change you’re offering or define your target market differently.

Test your Business Idea

Go out and talk to industry experts, potential customers in your target market and ask for some honest feedback. What do they think about your business idea? Who, specifically, are you targeting with your business? How big is the market? Will your market buy what you are selling? Who is your competition? The act of writing a business plan will not make your organization successful, but it does give you a map to get there. The forethought put into the plan identifies the milestones with which you can mark your progress.

Go fund yourself

Go fund yourself Buisness Funding & Capital | Business Help & SupportSo you have your business idea. Your products and services are desperately straining at the leash waiting to get out there and make you some money. You have done your research and you know that there is a gap in the market wide enough for your business to succeed. But you need some capital. Where do you go?

The Good Old Bank Loan

Well the standard route for entrepreneurs wanting to launch a new venture would be to talk to the bank. All of the main banks and financial institutions offer start-up loans for new businesses and comparison sites such as Money Supermarket can give you an indication of rates.

Alternative Finance

More often these days however start-ups are looking to Alternative Finance to get their ideas off the ground. You may choose peer to peer methods from companies like Ratesetter, Zopa, Funding Circle, ThinCats, LendInvest and MarketInvest all explained nicely on Befuddled .

Crowdfunding

Or if you are ready for some close public scrutiny you may choose to put your idea up as a crowdfunding opportunity. If you are looking to invest in a crowdfunding opportunity then check out MoneyWeek’s funding centre comparison tool which will help you to navigate the many opportunities out there.

If you are looking for capital in order to fund a website for your business then talk to us at Magpie Image Ltd about our payment options and monthly subscriptions. You may just find that you don’t need quite as much start up capital as you first thought!

Mistakes when Starting a New Business

Here are a few common mistakes when starting a new business

Mistakes when Starting a New Business | Business help & SupportStarting up a new business can often be hard work with things like creating a business plan, finding business premises, advertising, employees and of course raising finance.

Have a Clear Business Model

To help your business succeed it is important to have a clear business model and understand exactly what they are about and make sure you are very clear on how to go about operating. Having a vague operating model and thinking you can adapt as you go is often a mistake.

Researching & Market Testing

Don’t make assumptions about what you potential customers want. If you build a business on an unproven and understood market you may come have problems down the line. The key is to launch even if it’s not the final product or service so you can test the market and collect customer feedback.

Finance & Investors

If you take funding from people or companies who don’t share your values, it can be difficult to retain integrity and stick to your mission.
Being Afraid to Delegate

Being an entrepreneur is a really tough job, much more than being a manager. The ability to truly delegate when an organisation reaches a certain size is the toughest challenge for someone who has built a business from scratch, considering the emotional element often associated with it.

Failing to recruit the right people for the job

Businesses often compromise on their team. It sadly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as subsequently they will only be able to continue attracting mediocre people. The best people typically only want to work with the best people.

Don’t believe business success will happens overnight

You have to understand and acknowledge at the start of a business that it is a long-term thing. The businesses that we hear about making millions overnight in there first few months of trading are an exceptions to the rule.

Don’t let work take over

When running a business you should watch out for overloading yourself. Before you know it you will be working around the clock and this will affect your health whoever you think you are. Starting up and growing your own business comes with great responsibility and takes time, effort and commitment. You must remember there is more to life than just working.

Business Start Up

Business Start Up

Business Start Up GloucesterBeing your own boss can be satisfying and rewarding, however before you jump in with both feet you need to follow a few simple points

The Idea

You need to think of an idea for your business, something different and unique and you need to think about the economics of the idea and are other people pursuing the same concept. If so, you will need to make your business stand out of the crowd know if you are going to be legally protected.

Create a Business Plan

Having done a business plan helps you to gain a vision and direction as you begin your business journey. Your business plan is your blue print.

The Business Entity

This is where you decide how to legally structure. Some businesses can become very complicated. They each have their pros and cons.

Customer Appreciation

You need to think about who your target market is. Your target market is where you need a specific group of people that your company has created products or services for.

Creating a Website

Creating your business website is one of the most important things you need to do for your business. The website is essential, it tells people who you are, where you are and encourages the customers to buy off the website or make enquiries regarding your services and products. Please click here to read more about our website services

The Debut

You will need to understand how to get your products or services out in the market place and to show people they exist, get your name out there, gain custom. If people don’t know they exist, how will you sell your products or services?

Financing

You need to start thinking how you are going to be able to fund your business, and get to know how to do your tax benefits?

Research

Before creating your business remember to research, some businesses can be slowed down as the preparation is not done to high standards, unexpected effects are sure to come up, so make sure you check things out.

These points are a simple guide to help you make the successful leap to entrepreneurship and owning your own successful business.

Small Business Marketing Ideas

Small Business Marketing GloucesterHere are a few Small Business Marketing Ideas. As a small business owner you may not have the resources of a large brand. However you can still make a strong impact with targeted and creative ideas that will both help you to get your business in front of new potential clients / customers and engage the customers you already have.

Here are a few marketing ideas to help you re-think and open the potential power of your marketing efforts.

Optimize Your Online Presence

If you already have a website and start thinking about ways to optimize it. Your website should be more than a simple couple of pages displaying your telephone number and location. It has the potential and should be the most powerful of your marketing tools. The best websites are those that offer real content… Consider starting a regularly updated blog that offers both updates about your business and other interesting content, such as industry news, ideas observations. This will help you establish a unique point-of-view and further clarifying your brand. Additionally, invite readers to sign up for your email distribution / newsletter or to follow you on social media. Finally, be sure your site is mobile friendly as more and more people are accessing the web via mobile devices and Google has now made this a important requirement.

Be Social

Most businesses now have at the very least a Facebook or Twitter account, but why not expand to Instagram, Pinterest or Google+ to reach a new customer base and further show your creativity and vision? A Google+ page can be highly effective for your local business as it enables special local features on Google search. You can also use these profiles to become active in social communities that are relevant to your service or product.

Build Relationships

Think about what makes your business effective i.e. the opportunity to form close, meaningful relationships with your customers. Small businesses are not stuck behind the layers of professional firewalls. Create a voice for your marketing that is personable and unique, and use that presence to build your online relationships through an email newsletter and strong social media. Start a loyalty program that gives preference to repeat customers, and consider a referral program that honours customers who tell their friends about you.

Think Local

Mobilising your community is still one of the best ways to create buzz. Collaborate with other local non direct competitors to cross-promote or to pair your services as part of local packages. Once you get to know the rhythms of your neighborhood, you’ll be able to craft your brand to more directly meet the needs of the people you’re serving and be able to meet your customers with your marketing message. You will demonstrate a real commitment to making your business integral to the growth of your neighborhood.

Food for Thought

These are just a few small business marketing ideas and tools that can be simple, effective and will help you extend your reach. With a bit of creativity and hard work you can attain the same results as a big marketing firm even without the big resources.

Video Marketing for the Small Business

Video Marketing for the Small BusinessAlready identified as the major marketing tool of the future, short videos are fast becoming the must have item in order to acquire new customers and generate massive interest in your product and company.

Don’t make the mistake that a lot of older marketing managers though, this is not a TV commercial requiring a fortune to be spent on recording equipment lighting and editing software, your smart-phone is really all the equipment that you need to make a short clip for posting.

Do I really Need To?

According to Cisco By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic.  So, yes you should aim to have something for consumers to easily digest in video format – with the hope that this will be shared and re shared quickly across the net.

Target Audience

You need to think about  your target audience, making sure that what you produce is right for them. You could try the clip out on the correct demographic in house before you publish. Check out the Vine App on Twitter – only 6 seconds but great for a quick expose of a key product or service.  Putting together something that simply gets your brand out there is a huge opportunity to acquire more customers and with the potential views you will struggle to find anything with similar impact. According to Statistic Brain You Tube has 900,000 000 unique visits every month! According to a recent post by Mashable, Snapchat users are watching 10 billion videos a day

Promoting Your Clip

Maximise your use of social media and make sure that your clip is perfect to view on a smart phone mobile friendly as according to Wired people spend ‘insane amounts of time’ watching video on their phones.

So, make yourself an engaging marketing video today!

 

Marketing for the Small Screen – Being Mobile Responsive

Marketing for the Small Screen – Being Mobile Responsive

Mobile Responsive Website Design GloucesterWho waits these days to be sitting at home in front of a screen to spend money on anything when you can buy it, book it, watch it or research it all whilst walking around or sitting on the bus/train simply by using your smartphone?

Every business with any sort of online presence now needs to make sure that its website not only functions but still looks great on a phone sized screen.

In ecommerce news last year, online buying figures announced in Europe indicated that 12% of all online purchases came about via mobiles and that was expected to soar.

Customer Care

Whether customers are trying to find your opening hours, directions to your premises or looking for an online shop you need to ensure a fast response and quick loading time – people on the move won’t wait for slow or unresponsive sites. Not only will slow loading cause customers to look elsewhere, research has shown that they are unlikely to return so it needs to be right first time!

Tablets Too!

Of course these days it is not only phones that are mobile – tablet sales have overtaken laptops so your site needs to sit well, look great and function perfectly on a number of screen sizes from 3.1” to over 10” with varying resolutions.

Just a Few Clicks

Don’t just create a smaller version of your main website either. Think about what people on the move might be looking for – bear in mind that they will be willing to spend less time to find things so a simplified version of your main site with content that can be saved or downloaded and perhaps a callback feature may be more desirable. Beautiful high resolution images, Flash content and slow to load videos need to be scaled back or removed completely. Keep the options down to just a few clicks.

Links

Magpie image Ltd offers a complete Mobile Responsive service click HERE for more information, or contact us to discuss your specific needs.

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