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Your operations


Your commercialism direction also needs to plan your fighting capabilities and any planned improvements. There are confident areas you should immersion on.


Activity

  • Do you make any activity dimension?
  • What are your long-term commitments to the object?
  • Do you own or proceeds it?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of your topical activity?

Producing your goods and services

  • Do you require your own creation facilities or would it be cheaper to outsource any manufacturing processes?
  • If you do jazz your own facilities, how neo are they?
  • What is the susceptibleness compared with existing and forecasted status?
  • Testament any assets be needed?
  • Who present be your suppliers?

Management-information systems

  • Bonk you got legitimate procedures for stem suppress, direction accounts and property suppress?
  • Can they contend with any proposed treatment?

For many substance, see our guides on reputation standard and wares and financial and management accounts: the principle.


Entropy study

  • IT is a key integer in most businesses, so include your strengths and weaknesses in this atlantic.
  • Adumbrate the reliability and the proposed exercise of your systems.
  • For more collection, see our handbook providing an overview of IT and e-commerce.

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Your team's skills


Your playing system needs to set out your own scenery and skills and the toy and key skills of both your management team and your staff. It should key the strengths in your team and your plans to plenty with any palpable weaknesses.


The direction squad
If you're hunting for external resource, your direction aggroup can be a resolute broker. Explain who is concerned, their part and how it fits into the system. Include a CV or paragraph on apiece singular, outlining their noise, related live and qualifications. Include any advisers you mightiness hump specified as accountants or lawyers.


If you're search to fulfill your camber manager or different investors, you condition to sustain that your direction squad has the far equilibrium of skills, force and undergo to enable your acting to succeed. Key skills countenance income, marketing and financial management as rise as production, operative and mart experience.


Your investors give also want to be convinced that you and your team are full sworn. Hence it's a discriminating idea to set out how some minute and money each organism testament conduce - or has already contributed - to the byplay and the salaries and benefits you counseling to attraction. You can feat much pragmatic tips in our draw on how to use your enterprise counseling to get backing.


Your group
Allot details of your personnel in status of amount drawing and by department. Shift out what succeed you direction to do internally and if you arrangement to outsource any transmute. Another expedient figures strength be income or advantage per employee, statistic salaries, employee module rates and fecundity.


Your design should also bounds any accomplishment or activity plans, including timescales and costs.


It's alive to be veridical most the earnestness and need of your fill and shift out any plans to improve or maintain staff disposition.
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Marketing and sales


This concept should expound the specific activities you designate to use to further and trade your products and services. It's oft the anaemic instruction in enterprise plans so it's worth spending instant on it to eliminate sure it's both real and possible.


A vehement income and marketing area implementation you eff a luculent design of how you give get your products and services to mart.


Your guidance present pauperization to provide answers to these questions:


How do you program to part your set or force in the activity square? For further entropy, see our run on how to create your marketing strategy.
Who are your customers? Allow information of customers who soul shown an diversion in your product or activity and explicate how you organization to go around attracting new customers. See our direct: pair your customers' needs.
What is your pricing contract? How more module you burden for contrastive client segments, quantities, etc? See our enchiridion on how to price your production or delivery.
How will you raise your creation or bringing? Name your sales knowledge methods, eg candid marketing, advertising, PR, telecommunicate, e-sales, party marketing. See our guide on sales & marketing: the bedrock.
How module you achieve your customers? What channels leave you use? Which partners instrument be requisite in your distribution channels? See our guide on how to accomplish your customers effectively.
How give you do your commerce? Do you someone a sales thought? Someone you advised which sales method instrument be the most utile and most fit for your activity, specified as commerce by sound, over the net, face-to-face or finished retail outlets? Are your proposed income methods consonant with your marketing organisation? And do you hump the good skills to untroubled the income you demand? See our orientate on the sales outgrowth.
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Your markets and competitors


In this separate you should delineate your marketplace, your point in it and outline who your competitors are. In organisation to do this you should concern to any activity search you human carried out. You penury to demonstrate that you're full sensible of the outlet you're provision to control in and that you understand any heavy trends and drivers.


You should also be able to pretence that your playing module be healthy to force customers in a development marketplace despite the contention.


Key areas to fire permit:
your industry - its filler, historical accumulation active its evolution and key live issues
your target client wrong - who they are and how you undergo they faculty be fascinated in your products or services
your competitors - who they are, how they work and the apportion of the mart they make
the approaching - anticipated changes in the mart and how you judge your playacting and your competitors to act to them
For further substance, see our guides on mart research and mart reports and how to interpret your competitors.


It is consequential to fuck your competitors' strengths and weaknesses as compared to your own - and it is benevolent preparation to do a competitor reasoning of each one. Retrieve that the activity is not disturbance - your customers' needs and your competitors can vary. So, as cured as display the competitor analyses you soul undertaken, you should also substantiate that you somebody advised and tired up happening plans to inform alternative scenarios.
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its products and services plan


You staleness be competent to understandably exposit what your byplay does, whether you are penning the enterprise counsel for your own purposes or if you want another people to render funds through investments or loans.


This leave of the design sets out your sensation for your new line and includes who you are, what you do, what you feature to render and the market you poverty to address.


Line with an overview of your playing:


when you started or mean to commencement trading and the procession and finance you tally made to engagement
the write of line and the sector it is in
any germane history - for admonition, if you acquired the business, who owned it originally and what they achieved with it
the modern statutory toy
your modality for the coming
Then exposit your products or services as simply as contingent, defining:


what makes it diametric
what benefits it offers
why customers would buy it from you instead of your competitors
how you program to grow your products or services
whether you confinement any patents, merchandise businessman or system standardization
the key features and success factors of your industry or sector
Recall that the person representation the guidance may not understand your concern and its products, services or processes as asymptomatic as you do, so try to abstain patois. It's a smashing melody to get someone who isn't participating in the byplay - a christian or stemma member perhaps - to indicate this conception of your plan and make reliable they can read it.
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How To Prepare a Business Plan


The administrator unofficial is ofttimes the most strategic component of your activity intend. Positioned at the frontmost of the papers, it is the initial move to be indicate. Yet, as a summary it makes sense to create it measure.


It may be the exclusive section that instrument be translate. Faced with a huge nap of backing requests, speculate capitalists and banks hold been identified to disjunct line plans into 'couturier considering' and 'discard' piles based on this segment solo.


What is it?
The chief summary is a summary of the key points of your entire drawing. It should countenance highlights from each cut of the place of the writing - from the key features of the enterprise possibility through to the elements of the financial forecasts.


Its firmness is to explicate the basics of your acting in a way that both informs and interests the order. If, after city the chief summary, an investor or handler understands what the acting is about and is lancinating to copulate writer, it has done its job.


It should be elliptic - no someone than two pages at most - and stimulating. It's sensible to write this area of your arrangement after you human complete the place.


What is it not?
A short statement of the byplay and its products. It's a precis of the whole organization.
An outspread tableland of list. This makes for really lustreless indication. You should insure it shows the highlights of the intend, rather than restating the info the direction contains.
Hype. While the executive summary should energise the client enough to scan the entire contrive, an knowledgeable investor or job being give recognise hype and this faculty subvert the project's quality.
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Your plan should include


Your mercantilism arrangement should furnish details of how you are achievement to ameliorate your line, when you are feat to do it, who's exploit to humor a endeavour and how you gift succeed the assets.


Limpidity on these issues is specially principal if you're looking for business or assets. The activity of edifice your system give also focalise your nous on how your new performing module impoverishment to operate to move it the person adventure of success.


Your organisation should countenance:


An administrator unofficial - this is an overview of the sector you requisite to advantage. It's animated. Galore lenders and investors work judgments nigh your job supported on this part of the organization alone. See the tender in this direct on the chief unofficial.
A shortly statement of the business chance - who you are, what you project to transact or engage, why and to whom. See the author in this direct on your sector, its products and services.
Your marketing and sales strategy - why you cogitate people present buy what you essential to delude and how you direction to delude to them. See the pages in this handbook on your markets and competitors and marketing and income.
Your direction squad and section - your credentials and the group you drawing to fledgling to transmute with you. See the diplomatist in this orient on your aggroup's skills.
Your dealing - your premises, production facilities, your management aggregation systems and IT. See the attender in this orient on your transaction.
Financial forecasts - this segment translates everything you love said in the early sections into drawing. See the tender in this orient on financial forecasts.
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The audience for your business plan


There are numerous benefits to creating and managing a practical commerce mean. Steady if you fitting use it in-house, it can:



  • helpfulness you marker possibility pitfalls before they happen
  • plaything the financial broadside of your enterprise expeditiously
  • focussing your efforts on developing your concern
  • work as a manoeuvre of your success
  • Umpteen fill think of a playing intend as a credit utilised to protected outer funding. This is alpha because potency investors, including banks, may invest in your purpose, utilize with you or impart you money as a result of the strength of your system.



The following grouping or institutions may request to see your acting thought at both travelling:



  • banks
  • external investors - whether this is a friend, a hazard capitalist fixed or a performing patron
  • present providers
  • anyone fascinated in purchasing your commercialism
  • potentiality partners

You should also bear in remember that a commercialism think is a living credit that testament improve you guardian your action and decree on rail and present thence requirement updating and changing as your byplay grows. Disregarding of whether you think to use your counsel internally, or as a writing for outer grouping, it should relieve purchase an neutral and echt countenance at your byplay. Imperfection to do this could link that you and others person impossible expectations of what can be achieved and when.

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free business networking tips and techniques


Business networking tips and techniques 4 networking events and networking websites

Business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method 4 developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions - either face-2-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites.

The shortened term 'networking' can be confused with computer networking/networks, which is different terminology, relating 2 connection and accessibility of multiple computer systems.

A business network of contacts is both a route 2 market 4 u, and a marketing method. Business networking offers a way 2 reach decision-makers which might otherwise be very difficult 2 engage with using conventional advertising methods.

In addition, business networking brings with it the added advantage of recommendation and personal introduction, which are always very helpful 4 developing business opportunities.

Business networking is a way 4 u 2 make the maxim, "It's not what u know, it's who u know.." work 4 u.

The principles and techniques of business networking are mostly common sense. Many of the behavioural principles apply also 2 business and relationships generally, and specifically 2 selling, managing, coaching, facilitating, etc.

(Please note that some spellings in UK-English and US-English may vary, 4 example words like organisation/organization, behaviour/behavior. When using these materials please change the spellings 2 suit ur local situation.)



from 'net work' 2 network - introduc2ry definitions and origins

The word network is defined in the Ox4d English Dictionary (2005 revised edition) as: "Network (noun) 1 An arrangement of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines... 2 A group or system of interconnected people or things... (verb) 1 Connect or operate with a network... 2 (often as noun networking) Interact with others 2 exchange in4mation and develop professional or social contacts.

Interestingly, the first definition above referring 2 a more general sense of a network, as might be used 4 a network of railways or a canal system, reminds that a network consists of connecting lines which run in different directions. Crucially a network - especially a business network - ceases 2 be a network if there are no connecting lines. Creating and maintaining good lines of communications, in all directions, is as important as developing contacts. We could say instead that there is really no point developing contacts unless good lines of communications are established and maintained.

The OED defines a networker as "...1 A person who operates from home or an external office via a computer network... 2 A person who uses a network of professional or social contacts 2 further their career."

The first networker definition here originally referred 2 the use of a computer network, whereas nowadays the notion of working from home or elsewhere remotely has merged significantly with the more modern meaning of networking, in the sense of contacts and communications. The point is that while a computer is probably significant in most 4ms of home or remote working, what matters most these days is the networking itself (communications and relationships), rather than there being a specific dependence on a computer network.

The 1922 OED explains that network entered the English language by 1560, simply from the words 'net work', which referred 2 the act or process of fabricating a net from threads or wires.

These separated root words, 'net work', are very apt 2day. 'Net Work' remind us of the vital aspects of modern successful networking, by which ideally:

we work (apply thought, commitment, ef4t)
2 create, grow, use, assist and enable
our own net (network) of contacts.
A good network is created, and networking succeeds, by the application of hard work.

A network without the work produces nothing worthwhile.

Further useful points can be drawn from, and are explained in the more detailed origins and definitions of network and networking, which appear below in the summary of this article.



business networking - quick tips summary

Here are ten of the most important principles 4 effective business networking. More details are linked from each tip 2 bigger explanations below.

Consider that all sorts of professional people outside of the business community can also be very helpful networking contacts - 4 example, scientists, lecturers, educa2rs, councillors, etc. When developing ur networking plans, think beyond the people u'd typically see at other business networking events. Some of the most important connections are not business people, and consequently u need 2 be creative in reaching them. The examples of networking situations/methods below provides help with this later.

These tips apply broadly 2 any sort of business networking - face-2-face, organized events, business social networking websites, etc:

ten essential principles

1. Eleva2r speech. Describe urself concisely and impressively.
2. Be different. Differentiate urself. Aim high. Be best at something.
3. Help others. Help others and u will be helped.
4. Personal integrity. Integrity, trust and reputation are vital 4 networking.
5. Relevant targeting. Groups and contacts relevant 2 ur aims and capabilities.
6. Plans and aims. Plan ur networking - and know what u want.
7. Follow up. Following up meetings and referrals makes things happen.
8. Be positive. Be a positive influence on everyone and everything.
9. Sustained focused ef4t. Be focused - and ever-ready.
10. Life balance. Being balanced and grounded builds assurance.


1. describe urself - eleva2r speech

Use these principles also in text-based descriptions 4 the web and printed materials, etc.

This is commonly called an 'eleva2r speech' or 'eleva2r pitch' - as if u were 2 meet a potentially important contact 4 the first time in an eleva2r at a conference and he/she asks u: "What do u do?" u have no more than 20 seconds - perhaps just 10-15 seconds - between floors 2 explain, and 2 make such an impressive impact that the person asks 4 ur contact details.

If u talk (or write) 2o much, the listener (or reader) will become bored, or think u are rude or 2o self-centred.

Be concise. u will demonstrate consideration and expertise by conveying ur most relevant points in as short a time as possible.

Here are the main points 4 creating ur eleva2r speech:

1. ur name "My name is..." Look the other person in the eye. Smile. Shoulders back. Speak with confidence. Sincerity and passion are crucial in making a strong early impression.
2. ur business name "I work 4..." or "My business is ..." Loud clear proud again. Do not ask "Have u heard of us..?" or wait 4 recognition.
3. based and covering where "I am based..." and "I cover..." Adapt the 2wn, city, geography 4 the situation. There is little value in mentioning a tiny village if u are at a global gathering, or ur global coverage if u are at a local 2wn gathering. Make this relevant 2 the situation.
4. ur personal specialism and/or offering, and ur aims Be different and special and better in some way from ur competi2rs. Be meaningful 4 the event or situation or group, and as far as u can guess, be meaningful 4 the contact. Express what u offer in terms of positive outcomes 4 those u help or supply, rather than focusing on technical details from ur own viewpoint. Load ur statements here with special benefits or qualities. Be positive, proud and ambitious in ur thinking and expression of what u do. Include in this statement what ur aims are, 2 show u have ambition and that u know what u are seeking from network contacts.


Depending on the situation, aim 2 complete ur explanation in less than 20 seconds.

Less is more: lots of powerful points in very few words make a much bigger impact than a lengthy statement.

It is a sign of a good mind if u can convey a lot of relevant impressive in4mation in a very short time.

Conversely, a long rambling statement shows a lack of preparation, professionalism and experience.

N.B. In some situations ur speech may flow smoother by inverting points 3 and 4, or combining them. If ur organizational structure is complex do not attempt 2 explain it. The other person is not interested in this level of detail now - they just need 2 know where u operate, and an indication of scale.

While u are speaking look the other person in the eyes, and be aware of his/her body language 2 gauge 4 interest and reaction 2 u personally, and 2 help ur assessment of the other person's character and mood.

After ur 'eleva2r speech' end in a firm, positive, constructive way.

Ending with a question enables more 2 happen than letting the discussion tail off nowhere or in2 polite small-talk.

Depending on the situation and visible reaction (again see body language 4 clues of interest) u can end in various ways, 4 example:

"What's ur interest here/at this event?"

"What are u most wanting 2 get out of this event/ur visit here?", or obviously if u've not already asked:

"What do u do?"

If u already know the other person's interests and motives, 4 example ask:

"How would u like 2 improve/change/grow... (various options, 4 example - ur own network, ur own business activities, this sort of event, etc)?"

After giving ur eleva2r speech avoid the temptation 2 4ce ur business card on2 the other person (unless this is the 2ne and expectation of the event), and certainly do not launch a full-blooded sales pitch.

Instead try 2 develop the discussion around what the other person wants 2 do, achieve, change, grow, etc.

And be on ur guard 4 interruptions and sudden opportunities:

Many highly competent business people have a habit of interrupting and cutting short discussions when they see an opportunity.

This means u may not always finish ur eleva2r speech, in which case allow the discussion 2 progress, rather than try 2 complete what u planned 2 say.

Be prepared at any time 2 respond effectively 2 an interruption like, "Okay, I get the picture - now what exactly do u need?.."



2. be different and ambitious

The sales training and marketing sections contain lots of guidance about developing or refining ur offering so that it is strongly differentiated from what is already available in the market-place, whatever ur market-place is.

If there is no special difference between u and other providers, then people have no reason whatsoever 2 choose 2 work with u.

Look again at how u describe ur business offering (or urself as a person) - what's different or special about it (or u) compared with all the others?

If there is no difference, u must find a way 2 create one.

Sometimes this is merely a matter of redefining or placing different emphasis on what u already are and already do.

This difference must be something that plenty of people will find appealing; ideally irresistible. If u are struggling 2 find a difference or market advantage, look at ur competi2rs and talk 2 ur cus2mers, and discover what's missing and what can be dramatically improved out there. There is always at least one thing, usually more - perhaps u can bundle two or three powerful market advantages 2gether.

This difference needs 2 shine out in ur eleva2r speech, and be echoed in ur subsequent discussions whenever initial interest develops 2wards supplying something, or putting a collaborative project 2gether.

Aim high and big when thinking about and expressing urself and ur aims. Be realistic of course, but aim 2 be the best and 2 lead in some way, in whatever specialisms and market-place u operate.

ur aims should also suggest what u are seeking from business networking - otherwise, there's no reason 4 u 2 be networking.

Business networking is not simply finding cus2mers in one-2-one meetings and connections; it's building a strong network, helpful 4 ur aims. Accordingly project urself as a great networker, as well as being a great supplier or specialist.

Business networkers want 2 work with other networkers who aim high, who have great ambitions; people who see what can be, not merely what is; and who strive 4 change and improvement.

These attitudes make things happen.

When u meet like-minded networkers with these attitudes, ur network will grow because they'll see u can make things happen 2o.



3. help others - give be4e u receive

Always prioritise helping and giving 2 others ahead of taking and receiving 4 urself.

u must give in order 2 receive. Be helpful 2 others and u will be helped in return.

Networks of people are highly complex - often it is not possible 2 see exactly how and why they are working 4 u, so u must trust that goodness is rewarded, even if the process is hidden and the effect takes a while.

Use the principle of 'what goes around comes around'.

u could think of this as Karma in business.

A possible explanation of how Karma (or whatever u call it) produces positive outcomes is found in the rule of 'cause and effect', or the scientific law (loosely speaking) that 'every action has an equal reaction'.

Good deeds and helpfulness tend 2 produce positive effects. They are usually remembered and often repaid. The giver builds reputation and trust. Referrals tend 2 result.

Imagine urself having lots of personal connections like this. u become known as a helpful person. Word about u spreads, and ur reputation grows.

People who give are seen 2 have strength 2 give. Followers gravitate 2 strong giving people.

Helping others extends far beyond ur personal specialism or line of work. Networking is about working within a system (of people) enabling relevant high quality introductions and cooperations, which get great results 4 the participants. These enabling capabilities transcend personal specialisms.

Cybernetics provides one interesting and useful way 2 understand how best 2 approach this. In adapting cybernetics 4 business networking, the technique is two-pronged:

interpret (especially what people need and what will help them)
respond (in a way which those involved will find helpful)
At a simpler level, always try 2 ask helpful questions. These typically begin with 'what' and 'how', and address an area of interest 2 the other person, not u.

Open questions (who, what, how, when, etc - also "Tell me about...") give the other person opportunity 2 speak and express their views and feelings:

Ask people:

"How can I help u?"

"What can I do 4 u?"

Closed questions (requiring a yes or no answer, or another single response, 4 example "Is this ur first time here?") do not offer the other person much opportunity 2 talk, although at certain times a good relevant closed question can be vital 4 clarifying things:

"Do u mean X or Y?"

"Do u want 2 do X or would u prefer that I do it?"

The questioning section of the sales training guide contains many useful pointers about effective questioning techniques, from the view of helping others.

Sharon Drew Morgen's Facilitative Methodology, while primarily developed 4 selling, is strongly based on working with systems (of people especially) and includes many excellent ideas and techniques which can be used in business networking and helping others.

The communications concepts of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and TA (Transactional Analysis) also contain useful techniques 4 helping others, and 4 understanding the underpinning psychology.

Be creative and constructive in how u regard others and how u might help them. Being defensive and making assumptions tends 2 limit options and growth.

4 example try 2 see ur competi2rs as potential allies. There is a fine dividing line between the two behaviours, and positioning 2o many people/companies in the competi2r camp can make life unnecessarily difficult. When u talk 2 ur competi2rs u will often surprise urselves at the opportunities 2 work 2gether, in areas (service, terri2ry, sec2r, application, etc) where u do not compete, and even possibly in areas where u do compete. This is particularly so 4 small businesses who can 4m strategic alliances with like-minded competi2rs 2 take a joint-offering 2 a market and compete 4 bigger contracts.



4. keep ur integrity - build trust and reputation

Always keep ur integrity.

Sometimes a situation arises which tempts us 2 do the wrong thing, causing harm or upset that could have been avoided.

Making such a mistake can damage personal integrity.

We are all human; mistakes happen. If u do make a mistake or wrong decision - whether it significantly undermines ur integrity or not - always admit it and apologise.

Failing 2 apologise 4 wrong-doing often damages a person's integrity and reputation far more than the original misjudgment itself.

We only need 2 think of how we view people in high and public authority, notably politicians, when they fail 2 take responsibility and admit their mistakes. Some integrity is lost. Do it a few times and all integrity is lost.

People of low integrity sooner or later find that the only friends they have left are other people of low integrity.

Significantly, integrity is vital 4 trust 2 develop. Trust is simply not possible without integrity.

Building trust is essential 4 growing a strong business network.

Lack of trust prevents successful business networking.

Certain connections are absolutely impossible 2 make until a very high level of trust is established.

Empathy and effective listening greatly assist the process of building trust.

These qualities require u 2 be genuinely interested in others; 2 listen properly, and 2 reflect back meaningfully and helpfully.

Following up (covered below) is also a vital feature of building trust and reputation.

u will probably know a few very solid people who always keep their commitments, and who never make a commitment which they cannot keep. Aim 2 be like this.

Reliability and dependability are highly valued qualities in relationships, especially relationships involving referrals and recommendations, because someone's reputation is at stake.

The words 'reliable' and 'dependable' do not mean that u are always available 2 everyone. These words mean simply that when u say u will do something u will do it.



5. seek relevant groups and connections

Identify and target groups and connections which are relevant 2 ur aims and capabilities.

Relevance can be according 2 several different things, 4 example:

Geography
Size
Sec2r
Social grouping (e.g., ethnic, gender, age, seniority, etc)
Political or religious grouping
Trade or society grouping
Academic or technical grouping
Other common interest (e.g., social enterprise, environmental, Fair Trade, etc)
The more relevant ur targeting of groups and contacts, then more useful ur meetings and referrals will be.

Other professional people can be important networking contacts. Don't limit ur targeting just 2 obvious business people.

Certain non-business professional people can be hugely influential in networks, and greatly trusted because of their neutrality and professional standing - educa2rs and scientists, 4 example. Journalists, surgeons, and magistrates, also. There are many others. It is not easy 2 make connections with these people through conventional business networking, but remember that a network is not only made of business-people, and be awake 2 these non-commercial connections when the chance comes.

If u find that ur networking is producing very low opportunities 4 follow up and referral, try 2 improve ur targeting. Find different groups and methods, in other words.

A true business network is a connected system of people within which referrals and opportunities can be passed through several connections, or circulated 2 all those connected. Networking thus can extend far beyond simply having lots of random one-2-one meetings.

A given number of people who are connected 4 a reason will generally be more productive than the same number of random connections.

So don't go aimlessly after every networking opportunity which comes ur way; instead try 2 find networks which already function well or have the potential 2 do so; and consider and decide which sort of groups and contacts will be most helpful 4 ur aims and capabilities - ideally remembering that u need 2 be able 2 help them, as well as they should be able 2 help u.

Within most networks people tend 2 have a few close and trusted connections. Choose these, ur most trusted and closest associates, very carefully.

Reputations are built according 2 ur chosen contacts, in addition 2 how u urself behave.

The old expression is generally true: "u can tell a man by the company he keeps..." (Or woman of course.)

So focus ur ef4ts on groups and connections of integrity, as well as relevance.

u can identify ur target group criteria in ur networking strategy or plan, explained next.



6. plan ur networking - know what u want - manage it

All projects need managing. Business networking is a project, and so it needs managing. u can use various 2ols 2 manage ur networking.

u must manage ur networking, or it will manage u.

Some people plan with shapes and connections on a big sheet of paper. Others prefer a spreadsheet. Use whatever u find com4table.

Be able 2 plan and moni2r ur networking activities.

It is important 2 know exactly what u want, because u will be asked - very directly by powerful potential contacts - and u will need 2 give a clear answer.

An activity which has no clear planned outcomes is liable 2 be pulled in all sorts of unwanted directions.

As with any project, u will only move 2wards ur aim when u keep focused on that aim.

If u don't know what 2 plan, then probably some research is necessary:

In terms of evaluating and choosing a potential networking group - especially a big online community - investigate the tactics that successful members are using. Ask a leading member 4 pointers. This will help u assess the group's relevance 2 ur needs and strengths.

u will save urself from attending time-wasting events, and registering with time-wasting websites, if u do some research be4e committing valuable time 2 deeper involvement.

A plan is vital because business networking can be a very time-consuming activity.

Have some targets and measurables, and moni2r results.

A structured approach can be especially important 4 very sociable networkers.

Business networking can be a very enjoyable activity, and 4 some people can seem a lot more productive than it actually is, so stay mindful of business results and cost-effectiveness.

Here is a simple example 4 planning and moni2ring networking, which extends the eleva2r speech template above.

Just use the headings as a guide if u prefer 2 work more intuitively, or if u favour a certain type of planning method.

networking planner example

group 1 group 2 group 3
what is my aim?
ideal connections (people) - describing words
group name and type
group profile/sec2r/interests (relevance 2 me)
tactical group notes/tips - what works well?
my eleva2r speech (4 this group)
what I can do 4 these people
what do I want from these people?
diary dates/scheduled tasks
targets/expectations
actuals
time spent
compare with my other marketing activities
Obviously alter the box sizes 2 allow 4 whatever content u want 2 insert.

The framework can be extended 2 manage specific follow-ups.

The example above doesn't necessarily suggest u begin with three groups, or limit ur business networking activities 2 three groups.

A sensible start might be 2 pick one business networking website, and one face-2-face business networking group or event, and see how u do be4e increasing the activity.

As u will see from the sustained focused ef4t point, business networking works best when it is attacked in a concentrated way. If u take on 2o many groups and websites at the same time u will be spread 2o thinly, and find it difficult 2 make an impact in any of them.



7. follow up ur commitments and promises

There are two main reasons 4 the importance of following up:
Networking only produces good results when it is followed up.
Following up with contacts builds trust, reputation, and relationships.
Put negatively, 2 emphasise the points:

Networkers who meet people and never follow up are wasting their time.
Networkers who never follow up will eventually become known as time-wasters.
Follow up is a matter of relevance and commitment: If a contact or referral is not relevant, then say so, which avoids any expectation of follow up.

If there is relevance, follow it up, in whatever way is appropriate 4 the situation.

If u find that u are not wanting 2 follow up meetings and referrals because of lack of relevance then u can re-examine ur group targeting strategy. u might be chasing the wrong groups and connections, and could need 2 redefine these issues.



8. be a positive influence

Be positive. Use positive language. Smile. See the good in people.

Be known as a really positive person. It rubs off on others and people will warm 2 u 4 being so.

Keep ur emotional criticisms of others and personal hang-ups 2 urself.

Speak ill of no-one.

Be passionate and enthusiastic, but not emotional or subjective.

Avoid personalising situations. Remain objective.

Seek feedback and criticism about urself and ur ideas from others. It is the most valuable market research u can obtain - and it's 2tally free.

Be 2lerant. Be patient. Be calm and serene - especially when others become agitated.

Followers gather around people who remain positive and calm under pressure, and who resist the herding tendencies of weaker souls.

At many networking events and situations u will have the opportunity 2 give a presentation 2 the assembled group. This is a wonderful chance 4 u 2 demonstrate ur expertise in ur specialist area, ur positive confident character, and also 2 pass on some useful in4mation.

When giving presentations in these circumstances, avoid giving a hard-selling pitch, unless u are sure that such a style is appropriate. Usually it is not. Aim 2 in4m and educate rather than 2 sell. In many networking situations a strong selling presentation is regarded as insulting by those present. This is especially so if u are a guest of a group that u would not normally meet regularly.

u will sell urself best by giving helpful in4mation in a professional and entertaining credible manner.

Be confident, positive and enthusiastic, but do not let this develop in2 pressure on the audience, or a sense of ur trying 2o hard.

Try 2 find and present within ur specialism the most helpful in4mation 4 the group concerned. ur aim at the end of the presentation is 4 the audience 2 have learnt something useful about ur area as it applies 2 them, and 2 have been impressed with ur professionalism and command of ur subject.



9. apply sustained focused ef4t

Business networking is a 4m of marketing.

All 4ms of marketing benefit from strongly focused activity, which is necessary first:

2 create awareness, and then
2 build relationships 2 the point when a sale can be made.
A given amount of ef4t will produce much greater results when applied consistently in a strongly focused way, than the same amount of ef4t spread over several wider activities, especially if spread over time 2o.

This especially applies 2 business networking websites, where occasional light involvement has little impact, but focused continuous ef4ts can achieve a visible profile and build very many connections.

The same principle applies 2 local networking clubs, where occasional participation rarely penetrates the usual inner core of members, but regular enthusiastic involvement inevitably gains attention.

u should also be continuously open 2 unplanned networking opportunities, which can arise at any time. Business people are mostly normal human beings just like u. They have social lives, they travel, go 2 shops, sports events, restaurants, pubs, concerts, etc., and do lots of other things that u do 2o, quite outside of work. Paths can cross in the most unexpected places. u will find and develop connections in these unplanned situations if u:

make eye-contact with people and smile
take the initiative
start conversations
generally adopt an open friendly approach 2 everyone
and always carry a pen and some business cards
Thereafter in all cases - planned and unplanned - much depends on what u offer 2 ur connections - again see help others.

Business networking clubs and websites are full of people with many connections but little of value 2 offer, and they achieve poor results. Good results come instead from being friendly and open, from taking the initiative, from working hard at sustaining genuinely helpful contributions wherever u meet people.

In face-2-face networking clubs there is often a 'clique culture', in which members are defensive or sometimes seemingly arrogant. This often indicates a requirement 2 become known and trusted, which takes time and ef4t. (That said, if there is genuine arrogance, u would be sensible 2 find a different group.)

Business networking, like any other business activity, requires concentrated ef4t 2 produce results.

If u treat networking like an occasional or purely social club it will not produce good business results.

Business networking requires sustained ef4t 2 make things happen.

Sustained focused ef4t does not mean delivering a full-blown sales pitch 2 every person u meet, and plastering ur brochures all around the hotel lobby.

Sustained focused ef4t means working hard 2 become a regular active helpful presence in the group.

Build relationships first, ur reputation next, and referrals and introductions will follow.



10. life balance

A healthy balance in ur life - of work, pleasure, business, social, etc - promotes and gives off a feeling of well-being, which is helpful 4 networking in many ways:

u will be at ease and relaxed, and this transfers 2 others
u will be able 2 engage and respond in lots of ways with lots of people
ur life balance will project confidence, which fosters confidence in others
u will demonstrate that u are in control of urself and ur business
people will buy or refer u as a person - not just ur business specialism
This particularly applies 2 referrals and introductions, in which ur character reflects directly on the person referring or introducing u.

Being a balanced person enables low stress and a feeling of assurance, which are very useful characteristics in business networking situations, and particularly so if u have aspirations 2 become a leading member of any of the networks u aim 2 work with.

Measuring or defining life balance is not easy, but we know it when we see it in others, and we respond 2 it.

Having good life balance contributes directly 2 the level of faith people have in u.

And crucially, life balance gives u the strength 2 absorb problems, 2 care 4 others, and maintain vital qualities like integrity, dependability, compassion and humanity.

Conversely when our life slips out of balance 4 any reason, we have less 2 give. We have lower reserves of enthusiasm, energy, 2lerance, understanding and consideration 4 others - all essential 4 growing and maintaining a successful business network.

This prompts an incidental 'lifestyle' tip - 4 business networking events where alcohol might be available: drink in moderation and keep a reasonably clear head. This is not 2 say that u should reject all local cus2ms where drinking is involved. In many social business events, including many 4eign situations, drinking and eating are a very significant part of relationship-building. Use ur judgment. Alcohol 2 a degree certainly helps many social processes, but taken 2 extremes tends 2 be counter-productive.





networking checklist

What goes around comes around.. humankind can't yet explain this scientifically, but it does seem 2 work. Give 2 receive. Counter-intuitive 2 many people, nevertheless it's the fundamental ethos of business networking. Help others.
Use a helpful approach especially on business networking websites. Think: "What can I contribute 2 this community which people will find truly helpful?" And then work hard 2 extend that help - whatever it is - 2 as many relevant people as possible.
Always keep ur integrity. Nothing destroys networking like lack of trust. Trust is based on knowing that the other person has integrity.
Ask people: "How can I help u?" and "What can I do 4 u?"
Understand and use facilitative questioning. See Buying Facilitation. The techniques use careful questions 2 help people clarify their choices and decisions easier. It's a powerful ethos - applicable widely beyond selling.
Develop a concise and impressive description of who u are and what u do. Aim high. Think Big.
Develop a description of urself and what u do as a written statement, and as a verbal statement (an 'eleva2r speech' or 'eleva2r pitch' - so called because it makes a successful impact in the time u share an eleva2r with someone who asks: "What do u do?").
Develop slightly different descriptions of urself 4 different situations - so that u are as relevant as possible. As u work with these descriptions or 'eleva2r speeches', u will find that a series of mix-and-match phrases take shape. Continue 2 refine and adapt these statements. Get feedback from people, and notice what works best, 4 different situations.
 Be different 2 everyone else - especially ur competi2rs.
Try 2 see all ur competi2rs as potential allies. There is often not much difference - just a frame of mind. This can be very significant if u are spending a lot of time looking over ur shoulder at what ur competi2rs are doing, and not concentrating on building ur own business.
Direct all ur ef4ts 2 growing ur own positive activities, and resist losing valuable energy and time and resources combating or worrying about the apparent successes or advantages of others.
Be positive. Use positive language. Smile. See the good in people. Be known as a really positive person. It rubs off on others and people will warm 2 u 4 being so.
Keep ur emotional criticisms and personal hang-ups about others 2 urself. If u hear someone being negative about another person, u will often wonder, "I wonder if he/she says that sort of thing about me 2o?.."
Some say it's bad Karma 2 speak ill of another. True or not, why risk it? Saying negative things at the expense of another person brings everyone down. This is the opposite of what business networking requires 2 succeed.
Be passionate and enthusiastic, but not emotional and subjective. Avoid personalising situations. Remain objective.
Seek feedback and criticism about urself and ur ideas from others. It is the most valuable market research u can obtain - and it's 2tally free.
Be 2lerant, patient, and calm. Particularly when others are agitated. Followers gather around calm people.
Always carry a pen. Always carry a diary. Always carry ur business cards. (Or modern electronic equivalents of all three..)
Drink less alcohol than everyone else around u, and if u cannot trust urself 2 do this, do not drink alcohol at all.
Keep fit, or get fit, and then keep fit. Success and followers tend 2 gravitate 2wards people who take care of their bodies, as well as their thoughts and actions.
As soon as u can, create or have built a clean and clear website 4 urself or ur business. It is the ultimate universal calling card, brochure, and CV, all rolled in2 one, and perpetually available.
Only promise or offer what u can fully deliver and follow up. Always aim 2 under-promise, and then over-deliver.
Take great care with quick electronic messages (texts, messages, emails, etc) - u will be amazed at how many misunderstandings and breakdowns in relationships occur because a message is wrongly interpreted. Check and read twice everything u send.
Always follow up everything that u say u will do, however small the suggestion.
If u accept a referral or introduction 2 someone always follow it through.
Say "Thank u" 2 people whenever the opportunity arises - especially 2 people who get taken 4 granted a lot.
Be interested in all people. Invest ur time, attention and genuine understanding in them.
Understand what empathy really means, and practice it. Look people in the eyes. Listen with ur eyes. This is about communicating at a deeper empathic level than business folk normally employ. Very many business discussions are superficial - like a game or a set of dance steps; instead make a determined ef4t 2 concentrate and care about the other person. Listen properly.
Find reasons 2 give positive feedback 2 people - give and mean it.
Stand up 4 what's right and protect less strong people from wrong, especially where u see bullying, cruelty, discrimination, meanness, etc. u will hear it everywhere when u step back and out of the crowd.
Networking is about building a wide and relevant network of meaningful contacts - not just having lots of one-2-one meetings. Big strongly connected networks inevitably capture more opportunities than networks with lots of holes and weak connections.
Choose ur most trusted and closest associates very carefully - reputations are built according 2 the company u keep, beyond how u urself behave.
Target groups and connections that are relevant - which fit ur purposes, and u fit theirs.
Don't waste ur time on groups and connections that lack integrity or relevance.
Recommendations reflect powerfully on the recommender, there4e: Recommend only those people u are confident will reflect well on u, and always ensure u reflect brilliantly and memorably on anyone who recommends u.
Seek and take opportunities 2 make a positive difference 2wards a positive aim (of anyone's) wherever u can - even if some of these opportunities are unpaid and unrewarded in conventional terms. u will learn a lot, create new opportunities 4 urself, and develop a reputation 4 producing good results out of nothing. This is a powerful personal characteristic which people find completely irresistible.
Be clear and realistic about what u want when u are asked. Have a plan.
Research the cus2ms and expectations of 4eign cultures be4e networking with 4eign business-people. What is considered normal in ur own part of the world could be quite inappropriate in another.


network and networking definitions - other pointers

As explained in the introduc2ry definitions of network and 'net work' above, definitions can be very helpful in understanding concepts.

This is definitely so in the words network and networker.

network

The Ox4d English Dictionary definition of a (business) network is:

"A group or system of interconnected things or people."

This is significant when we consider networking in its fullest sense - beyond one-2-one meetings or contacts.

The word network first appeared in English around 1560. It meant, not surprisingly, 'a netlike structure', and actually originally referred 2 the process of making a net of some sort.

The meaning of 'a complex collection or system' is first recorded in 1839.

These terms derive originally from the net used by a fisherman.

The bigger and stronger the net, the more fish would be caught.

The same with business networks. (The fish represents ur aims, 4 example sales achieved, or new clients.)

Networking goes beyond one-2-one meetings.

Effective networking involves building a strong well-connected network.

If u only take (or sell), ur network will be weak. If u mainly help and give, ur network will be strong.

2 many this is counter-intuitive, but it works.



networker

The Ox4d English Dictionary definition of a (business) networker is:

"A person who uses a network of professional or social contacts 2 further their career."

The word 'career' in the OED definition is somewhat limiting.

In fact networking has 4 centuries been used in various ways 2 grow business as well as personal careers, and 2 make all sorts of projects happen, regardless of the terminology.

The purpose 2 which the networking ef4ts are directed can be anything.

The principle of networking is finding and building helpful relationships and connections with other people.

Mutual benefit (or mutual gain) is a common feature in successful networking - and this is a powerful underpinning principle 2 remember when building and using ur own networking methods. It is human nature, and certainly a big fac2r in successful networking, 4 an action 2 produce an equal and opposite reaction. Ef4t and reward are closely linked.

The expression - "u scratch my back, and I'll scratch urs.." is another way 2 appreciate the principle of mutual benefit.

So is, 2 an extent, the notion that "It's not what u know; it's who u know.."

The point there is 2 ask urself:

"Why would somebody want 2 know me?"

People may do something 4 nothing 4 someone once or twice, but sooner or later some sort of return is expected, even if not openly stated.

This is the principle of reciprocity.

Reciprocity applies very strongly where recommendation and referrals are involved.

Ask urself:

"Why would someone refer or recommend me?"

This introduces the vital aspects of trust and credibility and integrity.

Would u refer someone u did not trust, 2 a valued contact of urs?

Other people tend not 2 either.

Return or reward does not necessarily have 2 equate precisely 2 the initial gesture. Importantly, reward is whatever makes sense 2 the recipient. 2 some a simple 'Thank u' is adequate. 2 others something more concrete is required. It depends on the situation, the value of the exchange, and the individuals and relationship his2ry.

Business networking is practised by all sorts of people in work and business, especially through organized networking events and online services.

People who use networking can be employees, self-employed, owner-managers - any role, any level, and any specialism.

Networkers can be buyers and/or sellers, not least because most people are potentially both: most of us want 2 'sell' or promote our own interests, and mostly we are all capable of 'buying' or otherwise enabling the interests of others.

Particularly beneficial results can arise from networking when people's interests coincide 2 produce an effect greater than the separate parts. Networking can be a very helpful way 2 find such cooperative and collaborative partnerships - based on mutual interest.

A way of understanding this aspect is through the term synergy.

Synergy is a combined effect that is greater than the sum of the two (or more) individual parts.

Synergy between two providers (even competi2rs) can produce exciting new service propositions, enabling providers 2 work as associates or through more 4mal partnership.

Synergistic connections can there4e be a good way 4 smaller providers 2 compete effectively with much larger suppliers.

Networking connections which produce this effect are valuable and desirable, so look out 4 them, and try 2 build a network which contains these sorts of connections, especially where it strengthens ur market offering.
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free planning for Business and latest marketing simple tips


Free business planning and marketing tips, samples, examples and 2ols - how 2 write a business plan, techniques 4 writing a marketing strategy, strategic business plans and sales plans



Here are tips, examples, techniques, ols and a process 4 writing business plans 2 produce effective results.

This free online guide explains how 2 write a marketing or business strategy, a basic business plan, and a sales plan, using free templates, 2ols and examples, such as SWOT Analysis, PEST Analysis, the 'Ansoff Matrix' and the 'Bos2n Matrix'.

Separately the marketing guide offers more specific explanation and theories and 2ols 4 marketing strategy and marketing planning, including techniques and tips 4 advertising, public relations (PR), press and media publicity, sales enquiry lead generation, advertising copy-writing, internet and website marketing, etc.

The sales training guide offers detailed theories and methods about sales planning and selling, extending 2 cold calling and negotiation skills and techniques, especially relating 2 selling.

Sometimes people use the term business plan when they are referring 2 a project. It may or may not be appropriate 2 use the term 'business planning' 4 a project. Some projects are very substantial and equate 2 an au2nomous (independent) business activity, in which case a business plan is entirely appropriate. Other projects are smaller, perhaps limited 2 internal change or development, and are less likely 2 require a conventional business plan, and are quite adequately planned and managed via project management methods.

Business planning terminology can be confusing because much of it is used very loosely, and can mean different things.

Here is a way 2 understand it better:




business planning terminology..



Terminology in business planning is often used very loosely. When people talk and write about business planning different terms may mean the same thing, and a single term can mean different things.

The term 'business planning' itself covers all sorts of different plans within a business, or potentially within a non-commercial organization.

The words 'strategy' and 'strategic' arise often in the subject of buisness planning, although there is no actual difference between a 'business plan' and a 'strategic business plan'. Every business plan is arguably 'strategic'. Everyone involved in planning arguably adopts a 'strategic' approach.

Most businesses and plans are primarily driven or determined by market needs and aims. This increasingly applies 2 many non-commercial activities (government services, education, health, charities, etc), whose planning processes may also be described as 'business planning', even though such organizations may not be businesses in the way we normally imagine. In such non-commercial organizations, 'business planning' might instead be called 'organizational planning', or 'operational planning', or 'annual planning' or simply 'planning'. Essentially all these terms mean the same, and increasingly the tendency is 4 'business planning' 2 become a generic (general) term 2 refer 2 them.

I should clarify that finance is of course a major and unavoidable aspect of business and organizational activities, but in terms of planning, finance is a limiting or enabling fac2r; finance is a means 2 an end, or a restriction; finance in itself is not a basis 4 growth or strategy. Markets/cus2mers, product/service development, and sales, provide the only true basis 4 businesses 2 define direction, development, growth, etc., and thereby business strategy and planning.

Business planning always starts with or revisits the basic aim or need 2 provide products or services 2 cus2mers - also called a market or 'market-place'. Consequently business plans tend first 2 look outwards, at a market, be4e they look inwards, at finance and production, etc.

This means that most business plans are driven by marketing, since marketing is the function which addresses market opportunity and need, and how 2 fulfil it.

Marketing in this sense is also called 'marketing strategy' - or more broadly 'business strategy'.

In many simple, small, and/or old traditional businesses, 'marketing' is often seen instead 2 be 'sales' or 'selling' (usually because in such businesses selling is the only marketing activity), in which case a 'sales plan' may be the main driver of strategy and the business plan.

Many people use the words 'sales' or 'selling' and 'marketing' 2 mean the same thing - basically selling products or services 2 cus2mers, in the broadest sense. In fact, marketing refers 2 much wider issues than sales and selling. Marketing involves the strategic planning of a business (or other organizational provider) through 2 every aspect of cus2mer engagement, including market reserach, product development, branding, advertising and promotion, methods of selling, cus2mer service, and extending 2 the acquisition or development of new businesses. Sales or selling is an activity within marketing, referring 2 the methods and processes of communicating and agreeing and completing the transaction (sale) with the cus2mer.

Given all this, it is hopefully easier 2 understand why, depending on a person's role or standpoint or the department in which they work, 'business planning' may be referrred 2 in many and various ways, 4 example as 'sales planning', 'marketing planning', 'strategic planning', etc., and that all these terms might mean slightly different things, according 2 the situation.

If there is a technically correct definition of 'business planning', then perhaps we can best say that 'business planning' refers 2 the plan of the overall organization, or 2 a unit or division within an organization with responsibility 4 a trade or profit. A business plan technically contains and reflects the individual plans 4 the different functions within the whole operation, each of which may have its own detailed 'business plans', which might be called business plans, or more correctly departmental or functional plans according 2 their purpose, such as a marketing plan, sales plan, production plan, financial plan, etc.

Additional help regarding terminology is offered by the business planning definitions below. Other definitions and explanations are offered in the business glossary, and in the shorter glossaries of the sales and marketing sections.

Terminology will be further explained 2 clarify meaning and avoid confusion throughout this article.



Introduction

Approached correctly, writing business plans and marketing strategy is usually simpler than first seems.

Business planning may seem complex and daunting but mostly it is common sense.

Marketing strategy - which often drives the aims and 'shape' of a business plan - is mostly common sense 2o.

Business plans, and the strategy which drives them, are based on logic, or cause and effect:

"I want 2 achieve a certain result - so what will cause this 2 happen?"

Even the biggest business plan is effectly built on a collection of lots of causes and effects.

A written business plan provides the narrative (explanation) of the numbers contained in a spreadsheet.

A 4mat or template 4 the written business plan, including numbers as required, is given below.

When we see lots of numbers in a computer spreadsheet we can 4get this, but the numbers are merely a reflection of scale and detail, and of computerised calculations and modelling, etc.

In fact often when we are confronted with a complex planning spreadsheet containing thousands of numbers, what we are actually being offered is a ready-made planning 2ol. In many cases, where business planning is a continuation of an ongoing situation, the most frightening spreadsheets can provide a very easy template 4 future plans, especially with a little help from a colleague in the acciounts department who understands how it all works.

Ironically, a blank sheet of paper - in other words a 'new business start-up' - is usually a much more challenging starting point.

It is generally more difficult 2 write a business plan 4 a start-up business (a new business) than 4 an existing business.

This is because an existing business usually has computerised records of the results of past activities and trading (usually called 'accounts'). Spreadsheets are usually available showing previous years plans and actual results, which can be used as a template on which new plans can easily be overlaid. Writing a new business plan 4 the continuation or development of such an existing situation obviously enables much of the planning 2 be based on existing figures, ratios, statistics, etc.

New business start-up situations by their nature tend 2 have no previous results, so we often refer 2 this sort of planning as 'starting with a blank sheet of paper'.

New business start-ups - especially if you are the owner or entrepreneur - present bigger planning challenges in some respects because we have no previous records 2 act as a guide, but in other respects they offer wonderful opportunities 2 create genuinely innovative and exciting founding principles - ur own new business philosophy - on which ur plans can be built and developed.

On this page there is specific guidance 4 business start-up situations. See the simple business start-up principles.

Depending on the constraints applying in the planning 4 existing continuous business activities, the principles are very similar 4 start-up and existing business planning. It's essentially cause-and effect, and using the computer 2 calculate the numbers.

See the free business plan and marketing plan sample/template.

A slightly more detailed version is on the quick business/operational plan page. , and begins with

2 explore personal direction and change (4 example 4 early planning of self-employment or new business start-up) see the passion-2-profit exercise and template on the teambuilding exercises page.

See also the simple notes about starting ur own business, which 2 an extent also apply when you are starting a new business initiative or development inside another organisation as a new business development manager, or a similar role.

Here's a free profit and loss account spreadsheet template 2ol (xls) 4 incorporating these fac2rs and financials in2 a more 4mal phased business trading plan, which also serves as a business 4ecasting and reporting 2ol 2o.

Adapt it 2 suit ur purposes. This plan example is also available as a PDF, see the Profit and Loss Account (P&L) Small Enterprise Business Plan Example (PDF). The numbers could be anything: ten times less, ten times more, a hundred times more - the principle is the same.

2wards the end of this article there is also a simple template/framework 4 a feasibility study or justification report, such as might be required 2 win funding, authorisation or approval 4 starting a project, or the continuation of a project or group, in a commercial or voluntary situation.

If you are starting a new business you might also find the tips and in4mation about buying a franchise business 2 be helpful, since they cover many basic points about choice of business activity and early planning.



(Note: Some UK-English and US-English spellings differ, 4 example organisation/organization, colour/color. If using these materials please adapt the spellings 2 suit ur situation.)



How 2 write strategic marketing plans, business plans and sales plans

People use various terms referring 2 the business planning process - business plans, business strategy, marketing strategy, strategic business planning, sales planning - they all cover the same basic principles. When faced with business planning or strategy development task it's important 2 clarify exactly what is required: clarify what needs 2 be done rather than assume the aim from the description given 2 it - terms are confused and mean different things 2 different people. You'll see from the definitions below how flexible these business planning terms are.



Business planning definitions

a plan - a statement of intent - a calculated intention 2 organize ef4t and resource 2 achieve an outcome - in this context a plan is in written 4m, comprising explanation, justification and relevant numerical and financial statistical data. In a business context a plan's numerical data - costs and revenues - are normally scheduled over at least one trading year, broken down weekly, monthly quarterly and cumulatively.

a business - an activity or entity, irrespective of size and au2nomy, which is engaged in an activity, normally the provision of products and/or services, 2 produce commercial gain, extending 2 non-commercial organizations whose aim may or may not be profit (hence why public service sec2r schools and hospitals are in this context referred 2 as 'businesses').

business plan - this is now rightly a very general and flexible term, applicable 2 the planned activities and aims of any entity, individual group or organization where ef4t is being converted in2 results, 4 example: a small company; a large company; a corner shop; a local window-cleaning business; a regional business; a multi-million pound multi-national corporation; a charity; a school; a hospital; a local council; a government agency or department; a joint-venture; a project within a business or department; a business unit, division, or department within another organization or company, a profit centre or cost centre within an an organization or business; the responsibility of a team or group or an individual. The business entity could also be a proposed start-up, a new business development within an existing organization, a new joint-venture, or any new organizational or business project which aims 2 convert action in2 results. The extent 2 which a business plan includes costs and overheads activities and resources (eg., production, research and development, warehouse, s2rage, transport, distribution, wastage, shrinkage, head office, training, bad debts, etc) depends on the needs of the business and the purpose of the plan. Large 'executive-level' business plans there4e look rather like a 'predictive profit and loss account', fully itemised down 2 the 'bot2m line'. Business plans written at business unit or departmental level do not generally include financial data outside the department concerned. Most business plans are in effect sales plans or marketing plans or departmental plans, which 4m the main bias of this guide.

strategy - originally a military term, in a business planning context strategy/strategic means/pertains 2 why and how the plan will work, in relation 2 all fac2rs of influence upon the business entity and activity, particularly including competi2rs (thus the use of a military combative term), cus2mers and demographics, technology and communications.

marketing - believed by many 2 mean the same as advertising or sales promotion, marketing actually means and covers everything from company culture and positioning, through market research, new business/product development, advertising and promotion, PR (public/press relations), and arguably all of the sales functions as well. Marketing is the process by which a business decides what it will sell, 2 whom, when and how, and then does it.

marketing plan - logically a plan which details what a business will sell, 2 whom, when and how, implicitly including the business/marketing strategy. The extent 2 which financial and commercial numerical data is included depends on the needs of the business. The extent 2 which this details the sales plan also depends on the needs of the business.

sales - the transactions between the business and its cus2mers whereby services and/or products are provided in return 4 payment. Sales (sales department/sales team) also describes the activities and resources that enable this process, and sales also describes the revenues that the business derives from the sales activities.

sales plan - a plan describing, quantifying and phased over time, how the the sales will be made and 2 whom. Some organizations interpret this 2 be the same as a business plan or a marketing plan.

business strategy - see 'strategy' - it's the same.

marketing strategy - see 'strategy' - it's the same.

service contract - a 4mal document usually drawn up by the supplier by which the trading arrangement is agreed with the cus2mer. See the section on service contracts and trading agreements.

strategic business plan - see strategy and business plan - it's a business plan with strategic drivers (which actually all business plans should be).

strategic business planning - developing and writing a strategic business plan.

philosophy, values, ethics, vision - these are the fundamentals of business planning, and determine the spirit and integrity of the business or organisation - see the guide 2 how philosophical and ethical fac2rs fit in2 the planning process, and also the principles and materials relating 2 corporate responsibility and ethical leadership.

You can see that many of these terms are interchangeable, so it's important 2 clarify what needs 2 be planned 4 rather than assuming or inferring a meaning from the name given 2 the task. That said, the principles explained here can be applied 2 business plans of all sorts. Business plans are often called different names - especially by senior managers and direc2rs delegating a planning exercise that they do not understand well enough 2 explain. 4 example: sales plans, operational plans, organizational/organisational plans, marketing plans, marketing strategy plans, strategic business plans, department business plans, etc. Typically these names reflect the department doing the planning, despite which, the planning process and content required in the document is broadly similar.

Other useful and relevant business planning definitions are in the business dictionary; the sales and selling glossary; some are also in the financial terms glossary, and more - especially 4 training - are in the business and training acronyms listing, which also provides amusing light relief if this business planning gets a little dry (be warned, the acronyms listings contain some adult content).



When writing a business or operating plan, remember...

A useful first rule of business planning is 2 decide what you are actually trying 2 achieve and always keep this in mind. Write ur aim large as a constant reminder 2 urself, and 2 anyone else involved. Keeping ur central aim visible will help you minimise the distractions and dis2rtions which frequently arise during the planning process.

An increasingly vital and perhaps second rule of business planning is 2 establish a strong ethical philosophy at the outset of ur planning. This provides a vital reference 4 decision-making and strategy from the start. A strong clear ethical code communicates ur values 2 staff, cus2mers, suppliers, and creates a simple consistent basis 4 operations which conventional financials, processes, systems and even people, do not address. It is very difficult 2 introduce ethical principles later in2 an enterprise, especially when planning shifts in2 implementation, and more so if problems arise relating 2 integrity, honesty, corporate responsibility, trust, governance, etc., any of which can have massive impact on relationships and reputation. See corporate social responsibility and ethics and the Psychological Contract.

It is easy 2 address issues of ethics and corporate responsibility when you are the owner of a new enterprise. It is more difficult if you are a manager in someone else's company or a large corporation. Nevertheless ethics and corporate responsibility are highly significant in planning, and strong justification 4 their proper consideration can now be made. There are now plenty of recent examples of corporations - indeed entire national economies and governments - which have failed because of poor regard 2 ethical considerations. The world is changing and learning, slowly, but it is, and anyone ignoring ethics in planning 2day does so at their own peril.

A third crucial requirement 4 business plans is return on investment, or 4 public services and non-profit organisations: effective use of investment and resources, which is beyond simple 'cost control'.

4 the vast majority of organisations, whether companies, public services, not-4-profit trusts and charities, all organisations need 2 be financially effective in what they do, otherwise they will cease 2 function.

Ultimately - whatever the organisation and aims - financial viability is necessary 2 sustain any organised activity.

While it's essential 2 manage ethical and socially responsible aspects of organisational aims, these must allow 4 adequate return on investment (or in less traditional and 'non-profit' enterprises, must allow 4 the effective use of investment and resources, according 2 the financial requirements of the particular organisation).

Remembering the need 4 financial viability is vital also because business planning is often done - rightly - 2 achieve something new and special. This tends 2 focus thinking on creativity, innovation, ambition, quality, excellence, perhaps even social good, etc., which can easily distract planning away from the basic need 2 be financially viable - and crucially not 2 make a loss. By treating return on investment as a vital requirement of planning we increase the likelihood that plans will be viable and there4e sustainable.

Return on investment is however a variable feature of business planning. It is flexible according 2 the type of enterprise, its main purpose and philosophy.

In a conventional profit-driven corporation return on investment (at an optimal rate) is typically a strong strategic driver 4 local planning and decisions, and by implication also a basic requirement of the enterprise as a whole. On the other hand, in a business or organization less focused on shareholder reward, such as a public services trust or charity, or a social enterprise or cooperative, return on investment (at a relatively lower rate), may be a requirement simply 2 sustain viable operations, according 2 the aims of the enterprise. In the first example, return on investment is the aim; in the second example, return on investment enables some other higher aim 2 be achieved. In more detail:

In a traditional profit-driven corporation, return on investment tends 2 be the main requirement of any business plan and also the main aim or purpose or driver of the plan. In most traditional corporations return on investment tends 2 be at the heart of all activities, since typically the corporation exists 2 maximize the yield (profit and growth effectively) of shareholder funds invested in the business. Planning in traditional corporations at times 4gets this basic obligation, especially when a junior manager is asked 2 'write a business plan' 4 the first time.

In traditional profit-driven corporations, when a new manager starts 2 write a business plan or operational plan 4 the first time (and 4 some experienced managers also, 4 the umpteenth time), the manager wonders: What is the aim? What am I trying 2 achieve? Often when they ask their own manager, the manager has the same doubts. The central aim is usually return on investment.

In businesses or 'non-profit' organisations where shareholder enrichment is not the main purpose, return on investment is less of a driver in business planning, but is nevertheless a crucial requirement. Such enterprises are becoming more popular, and will continue 2 become so, since the collapse of the western economies in 2008, and increasing disillusionment with old-style business thinking. Here return on investment is not the primary driver or objective of the business. Instead the main driver of enterprise may be some other purpose.

An example of 'some other purpose' might be the activities of a social enterprise or cooperative, or maybe an employee ownership company, or perhaps a trust or charity, whose main aim is (rather than the traditional profit generation 4 external/institutional shareholders) perhaps 2 benefit its members/staff, and/or 2 sustain local jobs, and/or 2 benefit the local community, or maybe 2 advance science or learning or health, etc. Here, while return on investment may seem less crucial or appropriate 2 planning and operations, the enterprise must nevertheless remain financially viable, or it ceases 2 be able 2 operate at all.

In such examples, return on investment in business planning is not usually maximized, but must still be treated as an underpinning requirement 2 planning, and flexed according 2 the fundamental aims and financial requirements of the enterprise.

Be4e planning, there4e, it is helpful 2 understand clearly:

What are we actually aiming 2 achieve?
What is our policy/position on corporate social responsibility and ethics, etc - our philosophy?
And what return on investment (or alternative financial per4mance) does our activity/enterprise require - is this a strategic driver in itself, or simply the means by which we maintain our activities in support of our (point 1) aims?
planning - cause and effect..

The basic methodology of business planning is identifying causes and effects, according 2 ur relevant business requirements (financials and ethics) and strategic drivers (what we are actually aiming 2 achieve).

Here a cause is an input or action or resource; an effect is an outcome or result or consequence of some sort.

We want 2 achieve xyz effect (4 example a given return on investment, or a certain sales level or market share, whatever) - so what should we plan 2 cause this 2 happen?

Commonly big cause/effect elements are broken down in2 smaller activities, which also comprise a cause and effect. (The goal planning process and 2ols help explain how this subdivision works - where a big aim is broken down in2 smaller more measurable and achievable parts).

Junior managers have responsibility 4 plans and activities which feed in2 larger departmental plans and activities of senior managers. The plans and activities of senior managers feed in2 the divisional plans of executives and direc2rs. There is a hierarchy or tree structure of cause and effects, all hopefully contributing 2 the overall organizational aim.

In many good businesses a substantial business planning responsibility extends now 2 front line cus2mer-facing staff, and the trend is increasing. In this context, the business plan could be called also be called a marketing plan, or a sales plan - all departmental plans are basically types of business planning:

"What you are going 2 sell 2 whom, when and how you are going 2 sell it, how much contribution (gross profit) the sales will produce, what the marketing and/or selling cost will be, and what will be the return on investment."

Where a department is a 'cost centre' not a 'profit-centre' - providing products or services internally 2 other departments rather than externally 2 cus2mers - then the language and planning elements may alter, but the principles remain the same.

Also, these principles and methods apply 2 very large complex multinational organizations, which tend 2 entail more and different costs, fixed overheads, revenues, and consequently larger planning 4mats; more and bigger spreadsheets, more lines and columns on each, more attention and people working on the numbers, more accountants, and typically - especially at middle-management level and above - more emphasis on cashflow and the balance sheet, alongside basic 'profit and loss' planning.

Carry out ur market research, including understanding ur competi2r activity

'The market' varies according 2 the business or organisation concerned, but every organised activity has a market. Knowing the market enables you 2 assess and value and plan how 2 engage with it. A common failing of business planning or operational planning outside of the 'business' world, is 2 plan in isolation, looking inward, when ideas can seem very positive and reliable because there's no context and nothing 2 compare. Hence research is critical. And this applies 2 any type of organisation - not just 2 businesses. See especially the guidance on marketing as it relates 2 business planning. Planning very much concerns processes. The principles of marketing will explain additionally how 2 put meaning and values in2 what you plan.

ur market research should focus on the in4mation you need, 2 help you 2 4mulate strategy and make business decisions. Market research should be pragmatic and purposeful - a means 2 an end, and not a means in itself. Market in4mation potentially covers a vast range of data, from global macro-trends and statistics, 2 very specific and detailed local or technical in4mation, so it's important 2 decide what is actually relevant and necessary 2 know. Market in4mation about market and industry trends, values, main corporations, market structure, etc, is important 2 know 4 large corporations operating on a national or international basis. This type of research is sometimes called 'secondary', because it is already available, having been researched and published previously. This sort of in4mation is available from the internet, libraries, research companies, trade and national press and publications, professional associations and institutes. This secondary research in4mation normally requires some interpretation or manipulation 4 ur own purposes. However there's no point spending days researching global statistical economic and demographic data if you are developing a strategy 4 a relatively small or local business. Far more useful would be 2 carry out ur own 'primary' research (i.e. original research) about the local target market, buying patterns and preferences, local competi2rs, their prices and service offerings. A lot of useful primary market research can be per4med using cus2mer feed-back, surveys, questionnaires and focus groups (obtaining indica2rs and views through discussion among a few representative people in a controlled discussion situation). This sort of primary research should be tailored exactly 4 ur needs. Primary research requires less manipulation than secondary research, but all types of research need a certain amount of analysis. Be careful when extrapolating or projecting figures 2 avoid magnifying initial mistakes or wrong assumptions. If the starting point is inaccurate the resulting analysis will not be reliable. 4 businesses of any size; small, local, global and everything in between, the main elements you need 2 understand and quantify are:

cus2mer (and potential cus2mer) numbers, profile and mix
cus2mer perceptions, needs, preferences, buying patterns, and trends, by sub-sec2r if necessary
products and services, mix, values and trends
demographic issues and trends (especially if dependent on consumer markets)
future regula2ry and legal effects
prices and values, and cus2mer perceptions in these areas
distribution and routes 2 market
competi2r activities, strengths, weaknesses, products, services, prices, sales methods, etc
Primary research is recommended 4 local and niche services. Keep the subjects simple and the range narrow. If using questionnaires 4mulate questions that give clear yes or no indica2rs (i.e. avoid three and five options in multi-choices which produce lots of uncertain answers) always understand how you will analyse and measure the data produced. Try 2 convert data 2 numerical 4mat and manipulate on a spreadsheet. Use focus groups 4 more detailed work. 4 large research projects consider using a market research organization because they'll probably do it better than you, even though this is likely 2 be more costly. If you use any sort of marketing agency ensure you issue a clear brief, and that ur aims are clearly unders2od. Useful frameworks 4 research are PEST analysis and SWOT analysis.

Establish ur corporate philosophy and the aims of ur business or operation

First establish or confirm the aims of the business, and if you are concerned with a part of a business, establish and validate the aims of ur part of the business. These can be very different depending on the type of business, and particularly who owns it.

Refer 2 and consider issues of ethics and philosophy, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, etc - these are the foundations on which values and missions are built.

Look at the reasons ethics and corporate responsibility are so important. And see also the fundamental organisational planning stages.

Consider the Psychological Contract and the benefits of establishing a natural balance and fairness between all interests (notably staff, cus2mers, the organization).

Traditional business models are not necessarily the best ones. The world is constantly changing, and establishing a new business is a good time 2 challenge preconceptions of fundamental business structure and purpose. A business based on a narrow aim of enriching a few inves2rs while relegating the needs and involvement of everyone else may contain conflicts and tensions at a deep level. There are other innovative business structures which can inherently provide a more natural, cooperative and self-fuelling relationship - especially between employees and the organization, and potentially between cus2mers and the organization 2o.

When you have established or confirmed ur philosophical and ethical position, state the objectives of the business unit you are planning 2 develop - ur short, medium and long term aims - (typically 'short, medium and long' equate 2 1 year, 2-3 years and 3 years plus). In other words, what is the business aiming 2 do over the next one, three and five years?

Bear in mind that you must reliably ensure the success and viability of the business in the short term or the long term is merely an academic issue. Grand visions need solid foundations. All objectives and aims must be prioritised and as far as possible quantified. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.

Define ur 'mission statement'

All businesses need a ‘mission statement'. It announces clearly and succinctly 2 ur staff, shareholders and cus2mers what you are in business 2 do. ur mission statement may build upon a general ‘service charter' relevant 2 ur industry. You can involve staff in defining and refining the business's mission statement, which helps develop a sense of ownership and responsibility. Producing and announcing the mission statement is also an excellent process 4 focusing attention on the business's priorities, and particularly the emphasis on cus2mer service. Whole businesses need a mission statement - departments and smaller business units within a bigger business need them 2o.

Define ur 'product offerings' or 'service offerings' - ur sales propositions

You must understand and define clearly what you are providing 2 ur cus2mers. This description should normally go beyond ur products or services, and critically must include the way you do business, and what business benefits ur cus2mers derive from ur products and services, and from doing business with you. Develop offerings or propositions 4 each main area of ur business activity - sometimes referred 2 as 'revenue streams', or 'business streams' - and/or 4 the sec2r(s) that you serve. Under normal circumstances competitive advantage is increased the more you can offer things that ur competi2rs cannot. Good research will tell you where the opportunities are 2 increase ur competitive advantage in areas that are of prime interest 2 ur target markets. Develop ur service offering 2 emphasise ur strengths, which should normally relate 2 ur business objectives, in turn being influenced by corporate aims and market research. The important process in developing a proposition is translating ur view of these services in2 an offer that means something 2 ur cus2mer. The definition of ur service offer must make sense 2 ur cus2mer in terms that are advantageous and beneficial 2 the cus2mer, not what is technically good, or scientifically sound 2 you. Think about what ur service, and the manner by which you deliver it, means 2 ur cus2mer.

Traditionally, in sales and marketing, this perspective is referred 2 as translating features in2 benefits. The easiest way 2 translate a feature in2 a benefit is 2 add the prompt ‘which means that...'. 4 example, if a strong feature of a business is that it has 24-hour opening, this feature would translate in2 something like: "We're open 24 hours (the feature) which means that you can get what you need when you need it - day or night." (the benefit). Clearly this benefit represents a competitive advantage over other suppliers who only open 9-5.

This principle, although a little old-fashioned 2day, still broadly applies.

The important thing is 2 understand ur services and proposition in terms that ur cus2mer will recognise as being relevant and beneficial 2 them.

Most businesses have a very poor understanding of what their cus2mers value most in the relationship, so ensure you discover this in the research stage, and reflect it in ur stated product or service proposition(s).

Cus2mers invariably value these benefits higher than all others:

Making money
Saving money
Saving time
If ur proposition(s) cannot be seen as leading 2 any of the above then cus2mers will not be very interested in you.

A service-offer or proposition should be an encapsulation of what you do best, that you do better than ur competi2rs (or that they don't do at all); something that fits with ur business objectives, stated in terms that will make ur cus2mers think ‘Yes, that means something 2 me and I think it could be good 4 my business (and there4e good 4 me also as a buyer or sponsor).'

This is the first 'brick in the wall' in the process of business planning, sales planning, marketing planning, and thereafter, direct marketing, and particularly sales lead generation.



Write ur business plan - include sales, costs of sales, gross margins, and if necessary ur business overheads

Business plans come in all shapes and sizes. Pragmatism is essential. Ensure ur plan shows what ur business needs it 2 show. Essentially ur plan is a spreadsheet of numbers with supporting narrative, explaining how the numbers are 2 be achieved. A plan should show all the activities and resources in terms of revenues and costs, which 2gether hopefully produce a profit at the end of the trading year. The level of detail and complexity depends on the size and part of the business that the plan concerns. ur business plan, which deals with all aspects of the resource and management of the business (or ur part of the business), will include many decisions and fac2rs fed in from the marketing process. It will state sales and profitability targets by activity. In a marketing plan there may also be references 2 image and reputation, and 2 public relations. All of these issues require thought and planning if they are 2 result in improvement, and particularly increasing numbers of cus2mers and revenue growth. You would normally describe and provide financial justification 4 the means of achieving these things, 2gether with cus2mer satisfaction improvement. Above all a plan needs 2 be based on actions - cost-effective and profitable cause and effect; inputs required 2 achieved required outputs, analysed, identified and quantified separately wherever necessary 2 be able 2 manage and measure the relevant activities and resources.

Quantify the business you seek from each of ur market sec2rs, segments, products and cus2mer groupings, and allocate investment, resources and activities accordingly

These principles apply 2 a small local business, a department within a business, or a vast whole business. Be4e attending 2 the detail of how 2 achieve ur marketing aims you need 2 quantify clearly what they are. What growth targets does the business have? What cus2mer losses are you projecting? How many new cus2mers do you need, by size and type, by product and service? What sales volumes, revenues and contributions values do you need 4 each business or revenue stream from each sec2r? What is ur product mix, in terms of cus2mer type, size, sec2r, volumes, values, contribution, and distribution channel or route 2 market? What are ur projected selling costs and net contributions per service, product, sec2r? What trends and percentage increase in revenues and contributions, and volumes compared 2 last year are you projecting? How is ur market share per business stream and sec2r changing, and how does this compare with ur overall business aims? What are ur fast-growth high-margin opportunities, and what are ur mature and low-margin services; how are you treating these different opportunities, and anything else in between? You should use a basic spreadsheet 2ol 2 split ur business according 2 the main activities and profit levers. See the simple sales/business planning 2ol example below.

Ansoff product-market growth matrix - strategic 2ol

A useful planning 2ol in respect of markets and products is the matrix developed by Igor Ansoff (H Igor Ansoff, 1918-2002), who is regarded by some as the 'Father of Strategic Management'.

Fully titled the Ansoff Product-Market Growth Matrix, the 2ol was first published in Harvard Business Review, 1957, in Ansoff's paper Strategies 4 Diversification.

The Ansoff product-market matrix helps 2 understand and assess marketing or business development strategy. Any business, or part of a business can choose which strategy 2 employ, or which mix of strategic options 2 use.

This is a fundamentally simple and effective way of looking at strategic development options.


  existing products new products
existing markets market penetration product development
new markets market development diversification
Each of these strategic options holds different opportunities and downsides 4 different organizations, so what is right 4 one business won't necessarily be right 4 another. Think about what option offers the best potential 4 ur own business and market. Think about the strengths of ur business and what type of growth strategy ur strengths will enable most naturally. Generally beware of diversification - this is, by its nature, unknown terri2ry, and carries the highest risk of failure.

Here are the Ansoff strategies in summary:

market penetration - Developing ur sales of existing products 2 ur existing market(s). This is fine if there is plenty of market share 2 be had at the expense of ur competi2rs, or if the market is growing fast and large enough 4 the growth you need. If you already have large market share you need 2 consider whether investing 4 further growth in this area would produce diminishing returns from ur development activity. It could be that you will increase the profit from this activity more by reducing costs than by actively seeking more market share. Strong market share suggests there are likely 2 be better returns from extending the range of products/services that you can offer 2 the market, as in the next option.

product development - Developing or finding new products 2 take 2 ur existing market(s). This is an attractive strategy if you have strong market share in a particular market. Such a strategy can be a suitable reason 4 acquiring another company or product/service capability provided it is relevant 2 ur market and ur distribution route. Developing new products does not mean that you have 2 do this urself (which is normally very expensive and frequently results in simply re-inventing someone else's wheel) - often there are potential manufacturing partners out there who are looking 4 their own distribution partner with the sort of market presence that you already have. However if you already have good market share across a wide range of products 4 ur market, this option may be one that produces diminishing returns on ur growth investment and activities, and instead you may do better 2 seek 2 develop new markets, as in the next strategic option.

market development - Developing new markets 4 ur existing products. New markets can also mean new sub-sec2rs within ur market - it helps 2 stay reasonably close 2 the markets you know and which know you. Moving in2 completely different markets, even if the product/service fit looks good, holds risks because this will be unknown terri2ry 4 you, and almost certainly will involve working through new distribution channels, routes or partners. If you have good market share and good product/service range then moving in2 associated markets or segments is likely 2 be an attractive strategy.

diversification - taking new products in2 new markets. This is high risk - not only do you not know the products, but neither do you know the new market(s), and again this strategic option is likely 2 entail working through new distribution channels and routes 2 market. This sort of activity should generally be regarded as additional and supplementary 2 the core business activity, and should be rolled out carefully through rigorous testing and piloting.

Consider also ur existing products and services themselves in terms of their market development opportunity and profit potential. Some will offer very high margins because they are relatively new, or specialised in some way, perhaps because of special USP's or distribution arrangements. Other products and services may be more mature, with little or no competitive advantage, in which case they will produce lower margins. The Bos2n Matrix is a useful way 2 understand and assess ur different existing product and service opportunities:

Boston matrix model - product/service development

The Bos2n Matrix model (also called the BSG Matrix, Growth-Share Matrix, and variations around these titles) is a 2ol 4 assessing existing and development products in terms of their market potential, and thereby implying strategic action 4 products and services in each of the four categories reflected in the model. The Bos2n Matrix model was devised by Bruce Henderson (1915-92), founder of the Bos2n Consulting Group in the 1960s.

It has been adapted in many ways. A simple version is shown here below.

Like other four-part 2x2 matrix models, the Bos2n Matrix is a very quick and easy method 4 analysis, thinking and decision-making, while being unavoidably limited in its handling of subtlety and detail. Often in business and strategic thinking 2o much detail is unhelpful - instead, clarity and ease of understanding are extremely helpful, especially in communicating ideas 2 teams and groups, in which circumstances the Bos2n Matrix is an excellent aid.

  low market share high market share
growing market problem child (rising) star
mature market dog cash cow
cash cow - The rather crude metaphor is based on the idea of 'milking' the returns from previous investments which established good distribution and market share 4 the product. Products in this quadrant need maintenance and protection activity, 2gether with good cost management, not growth ef4t, because there is little or no additional growth available.

dog - This is any product or service of urs which has low market presence in a mature or stagnant market. There is no point in developing products or services in this quadrant. Many organizations discontinue products/services that they consider fall in2 this category, in which case consider potential impact on overhead cost recovery. Businesses that have been starved or denied development find themselves with a high or entire proportion of their products or services in this quadrant, which is obviously not very funny at all, except 2 the competi2rs.

problem child (also called question marks or wildcats) - These are products which have a big and growing market potential, but existing low market share, normally because they are new products, or the application has not been spotted and acted upon yet. New business development and project management principles are required here 2 ensure that these products' potential can be realised and disasters avoided. This is likely 2 be an area of business that is quite competitive, where the pioneers take the risks in the hope of securing good early distribution arrangements, image, reputation and market share. Gross profit margins are likely 2 be high, but overheads, in the 4m of costs of research, development, advertising, market education, and low economies of scale, are normally high, and can cause initial business development in this area 2 be loss-making until the product moves in2 the rising star category, which is by no means assured - many problem children products remain as such.

rising star - Or 'star' products, are those which have good market share in a strong and growing market. As a product moves in2 this category it is commonly known as a 'rising star'. When a market is strong and still growing, competition is not yet fully established. Demand is strong; saturation or over-supply do not exists, and so pricing is relatively unhindered. This all means that these products produce very good returns and profitability. The market is receptive and educated, which optimizes selling efficiencies and margins. Production and manufacturing overheads are established and costs minimised due 2 high volumes and good economies of scale. These are great products and worthy of continuing investment provided good growth potential continues 2 exist. When it does not these products are likely 2 move down 2 cash cow status, and the company needs 2 have the next rising stars developing from its problem children.

After considering ur business in terms of the Ansoff matrix and Bos2n matrix (which are thinking aids as much as anything else, not a magic solution in themselves), on a more detailed level, and 4 many businesses just as significant as the Ansoff-type-options, what is the significance of ur major accounts - do they offer better opportunity 4 growth and development than ur ordinary business? Do you have a high quality, specialised offering that delivers better business benefit on a large scale as opposed 2 small scale? Are ur selling costs and investment similar 4 large and small contracts? If so you might do better concentrating on developing large major accounts business, rather than taking a sophisticated product or service solution 2 smaller companies which do not appreciate or require it, and cost you just as much 2 sell 2 as a large organization.

Customer matrix

This cus2mer matrix model is used by many companies 2 understand and determine strategies according 2 cus2mer types.

  good products not so good products
good cus2mers develop and find more cus2mers like these - allocate ur best resources 2 these existing cus2mers and 2 prospective cus2mers matching this profile educate and convert these cus2mers 2 good products if beneficial 2 them, failing which, maintain cus2mers via account management
not so good cus2mers invest cautiously 2 develop and improve relationship, failing which, maintain cus2mers via account management assess feasibility of moving these cus2mers left or up, failing which, withdraw from supplying sensitively
Assessing product type is helped by reference 2 the Bos2n matrix model. There is a lot of flexibility as 2 what constitutes 'good' and 'not so good cus2mers' - use ur own criteria. A good way 2 do this is 2 devise ur own grading system using criteria that mean something 2 ur own situation. Typical criteria are: size, location, relationship, credit-rating and payment terms, is the cus2mer growing (or not), the security of the supply contract, the service and support overhead required, etc. This kind of cus2mer profiling 2ol and exercise is often overlooked, but it is a critical aspect of marketing and sales development, and of optimizing sales effectiveness and business development per4mance and profitability. Each quadrant requires a different sales approach. The type of cus2mer also implies the type of sales person who should be responsible 4 managing the relationship. A firm view needs 2 be taken be4e committing expensive field-based sales resources 2 'not so good' cus2mers. Focus prospect development (identifying and contacting new prospective cus2mers) on the profile which appears in the 2p left quadrant. Identify prospective new cus2mers who fit this profile, and allocate ur business development resources (people and advertising) 2 this audience.

Consider also What are ur competi2r weaknesses in terms of sec2rs, geographical terri2ry and products or services, and how might these fac2rs affect ur options? Use the SWOT analysis also 4 assessing each competi2r as well as ur own organization or department.

Many organizations issue a marketing budget from the 2p down (a budget issued by the Centre/HQ/Finance Direc2r), so 2 speak, in which case, what is ur marketing budget and how can you use it 2 produce the best return on investment, and 2 help the company best 2 meet its overall business aims? Use the models described here 2 assess ur best likely returns on marketing investment.

The best way 2 begin 2 model and plan ur marketing is 2 have a record of ur his2rical (say last year's) sales results (including selling and advertising costs if appropriate and available) on a spreadsheet. The level of detail is up 2 you; modern spreadsheets can organize massive amounts of data and make very complex analysis quick easy. Data is vital and will enable you 2 do most of the analysis you need 4 marketing planning. In simple terms you can use last year's results as a basis 4 planning and modelling the next year's sales, and the marketing expenditure and activities required 2 achieve them.

Simple business plan or sales plan 2ols examples

These templates examples help the planning process. Split and analyse ur business or sales according 2 ur main products/services (or revenue streams) according 2 the profit drivers or 'levers' (variables that you can change which affect profit), e.g., quantity or volume, average sales value or price, % gross margin or profit. Add different columns which reflect ur own business profit drivers or levers, and 2 provide the most relevant measures.

  quantity 2tal sales value average value % gross margin 2tal sales or gross margin
product 1  
product 2  
product 3  
product 4  
totals
Do the same 4 each important aspect of ur business, 4 example, split by market sec2r (or segment):

  quantity 2tal sales value average value % gross margin 2tal sales or gross margin
sec2r 1
sec2r 2
sec2r 3
sec2r 4
2tals
And, 4 example, split by distribu2r (or route 2 market):

  quantity 2tal sales value average value % gross margin 2tal sales or gross margin
distribu2r 1  
distribu2r 2  
distribu2r 3  
distribu2r 4  
totals
These simple split analysis 2ols are an extremely effective way 2 plan ur sales and business. Construct a working spreadsheet so that the bot2m-right cell shows the 2tal sales or gross margin, or profit, whatever you need 2 measure, and by changing the figures within the split (altering the mix, average prices, quantities, etc) you can carry out 'what if?' analysis 2 develop the best plans.

If you are a competent working with spreadsheets it is normally possible 2 assemble all of this data on2 a single spreadsheet and then show different analyses by sorting and graphing according 2 different fields.

When you are happy with the overall 2tals 4 the year, convert this in2 a phased monthly plan, with as many lines and columns as you need and are appropriate 4 the business. Develop this spreadsheet by showing inputs as well as sales outputs - the quantifiable activity (4 example, the numbers of enquiries necessary 2 produce the planned sales levels) required 2 produce the planned per4mance. Large businesses need extensive and multiple page spreadsheets. A business plan needs costs as well as sales, and will show profit as well as revenue and gross margin, but the principle is the same: plan the detailed numbers and values of what the business per4mance will be, and what inputs are required 2 achieve it.

Here's a free MSExcel profit and loss account template 2ol 4 incorporating these fac2rs and financials in2 a more 4mal phased business trading plan, which also serves as a business 4ecasting and reporting 2ol 2o. Adapt it 2 suit ur purposes. This plan example is also available as a PDF, see the Profit and Loss Account (P&L) Small Enterprise Business Plan Example (PDF). The numbers could be anything: ten times less, ten times more, a hundred times more - the principle is the same.

Consider also indirect activities that affect sales and business levels, such as cus2mer service. Identify key per4mance indica2rs here 2o, such as cus2mer complaints response and resolution levels and timescales. Internal lead referral schemes, strategic partnership activity; the per4mance of other direct sales activities such as sales agencies, distribu2rships, export activities, licensing, etc. These per4mance fac2rs won't normally appear on a business plan spreadsheet, but a separate plan should be made 4 them, otherwise they won't happen.

Write ur marketing plan or business plan

ur marketing plan is actually a statement, supported by relevant financial data, of how you are going 2 develop ur business. Plans should be based on actions, not masses of his2rical data. The his2rical and market in4mation should be sufficient just 2 explain and justify the opportunities, direction, strategy, and most importantly, the marketing actions, methods and measures - not 2 tell the s2ry of the past 20 years of ur particular industry.

"What you are going 2 sell 2 whom, when and how you are going 2 sell it, how much contribution (gross profit) the sales produce, what the marketing cost will be, and what will be the return on investment."

As stated above it is easiest and best 2 assemble all of this data on2 a spreadsheet, which then allows data 2 be manipulated through the planning process, and then changed and re-projected when the trading year is under way. The spreadsheet then becomes the basis of ur sales and marketing 4ecasting and results reporting 2ol.

As well as sales and marketing data, in most types of businesses it is also useful 2 include measurable aims concerning cus2mer service and satisfaction.

The marketing plan will have costs that relate 2 a marketing budget in the overall business plan. The marketing plan will also have revenue and gross margin/profitability targets that relate 2 the turnover and profitability in the overall business plan. This data is essentially numerical, and so needs also some supporting narrative as 2 how the numbers will be achieved - the actions - but keep the narrative concise; if it extends 2 more than a half-dozen sheets make sure you put a succinct executive summary on the front.

The marketing plan narrative could if appropriate also refer 2 indirect activities such as product development, cus2mer service, quality assurance, training etc., if significantly relevant 2 achieving the marketing plan aims.

Be pragmatic - marketing plans vary enormously depending on the type, size and maturity of business. Above all create a plan that logically shows how the business can best consolidate and grow its successful profitable areas. The marketing plan should be a working and truly useful 2ol - if it is, then it's probably a good one.

Sample business plan, marketing plan or sales plan sample structure and example format/template

Keep the written part of the business plan as concise and brief as possible - most situations and high-ranking executives do not need 2 see plans that are an inch thick. If you can make ur case on a half dozen pages then do so. Particularly if ur plan is more than 5-6 pages long, produce an executive summary (easiest 2 do when you have completed the plan) and insert it at the beginning of the document. If you need 2 include lots of reference material, examples, charts, evidence, etc, show these as appendices at the back of the document and make sure they are numbered and referenced during the main body of the plan. Each new section should start at the 2p of a new page. Number the pages. Important plans should be suitably bound. All business plans should be professionally and neatly presented, with no grammar and spelling errors, clearly laid out in an easy 2 read 4mat (avoid lots of upper-case or fancy fonts or italics as these are all difficult 2 read). ur business plan contents and structure should be as follows:

business plans structure - a business planning template

Title page: Title or heading of the plan and brief description if required, author, date, company/organization if applicable, details of circulation and confidentiality.
Contents page: A list of contents (basically the sections listed here, starting with the Introduction page) showing page numbers, plus a list of appendices or addendums (added reference material at the back of the document) allowing the reader 2 find what they need and navigate the document easily, and 2 refer others 2 particular items and page numbers when reviewing or querying.
Introduction page: Introduction and purpose of the plan, terms of reference if applicable (usually 4 4mal and large plans or projects).
Executive summary page: Optional and usually beneficial, this should normally be no more than a page long (or it's not an executive summary) - the key points of the whole plan including conclusions, recommendations, actions, financial returns on investment, etc., clearly readable in a few minutes.
Main body of plan: sections and headings as required, see template below.
Acknowledgments and bibliography/reference sources: if relevant (only required normally 4 very large 4mal plans)
Appendices: appendices or addendums - additional detailed reference material, examples, statistics, spreadsheets, etc., 4 reference and not central 2 the main presentation of ur plan.
business plans - main body sections examples template

This sample template is typical 4 a sales/marketing/new business development business plan. (A business plan 4 a more complex project such as an international joint-venture, or the 4mation of a new company including manufacturing plant or other overhead activities would need 2 include relevant in4mation and financials about the overheads and resources concerned, and the financials would need 2 show costs and profits more like a fully developed profit and loss account, with cashflow projections, balance sheet, etc.) Where appropriate refer 2 ur position regarding corporate ethics and social responsibility and the Psychological Contract. While these aspects are not mechanisms within the plan, they are crucial reference points.

Define ur market - sec2r(s) and segment(s) definitions
Quantify ur market (overview only) - size, segmentation, relevant statistics, values, numbers (locations, people/users, etc) - make this relevant 2 you business
Explain ur market(s) - sec2r trends, eg., growth, legislation, seasonality, PEST fac2rs where relevant, refer 2 Ansoff matrix, show the strategic business drivers within sec2r and segments, purchasing mechanisms, processes, restrictions - what are the fac2rs that determine cus2mers' priorities and needs - this is a logical place 2 refer 2 ethics and CSR (corporate social responsibility
Explain ur existing business - ur current business according 2 sec2r, products/services, quantities, values, distribu2r, etc.
Analyse ur existing cus2mer spread by cus2mer type, values and products/services including major accounts (the 'Pare2 Principle' or the '80:20 rule' often applies here, eg., 80% of ur business comes from 20% of ur cus2mers)
Explain ur products and services - refer 2 Bos2n matrix and especially ur strategic propositions (what these propositions will do 4 ur cus2mers) including ur USP's and UPB's (see sales training section and acronyms)
Explain you routes 2 market, gatekeepers, influencers and strategic partners - the other organizations/individuals you will work with 2 develop ur market, including 'what's in it 4 them', commissions, endorsements, accreditations, approvals, licenses, etc.
Case studies and track record - the credibility, evidence and proof that ur propositions and strategic partnerships work
Competi2r analysis, eg., SWOT analysis of ur own business compared 2 SWOT analysis of each competi2r
Sales/marketing/business plan (1 year min) showing sales and margins by product/service stream, mix, values, segment, 'distribu2r', etc, whatever is relevant, phased monthly, in as much detail as you need. This should be on a spreadsheet, with as many different sheets as necessary 2 quantify relevant inputs and outputs.
List ur strategic actions (marketing campaigns, sales activities, advertising, etc) that will deliver the above, with costs and returns. This should be supported with a spreadsheet, showing cost and return on investment 4 each activity.
Tip: If the business plan concerns an existing activity, use the previous year's sales/business analysis as the basis 4 the next year's sales/business plan. Adapt as necessary according 2 ur new strategic plans.



other business planning and marketing issues

staffing and training implications

ur people are unlikely 2 have all the skills they need 2 help you implement a marketing plan. You may not have all the people that you need so you have 2 consider justifying and obtaining extra. Cus2mer service is acutely sensitive 2 staffing and training. Are all of ur people aware of the aims of the business, its mission statement and ur sales propositions? Do they know what their responsibilities are? How will you measure their per4mance? Many of these issues feed back in2 the business plan under human resources and training, where budgets need 2 be available 2 support the investment in these areas.

cus2mer service charter

You should 4mulate a cus2mer service charter, extending both ur mission statement and ur service offer, so as 2 in4m staff and cus2mers what ur standards are. These standards can cover quite detailed aspects of ur service, such as how many times the telephone will be permitted 2 ring until the caller is gets an answer. Other issues might include:

How many days between receipt and response 4 written correspondence.
Complaints procedure and timescales 4 each stage.
This charter sets cus2mer expectations, so be sure you can meet them. Cus2mers get disappointed particularly when their expectations are not met, and when so many standards can be set at arbitrary levels, think of each one as a promise that you should keep. Business-2-business cus2mers would expect 2 agree these standards with their suppliers and have them recorded as part of their contracts, or as SLA's (service level agreements). Increasingly, large cus2mers demand SLA's 2 be tailored 2 their own specific needs, and the process of developing these understandings and agreements is absolutely crucial 2 the maintenance and development of large contracts.

Remember an important rule about cus2mer service: It's not so much the failure 2 meet standards that causes major dissatisfaction among cus2mers - everyone can make a mistake - the biggest cause of upset is the failure of suppliers 2 in4m cus2mers and keep them updated when problems arise. Not being 2ld in advance, not receiving any apology, not getting any explanation why, and not hearing what's going 2 be done 2 put things right, are key areas of cus2mer dissatisfaction, and there4e easy areas 4 suppliers 2 focus their ef4ts 2 achieve and communicate improvements.

A special point of note 4 businesses that require a strong technical profile among their service staff: these people are often reactive by nature and so not good at taking initiative 2 identify and anticipate problem areas in cus2mer service. It's there4e helpful 2 establish suitable mechanisms and responsibility 2 pick up problems and deal with them - a kind of trouble-shooting capability - which can be separately managed and moni2red at a strategic level. Do not assume that technically-oriented staff will be capable of proactively developing cus2mer service solutions and revisions 2 SLA's - they generally need help in doing so from staff with high creativity, empathy, communications and initiative capabilities.

establish systems 2 measure cus2mer service and staff per4mance

These standards and the SLA's established 4 large cus2mers need 2 be visible, agreed with cus2mers, absolutely measurable. You must keep measuring ur per4mance against them, and preferably publishing the results, internally and externally. Cus2mer complaints handling is a key element:

Measuring cus2mer complaints is crucial because individual complaints are crucial areas 2 resolve, and also as a whole, complaints serve as a barometer 4 the quality and per4mance of the business. You need 2 have a scheme which encourages, not discourages, cus2mers 2 complain, 2 open the channels as wide as possible. Most businesses are 2o defensive where complaints are concerned, preferring 2 minimise their importance, or 2 seek 2 justify and excuse them. Wrong. Complaints are the opportunities 2 turn ordinary service in2 unbeatable service.

Moreover, time and again surveys suggest that anything up 2 nine out of ten people do not complain 2 the provider when they feel dissatisfied - they just keep their dissatisfaction 2 themselves and the provider never finds out there's a problem, even when the cus2mer chooses 2 go elsewhere. But every complaining cus2mer will tell at least a couple of their friends or relations. Every dissatisfied staff member in the cus2mer organization will tell several of their colleagues. Unreported complaints spawn bad feelings and the breakdown of relationships. It is imperative that you capture all complaints in order 2:

Put at ease and give explanation or reassurance 2 the person complaining.
Reduce the chances of them complaining 2 someone else.
Moni2r exactly how many dissatisfied cus2mers you have and what the causes are, and that's even more important if you're failing 2 deliver ur mission statement or service offer!
Take appropriate corrective action 2 prevent a re-occurrence.
If appropriate (ie 4 large cus2mers) review SLA's and take the opportunity 2 agree new SLA's with the cus2mer.
implications 4 IT, premises, and reporting systems

Also relating 2 ur business plan are the issues of:

In4mation Technology - are ur computers and communications systems capable of giving you the in4mation and analysis you need? How do you use email - is it helping or hindering ur business and the quality of service you give 2 ur cus2mers? What internet presence and processes do you need? How should ur voice and data systems work 2gether? What systems need 2 be available 2 mobile staff? What cus2mer relationship management (CRM) systems should you have? How should you consider all these issues 2 see the needs and opportunities? IT and communications systems increasingly offer marketing and competitive advantage 2 businesses in all sec2rs - make sure you know hat IT can do 4 you and 4 ur cus2mers.

Premises - Review ur premises and sites in light of ur cus2mer service, distribution, and cus2mer relationship requirements. Pay particular attention anywhere in ur organization that ur cus2mers visit - the impression and service you give here is critical.

Reporting systems - If you can't measure it you can't manage it, and where finance and business per4mance is concerned this is certainly true. First you must identify and agree internally ur key per4mance indica2rs (KPI's). Identify every aspect of ur service or per4mance that is important - then you need 2 be able 2 measure it and report on it, and where people are involved in per4ming 2 certain standards then the standards and the reporting needs 2 be transparent 2 them also.

How do you report on sales, marketing and business per4mance and interpret the results? Who needs 2 know? Who needs 2 capture the data?

communications and ongoing cus2mer feedback are essential

Having an open dialogue with ur cus2mers is vital. There's a double benefit 2 ur business in ensuring this happens:

You nip problems in the bud and stay aware of how you're per4ming.
ur cus2mers feel better about the service you provide as a result of the communications, or from the fact that the channel is open even if they don't use it - it's human nature.
Try 2 devise a standard feedback 4m. It can double as a promotional 2ol as well if it's made available on a wider scale. The 4m can carry details of ur mission statement, service offer and ur cus2mer service charter.

Consider carrying out a cus2mer satisfaction and perceptions survey. There are many ways 2 do this on a small or large scale, and valuable feedback is always obtained from cus2mer survey exercises.



tips 4 starting a small business or self-employment - 4 non-financial people

Some of us are not naturally inclined 2wards the sort of detailed financial thinking that is required 4 traditional detailed business planning. If this is you, you'll possess other valuable capabilities that will be useful in ur own enterprise, and you'll maybe find it helpful 2 use this alternative approach 2 planning a new enterprise or self-employment. It can be stressful and counter-productive 2 try 2 use methods that are not natural or com4table.

If you are helping or advising others about starting their own enterprise or self-employment, the same principles apply. Not everyone is naturally good at business planning, but everyone who dreams of being self-employed or who wants 2 start and run their own independent enterprise is capable of doing so, provided they work 2 their strengths, capabilities and passions.

People running successful enterprises come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds, all ages, with skills, passions, and capabilities in any field you can imagine. Anyone can run their own business or be successful in self-employment given the simple determination 2 do so. Business and enterprise is not just 4 stereotypical 'business-types'; the benefits and advantages of being ur own boss are available 2 us all.

Here are some pointers 4 people considering starting their own new enterprise, or 4 helping others 2 do the same.

First, and especially if you are not clear of ur own real strengths, or what direction 2 pursue, focus on using 2ols 2 understanding ur own personality style and strengths. Then use this knowledge 2 imagine and realise how ur natural capabilities can be used 2 best effect in defining and providing ur own services or running ur own enterprise.

The VAK and Multiple Intelligences 2ols on this site are helpful 4 this purpose. They assess people's strengths completely differently 2 traditional IQ or academic evaluations, which are extremely narrow and generally not relevant at all 4 people who want 2 be their own boss.

Understanding personality is also useful since personality-type greatly influences the way that a person approaches self-employment or running an enterprise, and what sort of service or business 2 offer. The Personality Styles page provides a lot of explanation about this.

Many people are conditioned by schools and over-cautious parents 2 under-estimate their own potential and capabilities, which is a big reason 2 take a fresh look at what you are good at, and 2 re-think and understand better the ways that ur personality type tends 2 be successful in life and business.

There are many ways 2 be successful and independent in life aside from building and running a conventional business and adhering 2 conventional financial planning methods.

The basic economics of becoming successfully independent in any sort of venture are actually extremely simple, and focusing on the following simple fundamentals (a process really) can help many folk turn ur dream or an idea in2 a successful enterprise or self-employment reality. It's usually easiest 2 think first of these fac2rs in terms of daily, weekly or monthly numbers and values, and then 2 extend the figures 2 give 2tals 4 a whole year:

1. What's ur product or service? (What's good/special/different about ur products or service that enough people will buy it? And importantly is this something that you have a real passion 4? All successful enterprises are built on doing something the owner enjoys.)

2. What does it cost 2 make/buy in/provide the product or service? (If you are buying and selling products or using materials consider the cost prices. If the main resource is ur own time then attach a cost 2 ur labour that reflects ur available time 4 the work and the wage you need 2 draw. Divide ur required annual wage by the number of work hours available 2 you, and this is ur notional hourly labour cost.)

3. What price will the product/service sell 4? (Ideally small businesses need a healthy profit margin or mark-up - doubling the cost is good if the market will accept it. A mark-up of less than 50% is cause 4 concern unless you are selling products in relatively high volumes or values. Price ur products/services according 2 what the market will pay, not according 2 ur costs. Take in2 account ur competi2rs and what they charge and their relative quality. Service businesses that use only the person's time are often very attractive and profitable because there is no added complication of buying and holding s2ck - hence why window-cleaning, sign-writing, repairs, gardening, decorating, tu2ring, writing, therapy, training, coaching and consultancy, etc., are such good businesses 4 people who prefer a simple approach 2 self-employment and enterprise. Consider the effect of VAT especially 4 'consumer' businesses - ie., selling 2 the general public - assuming ur business is or must be VAT registered. Private consumers of course are more sensitive 2 VAT than business cus2mers who can generally reclaim VAT should you have 2 add it 2 ur prices.)

4. Who will buy the product/service? (Identify ur cus2mers and market. Do you know this 4 sure? Test ur assumptions: this is a critical part of the proposition and generally benefits from more thought and research 2 confirm that a big enough market exists 4 ur idea. Consider ur competition - what are people buying currently and why will they buy from you instead?)

5. How much/many do you need 2 sell in a year? And how many cus2mers do you need? (This is a vital part of the proposition 2 confirm that the gross profit (the difference between costs of bought in products/labour and sales revenues) covers ur/their financial needs (including a living wage and other fixed costs of running the enterprise. Again remember the affect of VAT on ur selling prices if applicable.)

6. How will people know about the service/product? (You need 2 understand what advertising/marketing/enquiry-generation is necessary - activity and cost. There is usually a cost 4 generating new cus2mers, especially in the early stages of a new enterprise. Once the business is established, say after six months 2 a year, 'word-of-mouth' referrals are 4 some businesses all that is required 2 produce new cus2mers - especially those based in a local community, but virtually any new enterprise requires marketing at its launch. See the articles on marketing and selling.)

7. Does all this add up, and better still provide a cash surplus at the end of a year? - if so then it's probably a good business model.

These basic questions represent the typical 'table napkin' business proposition that is the start of most businesses, including very large complex ones. People who dislike and are not fluent in detailed business calculations might find the above process a useful starting point when thinking about how 2 begin a new enterprise or a venture in self-employment.

If this is you, you are not alone: many visionary entrepreneurs can run a huge profitable business but have great difficulty putting 2gether a proper business plan. Hence many highly successful business leaders rely heavily on their financial direc2rs 2 take care of the financial details, leaving them free 2 get on with the business activity that makes best use of their natural skill, be it creativity, selling, service-provision, people-skills, technical skills, or whatever.

Incidentally the above fac2rs are the essential components which make up a basic Profit and Loss Account, which is the primary management 2ol 4 a business of any scale and complexity. Here's a free MSExcel profit and loss account template 2ol 4 extending these fac2rs and financials in2 a more 4mal phased plan, which also serves as a business 4ecasting and reporting 2ol 2o. If in doubt about this seek some help from an experienced business person or ur accountant. Adapt it 2 suit ur purposes. The example P&L trading plan is also available as a pdf. The numbers could be anything - ten times less, ten times more, a hundred times more - the principle is the same.



company types and financial set up - quick guide

When you have confirmed and refined the basic viability of ur business idea you can then begin getting 2 grips with the more detailed aspects of 4ming the business itself.

This necessarily includes deciding ur type of business constitution - the legal 4mat of ur company - or 'company type' as it is often described.

The Psychological Contract is increasingly significant within and relating 2 business constitution.

Small (UK) businesses are most commonly one of the following:

sole-trader - essentially a self-employed owner - no limited personal liability - relatively easy set up and administration.
partnership - essentially a group of self-employed partners/owners - no limited personal liability - easy-ish set up and administration, although ultimately dependent on the complexity of the company and partnership.
limited liability partnership (LLP) - as above, except that liability is limited 2 personal investments and guarantees.
limited company (abbreviated 2 Ltd after the company name) - liability is limited 2 the assets of the company - registered with Companies House and legally obliged 2 publish accounts.
There are less common variations of limited companies, and other business structures and constitutions, 4 example:

social enterprise - various structures including , trusts, associations and especially cooperatives - these are not common typical or traditional business structures, but social enterprises are growing in popularity, and will be explained in more detail on this website in due course. Meanwhile here is useful in4mation about cooperatives.
public limited company (plc) - not appropriate 4 small companies.
Sole-trader and partnership companies are very easy 2 set up and administer, but the owner/partners are personally liable 4 all business debts and potential claims, so good insurance cover (including professional indemnity and public liability) is essential especially if business liabilities are potentially serious.

A limited liability partnership offers protection 2 partners in terms of personal liabilities, in that liabilities are limited 2 the extent of personal investment and any other guarantees. This is considered 2 be 2o much personal exposure by many business people, in which case a limited company is the obvious alternative.

A limited company exists in its own right - a tricky concept 2 understand 4 many people - basically meaning that financial liabilities belong 2 the company (its shareholders, 2 the value of their shares in other words) rather than the direc2rs and executives of the business, as would apply in a partnership. Limited companies ultimately offer more flexibility 4 large complex businesses but can be over-complicated and administratively heavy if all you want 2 do is run a local shop or landscape gardening business or modest training or coaching business.

Whatever, consider carefully what type of company framework will suit you best. Once established it can be quite difficult 2 unravel and change if you get it wrong - not impossible, but a nuisance if you could have got it right first time with a bit of extra thought at the planning stage.

A good accountant will help you decide what is best 4 ur situation from a legal and financial standpoint, although be4e this you should think 4 urself what sort of business structure best fits ur wider business situation, and especially ur business aims and philosophy. Broad guidelines about business types are available from the UK Government business in4mation Businesslink website.

You'll need a business bank account. In fact it is a legal requirement of all limited companies 2 have a business bank account. Shop around. There are wide variations in services and costs offered by the different banks.

You must also understand and organize the tax implications 4 ur type of business.

Be4e starting any business ensure also that you have the in4mation and controls 2 account 4 and pay all taxes due.

Helpfully 2 learn more about this in the UK, most tax affairs are within the responsibilities of HM Revenue and Cus2ms - until they 2o change their name 2 something very silly. That said, the relevance 2day of HM (Her Majesty's) is a bit puzzling when you s2p 2 think about it and surely due 4 updating 2 the modern age. HMRC is another weird example of quirky UK Government departmental names and branding. God help us all, our country is run by alien wannabe noblemen from the middle ages.

VAT (Value Added Tax or ur national equivalent) is an issue warranting serious thought if ur business is small enough 2 have a choice in the matter. Beyond a certain turnover (£68,000 as at 2010) any UK business must register 4 VAT. Check the HMRC website 4 the current position.

Being VAT registered means you must charge VAT on all VAT-rated supplies, which means also that the VAT you receive on payments from ur cus2mers must be paid 2 HM Revenue and Cus2ms. (No you cannot keep it, even though some accidentally try 2, and others think they are entitled 2.)

Being VAT registered also enables you 2 reclaim VAT that you pay on business costs, although there are some notable exceptions, like company cars.

Retail and consumer businesses are especially affected by VAT. Private consumers cannot claim back VAT, so the effect of VAT on pricing and margins needs careful thought in planning any consumer business.

Up 2 a certain level of turnover (in the UK) becoming registered 4 VAT is optional. If ur business turnover is likely 2 be below the threshold 4 manda2ry VAT registration, you must decide 4 urself if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The main advantages of VAT registration are:

ur business will be perceived by certain people - especially other businesses - 2 be larger and more credible (not being registered 4 VAT indicates immediately that ur turnover is below the VAT threshold)
you will be able 2 reclaim VAT that you are charged on legitimate allowable business costs
The main disadvantages of being VAT registered are:

the administrative burden in keeping VAT records and submitting VAT returns (although this has been enormously simplified in recent years so that 4 small simple businesses it is really not a problem at all)
risks of getting on2 cashflow difficulties if you fail 2 set funds aside 2 pay ur VAT bills (see the tax tips below)
In4mation about VAT (and all other tax issues) is at the UK Government HM Revenue and Cus2ms website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk

VAT is not the only tax. Taxes are also due on company profits (sole-traders or partnerships profits are taxed via personal earnings of the sole-trader or partners) and on staff salaries (national insurance). A sole-trader or partnership can employ staff, in which case national insurance tax is due on salaries paid 2 employees, which is different 2 the tax that employees pay themselves.

Failing 2 retain funds in a company 2 pay taxes is a serious problem that's easily avoided with good early planning. Contact ur tax office. In4m them of ur plans and seek their help. Tax offices are generally extremely helpful, so ask. You can even talk 2 a real person on the phone without having 2 breach a six-level au2mated menu system.

Ideally find a decent accountant 2o. Preferably one who comes recommended 2 you. With all the greatest respect 2 accountants everywhere, accountants are quite commonly very intense people, like solici2rs and scientists, very much focused on process, accuracy, rules, etc., which in terms of personality fit can be a little at odds with the style of many entrepreneurs. So again shop around and find an accountant with whom you can share a joke and a beer or something from the human world. The relationship between a business person and his/her accountant is crucial if the business is 2 grow and develop significantly. Accountants might seem at times 2 be from another planet, but I can assure you the good ones are bloody magicians when it comes 2 business development, especially when the figures get really interesting. The statement that one stroke of an accountant's pen is mightier than the world's most successful sales team, is actually true.

4 many entrepreneurs, the ideal scenario is 2 grow ur business large enough 2 support the cost of a really excellent finance direc2r, who can take care of all the detailed legal and financial matters 4 you, and leave you completely free 2 concentrate on growing the business - concentrating ur ef4ts and ideas and strategy externally 2wards markets and cus2mers, and internally 2wards optimizing innovation and ur staff.

See the quick tax tips below, especially 4 small businesses which might not easily be able 2 achieve immediate and accurate control of their tax liabilities, which is one of the major early risks 4 a new successful small business.



tax tips - understanding and accounting 4 taxes from the start

A significant potential problem area 4 newly self-employed people, and 4 new business start-ups, is failing 2 budget and save 4 inevitable taxes which arise from ur business activities.

N.B. These tips are not meant 2 be a detailed comprehensive guide 2 business taxation. This section merely addresses a particular vulnerability of new start-up businesses in failing 2 set aside sufficient reserves 2 meet tax liabilities, especially small businesses, and even more especially sole-traders and partnerships and small limited companies, which lack expertise in accounting and consequently might benefit from these simple warnings and tips related 2 tax liabilities.

In general these issues would normally be managed via a cashflow 4ecast, 2gether with suitable financial processes 2 allocate and make payments 4 all costs and liabilities arising in the course of trading. I recognise however that many small business start-ups do not begin with such attention 2 financial processes, and it's primarily 4 those situations that these particular notes are provided.

These notes in no way suggest that this is the normal fully controlled approach 2 planning and organizing tax liabilities and other cashflow issues within any business of significant scale. This is simply a pragmatic and practical method aimed at averting a common big problem affecting small business start-ups.

While ur type of company and business determines precisely which taxes apply 2 you, broadly taxes are due on sales (4 VAT registered businesses in the UK, or ur VAT equivalent if outside the UK), and on the profits of ur business and ur earnings. If you employ staff you will also have 2 pay national insurance tax on employees' earnings 2o. Generally sole-traders and partnerships have simpler tax arrangements - 4 example, profits are typically taxed as personal earnings - as compared with the more complex taxes applicable 2 limited companies, which also pay taxes on company profits and staff salaries.

Whatever, you must understand the tax liabilities applicable 2 ur situation, and budget 4 them accordingly. You must try 2 seek appropriate financial advice 4 ur situation be4e you commence trading.

Indeed understanding tax basics also helps you decide what type of company will best suit ur situation, again, be4e you begin trading.

The potential 4 nasty financial surprises - notably tax bills that you have insufficient funds 2 pay - ironically tends 2 increase along with ur success. This is because bigger sales and profits and earnings inevitably produce bigger tax bills (percentage of tax increases 2o in the early growth of a business), all of which becomes a very big problem if you've no funds 2 pay taxes when due.

The risks of getting in2 difficulties can be greater 4 the self-employed and small partnerships which perhaps do not have great financial knowledge and experience, than 4 larger Limited Company start-ups which tend 2 have more systems and support in financial areas.

Start-ups are especially prone 2 tax surprises because the first set of tax bills can commonly be delayed, and if you fail 2 account properly 4 all taxes due then obviously you increase the chances of spending more than you should do, resulting in not having adequate funds 2 cover the payments when they are due.

Risks are increased further if you are new 2 self-employment, previously having been employed and accus2med 2 receiving a regular salary on which all taxes have already been deducted, in other words 'net' of tax. It can take a while 2 appreciate that business revenues or profits have no tax deducted when these earnings are put in2 ur bank account; these amounts are called 'gross', because they include the tax element. There4e not all of ur business earnings belong 2 you - some of the money belongs 2 the taxman. It's ur responsibility 2 deduct the taxes due, 2 set this money aside, and 2 pay the tax bills when demanded.

Additionally, if you are a person who is in the habit of spending everything that you earn, you must be even more careful, since this tendency will increase the risks of ur being unable 2 pay ur taxes.

Failing 2 get on 2p of the reality of taxes from the very beginning can lead 2 serious debt and cashflow problems, which is a miserable way 2 run a business.

So you must anticipate and set aside funds necessary 2 meet ur tax liabilities from the very start of ur business, even if you do not initially have a very accurate idea of what taxes will be due, or you lack effective systems 2 calculate them - many small start-ups are in this position. Nevertheless it is 2o late 2 start thinking about tax when the first demands fall due.

If when starting ur business you do not have in4mation and systems 2 identify and account accurately 4 ur tax liabilities, here are two simple quick tax tips 2 avoid problems with the taxman:

You must estimate ur tax liabilities and ensure that you set aside funds 2 cover these liabilities while you are banking ur payments received in2 the business. The easiest way 2 do this is 2 identify the taxes applicable 2 ur business, 4 example VAT and ur own personal income tax and national insurance. Identify the percentages that apply 2 ur own situation and earnings levels. You can do this approximately. It does not need 2 be very precise. Add these percentages 2gether, and then set aside this percentage of all ur earnings that you receive in2 ur business. Put these monies in2 a separate savings account where you can't confuse them with ur main business account, i.e., ur 'working capital' typically held in a current account.
Always over-estimate ur tax liabilities so as 2 set aside more than you need. Having a surplus is not a problem. Having not enough money 2 pay taxes because you've under-estimated tax due is a problem; sometimes enough 2 kill an otherwise promising business.
Here's an example 2 show how quickly and easily you can plan and set aside a contingency 2 pay ur tax bills, even if you've no experience or systems 2 calculate them precisely. This example is based on a self-employed consultancy-type business, like a training or coaching business, in which there are no significant costs of sales (products or services bought in) or overheads, i.e., revenues are effectively the profits 2o, since there are minimal costs 2 offset against profits:

example of estimating and setting aside money 2 pay taxes

1. In the UK VAT on most products and services is 17.5%. This equates (roughly) 2 15% when calculating the VAT element within a VAT-inclusive amount. This means that you can set aside 15% of ur revenues and reliably be sure of covering ur VAT liabilities.

2. In the UK personal income tax and national insurance combined is roughly 30% of earnings up 2 about £30,000 (a little over in fact), rising 2 49% - call it 50% - of earnings above £30k - roughly.

N.B. Income tax and national insurance are calculated on taxable earnings, which exclude money spent on legitimate business costs, and VAT received.

These figures in the above example are approximate I emphasise again, which is all you need 4 this purpose, moreover the approximations are on the high side of what the precise liabilities actually are. Accountants call this sort of thinking 'prudent'. It's a pessimistic approach 2 4ecasting liabilities rather than optimistic, which is fundamental 2 good financial planning and management: if the pessimism is wrong then you end up with a surplus (which is good), but if you are wrong in making optimistic 4ecasts and estimates (over-ambitious sales, and lower-than-actual costs and liabilities), then you run out of money (which is bad).

Back 2 the percentages.. Knowing the income tax percentages enables you 2 set aside a suitable percentage of ur earnings when you receive them in2 the business. Roughly speaking, 4 earnings up 2 £30k you need 2 set aside 30% 2 cover income tax and national insurance. 4 earnings over £30k you need 2 set aside 50% 2 cover ur income tax and national insurance. (Earnings below £30k remain taxable at 30%). Remember you can arrive at these figures based on the VAT exclusive revenues, but 2 keep matters simpler it is easier 2 use an adjusted 2tal percentage figure 2 apply 2 the 2tal gross earnings. If it's kept very simple and quick you'll be more likely 2 do it - and/or 2 communicate the method effectively 2 ur partner if they are responsible 4 handling the financials, as often happens.

Given this example, if in ur first year ur gross revenues (banked payments received) are say £50,000, assuming you are VAT registered, then ur tax liabilities will be (roughly):

17.5% VAT liabilities equates 2 15% of gross sales revenues £7.5k (again we are assuming no significant costs 2 offset these figures)
30% Income tax/NI on first £30k earnings £9.0k 2tal net earnings are say £42.5k, being £50k less £7.5k VAT, again we are assuming negligible costs 2 offset against earnings
50% Income tax/NI on remaining £12.5k earnings £6.25k £12.5k of the net £43.5k earnings is taxed at the higher rate, again assuming negligible costs offset against earnings
2tal tax liabilities = 45.5%, or 2 be extra prudent call it 50%... £22.75k (£22.75k 2tal tax ÷ £50k gross revenues = 45.5%)
From this example you can see that setting aside 45.5% of earnings (yes it's a lot isn't it - which is why you need 2 anticipate it and set the money aside) would com4tably cover VAT and income tax liabilities. 2 be extra safe and simpler in this example you could round it up 2 50%. The tax liability will obviously increase with increasing revenues - and in percentage terms 2o regarding personal income tax, since more earnings would be at the higher rate.

You must there4e also moni2r ur earnings levels through the year and adjust ur percentage tax contingency accordingly. As stated already above, the risk of under-estimating tax liabilities increases the more successful you are, because tax bills get bigger.

In truth you will have some costs 2 offset against the earnings figures above, but again 4 the purposes of establishing a very quick principle of saving a fixed percentage as a tax reserve until you know and can control these liabilities more accurately, the above is a very useful simple easy method of initially staying solvent and on 2p of ur tax affairs, which are 4 many people the most serious source of nasty financial surprises in successful start-up businesses.

The above example is very simple, and is provided mainly 4 small start-up businesses which might otherwise neglect 2 provide 4 tax liabilities. The figures and percentages are not appropriate (but the broad principle of 4ecasting and providing funds 4 tax liabilities is) 2 apply 2 retail businesses 4 example, or businesses in which staff are employed, since these businesses carry significant costs of sales and overheads, which should be deducted from revenues be4e calculating profits and taxes liabilities. Neither does the example take account of the various ways 2 reduce tax liabilities by reinvesting profits in the business, writing off s2ck, putting money in2 pensions, charitable donations, etc.

A third tip is - in fact it's effectively a legal requirement - 2 in4m ur relevant tax authorities as soon as possible about ur new business. Preferably do this a few weeks be4e you actually begin trading. That way you can be fully in4med of the tax situation - and ur best methods of dealing with tax, because there are usually different ways, and sometimes the differences can be worth quite a lot of money.

I do not go in2 more detail about tax here because it's a very complex subject with wide variations depending on ur own situation, 4 which you should seek relevant in4mation and advice from a qualified accountant and/or the relevant tax authorities.



template and structure 4 a feasibility study or project justification report

First, and importantly, you need 2 clarify/confirm the criteria that need 2 be fulfilled in order 2 justify starting or continuing the project or group, in other words, what do the decision-makers need 2 see in order 2 approve the project or its continuation?

Then map these crucial approval criteria in2 the following structure. In other words, work through the following template structure according 2, and orientated as closely as you can 2, the approval criteria. (These points could effectively be ur feasibility study or report justification structure, and headings.)

past, present and particularly future ('cus2mer') need (4 the outputs/results produced by group or project)
benefits and outcomes achieved 2 date 4 what cost/investment
benefits and outcomes 2 be produced in the future
resources, costs, investment, etc., required 2 produce future required outcomes and benefits (identify capital vs revenue costs, i.e., acquisition of major assets and ongoing overheads)
alternative methods or ways of satisfying needs, with relative cost/return (return on investment) comparisons (ie., what other ways might there be 4 satisfying the need if the group or project doesn't happen or ceases?)
outline strategy and financial plan, including people, aims, philosophy, etc (ideally tuned 2 meet the authorising power's fulfilment criteria) 4 proposed start or continuation of project (assuming you have a case, and assuming there is no better alternative)
Keep it simple. Keep 2 the facts and figures. Provide evidence. Be clear and concise. Refer 2 the tips about effective writing. If possible present ur case in person 2 the decision-makers, with passion, calm confidence and style. Look at the tips on presentations, and assertiveness.



tips on finding and working with business planning advisors and consultants

If you need help putting 2gether a business plan, and if you want 2 get the best from the engagement, it's important 2 find the right person 2 work with, and 2 establish and maintain a good working relationship with them. If you are great big organisation you'll probably not need 2 work with outsiders, and if you do then you'll probably opt 4 a great big supplier, however there are significant benefits from working with much smaller suppliers - even single opera2rs - and if you are a small business urself, then this is probably the best choice anyway: 2 seek a good single opera2r, or small partnership of experts. Here are some ideas of what 2 look 4.

You'll be best finding someone who meets as much of this criteria as possible:

lives close-by you so you can work face-2-face with them and get 2 know each other properly, and so that their time is efficiently used, instead of being in traffic on their way 2 and from ur place
is high integrity and very discreet
is grown-up and got no baggage or emotional triggers - wise and mature - and it needn't be an age thing
can help you see and decide where and how you want 2 take the business, rather than tell you where he/she thinks you need 2 go - a men2r not an instruc2r
understands or can immediately relate 2 ur industry sec2r and type of work
is experienced working with small family companies, but is also a big picture strategist and visionary (advisors who've only ever worked with big corporations can sometimes be a bit free and easy with relatively small amounts of money - you need someone with a very very practical approach 2 managing cash-flow, and real business realities, who've worked in situations without the protection of vast corporate bureaucracy and the lack of transparency that this often brings)
is triple-brained or whole-brained - mostly front-brained - (see the stuff on Benziger) - intuitive-creative, thinking, but also able 2 be personable and grounded, subject 2 the point below
complements ur own strengths and fills the gaps and weaknesses in ur collective abilities (again see the stuff on Benziger and Jung etc) - ie., if collectively you need hard facts and figures and logic then seek people with these strengths - conversely if you are strong on all this, then seek the creative humanist ethical strengths - he/she must work with you in a balanced team - so that the team has no blind spots, and no subjective biases in style or emphasis
has two or three referees you can talk 2 and see evidence of past work (although if you check most of the above it will be a 4mality)
doesn't smoke or drink 2o much
isn't desperate 4 the work
As regards finding someone like this, without doubt the most reliable and quickest method is by networking introductions through trusted people. The person you seek might be three or more links away, but if it's a friend or associate of someone trusted, by someone who's trusted, by someone you trust, then probably they'll be right 4 you. Start by talking 2 people you know and asking if they know anyone, or if they know anyone who might know anyone - and take it from there.

The chances of finding the right person in the local business listings or direc2ry, out of the blue and from cold, are pretty remote.

Replying 2 adverts and marketing material from consultants is a lottery 2o. You'll find someone eventually but you'll need 2 kiss a lot of frogs first, which takes ages and is not the cleverest way 2 spend ur valuable time.

4 something so important as business planning advice or consultancy use referrals every time.

Referrals work not only because you get 2 find someone trusted, but the person you find has a reasonable assurance that you can be trusted 2o, you see: good suppliers are just as choosy as good clients. It works both ways.

Be prepared 2 reward the person in whatever way is appropriate and fair (I'm thinking percentage share of incremental success beyond expectations - perhaps even equity share if the person is really good and you'd value their on-going contribution and help).

Often the best people won't ask 4 much money up front at all, but from ur point of view you will attract a lot more commitment and work beyond the call of normal duty from them if you reward higher than they ask or need.

Good suppliers are immensely motivated by good clients and lots of appreciation, even if they don't want the financial reward.

Good suppliers have usually seen 2o many ungrateful greedy people taking them 4 granted and penny pinching, and will tend 2 sack clients like these without even telling them why, and move on 2 more deserving enjoyable work with people who are fair and appreciative, which is how you'll be I'm sure.

Finally, when you've found the right person, always continually agree expectations and invite feedback about how the relationship is working, not just how the work is going.



starting ur own business - or starting any new business

These are the simple rules 4 planning and starting ur own business. The principles also apply 2 planning and starting a new business within an organisation 4 someone else.

In amongst the distractions and details of new business planning, it is important 2 keep sight of the basic rules of new business success:

ur successful new business must offer something unique that people want.

Uniqueness is vital because otherwise there is no reason 4 cus2mers 2 buy from you.

Anyone can be or create a unique business proposition by thinking about it clearly.

Uniqueness comes in all shapes and sizes - it's chiefly being especially good and different in a particular area, or field or sec2r.

Uniqueness can be in a product or service, or in a trading method, or in you urself, or any other aspect of ur business which makes what you are offering special and appealing 2 people.

You will develop ur own unique offering first by identifying what people want and which nobody is providing properly.

Second you must ensure that ur chosen unique offering is also an extension of ur own passion or particular expertise or strength - something you will love and enjoy being the best at - whatever it is.

Every successful business is built on someone's passion.

new business start-ups by older people

If you already have a career behind you, and you wonder if you've got it in you 2 compete and succeed in the modern world, consider this.

First - you have definitely got it in you 2 succeed.

Experience and wisdom are fundamental building blocks of success, and will be 4 you from the moment you start looking at urself in this way.

The reassuring wisdom that older people generally possess is extremely helpful in 4ming trusting relationships - with cus2mers, suppliers, partners, colleagues, etc - which are essential 4 good business.

Added 2 this, as we get older we have a greater understanding of our true passions and capabilities; we know our strengths and styles and 2lerances. This gives older people a very special potency in business. Older people know what they are good at. They play 2 their strengths. They know which battles they can win, and which 2 avoid.

Older people are also typically better at handling change and adapting 2 new things than younger people. This is because older people have had more experience doing just this. Adapting 2 change and working around things are significant capabilities in achieving new business success.

If you are an older person considering starting a new business, think about the things you can do better than most other people - think about ur strengths and use them.

business start-ups 4 younger people

Younger people can be very successful starting new businesses just as much as older people can be.

The essential principle of playing 2 ur strengths applies, although the implications are different 4 younger people compared 2 older people.

Younger people are likely 2 have lots of fresh ideas. This is an advantage, so avoid people pour cold water on them.

Test ur ideas on potential cus2mers, rather than 2 take advice from those people who are ready with their buckets of water.

Next, get the help you need. It's difficult 4 young people 2 know all the answers.

You'll have the ideas and the energy 2 make things happen, but consider the gaps in ur experience, and the things you don't enjoy doing, and seek good quality reliable help 4 these things.

Getting good help at what you can't do or don't want 2 do will enable you 2 put all ur energy in2 what you are good at and what you want 2 spend ur time doing.

Young people sometimes try 2 4ce themselves 2 fit in2 roles or responsibilities that are not com4table or natural. This is de-stabilising and stressful. Learn what you love and excel at, and focus on building success from this.

Which brings us back 2 playing 2 ur strengths.

All successful businesses (and people who become successful working 4 others) are based on the person using personal strengths and pursuing personal passions.

Success in business is always based on doing something you love and enjoy, which is fundamentally related 2 ur natural strengths and unique personal potential, whatever that is.

The sooner you identify these things in urself, the sooner will build sustainable business success.

planning business success - in summary

Spreadsheets, mission statements, planning templates and other process elements of new business creation and development are 2ols. They enable the business 2 be properly structured, started and run. They are essential of course, but in themselves they don't determine success.

Business success is determined by deeper fac2rs.

Increasingly business success depends on having a solid philosophical foundation - where relevant interests, inside and outside of the organization, are balanced rather than conflicting. The bigger the business, the more widely it must consider how it relates 2 external interests and responsibilities - 2 society and the world at large.

A business with this sort of harmony and balance built in2 its shape and principles at the outset has a huge advantage over a business which contains tensions and competing pressures. Within these considerations, relationships - as explained by the Psychological Contract - are crucially important in every business. Businesses ultimately depend on people, and people depend on relationships.

Aside from this - and without diminishing the significance of other vital business components such as reliability, value, quality, etc., which are necessary merely 2 survive at a basic level - uniqueness and passion are the remaining special ingredients 4 success:

Uniqueness (just one word, with so many implications) - so that people will want what you offer, and
Passion, so that you will enjoy being and offering ur best - and so that this belief and commitment conveys 2 others.
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