Seven Deadly Sins Of Writing A Business Plan

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If there is only one thing you need to get right when you start a new company, it’s your business plan. A good business plan outlines the whats, whys, wheres, and how much that you, and potential investors to your company, will need to know. Even some of the greatest product or service ideas of all time will struggle if they aren’t supported by a robust, accurate, and inspiring business plan.

With this in mind, I thought I would go through some of the deadly sins of business plan writing. What are they, why do they happen, and how can you prevent them? Read on to find out more – and ace your next business plan the first time! Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know.

Writing it all at once

There are many parts of a business plan, and they all make up an overall picture of your proposal. But you don’t need to sit down and write it all, in order, in one go. In fact, doing so should be avoided at all costs. You will start off with the best of intentions, but by the time you are finished, your boredom will be self-evident to anyone reading. So, just write your business plan over time, doing it in chunks – it’s the best way to start things off, and an easier way to get things finished.

Thinking you’re the bee’s knees

Your idea might be a great one. But you have to realise that everyone else has great ideas all the time, too. And, that a business plan isn’t about your idea anyway – it’s about the business potential of your idea. If you create an all-guns-blazing plan of activities and declare you will earn a billion before the year is out, you will be laughed out of town. You need to prove you can build a business on your idea, with hard facts, reasonable estimations, and realistic measurements of achievement.

Inaccuracies

If you are using figures, make sure they are correct. If you need help, find a financial expert to give you a hand. Similarly, a fresh pair of eyes going over the copy in your business plan can’t be a bad thing. You can pass it over to a business plan specialist, or even use a proof reading service, who might be able to help you make your message clearer and more succinct. It would be a genuine shame for a business plan to be thrown in the bin on account of a few glaring spelling mistakes, but it shows a lack of focus and a poor eye for detail.

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Setting it in stone

A good business plan is never finished. What you show investors or stakeholders is a ‘most recent’ version, and it will be obvious to everyone if you are using the same plan you have been hawking for the last five years. Make changes, keep figures updated, and keep it alive – it should adapt as your business goals change.

Too much/too little detail in your figures

As I mentioned above, you need to update your business plan at all times and include all your business milestones such as your cash flow, deadlines reached, and sales. If you blur over these relevant facts, potential stakeholders will see it straight away and suspect you are trying to hide some gory details. On the other hand, you can take things too far when it comes to projecting forecasts beyond the next twelve months. Don’t forget, this is a business plan – not your business accounts. If you start suggesting you are on course for a record-breaking five years, it’s not going to look good for you.

No understanding of the market

The market available to you will dictate how successful you are. If your business plan is full of assumptions about your ideal customers, such as who they are, why they will buy your product, and how much money they will spend, people will see through it straight away. It’s vital to research your market thoroughly and ensure you understand the realities involved in getting your business out there. And you should also have the foresight to include any vulnerabilities with your plan seeing potential problems might scare off some investors, but it will also show others that you are serious about what you are doing.

Because you need a plan

Finally, a business plan should never exist for the sake of it. Sure, it’s common sense to create one, but you will only get out of it what you put in. And it should always have a meaning beyond seeking investment – it needs to be shared with your team to organise your goals and measure your achievements. So, put the work into your business plan – you won’t regret it.

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Stressing Over Business Problems? These Common Casuses of Corporate Stress Are Easier to Fix Than You Think

As a business owner, you are probably used to getting stressed out over a thousand things at once. But there is a chance that some of the things you commonly stress over are easier to fix or sort out than you think. It’s worth taking proactive steps to put things right rather than just losing your head and stressing. Here are some things that you shouldn’t get too stressed out over because they can be addressed in a calm and clear way.

Loss of Talent

There are few things more disappointing than losing your most talented employees when you’re trying to run a business. If you want your business to keep growing and becoming better, you’re going to need the best possible team driving it forward. So, how can you keep hold of your best employees for longer? It’s all about making sure that your business is appealing to them. Keep challenging them, show them that there are going to be promotion opportunities for them and give them the pay that they deserve. You ignore any of these things, they might look for a better deal elsewhere.

Tax Inspections

Tax inspections are easy to get stressed out over. No one enjoys dealing with them, and it’s not hard to see why. Everyone can make mistakes, and you don’t want to be left with a huge tax bill at the end of it it. There are a couple of things you can do, though. The wisest thing to do would be to hire an external accountant who can take care of your taxes for you while you do the important stuff. They know what they’re doing, so they shouldn’t make mistakes. However, if a problem does arise, you will need a different course of action. Go to taxinvestigationadvice.com if you have an upcoming tax inspection and need help preparing for it.

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Patent Rejection

Many people think that the future of their business depends on them being able to get a patent for their product. These patents do help, but they are not necessarily the be all and end all of running a business or selling products. Even if your product isn’t protected by a patent, you can still present it in a way that no one else could and get ahead via other means. What matters is that you present the public with something they want to buy. You can also go through the patent appeals process to see if you have another shot at getting the outcome you wanted. You can visit gov.uk/patent-your-invention to learn more about all this.

Inconsistent Sales Patterns

Sales patterns are known to fluctuate; this is pretty normal. But if you are worried about the inconsistencies if your sales patterns, rather than panicking, you should find out what’s causing them. Maybe your products are more in demand at one time of the year than at other times. If that’s the case, you just need to plan your finances in a way that means you can survive the low sales periods by using the money you made earlier in the year.

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Dreaming Big? Keep Your Eyes on These Common Business Mistakes

Ambition is key to a successful business, but getting too wrapped up in the glories that might await you and your business later on down the line can often distract us too much from the here and now, the things that have to be in order if we’re ever going to become the success we dream of. Never forget the old cliche about how success is achieved: it’s 1% inspiration, 99% hard work. While what we’ve outlined below isn’t quite the bulk of the 99%, they are a few incidences where companies commonly get tripped up later on down the line.

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Letting the Company Define Itself

Before you launch your business, it’s absolutely paramount that you have a definition of what your company culture will look like. If it’s left unannounced, it’s liable to taken over by the new employees, clients, even the building that you operate out of. It’s about branding: what is it that you want your company to represent. Take the following for example: a company that wants to be a cutting edge voice in the smartwear market would have a much different tone than a traditional smartwear market, even if they’re selling essentially the same thing. Have all this sort before launch, otherwise it could end up anywhere – and most likely somewhere you don’t want to be.

Not Planning for the Future

It’s never been easier to gauge whether or not you’ll still be in business in a few years or not. There is enterprise risk management software, long term financing options, and a slew of steady markets to position yourself in. If you don’t investigate these things, then you’re not planning for the future – and that’s one thing you absolutely must do. It isn’t enough to just tick along steadily: things will one day change, and if you’re not moving forward with it, you’ll be left behind without much notice.

Not Toasting Your Success

Of course, moving forward too much is also a problem. If you’re always adapting to new markets, you’ll be losing your niche voice, the one that was at its loudest when you began your venture. Having a set number of values and looking back to remind yourself of what is worked in the past – and, well, celebrating your achievements – is doing a disservice to your company and its employees. One eye on the past, one on the future, and and being right where you in the present is the ideal approach.

Having A Solid Plan

You might think that having a solid plan is a good thing, and broadly speaking it is. However, having a plan that is too solid is not a good a idea. If you’re determined to stick to a vision you had several years prior, then you could be missing out on many opportunities that are much better than where you’re currently heading. Have a plan, but always be ready to adapt and change it depending on which way the wind is blowing: it’ll ensure you’re never liable to stagnation.

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The Edge You Need To Cut Yourself A Place In The Market

There are very few businesses that are going to start without any competition at all. Even the products that bring a whole new dynamic to the industry are going to have to prove themselves against businesses that may be both bigger and less innovative. So, those businesses need to find themselves a place in the market. Just how do you do that?

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Make a unique promise

You might cater to some of the same needs and provide some of the same services as you competitors. However, your best bet is not to focus on beating them at their own game. Your best bet is to set the rules for your own game. This means finding a niche. It could be one particular aspect of the service you could provide. It could be a section of the market and a certain kind of consumer not already being protected. Whatever your niche is, finding one will immediately give you an advantage.

Stand out

You might make a whole new promise, but if your business looks the exact same as its competitors, then you will struggle to get the kind of visibility you need. This means finding brand imagery to make your logo, your site, and all your marketing have its own unique flavour. But you have to do the same even when you don’t have your marketing to represent you. For instance, you need unique packaging like bespoke pouches, too. That way you can rest assured that your business stands out even when you’re not there to help it do so.

Have your own values

The promise you make to the consumer about the value your products or services will offer them is important. But nowadays, consumers are thinking bigger and businesses need to, as well. If you want them to get on side with the business, then you should share some values with them. The best way is to fulfil your corporate social responsibility and make it a part of your messaging. For instance, look into how cause marketing can help build the profile of the business. Whether it’s going green, helping with education needs, or any other of a hundred causes, stand up for yours as a business.

Build your own community

The most important part of getting a share of the market is the people who make up that share. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and start conversations. Build yourself a presence with social media and a blog that represents the business. Answer their questions, boost their messages, and get to know them as people. Include them in the business through online campaigns, whether they offer a prize or the opportunity to simply be silly and have fun. No connection to a market is stronger than the personal one. That’s how you turn potential customers into brand loyalists.

Market positioning is a vital skill. If you can’t learn it, not only will you be able to find yourself that share of the market you need. You will suffer from newer entries into the industry that can do it a lot better than you, boxing your branding in even further.

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Branding: A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

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Branding is possibly the chief ingredient to success in any business. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a global corporation with aspirations of becoming a monopoly, or a small and local business simply looking to beat the competition in your area. People remember a brand. Part of that is due to the fact that, in an ever-competitive consumerist world, thousands of businesses offer the same goods or services with very little variance between them. It becomes impossible for customers to separate overly-similar companies, so they look to the branding of businesses to make their decision; whichever companies presents itself the most effectively is the one which will secure the target audience. It’s as simple as that.

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Of course, it’s all very well to explain the simplicity of branding in theory. In practice, however, creating a successful brand which overrides the successful brand of your competitors is not necessarily the easiest task in the world. It’d be foolish to pretend that other businesses within your industry haven’t also put a lot of time and money into creating a successful marketing campaign, logo, slogan and overall image of the company as an entity and a group of hard-working individuals.

Still, this all works in your favour. Whatever has worked well for your competitors can work even more effectively for you. The aim of the branding game is to cherry-pick successful techniques that have won over consumers for your competitors, and then use them to form your own original brand which blows other businesses out of the water. Here’s how to begin building a successful image for your business.

Nail your online presence.

This is the modern age, and if your business doesn’t have an online presence, it’s not yet a full business. You need to learn the concepts of online marketing; how it is similar and how it differs from physical marketing.

Promoting an image of hard-working employees and a professional, unique service is an important part of branding, but you need to be spreading that message in the right place. The majority of your target audience will be browsing for services and goods similar to yours online. You need to ensure you’re showing up at the top of their results pages, and this relies on using SEO techniques to optimise your website to the algorithms of Google and other search engines.

In addition, when you have a responsive website with a beautifully-designed layout, not only are you ranking more highly in search engine results, but you’re presenting a better image to potential customers visiting your website. There’s no harm in using a graphic design specialist, if you want to overhaul your existing website design.

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Co-operate with other businesses.

I know – blasphemy. However, you don’t always have to be challenging other businesses in your area. Contrary to belief, even if this is a free economy, that doesn’t always mean you have to compete with your rivals. If your employees compete with one another, then they don’t work nearly as well as they do when they co-operate. It’s the same in the business world, and it’s why your business image might flourish if you and other businesses promote one another.

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Passion means just as much as originality.

Having a unique idea is great, but novelties wear off eventually. What is new now will be old tomorrow. If you want to impress your customers, your business’ passion and drive to offer incredible services and high-quality goods is perhaps more important than simply being “original”.

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Are You Sapping Your Team Of All Joy In Their Work?

As a business owner, you want to get the best you can from your team. However, it’s not always up to you. The mental and emotional state of the individual will play a big role in just how motivated, engaged, and happy they are at their work. If previously reliable and even excellent employees are starting to show signs of unhappiness, it’s more than a trivial concern. You need to start thinking about what is making them unhappy in their position and get them back to peak performance.

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Are they recognised?

This is a very important factor. Everyone wants to feel like their work matters and in some way reflects back on them. If they’re doing good work, are you sure they’re getting the credit that they should be? One way that some thoughtless employers deal a crippling blow to office morale is by neglecting to recognise that need. Some will use their authority to take the credit for any victories while passing the blame of any defeats. It’s a defensive mechanism that many do without even noticing it. Remind yourself that as the head of the team, you are the one who stands the least to lose by taking responsibility, and the one with most to gain by giving the team the recognition it deserves.

Build a culture that cares

The admission of blame and passing of credit in part creates a culture that shows more concern for the surrounding individuals, as opposed to oneself. That culture can reflect in the actions of the employees, as well. But there are other ways you should make it clear that they are in a business that cares about them as people. For instance, take a closer look at the workplace they inhabit. Are you using commercial cleaners and supportive, comfortable furniture to create a workplace that is easier, more comfortable, and more welcoming? Do you organise any group get-togethers with the team to make it easier to forge bonds that give them more respect and thought for one another?

Find what they want

The most important part of a workplace culture is that it makes more than the appearance of caring about its people. It truly cares for them. As their employer, you likely have the greatest demands on the time of any of your employee’s. Instead of using that time solely to benefit you, make sure you’re allowing some benefit for them besides a paycheque. Turn a staff member into a team member by helping to develop them as people and giving them some personal space in the office. That can be physical space like a locker of their own, or a mental space, like engaging them directly during team meetings to hear their thoughts on issues at work that matter to them.

The happiness of an individual at work is a tricky thing. The points above are going to make a big difference, but if that source of unhappiness is outside the workplace, there is less you can do. Showing that you care, however, plays a big role in itself.

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Modern Office Elements for Up to Date Businesses

In a modern world, it’s important for your business to stay modern too. If your company is office-based, there are lots of changes you can make to ensure that your work environment remains up to date. A modern office isn’t just for the benefit of you and your employees. It’s also a sign to any visitors that your business keeps up with the times and always tries to be progressive. It can be excellent for your company, improving its image. Take some of the tips below as examples of how you can make your office more modern.

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Modern Lighting

If you want to modernise your office, you can think about how to be more eco-friendly. Many businesses are trying to show that they’re conscious of how they affect the environment. You might also want to save money by reducing your energy or water use. Modernising your lighting and other electrical equipment and appliances is a good place to start. An LED panel light will use less energy than other lights of similar sizes. Some modern lights can do even more than just emit light too. You can get lights that extend WiFi and are Bluetooth-enabled too.

Office Tech

Beyond lighting, there are lots of other types of tech that could benefit your office. For example, some software can improve working conditions. An app like f.lux adjusts the brightness of computer screens to match the level of lighting in the room. This makes it healthier for people who spend all day looking at screens. Many businesses are also increasingly using mobile devices around the office. They can be useful during meetings, so everyone can have the information they need without printing anything out. Even introducing tech that isn’t directly related to business can be useful. Some businesses give wearable technology to their staff to help them improve their health.

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Flexible Desks and Seating

Businesses have been experimenting with office layouts for a long time. There are some suggestions that open-plan working doesn’t help productivity. However, it’s important to recognise that people have different styles of working. Some people work better in different environments and using different styles than others. Providing flexible working spaces can mean that employees have a choice of how to work, whether they’re alone or working in groups. You can have modular desks and chairs that join up when you need them to create group spaces.

Fun Office Elements

A lot of modern offices have a hint of whimsy to them so that they’re not too serious. It makes them more enjoyable for everyone who has to spend so much of their time there. You can add fun elements to an office with furniture, decoration, or even toys to play with. These elements could be placed throughout the office or perhaps put in certain spaces, such as meeting rooms or a break room. It’s a great way to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously, even if you are serious about your business.

Add some modern elements to your office to keep it cutting-edge. Show your employees and clients that you stay up to date.

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Begging The Bank: Getting Funding For Your Business

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Building a business is always a challenge. Alongside the work that needs to be done, you also have to figure out how you’re going to pay for it all. Obviously, funding for your business is the most important part of this process. Without it, it will be impossible for your business to start. Most people will struggle to save enough by themselves. So, you need some help. To get you started, this post will go through the basics of what needs to be done to secure funding for your business.

Having a business plan is the best way to impress potential investors. This plans should cover a span of several years, and include realistic projections for growth. You should use other businesses to help you find the best estimates for your growth. Sometimes, this can be hard, though. So, it can be worth using a professional company to help you make a business plan that makes sense. Your business plan should also include ideas for the future and some ways for the business to grow in much larger ways. Showing that you’ve planned for more than one eventuality will make it look like you’ve considered all of the possibilities. Ultimately, you need to use this plan to convince a lender that you’ll be able to pay them back. So, your plan needs to include a way for the loan to be settled.

Most investors will want a little bit more than just a business plan. You should be able to identify competitors and be knowledgeable about your market. Alongside this, you should also start the process of building the business. Start designing products or advertising material. Create examples of your service or product that your investor can use for themselves. This will make it easier to share your vision with an investor. And, it will show that you’ve already put work into your business. This will make the investor feel as though your heart is in the business.

In modern times, there’s more than one way to get finance for the business. For example, if you get a loan, you will keep the whole business but will have to keep up with repayments. But, if you have someone invest in your business for a share, you’ll only have to lose some of your profits. The best way to find funding for a business is through a Business Finance Broker, who can give you advice about the different options you have available. This will make it easy for you to understand the difference between the available routes. And, it will also help you to understand what is best for your business. In most cases, a loan will be the best idea. This gives you a lot of flexibility.

Hopefully, this will give you an idea of what you need to do in order to find the funding for your business. Of course, you may be able to find an easier route to your goals. So, it’s worth looking at all of your options to make sure that you’re not missing out on something.

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Safe And Sound: Are You Focussing On Your Business’s Security?

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It’s probably not much of a stretch to say that you care about your business very much. You likely have a great deal invested in it both financially and personally. It’s safe to say that this applies to the vast majority of business owners which makes it all the more ridiculous that so few of the actually focus on the security of their business. Sure, they might have one or two strategies in place in case of an emergency, but far too many businesses just don’t have a strong enough security strategy in place. In order to help you avoid that very issue, here are a few areas of your business’s security that you should make sure to focus on.

Cybersecurity

While it might not have been an issue not so long ago, cybersecurity is now one of the most important elements of any business. Cybercrime has been on the rise for the last few years and leaving your business vulnerable to it can have devastating consequences including data left, the loss of valuable information and even a total shut down of your IT system. You need to make sure that your anti-virus and anti-malware software are all up to date since new software is constantly being developed to get around them. You should also make sure that you backup all of your data in as secure a location as possible. If you can, backup your information on both the cloud and on a physical server.

Your premises

While cybercrime may be the thing that’s on the rise at the moment, that doesn’t mean that the risk of a physical break in has been reduced. You still need to make sure that your business is well protected. It should be fitted with sturdy locks, and you should also install alarm systems. Look at where there might be any blind spots where intruders could easily gain access and make sure those areas are covered by your CCTV. As much as you can, try to offer an intruder as few places to hide as possible.

Employee behaviour

Security is the responsibility of every single person working in your business. This means that you need to make sure that your employees are behaving in such a way as to avoid compromising your business. They should all have secure passwords that are changed at regular intervals. Not only that but they should all receive security training that is regularly updated to keep up with the advances made by criminals. This doesn’t just apply to your employees of course, but to you as well. Make sure to lead by example at all times. Keep your passwords secure and be sure to follow all relevant security procedures. If your employees can see you following the correct procedures, they’ll be that much more incentivised to do the same themselves. It might sometimes seem like extra work for no real reward but you need to remember that the reward is the knowledge that your business is as safe and secure as possible.

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Social Standing: How To Build A Good Rapport With The Public, As A Business

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When building a business, figuring out costs and ordering stock is only a small part of the process. The biggest job you have ahead of you is winning over the public. If you don’t do this, you could find it very hard to grow. Of course, this will take some work. But, it could make or break your business. So, it’s worth putting in the right amount of effort now, to save problems later. To help you out, this post will go through some qualities that every good business should have.

Most big businesses have shifted their focus from making products and getting them to customers on time. And, have started trying to find ways to make customers happy. Doing this can be very hard, though. You have to be able to spend a lot of time on social media and community websites if you want to be successful. This process begins with starting your own social media accounts. Once you’ve done that, you just need to think about your posts and replies. When users comment with relevant questions, they’ll expect you to reply quickly. If you don’t; they won’t be interested by the time that you do. This sort of area is very faced-paced, so it can be sensible to have tools or other people there to help you with it.

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Along with making their customers happy, businesses also have to make the Earth happy! With more pressure coming from media and governments it’s very important for businesses to make efforts to go green. This might be a challenge as a small company. But, you can always make a start. If you have offices that operate a lot, you could consider changing the lighting to LED light panel options. They will use less power, and won’t cost as much to run. Or, if you have a factory that makes products, you could consider using recycled materials to manufacture your goods. These sorts of options will cost a little bit of money now. But, in the future, they could save you a lot, as well.

Most large companies are charitable. They have to be. Otherwise, people wouldn’t be so happy to ignore tax avoidance and other naughty practices. As a small business, you don’t have to worry so much about this. But, it can be a good idea to start donating towards efforts that are relevant to your company. For example, if you make clothing, you could ship some to a country less fortunate than yours. This is a great show that you’re not only working for money but because you love providing the products that you sell.

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Hopefully, this will give you an idea of some of the things that need to be done to make customers happy. Of course, different customers will like different things. And, you can’t go for everything. So, you have to choose ways that make sense to your business. This means spending some time researching and thinking about the best options.

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