The Golden Rules of Small Business Marketing

Marketing is important to businesses of all sizes, but it can literally prove the difference between success and failure for smaller organisations. An effective marketing strategy will help present the appropriate brand image for a company, which in turn helps converts browsers into customers.

In addition, successful marketing is no longer all about big budgets and expert teams. Even sole traders can market their company effectively, particularly if they follow these golden rules.

Image source: The Blue Diamond Gallery

Cast your net wide

Your customers don’t only consume one medium, so don’t limit your marketing efforts to just a handful of channels. Make sure you consider emails, online ads, social media, television, radio, newspapers, trade press, apps and anything else that is available to you. Certain media will suit specific audiences better than others, however, so be sure to tailor your marketing appropriately.

The importance of social

Social media has huge reach and can have a powerful impact. For businesses, it provides a way to connect with an audience in a more personal and engaging way. Content you put on social media can go viral in a matter of minutes, but it also provides a great way of delivering targeted ads. Facebook advertising, for example, gives you access to an audience of almost two billion people and you can use social media data to target specific groups with ease.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Cloud computing is perfect for small businesses as it uses subscription fees in place of prohibitive upfront costs. Cloud-based marketing software ranges from design tools to automation services, ensuring that there’s sure to be an IT solution to suit your needs.

Convert one-time sales into long-term customers

If you’re a small business, you can’t afford to let an interested customer slip through your fingers. If someone buys a product or service, send them a follow-up email thanking them for their purchase and offering them a discount on future buys. If you can, send them newsletters and promotions to keep your brand at the forefront of their thoughts.

Blog for business

A blog can be a great way of introducing some more subtle marketing into your organisation. Instead of directly asking your customers to spend their money, you create interesting content that they want to read. By making them think about current issues or problems that you can solve through your business, you push them towards a purchase without forcing the issue.

Seek out some press coverage

Creating a press release and sending it out to the local media is a great way of generating some extra exposure and the best thing is, it’s completely free. Try to craft a press release that is genuinely interesting, however, to avoid wasting your time.

Protect what you have

As part of your marketing efforts, you’ll generate a lot of useful data. This will concern customer details and also the effectiveness of your campaigns. Both of these are hugely valuable to your company, so make sure they are protected by strong cybersecurity protocols. If this data were to be lost, or stolen, it would hinder much more than just your marketing efforts.

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Winter Fashion and Beauty Trends

Despite our natural instinct to hibernate, once you get over the biting cold and long, dark nights there’s actually something pretty romantic about winter, and fashion and beauty trends to go with it. Here are our ten top ideas to keep you looking great until spring:

  1. Wavy hairstyles: during winter you need a hairstyle that gives movement to your locks and adds a bit of fun to your darker winter looks. Wavy hairstyles are the way to go, especially if you love covering your head with woolly hats! Think casual and elegant wavy hairstyles, long and short, perfect for those misty days when your hair fights against all the straighteners in the world.
  2. Knitwear: as the common refrain goes ‘Knitwear? More like fitwear.’ Everyone looks good in a bit of knit. This endlessly flattering choice is perfect for cold, blustery days.
  3. Woolly socks: and if we’re on the subject of woollies let’s not forget the simple joy in a luxurious pair of warm socks. Use interesting colours to brighten up your look and wear them pulled up above your boots.
  4. Leather boots: yep, of course, winter requires some sturdy, but beautiful footwear and this season it’s all about leather. Look for buckles and other detailing to get a pair that suits your look.
  5. Belts over coats: this is a recurring trend and one particularly big this year. Use a wide belt worn high around the waist to give you that classic hour-glass figure.
  6. Half-gloves: hands get chilly too so make sure to wrap up warm with a good pair of gloves this season. The trend at the moment is for those which cover up to your knuckles, but leave fingers free for using phones and holding hands.
  7. Thigh length coats: if nothing else, make sure to get a good coat this winter. It’s the one piece that will be most influential to your look. Coats that reach to mid-thigh are particularly on-trend.
  8. Temporary tattoos: usually winter is about covering up, but there will be times when you find somewhere warm and can finally remove all those layers. Why not surprise everyone when you do so with a cute temporary tattoo. There are lots of great options now designed by illustrators and fashionistas that can update your look in minutes.
  9. Braids: if you’re not one for wavy hairstyles and prefer to keep your hair away from your face, long hair can be kept off during winter with braids. Simple, beautiful and leaving you more time for laying on all those extra clothes.
  10. Treat yourself: Winter can be tough with lots of frosty weather and long, dark evenings. The greatest fashion accessory is a cheery attitude so if you need a little TLC during these months don’t hesitate to pamper yourself at a good beauty salon.

Stay warm, stay happy and look great this winter. Follow our tips and there’ll be no need to hibernate for the rest of the season!

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Making The Leap: From No Space To Office Space

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One of the great accomplishments in growing a startup from humble beginnings to a fully-fledged business is realizing that you are in a position to start thinking about getting an office space set up. This is a big step to take, but it means that the business is making leaps and bounds to becoming an official organization. There are things that you need to bear in mind before taking the leap.

Understanding the legal implications inside and out is the first step to take. The best advice would be from businesses that you know who have made the move recently. Is setting up an office an essential move for your business? You need to be 100% sure that it is feasible, but also that it will prove beneficial for your businesses. Once you have reached the logical conclusions, you need to get help from a commercial property agent who has a deep understanding of your specific requirements. Upon reviewing the buildings to ascertain if the infrastructure is suitable for the amount of tech you will need to move in, you can start to negotiate leasing terms.

Location is imperative to the success of your business. If you are upscaling your business to include creating new business roles and taking on new employees, you will need to make sure that the place is easily commutable. If you are expecting your business to grow, are you going to be staying in the location for long? And if you are picking a central location, this will need to be factored into the cost, as an industrial estate is cheaper but not as commutable. Your staff needs and your business requirements should be reflected in your choice of location.

After you have settled on a space, it’s time to consider the financial impact it will have on you. Running a business from home meant that utilities and building costs were already factored into your living situation. You will now have to factor in rent, business rates, insurance, the technical costs, as well as the utilities. There are many buildings used for business that offers short-term leases, so you can look at your outgoings on a monthly basis and truly factor in if that office space is suitable for you. Once you have crunched the numbers, you can start to move equipment in. There are installation services available for businesses and can help to make the move a lot less stressful than it needs to be. So instead of trying to rent a van yourself and getting help, you are better off getting a company to do it for you. Once the furniture and equipment have been moved in, all the place needs is a lick of paint and a bit of personalization. Don’t forget the essentials like a water dispenser and items like a fridge!

Moving your business to a new location and setting up an office can seem like a mammoth task, but it is the result of all your hard work up to this point. This is your time for the business to shine, so enjoy it.

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Stretch Out Your Start-Up Budget!

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Believe it or not, the start-up costs you need to cover to get your business off the ground are going to be some of the most strenuous expenses you’ll ever need to deal with. Before you start turning a profit and taking steps to grow your business, there are a range of costs that need to be considered and managed as best as possible. Here are some tips for making your initial budget go further…

Stay Flexible

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I’m sure that when you first started drawing up your business plan, you had all kinds of grand visions involving the latest equipment and software, a board room full of expert staff, amazing office parties, and all kinds of other perks. However, if you get too wrapped up in these grand visions, it can make it very hard to stay flexible when covering your start-up costs, and therefore to save money! I’m not saying you can’t achieve all the dreams you have for your business, I’m just saying they should take a back seat for the time being! Consider the possibility of more short-term solutions; affordable, rented office spaces, freelancers and so on. There’s going to be a lot of changes in that initial period, and these short-term solutions will give you the flexibility to take them as they come.

Cut Costs, But Don’t Go Cheap!

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Your start-up costs can add up very quickly, but there are various ways for you to figure out the best areas to spend money, and those areas where you can afford to tighten your belts. If you’re opening a restaurant and you’re planning to market it as a high-end establishment, then things like lavish tableware and luxury restaurant furniture are kind of non-negotiable. However, none of your customers are going to care that much about the brand of the pots and pans your staff are using. There are going to be a range of ways you can shave down your start-up costs depending on your business model and your plans for the future. Two things thing which almost every entrepreneur can save on is digital marketing and website development. There are now countless free tools and resources out there which will help you get your brand’s online presence off the ground.

Review, Review, Review!

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It’s great when new business owners approach their start-up costs with extreme caution, but this is only the beginning of it. Now that you’ve found ways to save on those first big expenses, you need to keep coming back to your cash flow again and again, and making sure that all of your expenses stay on track for you hitting your long-term business goals. Go over your profit and loss each month, compare it to your past performance, and pin down the source of any discrepancies. This will open your eyes to problems long before they actually break. As long as you keep on top of your numbers, there’ll be little standing between you and the business you’re dreaming of!

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If those pesky start-up costs were beginning to overwhelm you, I hope this post has been a big help.

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How to Save Money on Your Business Broadband

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With the digital world that we live in today, the internet is a so it is important that the internet is a significant factor in a business. We need to ensure that what we get is fast enough and that we are getting the best deals. Here is how to make sure you are getting the most out of your business broadband.

  1. Get the best deals available.

There are different broadband packages to cater for the varied needs of different businesses. Most businesses end up staying with the broadband provider that they originally signed up with. This is because they feel like it is too much of a hustle to change to a different one. However, it is worth looking at what other packages out there to ensure that you are not paying too much for something that you probably do not need.

It is always advisable to go to the provider that you already have and bargaining. Politely explaining that you have been a customer for a while and you feel like have not been getting the full extent of their performance.

  1. Check your broadband speeds.

One of the most frustrating things is slow broadband. Make sure that you are getting the right speeds and satisfactory service. There is a lot of online comparison tool checkers so have a look at them. These can tell you is the speeds that you require for your business are achievable in your location. They could be much slower than you expect. You could be paying more for very low.

But how fast are the internet speeds that your business really needs? Broadband with lower Mbps is usually cheaper than faster ones.

If your business is located in a local loop unbundled (LLU) operators area, you should be able to shift to a service that is faster.

  1. Look out for hidden costs

A lot of business broadband packages will give you very good introductory offers just to draw you into using their services. Stay away from low broadband download limits. A lot of internet service providers do not have caps on how much you can download. In cases where there is a limit, usually 1-40 GB monthly usage, the additional costs are high. Get a package that offers unlimited downloads.

Read through the terms and conditions thoroughly to ensure that you are not signing up to a package that you will not want to pay for in 6 or 12 months.

  1. Ask your friends.

Ask your friends and neighbours which internet service provider they are using what kind of service they are getting. Get to know their opinions and which ISP they think is the best. If they can recommend one, even better. Word of mouth recommendation is a lot better as it comes from someone with some sort of experience.

  1. Consider bundle options.

Look out for companies that offer cheaper deals. It makes sense to put together your services you require in a broadband in one provider as it saves you money. Despite this, it is not easy to compare prices when it comes to bundle options and you need to be aware of connection costs and introductory discounts.

  1. Broadband deals.

Despite the fact that the opening monthly bargains may be attractive, you need to calculate what the real monthly cost of the broadband package you are being offered is. Consider all the costs that are involved. Is the modem free or are you paying for it? Are there connection costs? Delivery costs? And probe the freebies you are given. Sum up everything and divide by the months you are planning your contract to be for and them you will know your actual monthly cost.

  1. Contract length

The longer the length of your contract with your service provider the cheaper your broadband bill will be. If you are okay with signing a 2 or 3-year contract then you are likely to get a good monthly price from your device provider.

  1. Connection type

Look at the different connection types and see if it is available in your area. The most popular types in the UK are Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), cable, and wireless. Inquire with your eventual provider to see if one or all of these are obtainable in your area.

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6 Ways To Keep Up Your Yoga Habits When Traveling

Summer is the busiest season for excursion, and in the coming months loads of us will be far from home. Numerous cutting edge yogis assemble their practice around studio classes: we as a whole have our most loved areas, instructors, and times to go to class, and any disturbance in our routine can bring about our yoga practice to fall by the wayside.  So how would we keep from dismissing our yoga while voyaging?

1. Pack for practice. Try not to give yourself a chance to state, “I don’t have anything to wear!” Pack no less than one asana equip that does twofold obligation as an agreeable plane or auto furnish. A number of the new cutting edge textures will wash and dry rapidly in an inn sink (bring some tender cleanser), so you don’t need to over-pack.

Additionally, consider purchasing a travel tangle that is particularly made to be collapsed to fit in the littlest go ahead. It won’t give much pad, however it will shield you from filthy surfaces and give your hands and feet something to hold.

2. Prepare. Do some exploration on the accessibility of open classes at your goal. Search for neighborhood studios to attempt, and recall that numerous inns and spas offer yoga classes to visitors.

Another awesome approach to get your practice in while you’re away is by gushing on the web classes. Spare yourself time on your excursion by going on the web before your takeoff to bookmark an assortment of recordings to attempt (distinctive lengths, levels, and so on.). That way you won’t invest half of the energy you reserved for work on hunting down the ideal class to suit your disposition.

3. Take it outside. It can be unbelievably supporting to withdraw to a room where you can close the entryway and discover peace and calm. In any case, consider moving your practice outside where your faculties will wake up to the greater part of the sounds, odors, and vibes of your surroundings. On the off chance that you feel hesitant about outsiders watching you, recollect that you’ll most likely never observe them again – also, you could conceivably make them sufficiently inquisitive to attempt yoga for themselves!

4. Get imaginative with props. No supports, squares or straps? Don’t worry about it. Utilize cushions or stacked covers to emulate supports, books or other tough protests as pieces, and a scarf or belt rather than a strap. With respect to covers, those are normally ample, regardless of the possibility that they’re not the beautiful ones we’re utilized to from the studio and not to forget your yoga travel mat.

5. Any practice is superior to no practice. Abstain from succumbing to “win big or bust” considering, and don’t skirt your practice on the grounds that your calendar doesn’t take into consideration your standard hour and a half stream. What about a couple Sun Salutations in the break before supper, or some standing postures when you stop for gas amid a street trip? When you grab these pockets of time you may be amazed at what number of “small scale rehearses” you can fit in.

6. Take a get-away from your physical practice. I know: I’ve invested this energy persuading you to remain predictable in your practice, isn’t that so? However now and again we can turn out to be inflexibly connected to the “need” of our day by day asana hone. At the point when your body needs rest, compelling yourself to push through a thorough physical practice can prompt to burnout, or more terrible, damage. Once in a while a short break from a routine – even your yoga routine – permits you to energize your batteries and afterward return revived and recommitted. Discharge the frenzy of accepting you’re permitting your practice to “slip by”, and ride the rushes of vitality and recuperation that are fundamental parts of life.

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Stylish and Functional: How to Create a Modern Business Premises

If you’re still working in an outdated building with drab decor and failing furniture, then it might be time for you to upgrade. Not every business demands a modern decor arrangement, but if you’re trying to stay trendy and want the best for your business, then modernising your premises is a long-term investment that will pay for itself very quickly.

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Modern is attractive

Let’s face it, people like a modern business. They like those large glass panes that let people see into their store. It gives them a window to see what goes on inside of your business, what you sell and how many people are inside. On the inside, large windows let in an abundance of natural light which illuminates the room and reflects off glass tables and reflective surfaces, which in turn fill the room with even more light to create a clean and crisp environment.

Modern businesses also pave the way for modern advancements. A cluttered business won’t have room for things like computers and electronic store devices if there’s no room for it. Things like electrical cables and power outlets need to be hidden in the walls unless you want your customers tripping over cables. With easier access to increased power outlets and wiring conveniences, you can install devices such as monitors, touch-screen devices and more to make your customer’s shopping experience easier and more fun.

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Furnishing your premises

Clean and reflective surfaces are key when it comes to furnishing your business. You can get solid surface worktops that look fantastic, reflect light and are sturdy enough to hold everything from food trays to the heaviest of computer components. For seating, ensure that you have designer-style furniture with a futuristic touch. You want your customers to feel immersed in modern culture, design and also technology.

The inside of your business shouldn’t over-utilise space. Empty space is not necessarily a bad thing as it creates a sense of luxury and openness to adds to the modern feel. Don’t cramp your customers into small areas—let them breathe and move around in your store so that they feel welcome and comfortable.

A good way to open up a dark corner of your business is to add more windows. As mentioned before, large glass panes are great at letting in light and allowing customers to see in and out of your business. If they are large enough and your business is close to the street, it can almost feel like your customers are actually still outside and that they’ve walked into a small closed-off section of the street instead of an actual building. With clever lighting tricks and seamless glass panes, you can create the illusion of a luxurious and futuristic shopping experience.

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Less is more

When you create a storefront, you don’t want to overload it with too many products unless you are a grocery store. If you sell something unique such as boutique bags or electronic devices, then you want to show off your products instead of throwing them at your customer’s face. One of the most common mistakes in business is to offer your customers too much choice.

If they’re overwhelmed, then they’re more likely to go to another store, buy something simpler or request help from your employee. Don’t overwhelm people in your store by attacking them from all angles with your products—focus on selling high volumes of your best products instead.

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Goodbye Boring, Hello Wowzer

So many business people think that they are in a “boring industry,” meaning that they are in an industry that people wouldn’t ordinarily want to read about or learn about. But what people find interesting differs from person to person.

Suppose, for instance, you’re an entrepreneur, and you want to succeed on Twitter. The only problem is that you run a business consulting firm which isn’t exactly conducive to new content and tweets. Well, that’s what you think, anyway.

It turns out that more people are successful on social media than you think. A company called 3M has managed to build up a following of more than 120,000 people, despite the fact that it’s primary business is selling bandages, Scotchguard and Post-it notes. What’s more, the company isn’t political, it doesn’t have any celebrities on its board, like Lady Gaga and yet it’s managed to draw in the punters and make an impact.

The way the company has done it is by introducing people to the technology behind their products. Post-it notes might not be particularly interesting themselves, but the process by which they are made certainly is. People are apparently fascinated by all the stages of production that making a simple post-it note goes through and just how much machinery and automation are involved.

In other words, 3M is helping its customers geek out, in a similar way to How Stuff Works website does.

It’s A Myth That Some Brands Can’t Have Social Media Followers

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According to one branding agency, it’s a myth that some brands can’t develop a social following. What is really required is for a company to think about how it fits in with its customers’ wider interests. Perhaps business consulting isn’t all that exciting for entrepreneurs as a title in itself. But far more interesting are things like interviews with successful business people who can share their stories. Remember, people love stories.

Entrepreneurs Need To Invest In people

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3M employs more than 90,000 people. Most of those people are in the business of making, processing and shipping goods. Only around 10 people work in the company’s social media department, but it turns out that they are incredibly valuable. It is estimated that the company invests more than $500,000 and possibly closer to $1 million, paying for people to write content, upload photos and tweet news about the company across a range of social media sites and blogs. It shows that to be a force on Twitter, you have to invest in the platform. The company clearly believes that it is worth it.

More Content Is Better Than Quality Content

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This is usually the opposite of what you hear on most sites, but 3M has discovered that it is the best policy. Just getting content out there, without having a strict content policy, is best in the fast-moving world of social media. Managers, they say, need to be open minded when it comes to the content that their staff are pushing. It’s simply not possible to control every keystroke and have a functioning social media presence.

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Essential Positions That Need to Be Filled in Any Start-Up

Even though you might think your start-up business isn’t big enough to need or even warrant a large number of employees— it is and it needs them; unless, of course, you yourself are professionally trained expert in just about everything. Here are just two of the positions you should seek to fill as soon as possible in your start-up business if you want it to be a success.

An Accountant

Accountants provides a real back bone for your business, allowing you to focus on all the other aspects of it that are stressing you out. They will assist you in all the financial matters, including the drawing up of your professional business plan and any tax issues regarding the registering of a new business. As well as this, an accountant will give you a peace of mind when it comes to a number of acronyms that have so far just given you a headache whenever you’ve look at or thought about them, like VAT and PAYE procedures. They would take these tasks as their own as well as keeping on top of all your regulatory and compliance requirements.

You can also seek help with budgeting and forecasting cash flow from an accountant as well as credit control. And if you’re worried about the price of actually hiring an accountant or using accountancy services in the first place, then fear not as more and more are becoming relatively low-cost, considering the extensive job they do, like those and the services found on www.AccountantsEastLondon.com.

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A SEO Manager

You need somebody to look after your social media sites and your SEO (search engine optimisation) so that you can get the best out of the ever changing world of today’s technology. SEO is of great importance in the marketing of your product online. If a potential customer is searching in your market online, they want quick and accurate information — the business that offers this has that all-important initial attention of the customer. To get this, the customer in question needs to be able see your information pop up on their search engine instantly: they need to see exactly where they can find you so that they can work out how best to get to you; and they need to customer reviews from other, like-minded people as themselves in their area in order to know if they can trust you. Businesses that fail to take advantage of SEO are much more likely to get overlooked in comparison to rivals who have optimised it. Does this sound like a lot for you to handle? The simple solution: hire somebody to do it for you.

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So, there you have it. Simply put: to take back the enjoyment of running your start-up business, share the burden. As well as what bringing accomplished professionals into your business will do for the business as a whole, bringing people in who are as like-minded as you are could induce brand new friendships.

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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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