Thursday, 28 July 2011

Start Ups - Thinking About Premises?

For most business start ups there are many important decisions to be made but perhaps one of the most crucial is the choice of premises, making the wrong choice could have a negative impact on the business and prove costly.
So what are the issues you need to consider:-
- you need to find the best location for your premises by considering the individual needs of your business,does it require space, good transport links, high footfall etc.
- you need to decide the size of premises you need, ideally you need to find premises that are'nt too big so that you are paying for space you don't need and also the flexibility by not committing for too long.
- you will have included an amount for premises in your business plan, this should be your guide as to how much you should pay, again there is a trade off between having expensive premises with facilities you don't need (boardroom??)and cheap premises which give a poor impression to customers and future employees.
- the type of agreement you agree to is also important, the two most popular are leases and licences, the terms of each may vary but the important issues are the length of time you are committing to, your responsibilities under the agreement and the protection you have against unreasonable acts by the other party.

Now that some of the issues have been outlined let us have a look at a potential solution to finding start up premises, organisations offer shared workspace to start up businesses, in addition there are other benefits that are designed to help the businesses through the crucial early stages, benefits such as:-
- advice, training in sales, marketing, finance etc.. designed to help fill any skill gaps the entrepreneur may have.
- access to all the facilities the business centre may offer, meeting rooms, boardroom.
- shared central services, there will be a receptionist who will take messages for the various businesses, an IT function.
- the business centre will provide a great business image for the start up, allowing businesses to create a good impression with potential customers.
- there may well be an amount of informal networking between the businesses within the business centre.

There may well be other benefits to the business centre, but the important issue is the cost and the facilities / services on offer, it is certainly worth checking out what is available in your location. I have included a link to UKBI which is the professional body for The British Incubation Industry

Monday, 25 July 2011

Cash Flow Forecasting

Anyone in business will tell you the importance of cash, don't assume just because your business is profitable you don't need to monitor your cash position, any expanding business can easily fall into the trap of "overtrading" (this is when a business has increased cash outflows for materials and wages but has insufficient cash to cover the outlay until the customer pays for the goods). You must devote sufficient time to know what your forecast cash position is, if your cash position is extremely tight then you may need to give it even more attention, by forecasting your expected cash position it may highlight areas of concern, this could enable you to start corrective action to avoid the situation, should you require additional funds then it is better to approach the bank manager now about a potential problem three months away rather than waiting till it has happened, if you flag it up early the bank manager will be more impressed with your management skills than simply not being aware of the problem. Cash forecasts should be done to support annual budgets, the impact of additional premises, staff, machinery needed to deliver any increased activity should be seen on the cash balance and any shortfall needs to be addressed.
Whilst the annual cash flow forecast is a very useful tool, it only provides opening and closing balances each month and a lot can happen in those four week periods. To provide the required "visibility" I usually do the first two months in week periods so that it gives more detail and provides a first class tool to manage cash movements, as each week passes I roll the eight week window one week further into the year, you still keep sight of the annual position but it gives you added focus on the next eight weeks which is particularly important if cash is tight.

A V Accounting providing a quality service to the individual needs of your business

Monday, 23 August 2010

Winner or Loser

We have all got parts of our work that we like doing and parts that we don't like / hate doing and guess what tends to happen, the part we like doing gets done and the part we don't like doing does'nt get done. To make matters worse we spend time thinking of excuses to justify us not getting the work done, until eventually we are either forced to do it or it just never gets done. Now there is one simple rule here "Winners get it done", no ifs or buts they just get the job done and move on, saving time spent on excuses and clearing their mind to concentrate on the next issue.

5 main excuses not to do the jobs we don't like

1)not enough time - make time, get the job done now so that you can clear your mind for other problems
2)I don't like doing it - tough, we all have parts of jobs we don't like, get it done and you will feel better when it's out of the way.
3)it's not due yet - get it done now, when the time comes for you to do it you may be busier and under more pressure.
4)I keep forgetting - and there is a reason for that, you don't want to do it, get it out the way you will feel better.
5)I don't know how to do it - find out, every day you should learn something new, your challenge is to learn somthing new and clear your in tray

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Competition Research For Your Small Business - Finding Your Unique Angle

Part of developing a strong business plan, whether for an existing business or a start-up, involves extensive competition research for your small business. By knowing what the competition is doing right and what they are doing wrong, you can better determine your own unique selling proposition. Your USP positions your business in the market and offers customers a reason to choose you over your competitors. Areas to research include product or service offerings, marketing activities, and target market. Perhaps the competition is missing opportunities for new products or services, or does not serve a particular market. Knowing this can help you fill the gap for customers.

Effective competition research for your small business should include SWOT principles. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By using these principles both in evaluating your own business, as well as your competition's operations, issues and opportunities come to light that you may have otherwise missed. The concept can be applied using the most simple or the most complex system. A simple notepad listing traits for each competitor may suffice for initial research. For more complex research or industries, a more in-depth system using computer database software might be needed.

Whatever system you use to track research it should work with your normal work style and record keeping. If you are more comfortable tracking your research on the computer, then devise a system accordingly. If you are more comfortable with more simple methods such as paper lists and gathering marketing collateral or other printed material on your competitors, then devise a file or folder system that works for hard copy tracking. Regardless of the method, be prepared to amass a great deal of information when performing competition research for your small business.

Keep in mind, your research should involve both first and second party information. In other words, find information about your competitors that comes directly from them. This could be flyers, their website, or brochures. The competitor generates first party information directly. Second party information will come from sources other than your competition. The majority of competition research for your small business will be in the form of second party information. This might include information from the local Chamber of Commerce, feedback from customers of your competitors, vendors, word of mouth, or reviews in local papers and trade publications. It is advisable that you consider the source before relying heavily on the information from secondary sources.

Visit Accountants in Leeds, a firm of accountants and business advisors specialising in small business. Find out how we can help your business grow.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Your Small Business Plans Must Include the Right Components, Or You'll Fail

Business failure happens for a number of reasons that include lack of focus and poorly developed small business plans. New hopefuls often jump into the world of online business with just an idea. They do not have a full grasp of what is involved in starting an online business.

They see what appears to be a great money-maker and without doing any preparation, begin their marketing. Often, they buy pay per click advertising which can quickly drain their bank accounts if they don't know what they are doing.

When the money doesn't come as they had hoped, they move onto another idea and repeat the same process, only to fail again.

A lot of planning must go into a business before you start spending money on marketing and advertising, and even before you build that first web site.

The main reasons people fail include:

- Trying too many things
- Feeling overwhelmed by all the technology
- Making wrong choices
- Analysis paralysis
- Lack of expertise
- Driving the wrong kind of traffic

Serious entrepreneurs who do succeed know how important it is to have effective small business plans from the start that ensure all bases are covered.

A good business plan outlines the overall focus of the business, your million dollar market, the audience that it serves, and the steps needed to gain their confidence, get them to your web site and buy from you.

And this is just the beginning. There are many other details that must be considered if you are to succeed. This is what so many would-be millionaires miss.

Take your product or service. If you do not study the market and your competitors, you will have little idea how to build your own customer base. By doing diligent market research, you will know before you invest a penny whether or not your idea is worth pursuing.

Determining factors include the size of your competition. Is your niche already swamped with other marketers going after a relatively small market share? Are people buying what they are offering and at what capacity?

Once you decide that you have a winning, profitable idea you have to know what your competition is doing so that you can do them one better. If you do not know how to do that, your business will fail before it gets off the ground.

Finding your hungry buyers is another challenge that eludes many new marketers. While they succeed at driving large numbers of traffic to their offers, they do not make sales... because it is not targeted traffic.

Do not underestimate the importance of doing strategic business planning before you go after that first sale.

All these issues and more will be resolved if you have a small business plan that outlines how you will proceed. The first step, then, is to take the time to prepare for success, otherwise you might not make it.

Find out how to build your business the right way at Nitro Blueprint Reviewer where you can read business and marketing related articles as well as a review of Nitro Blueprint, a comprehensive guide to setting up your business the right way.

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Monday, 29 March 2010

Social Media - What is it and How Can it Benefit My Business?

With phrases such as "tweeting", "un-friending" and "liking" now becoming common place terms, confused business owners frequently ask me "what is social media?" and "how can I use it to promote my business?"

Put simply, social media is people using the web to have conversations. A fairly simple concept, but it's simplicity shouldn't be used to underestimate its power. While people may use social networking sites to have conversations about topics as mundane as what they had for lunch, they also delve into more pressing topics, such as politics, religion, world events and even your brand.

In August 2009, Cadbury felt the full force brunt of an anti-Cadbury campaign that disgruntled consumers launched on Facebook. The Facebook pages "Take palm oil out of Cadbury chocolate bars" and "Boycott Cadbury Palm Oil Chocolate" accumulated over 3,500 fans between them and sent such a clear message to the New Zealand confectionery producer that they issued a formal apology to consumers and announced they would cease using palm oil in their products.

Meanwhile, more positive examples of social media "chatter" can be found in the numerous Facebook fan pages dedicated to the Coke brand - my personal favorite being the "It's not Christmas until the Coke lorry is on the telly" page. People use these pages as a platform to express their appreciation of a particular product or brand and share their experiences. What amazingly powerful information for the Coke marketing machine to have access to - real world examples of what marketing works and what doesn't.

The opportunity social media presents for your business is the ability to listen, participate and influence these online conversations. Think of it like being able to position your best sales person at the first worldwide networking event. Instead of just "working " a room, your sales people can "work" the nation, or even the world. How useful would it be for your business to get direct access to your target market and ask them what they want? The return and impact on your internal systems, product/service development and marketing would be immeasurable.

But it is important to know how to stimulate this type of conversation. After all, simply setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account isn't enough to get people chatting about your business. You need to have a clear social media strategy in place that outlines your goals, guidelines, tactics and even a crisis plan.

Part of this strategy needs to address what type of content you will provide on social networking sites and what resource you will dedicate to this. Many companies make the mistake of setting up a social media presence and either neglect it (dedicating no resource to keep it up to date and interesting), or spend all their time pushing out "hard sell" post after "hard sell" post, and wondering why their fan base isn't growing.

Like in a face to face networking situation, you can't spend the entire time talking about yourself -otherwise your potential prospects will quickly excuse themselves (or in the social media landscape "un-friend/un-follow" you) and avoid you altogether. Instead, you need to dedicate resource to engage people by asking them about themselves (and experiences with your brand/products), listen to what they have to say, offer your company's opinions and share advice/experience. Through this "give and take" philosophy, you can then start weaving in posts promoting your latest product/service launch or special offer. Remember, social media is online conversations, not online broadcasting without a listening ear.

About - Solutions Ltd are experts in web strategy analysis, web design, web development, Search Engine Marketing, databases, content management systems, ecommerce and email marketing. With over 10 years experience in online marketing and promotion, can help launch and maintain your online presence. For more information, please go to or become a fan of on Facebook

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Friday, 12 March 2010

3 Day Seminar


Over the weekend I attended a three day seminar about the importance of using the various forms of social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc...)as a way of generating free traffic to your blog or website. Over the next few weeks I intend to pass on some of the tips we were given and the products/services available to help you grow traffic to your site. Other topics were included such as webinars, joint ventures and article marketing and I will also include information and tips about these items in my blog. One topic that did make me think about the possibilities it opened up for small businesses, whether online or not, was outsourcing, anyone thinking of or wanting to know more about outsourcing should click here to have a look at a short article I have written outlining what outsourcing is and the benefits it offers.