1. Starting a New Business
Bircham Dyson Bell LLP our legal partner
www.bdb-law.co.uk has put together a
beginners guide to starting a new business - click on the link to open the PDF document
"Starting a New Business"
2. Business Plan
A business plan is the pen-to-paper "rallying cry" of any start-up venture. Sound business plans not only help companies raise capital but they also help create enduring value. The business plan acts as the operations manual for the company and as a reference tool for investors and board members. It’s therefore very crucial to think through and write a good business plan. This guide will walk you through the whole process in writing a successful business plan that will fit your technology company.
Click on the link to open a Sample Business Plan (click here)
3. Assessing a Business Proposal - Quick Innovation Audit Tool (click here)
4. Method of Brainstorming (click here)
5. Business Model for Information Publisher (click here)
6. Top-Biz Guru’s Top Ten Tips for Writing a Business Plan
- Put Yourself In Their Shoes. Meaning the people who will read your plan - who are they and what do they want to hear? They'll either be investors or a bank or loan company who are lending you the money. Either way they'll want to know how your business is going to generate cash to pay them back and in the case of investors, give them a bit extra as a reward for their risk.
- Describe Your Business Accurately. For example a car hire firm may be anything from a single minicab parked in your drive to a large fleet hire company leasing to corporate clients plus a range of self-drive vehicles. Be specific about what you're setting up. So long as your plans are underpinned by a coherent strategy you shouldn't be afraid of thinking big.
- Identify Your Customers. It's no good talking about "customers" in the abstract. Find out who they are likely to be, why they will like/need your product or service and how you are going to sell it to them. Is your business limited to a geographical area? If so, define it and get hold of some statistics about the local population. Show the demographic breakdown and those sections of the community who will be your prime customers.
- Remember the Big M. That's marketing of course. Bank managers are approached by countless numbers of dreamers who think all they have to do is come up with an idea, throw some money at it and make a fortune. It can work like that, but only if you're very lucky. Backers will want to be convinced you're relying on more than luck, so show them exactly how you're going to get people buying from you. Have a marketing strategy and set it out on paper.
- Show You Understand the Competition. Who are they and where are they? If there are already three hairdressers in the immediate locale what are they offering and how much do they charge? Will simply undercutting them (sorry about the pun!) work or do you need to offer something they don't - maybe pedicures, additional beauty treatments or some other USP....
- Describe Your Unique Selling Point. You may not think you have one, especially if your business is traditional. But think again. A sandwich bar that opened amidst several others in a town centre was finding it tough to tempt in the customers. Then one of the staff came up with naming the sandwiches after the classic film stars - Bogart, Dietrich, Fonda, Chaplin etc. They also put old movie posters on the walls. Gimmicky yes, but what had been just another café became a talking point in the town and drew in the punters.
- Logistics. Provide a detailed, step-by-step breakdown of exactly how your business will operate. It's no good leaving these things till later, you have to show you've thought about it fully in advance. How many staff, what they'll do, how the equipment works, where and when supplies come from, how customers collect and pay for goods. These things must all be itemised.
- The Sums Must Add Up. Never be vague about amounts of money. Bank managers and accountants' toes curl up at words like "about", "probably" or "roundabout" Your financial statement must show exactly how your start-up finance will be spent - capital equipment, stock, rents, running costs etc. Your income from the business will of course be based on estimates but nevertheless give specific figures for these estimates.
- The Breakeven Point. For your backers this is probably the most important element of your business plan. And because you know they're keen to see you start to turn a profit, it's tempting to be over-optimistic. Serious investors are realistic people however and they'll want to see this quality in you. The important thing is not quick profits but sure and steadily growing profits.
- Look to the Future. Obviously this is what a business plan is all about. But include some "blue-sky" thinking for the longer term. Talk about expansion possibilities, diversification and opportunities for exponential growth. For investors in particular, this is the kind of Wow Factor to bring them on board with you.
By: Ron G Holland
Ron G Holland is author of eighteen business books, manuals and audio programs; is Britain's leading motivational speaker and Top Biz Guru.
7. Business Presentation
A compelling PowerPoint presentation on your business is a vital tool for any start-up company. CONNECT has developed a presentation template that can help you tell your story to investors and other stakeholders.
8. Sample Executive Summaries
The Executive Summary may be the most important part of your business plan. It is the first - and sometimes the only - part potential investors and other stakeholders will read.
9. Business Valuation
Any small business entrepreneurs expecting to find equity financing from angel or venture capital investors should be aware of the many ways sophisticated investors use to value a candidate business, and should be prepared to supply information to the investor to help in that process.
10. Theo Paphitis - 12 Rules for Success
Rule 1 - Reduce The Risk
I have only three reasons for going to work: one, to make money; two to have fun; and three, not to forget to make money. I’m a great believer that the risk should reflect the reward. If it’s a high-risk strategy, then I want a high reward. My philosophy is based on a risk-reward ratio. But it’s got to stack up. If it doesn’t don’t do it. You might as well go to a casino. You might strike it lucky, but in the end, you’ll lose the lot. That’s guaranteed.
Rule 2 - Don't Fool Yourself
The easiest person to fool is you. I spend lots of time in the bathroom; it’s my thinking time. If a project has gone wrong I look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I did my best but it didn’t work out’. If I took silly risks, didn’t work hard enough or let my heart rule my head, then I give myself a good kicking. If you have a business idea, honesty is very important. I’m fed up hearing wannabe entrepreneurs say ‘Everybody I have asked thinks my idea is fantastic.’ Well, if I think your idea is crap, you can never say that again. Obviously you have no friends, at least one of them would have told you it was crap.
Rule 3 - Learn To Let Go
The hallmark of a top-class entrepreneur is to be able to let go and sell a successful business. People hold on until sometimes the business has no value at all. Sell it! You must be able to create something and then sell it at exactly the right time. That’s really hard. I still find it hard. You’ve put so much of your life, your body and soul, into something and then you have to let go, as I did with La Senza and Contessa.
Rule 4 - Know That Cash Is King
Cash flow is king. Profit is sanity. Turnover is vanity. A lack of profit is like a cancer; If it carries on for a long time, it will eventually kill you. But a Jack of cash is like a heart attack: If you can’t pay the rent you shut down just like you would if your heart packed up. If you can’t pay the wages, it’s all over. Don’t be without cash. You can live without profit, but not without cash./ It’s very basic and simple advice.
Rule 5 - Embrace Change
As I mentioned, I have recently sold two of my retail chains, La Senza and Contessa. Read into that what you want. The retail environment is changing very rapidly at the moment, partly because of the internet. There has never been a better time to make a success of business. Money is cheap, as is technology and knowledge. Consumers have got an insatiable appetite, and if you can satisfy that, you can make money. That’s why this is the best time ever for anyone who wants to make a success of their life.
Rule 6 - Use Your Common Sense
Business is 90 per cent common sense, but common sense is not common. If it were everyone would have it and everyone would be able to do what I do And I wouldn’t want that!
Rule 7 - Make Decisions
One of the things I preach to all my staff is never be frightened to make a decision. Of course you’ll get some wrong, but if you get more right than wrong, then you’re doing okay.
Rule 9 - Start Small
You can start a business on your own or just with a partner or an assistant. It’s only when you take on your first member of staff that you’re more than likely to encounter other problems. All of a sudden you’re managing the people as well a the business. But remember, just because you had a good business idea, it doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly acquired staff management skills. Legislation is now so watertight – as well as being complicated and restrictive – that you have to consider everybody’s feelings and requirements.
Rule 10 - Get Your Staff On Board
The workforce are the most important people in the business. My job is to make their working environment as stress-free as possible. Motivating staff is not just about making them feel wanted: tangible rewards are equally as important. For instance, we have weekly bonuses and longer-term incentives – normally a week on a Caribbean island with yours truly. The downside for the staff is they have to spend a week with me – the upside for me is that I get to know them even better.
Rule 11 - Capitalise On Other People's Ideas
I’ll let you into a little secret: I’ve never had an original idea in my life. But I have pinched a few and made them work for me. Well, not exactly pinched – I’ve modified and adapted them a little. But when I do find an idea – always someone else’s – that I think will work, I do something about it. That’s the difference between me and so many other people.
Rule 12 - Turn Your Dreams Into Reality
We all have dreams – the trick is to turn them into reality. Obviously, the more success you have, the greater the resources available to you. Making £100 million is easy. Making your first million is the difficult part. You have got to be passionate about your idea. If you can go to the pub and bore your friends senseless about your dream you’re halfway there.
The key to all businesses is Innovation and as a result the management of Innovation. Connect London use a methodology developed by the EU to assess the level of Management of Innovation in companies with more than 4 employees. For an audit email email@example.com
12. BOOTSTRAPPING MENTORING AND CONSULTANCY
Connects’ Bootstrapping Support Services
Connect is perhaps unique in offering support to entrepreneurs through Bootstrapping Consultancy and Mentoring. It can be delivered in two ways:
(click here for more details) (click here for Connect Mentor Agreement)
13. INBOUND MARKETING
(Click her for more details)