Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Newsletters - A few Do's and Don'ts

Our Do's
  • Review the intention and content of your e-mail newsletter. It needs to provide useful information - not a pure promotion of your product or service.
  • Have content of real value for your target market, such as tips, new ideas or industry articles.
  • Consider the length of your newsletter. Aim for it to be read in max 10 minutes.
  • Build your mailing list. Have easy sign up options in all your communications and encourage people to join your list. Remember they have to opt in to receive.
  • Send it in the simplest format so that your readers, who have a wide variety of e-mail software and computers, will hopefully receive it in an easy to read style.
  • Keep it short. For lengthy points use a URL link pointing to further information on your web site.
  • Use hyperlinks to your web site or related articles.
  • Ensure that you include easy unsubscribe information in each of your e-mail newsletters.
  • manage your newsletters and understand the type of articles that engage your readers.
  • Keep your title and timing consistent, as people and spam software will recall previous copy.
The Don'ts
  • Send attachments or special formatting, unless you know that this is what your entire audience can and wants to receive. Also a risk of going straight to spam boxes.
  • Send unsolicited e-mail (spam). You could permanently damage your reputation.
  • Send an e-mail newsletter out to often.
  • Use too many images.
  • Use technical or slang wording.

Friday, 27 July 2012

7 effective steps for business growth

Each area of business growth should be systemised, so that it is a habit in your business and business as usual instead of something for occasional focus.
Our suggested 7 steps are:
1.Number of leads marketing
2.Conversation rate sales
3.Number of customer sales cross sales
4.Value of sales prices
5.Margin cost management
6.Buy more often sales & service
7.Increase customer lifetime retention

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Your Business Plan

Your business plan is arguably the most important document that your business will ever create. So why do some people only complete a business plan when asked by the bank? 
Is it not knowing where to start or what to include? Is it because people ‘know’ the business and do not feel they need one? Or is it the fear of monitoring performance against plans? 
In our opinion, not one reason should stop the planning of your business in such a formulated manner, providing you with the ultimate reference document. If you out perform the plan then great, but many times, when we speak to business owners, we get told ‘I do not know why it has not gone as I thought it would. It was not as I planned’.
We suggest that as a minimum, your business plan should include:
  • The key details of the business.
  • Your executive summary including your aims and objectives.
  • The business description including your unique selling point.
  • Your key people and the business operations.
  • Elements unique to your business such as stock, premises, training plans, equipment, insurances etc.
  • The Marketing plan.
  • The financial forecasts including flexing for potential scenarios.

Friday, 20 July 2012

What is your Motivation?

Why do people start their own business and what motivates them?There are a number of personal reasons why people start their own business. Some see an opportunity, some suffer a personal situation such as redundancy or unemployment, whilst others have a family history of self employment or consider it as a way of earning their living. Thinking about your motivations can help you think about the goals you may set yourself and provides a measurement for success as defined by you and not as defined by others looking at your business externally.Success means different things to different people.You need to define what success means for you and this will certainly help you to find the ways to achieve it. If you do not know what you are aiming for it is unlikely you will ever achieve it. Understanding your motivations will help you identify the real purpose of your business and its aims and objectives.So for example, if it is a bigger house for your growing family, then how will the business generate the cash for this? Motivations such as “I simply do not want to work for someone else anymore” is not strong enough on its own.You should also consider planning your exit from day one. You need to have a vision of your exit from the business, so that you get the timing right for you. Too often business owners say my business is my retirement nest egg, but in reality when they come to retire it may not be the right time to sell or the value may not be as expected.So consider the need to groom successors and how to exit at your chosen time, not when other pressures may dictate. Then plan your business to build towards that exit plan. So if you want to sell for a price of £250,000 in 25 years time, what do you have to achieve in the meantime to get there?Possible exit options include: your family succession, selling the business, flotation of the business, a merger or simply closing down the business.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What is out of date?

If you are selling food, then it is obvious when one of your products becomes out of date as it is past its best before date quoted. However do you regularly review your offering to ensure that it still matches the expectations of todays market and has not gone out of date?The reaction of a consumer to eating something out of date would be one of disappointment. Perhaps this could be related to a prospects expecations when they are reviewing your web site to read about a product or service that has not evolved or been updated for a long time?If it is not broken, then don't fix it, but we encourage you to regularly review your offering and how you fit in todays ever changing market place.

Monday, 16 July 2012

In summary, What is business networking?

Business networking is not about the next full English breakfast and effective networking for your business can perhaps be achieved without ever attending an event.Break down the word 'NETWORKING' and you have some of the answers already.

Networking - identify a network of contacts and business influencers that can truly impact your business (eg they will buy from you, they will refer others to you, they have a synergy to work with you, they sell to the same market)

Networking - cast a net and capture your contacts with the objective to convert them from a nice to know contact to an advocate of your business

Networking - proactively work on building the relationships and making regular contact

Networking - if you get networking right, it can be the cost effective king of your marketing strategy

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Is running your business like your diet?

When we eat the 'right things', we generally feel healthy and energised. If we applied this principle to our business and did the 'right things' would our business be more healthy?Research shows that if you plan your food, then you have a better chance of controlling your weight and your healthy diet. So applying this to our business, if we plan our business and our activity well, then the same question, would our business be more healthy?When you have a diet plan, you are less likely to be tempted by something that you perhaps should not be having. So again looking at our business, if we plan the activities that we undertake, then it is less likely that we will be tempted or distracted by other less important activities or fire fighting.

We work closely with SMI (UK) and at our recent Pathfinder Club Meeting, we explored the benefits of planning. We looked at ideas and tools to manage and better plan our diaries, as well as the prioritisation of our To Do lists.

So like a diet, if we do the right things such as eat the 'right' food and take exercise we will be healthier. So if in our business we do the right things and exercise the right activity then it is likely we will have a healthier business.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Finding time for your Non Urgent, Important activity

These activities are also known as your 'High Pay Off' activities. Those activities that if you focus on them will make a true difference to your business. They are activities such as planning, research, communication and relationships to name a few. 5 tips to help you find the time are:

1. Set your goals with focused deadlines
2. Plan the achievement of your goal (action steps and a planned timeline)
3. Communicate to those that need to know (your customers, team, family etc)
4. Schedule your priorities (diarise actions that are important and imperitive)
5. Track your performance against the commitment to yourself

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Time Management and knowing the basics

Do we really know the full extent of what we are trying to manage?
Many people we work with identify the need to manage things such as work for their customers, their emails, their travel time and the day to day administration. However only a few consider those small things that eat into our precious time.
Remember we only have 7 days a week, 24 hours a day to choose what we want to do. Once it has passed it has gone forever.
Some say they would not have the time, but we recommend keeping a daily time log for at least two weeks and logging every minute of your day. What did you really do. Then analyse the period and identify the true activities that need your time management focus.
Without such knowledge, it is then difficult to plan for the obvious without the time getting hijacked by another unforeseen activity.
This may also highlight areas where you may be undercharging or activities you can delegate or outsource.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

What are the top 5 numbers in your business?

Is it your turnover target or your margin percentage? Is it the number of leads you want each month or thenumber of new customers? Is it the maximum number of times the phone should ring before answered? or is it the maximum number of hours to which you will reply to an enquiry?

These numbers will be very personal to you and if achieved will help drive the success of your business.
So are you measuring these 5 numbers on a monthly basis in your management information? Are they on every meeting agenda looking at ways to improve them or simply focus on them?
If not then why not, as you have identified them as your top 5 numbers.
Mike Foster, speaks on this very subject. To read more, please see our web site