how to do business


How to Plan and Grow your Business

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How to create a business plan that delivers?

Just follow these rules.

Start with what you've got

Limit the risk

Work with people you trust

Look for problems you can turn into offers

Build and manage a network to deliver a complete solution

Most business plans are written in templates provided by banks or VCs for you to pitch them for money. This approach has also leaked over into the requirements for getting government funding.

While this is fine as far as it goes it doesn't really help you to plan in a practical way to run yoProfit Volume graphur business since what you want is a working document that summarises what you actually need to do and which gets updated - frequently - as you go along. And you want to write it to reflect what you actually do.

You don't control the environment in which you work and so you can't assert - as a corporate toothpaste manufacturer might - that in 4 years time you will dominate 33% of the market for a certain segment and then logically work back in stages from there.

Entrepreneurs start from the other end. We make use of what is readily available, create an offer collaboratively with some customers, follow the money and bootstrap ourselves into the future.

But we need to do this systematically - and we need to think about how we are going to refine the business model once we have one, how we are going to scale the business, who we are going to have to work with and what steps we need to take to start off a new wave of "making up as we go along" when the existing offer gets past it's sell by date. In some high tech industries that can be eye-wateringly quickly.

From teaching Entrepreneurial Marketing at Business Schools we developed a Business Plan that is grounded in the small business world. Most of us run service oriented businesses aimed at other businesses. A summary of some of the business basics behind it are in this introductory video and summarised below


Planning for small businesses

A workable business plan answers the following questions about your proposed offer:

  1. How do you know anyone wants to buy this?. What research have you done, what indications are there of demand? Take on board the idea that the strongest market research is sales you have already made.
  2. How are you going to deliver it? What systems do you need? What collaborators will you need? Chances are you will need a value network of other players with your firm at the hub. This network may eventually refine into a conventional value chain if there is stable demand for long enough.
  3. Will it make any money? My business partner says this should be number one but I think unless you know someone is in the market there's not a lot of point in doing more than a fag packet exercise.
  4. All the operation stuff - people, IT and most of all how are you going to sell it?
  5. How will you scale the business - how will you retain the flexibility to take the cost out of one business model at the same time as retaining the flexibility to set off another wave of disruption?
  6. How will you know you're going in the right direction - what metrics will you use?
  7. How much money will you need and how much money do you want to make?

All of this needs to be summarised into a business plan that can be used to drive the business forward because you have identified what needs to be done by when and by whom to get to the next milestone.

If you would like some help with your business planning you can ring me on 0845 094 0407 or if you would just like a copy of the business plan template please request it here.

And finally - seven ideas to help you run a better business

Treat people who buy from you, sell to you and work for you as grown ups - this makes all the difference.

Identify something that people want to buy - then sell it to them - politely

Describe what you have to sell focusing on why it's useful to whoever's going to buy it.

Create easy to operate procedures that have resilience.

Build sustainability into your business model.

When you mess up admit it and refund without question - this will save time, money and your blood pressure.

Take whatever profits you make and spend them on something that is valuable, useful or beautiful

View Alan Rae's profile on LinkedIn

Contact - To discuss how we can help with your business growth or marketing ring 0845 094 0407




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