We come across many struggling or failed businesses and talk to many business owners. So we think we are well placed to give a few tips on this subject. They’re not meant to be exhaustive and can be summarised by saying that any business owner needs to thinks things through well and document his strategy.
UNDERSTAND YOUR MARKET
Make sure you know who your competitors are and what they are doing. Who are your customers? Why do you think they will purchase from you? Do you fully understand the product that you are selling? What is your unique selling point?
PREPARE A MARKETING PLAN/BUDGET
Based on your understanding of the market, prepare a detailed marketing plan for the next year. This should be broken down monthly, taking into account any seasonal fluctuations.
Start with your costs – it will be much easier to forecast the costs of the business – this will include overheads and direct costs.
Then, prepare a sales budget. This will be broken down between the various routes to achieve sales (for example traditional advertising, website leads, marketing salaries etc). These will be matched up against the cost budget for these routes that deliver the sales budget so a return on investment can be worked out on a monthly basis.
MONITOR YOUR PLAN REGULARLY
Budgets will constantly change and your perception of the market will change as you understand it more.
Regularly review actual results against your budget and be prepared to change your plan.
Set targets throughout the business to assess performance.
DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF
You must get expert help in certain areas – for example bookkeeping, accounting, marketing, legal etc. – and this advice doesn’t often come cheap. But be prepared to quiz your advisers – above all remember no one knows the business like you and trust your instincts about your advisers.
GUARD YOUR OWN TIME AND PRIORITISE
There’s always so much to do. Prioritise the things that you think need to be done and do them in order of priority. If that means that certain less important things are not done, then so be it. The answer is not to work 25 hours per day. You still need to have a family life – after all the business is the means to the end – don’t let it take charge of your life.
Time is the only resource that cannot be bought. Be very careful how you use it.
BE PREPARED TO MAKE MISTAKES
Very few successful business people would say they hadn’t made any mistakes. The important thing is to spot them – and spot them quickly. That is why it’s so important to have budgets, up to date accounts and targets throughout the business which you assess on a regular basis.
THE GLASS MUST ALWAYS BE HALF FULL
Always be optimistic about the business. There is so much psychology in the nebulous subject of success. If you really believe you will achieve success, the chances are you probably will.
BUILD A TEAM THAT KNOWS WHERE IT’S GOING
Try to provide feedback to the staff as to how the business is performing. How can the staff help with the targets within the business? How do you get the staff to be part of the success of the business? Understand that you cannot make your business a success without a team behind you pulling in the same direction.