Business review, how to stay on track in business, update your business plan, review your business, Professional Writer

Is it time for a Business Review?

Your Business Review is due

What’s in focus for your business over the next 6 months? Not sure? It’s time for a business review.

Yes, we’re almost halfway through 2017! I don’t know where the first six months of this year disappeared to, but July is almost upon us.

Why undertake a Business Review?

With this in mind, I’ve recently undertaken a business review of The Professional Writer. In order to move forward effectively and strive to improve, I believe it’s important to first reflect on the year so far. This includes going over the incredible highs and a few lows of the past 6 months so I can focus on capitalising on what’s really working and come up with a strategy to address a few of the challenges I’m experiencing (we all have them, don’t we?!).

Reviewing your business performance stops you from becoming complacent or just muddling along hoping everything will be okay… yes, most of us have been there too. Sure, I review my figures and outcomes on a monthly basis, but a six monthly business review provides me with more information and a bigger picture perspective of where the business is headed.

A Business Review can set you up for success

Success in life, and in business, isn’t just about having the right skill set or certain qualifications, it’s about having the resilience to bounce back when things don’t work out as planned. A business review provides the opportunity to take a good look at what went wrong and either view it as a defeat or see it as a chance to improve.

Action is key

Business success is also based on taking action. All the planning in the world will be ineffective if no action is taken. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect, as this can result in long delays. By taking imperfect action, you’re setting the wheels in motion. You can always change direction later if what you’ve done isn’t working.

Setting your intention

What is your intention for your business in the next 6 months? What do you want to achieve? As part of my business review and business plan, I’ll be confirming my intentions by setting a number of distinct goals for myself and my business, as well as targets for my budget and statistics. If I don’t do this, I know I’ll just be muddling along, working hard in my business and suddenly, it will be December and I won’t have achieved everything I could have.

Doing a business review has the capacity to reinforce your confidence, help determine your direction while working towards achieving important outcomes –  and set you up for success.

How’s your business travelling so far this year? Is it time for you to do a business review too?

The Professional Writer - Lyndall Guinery-Smith

Hi, I’m Lyndall Guinery-Smith, The Professional Writer. I write copy dedicated to attracting and engaging your customers – and improving your bottom line. I happily work with clients all over Australia. Email me to arrange an obligation-free discussion about your latest project. Or if you’d like to learn how to connect with your audience and build your business, why not input your email address and receive my regular marketing updates in your mailbox? You can sign up for our mailing list at the base of the Home Page on www.ProfessionalWriter.com.au.

 

 

ways to stay ahead in small business, small business marketing tips, small business help, professional writer, Lyndall Guinery-Smith

7 ways to stay ahead in small business

Looking to stay ahead in small business?

Being a business owner can be lots of fun, but it can also be tough. It’s easy to get into a bit of a rut when you just keep on doing what you do, day in day out. If you really want to stay ahead in small business, taking a step out of your everyday worklife can sometimes be the most beneficial thing to do.

Keep Learning

We all need to stay on a journey of continuous learning and development, or we can quickly get stale.

Taking time out to learn new skills and techniques, and to catch up on what’s new in your industry is essential to your own development and that of your business. Attending conferences, expos, seminar and industry events can be a great opportunity to bring home new ideas and tips that will be of great benefit to your bottom line.

Read industry publications and industry-related blogs to keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments.

Form a team

The most successful businesspeople gather a network of supporters around them – people who are experts in their field and who are great at what they do. If there’s a particular part of your business which causes you headaches (or heart ache), maybe it’s time to delegate that task to an employee or outsource it. Whether you’re a solo operator or head of a team, you can’t do it all – ask for help from those in the know, and then get on with doing what you’re best at.

Don’t forget the most important supporters of all – your family, friends and business associates. The people who care about you want you to succeed and will often lend their support to you and your business, whether it’s a referral or recommendation to their network, or a listening ear when you just need someone to talk to.

Share

Share your knowledge and experience with your customers and staff. This includes the information you learn at events and through reading. Facts, figures, the latest industry trends and points of interest can be shared verbally when speaking directly with customers, or through your newsletter or blog posts. This illustrates your authority and shows you have a passion for what you do.

Nurture relationships

The success or failure of your business could well depend on the quality of your relationships. The ability to attract, engage and build relationships with customers is vital, and being willing and able to listen to your stakeholders, as well as what’s going on in your industry is very important.

Of course, we’d all love a large group of raving fans, who return to our business time after time, but to do this, we need to nurture those relationships by finding a way to make customers feel appreciated and included.

Manage your time

Yes, we’re all busy, but those who are successful in business have the same number of hours in the day as those who are struggling. Formulate a plan for the day – I often do this at the end of the previous day. Prioritise your tasks and do the hardest thing (or something you really would rather not do) first thing in the morning. This makes the rest of the day a breeze!

Learn to say NO sometimes

Whether it’s the demands of clients, staff, suppliers or other people, sometimes we need to be assertive and just say “No”. You don’t have to be rude about it, and of course, you would never want to offend, but taking on too much often brings poor results and that’s worse than saying no in the first place! Saying a polite “No” can be great for your sanity.

Take a break

While it can be easy to just keep meeting the demands of your business, it’s also important to take a break, or it could lead to burnout.

Taking holidays can be particularly challenging for small business owners, particularly solo operators. You may consider getting a Virtual Assistant to manage your work while you’re away, or simply inform your clients you’re taking a week or two off.

If that seems too much, try taking a break during the day to exercise, meditate or go to lunch outside the office, take a day off, a long weekend off or a mini-break of 3-4 days away from your work – preferably somewhere quiet and relaxing. From my own personal experience, a mini-break can be very beneficial to your mental health!

If you find it difficult to switch off and relax, use the time to reflect and regroup on your business, formulate a new business plan or develop a new product or service.

 

I hope these quick and easy tips have helped you think about how you can stay ahead in small business.

Hi, I’m Lyndall Guinery-Smith, The Professional Writer. I write copy dedicated to attracting and engaging your customers – and improving your bottom line. I happily work with clients all over Australia. Email me to arrange an obligation-free discussion about your latest project. Or if you’d like to learn how to connect with your audience and build your business, why not input your email address and receive my regular marketing updates in your mailbox? You can sign up for our mailing list at the base of the Home Page on www.ProfessionalWriter.com.au.

 

Business plan mistakes to avoid, business planning, writing for business, professional writer, how to write a business plan, business plan help, professional writing, small business marketing, Lyndall Guinery-Smith

17 Business Plan Mistakes To Avoid

If you’re about to write or rewrite the framework for your business, you might want to read over these business plan mistakes to avoid first.

Compiling a business plan can be a daunting task, but knowing some of the pitfalls and business plan mistakes to avoid can make your job  easier. Whether you’re applying for finance, a franchise or you want to become a supplier for a particular brand or product, your business plan can make or break your chances of securing a positive outcome.

Here is a list of business plan mistakes to avoid:

  1. Procrastinating over starting

    While the thought of writing a business plan can be overwhelming, the plan won’t write itself. If you’re passionate about your business, you need to portray that in your business plan. Start by mapping out an outline of the plan, listing the contents (the order can be changed as you go), then research the information you need and fill in the gaps.

  2. Too much information

    Although a business plan needs to contain a lot of information, try to avoid overloading the reader with too much information. People are time-poor and most of us just want the short version wherever possible.

  3. Being too vague

    When information is missing from the business plan, it can sometimes look suspicious or as though you haven’t done your research. If an investor or interested party thinks your business isn’t ready for the next step, they’re unlikely to approve your application. You information really needs to be specific and precise.

  4. Poor researchTake the time to find the correct information for your business plan. Research your market or potential market. You may need to engage a professional research firm if you’re unable to do this yourself – think of it as an investment in the future of your business.
  5. Making it all about figures

    Of course, figures are an essential component of your business plan. However, the reader will want an explanation of what the figures mean in terms of overall business growth and how you plan to produce the projected results, so you must ensure you have the wording to cover this.

  6. Not including people

    Figures don’t sell ideas, people do. It’s the people behind the business who have the power to make or break it, so it’s really important to include a brief profile of the key players in your business. Your readers will want to know what qualifications and experience you have and what your team is capable of achieving.

  7. Faking your figures or using unrealistic projections

    If you falsify any figures, you will be found out at some point. The same applies to using unrealistic expectations. If you do manage to secure finance based on your falsified figures, you will be doing yourself a great disservice when you’re unable to generate the business required to produce the projected figures. #NobodyWins

  8. Glossing over your marketing

    A marketing plan is undoubtedly one of the most important components of your business plan. Having a clear marketing strategy in place is vital. Your plan must outline how you plan to advertise and promote your business, as well as your sales strategy and distribution channels.

  9. Not knowing who your customers are

    You must know exactly who you are going to sell your product or service to. Do as much research as you can on this topic. If possible, it’s a great idea to compile Ideal Client Profiles so that you know who you’re addressing in your marketing copy.

  10. Not proofreading

    If your plan contains typos, spelling mistakes and errors in grammar or punctuation, it makes you appear sloppy and the reader may conclude you have a sloppy approach to your overall business – this is not the impression you want to make, is it?

  11. Not accurately portraying your brand

    What sets you apart and makes you stand out? What makes your brand different from your competitors? You need to capture the essence of your brand and tell the story of your business in a way that makes the reader want to become involved in bringing your business plan into fruition.

  12. Talking yourself up too much

    While it’s important to outline what makes you and your business idea great, it’s important to be realistic and not exaggerate the facts.

  13. Not admitting your weaknesses

    Every person and every business has weaknesses. While you don’t want to place too much emphasis on these, it’s important to state what your weaknesses are and outline how you can improve on them. Doing this is realistic and expected.

  14. Claiming you have no competition

    Every business has competition of some kind. It may not be direct competition, but there will always be some competition for your customer’s business. You may need to think about the issue from the customer’s perspective – what other options to they have?

  15. Not using confident, concise and clear copy

    Your tone needs to be confident and business-like without sounding cold and unapproachable. Getting your point across in as few words as possible is also important. Being too wordy makes the business plan too difficult to read. Make it easy for your reader!

  16. Inconsistent presentation

    This makes you appear unprofessional. It’s important to have a professionally-presented document which displays a consistent font, margin settings and headings. It’s also very helpful to have page numbers and an index which directs readers.

  17. Not including an Executive Summary

    The purpose of the Executive Summary is to provide a brief explanation of the contents of the business plan. While the summary usually appears in the first few pages, it’s best to write it after the remainder of the business plan, as things often change during the writing process.

 

There are probably more Business Plan mistakes you could make, but I’ll stop there for now!

If you’re completely overwhelmed at the thought of writing a Business Plan, I can help. I work with you, acting as a Project Manager to pull the most relevant information together. I’ll help write your plan and presenting it in a polished and professional way.

Email me for a confidential chat about your Business Plan requirements.

If you enjoyed this article on Business Plan mistakes to avoid you might also like to read:

How to Write a Winning Business Plan 

How to Attract Premium Clients

and How to Work with a Professional Writer

 

Hi, I’m Lyndall Guinery-Smith, The Professional Writer. I write copy dedicated to attracting and engaging your customers – and improving your bottom line. I happily work with clients all around Australia. Email me to arrange an obligation-free discussion about your latest project. Or if you’d like to learn how to connect with your audience and build your business, why not input your email address and receive my regular marketing updates in your mailbox? You can sign up for our mailing list at the base of the Home Page on www.ProfessionalWriter.com.au.

Business Plan writer, Business plan help, how to write a business plan, business plan template, professional writer australia, Business plan expert, small business marketing, Lyndall Guinery-Smith

How to write a winning Business Plan

Do you know how to write a winning Business Plan? Does your Business Plan provide strategy, direction and a roadmap of how you’re going to achieve your business goals?

A Business Plan is no longer a bulky bound document that you prepare to secure finance and then use as a doorstop! Today’s Business Plans are dynamic, continually evolving and can take many forms. While you’ll need one version for obtaining finance, you may choose to edit the plan and display a variation to your customers or employees.

Preparing a Business Plan is a necessary and very rewarding part of planning for business success. Gathering and collating the information can sometimes seem like an insurmountable task at first, but the preparation process also forces you to think about some aspects of your business which you may not have considered.

Why do you need to write a winning Business Plan?

What is the purpose of writing a business plan? Will it be used as an internal or external document – or both?

Many business plans are written to secure financial backing for the business, or to win clients. Some of the other common uses for a business plan are to:

  • Shape strategy and direction for the business
  • Become a franchisee
  • Secure a supplier for products
  • Secure contracts with major clients
  • Monitor the ongoing performance of your business
  • Attract outstanding team members
  • Secure a business partner or joint venture partnership
  • Facilitate the lease of business premises

Whatever the reason for writing your plan, it’s important to consider the purpose if you want the plan to achieve your desired outcome.

Consider your audience

Who will be reading the business plan? Who is your audience? You may need a different approach for an external audience and your team. It’s important to tailor your message to suit your reader.

What type of language do you need to use to engage, persuade and convince the reader that your business is viable and profitable? Sure, figures are important, but the language you use has the power to influence the reader one way or the other.

A lot of people start out using a template as a guideline to help them gather information – this is a good place to start. However, it’s important to use engaging words and appropriate terms that will resonate with your audience. These cannot be found in a template.

What does your audience need to know about you and your business?

A bank or financial institution may primarily look at the financial section of your plan, as well as your marketing plan. What they really want to know is how you plan to generate the income to repay their loan. They will also be interested in many other aspects of your business such as your team, your location, and your unique selling proposition.

As the business owner, it’s important to outline your own personal attributes, skills and industry experience. This is because the person behind the business is often the key to its sucess or failure. If you know you have the necessary skills to succeed, be sure to highlight them.

If you were to share your plan with prospective clients or potential employees, you may wish to leave the financial section out. This information is confidential and could be detrimental if shared with the wrong people.

Do your research & gather your information

Before you start to write your business plan, gather as much relevant information as you possibly can. Anything you don’t need can be discarded later. If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to consult a good accountant and a solicitor/lawyer regarding your business structure. You’ll also need to consider your marketing strategy and the finance side of your business before commencing the plan. A great business plan requires a fair amount of analysis and forecasting.

Analyse your business idea and your own capabilities

Your accountant may be able to assist you with analysing the viability of your business idea from a financial perspective. They will also be able to guide you in preparing the financial analysis and projected figures required for your business plan. Professional advice is a sound investment in the future of your business.

Besides the financials, some other aspects of the business which you’ll need to consider are:

  • What your business does for clients
  • Your product or service
  • The market for your product or service
  • Your location and accessibility
  • Current and future developments which may affect your business
  • Your mission, vision and unique selling proposition
  • A SWOT analysis
  • Customer analysis
  • Customer service standards and company culture
  • Competitor analysis
  • Marketing, advertising and social media strategies
  • Sales techniques and strategy
  • Distribution channels
  • Budgets for income and expenditure
  • Management policies and procedures
  • Your own personal skills and relevant experience
  • Your team’s skills and industry experience
  • Financial projections
  • Bank and/or personal references

Write the summary last

An Executive Summary usually appears at the beginning of the Business Plan. The purpose of this summary is to provide an overview for the reader – and to sell your business plan to them. While you want to portray your business or idea in its best light, you also need to be realistic with your wording, so don’t overdo the sales pitch.

The Executive Summary should always be written last, as it may change during the writing process and needs to be an accurate reflection of the plan’s contents.

Review and edit

The last step is to review and edit your business plan. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP – it’s important. If you really want to make a good impression, it’s essential to have error-free text which is easy to read. It’s a great idea to ask an impartial third party to proof-read your business plan BEFORE you submit it. Ask the proof-reader to point out anything that doesn’t immediately make sense to them, as well as any typographical errors or formatting issues.

Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help

Investing in professional advice at the outset is smart and strategic. As stated above, your accountant is the best person to advise you on the financial side of things. A solicitor or lawyer is the best person to consult regarding business structure. Getting the structure and financial projections right can save you time, money and set you on the path to business success. Without this advice, you may be destined to join the significant number of small businesses who fail within their first five years.

If you feel overwhelmed at how to collate all the information you’ve gathered, you may need to consult a professional business plan writer. Our role is to assist you in pulling together your information and writing the text to present your business in its best light… in essence, to write a winning business plan.

 

Hi, I’m Lyndall Guinery-Smith, The Professional Writer. I’m passionate about helping Australian small business owners like you to attract and engage customers – improving your bottom line. I will work in partnership with you, to facilitate and co-ordinate a winning business plan for your current business or new business idea.  I happily work with clients all around Australia. Email me to arrange an obligation-free chat about how we can work together to write a winning business plan.