Planning

The is4profit planning section contains guides and articles to help small business owners with every element of their strategic planning, from creating an effective business plan to managing risk and preparing for growth.

How to Develop a New Product: A Guide for Small Businesses

How to Develop a New Product: A Guide for Small Businesses

Constant innovation is the key to staying ahead of your competitors as a business. When you think you have hit upon the next big idea for a product, it is tempting to rush through the development process in order to see it hit the market as soon as possible; but this stage needs to be carefully planned, in order to minimise the inevitable risks to your business. It is important to note that a ‘product’ a company offers does not have to be a physical good; whether it is a new insurance package or windscreen wiper, the development principles are the same. In this article, we assume you have already hit upon inspiration for a new product; it is not a briefing on coming up with an idea, but rather a guide to the equally challenging process of bringing it to market. Can I bring my idea to marke... »

A Small Business Guide to ISO 9000

A Small Business Guide to ISO 9000

ISO 9000, a series of standards for the manufacturing and service industries, can help your business greatly. Not only can you use the industry-wide standards to improve upon your own processes, you can improve your image amongst current and future customers too. If this is the first time you’ve heard of ISO 9000 – or ISO 9001, the standard against which your business will be certified – never fear. In this article we explain exactly what this set of standards is, outline the benefits it could bring to your business, and go through some of the costs entailed in setting up such a system. What is ISO 9000 and what are its benefits? Set up by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), ISO 9000 is by far the most widely recognised set of quality assurance standards in the world,... »

Why Innovation is Crucial for Business Success

Why Innovation is Crucial for Business Success

In today’s fiercely competitive business climate, the importance of continuous innovation cannot be overstated. Quite simply, if you fail to innovate, you stand still – and others will leave you for dust. Innovation need not be a complete overhaul of your business, however; it can take more modest forms, like the refinement of your existing offering. Sometimes, though, it will be necessary to take a complete leap of faith. In this article, we examine the different forms innovation can take, as well as where to find inspiration for change; both within your own business and without. What opportunities for innovation in my business exist? There are always areas in which you can innovate, even if you think you are doing well as a business. Broadly, there are three areas you should look at when... »

Strategic Acquisitions: The Benefits, Risks and How to Decide When Your Business is Ready

Strategic Acquisitions: The Benefits, Risks and How to Decide When Your Business is Ready

Business acquisitions can be very risky with absolutely no guarantee of success. A successful acquisition could see your business blossoming overnight. It may allow you to Move into new areas Avail of larger economies of scale Build a larger and stronger workforce, customer base, or management team However, a poor acquisition may bring many drawbacks and unwanted consequences. You may have to siphon off your capital and your management resources It may cause low morale as staff fear for their jobs A hostile takeover may lead to division among ‘old’ and ‘new’ staff When deciding on a business acquisition, it’s imperative that you establish precisely what benefits it will bring, and what hidden costs it comes saddled with. This guide seeks to help you assess the arguments for making an acqui... »

How to Benchmark your Small Business

How to Benchmark your Small Business

Benchmarking is the act of comparing your business activities and processes to that of your competitors and rivals. While it can be one of the simplest ways to improve your own business, many small business owners overlook the process altogether. Whilst you may well think of yourself as an innovative, dynamic young business shaking up an aging industry, benchmarking can hold benefits for even the most pioneering of companies; industry practices exist for a reason, and you can often learn a lot from your competitors. This guide covers all you need to know about effective benchmarking as a business, from where to start to how to put the results into practice. What benchmarking opportunities exist for my business? Benchmarking is a broad term, and the potential comparisons you can make with o... »

How to Set Up a Filing and Records System for Your Business

How to Set Up a Filing and Records System for Your Business

When you started out in business, it probably wasn’t the prospect of reams of paperwork that excited you. Nevertheless, a good record-keeping system is a vital part of any business; access to information can give you a competitive edge over rivals, whilst cutting out wasted time looking for misfiled and misplaced information delivers an obvious benefit. In this article, we examine all you need to know about the basics of record keeping, including how to organise your records, how to keep them secure, and how long specific types of record must be kept. What is ‘family tree’ filing and how can it benefit my business? Most good filing and records systems are built around what is known as a ‘family tree’ system; a unified system based on a graduated hierarchy of files. A family tree filing sys... »

How You Can Increase Profitability in Your Business

How You Can Increase Profitability in Your Business

It would be nice to think, as a business owner, that you can just sit back and let the cash roll in. However, as we all know, profitability is a constant challenge, and creating and increasing it is perhaps the most fundamental – and difficult – part of running a successful business. Sometimes it is a matter of changing something obvious about your company that can provide an instant shot in the arm for your company profits. More often, however, increasing profitability is about putting the right foundations in place for gradual, long-term improvements. In this article we will examine the ways your business can boost profitability in the short and long-term – read on to find out more. What are some ways I can instantly boost my firm’s profitability? Before you look at the more techni... »

How to Build A Small Business That Lasts

How to Build A Small Business That Lasts

Britain has always been a nation of entrepreneurs. From the beginnings of the industrial revolution right through to the modern day, there has always been a zest from our citizens to take that leap of faith and gain control of their work/life balance. However, nowadays every sector is highly competitive for a new start-up which is exemplified by over 50% of the 500,000 new start-ups failing within their first year. For this reason, you need to ensure that your business is built in the correct manner – from infrastructure to tax and insurance, employees and marketing. Your business has to be set up in the right way to ensure that you are best placed to take full advantage of your target market and enter the business arena with the right tools to succeed. Below, we look at four key elements ... »

Key Issues in Running Your Business

Key Issues in Running Your Business

As an entrepreneur, it is easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks at the expense of the bigger picture, and whilst good management is essential in order to drive growth and increase your company’s overall performance you need to see the bigger picture. This article is intended to help the ultra-busy business owner step back from those immediate problems and take a vital wider view; identifying the areas in your business that could mean the difference between success and failure. What should my permanent business priorities be? Aside from everyday issues, there are five key areas you should constantly keep in mind if your business is to enjoy success. First of, always make sure to watch your customers, they are the lifeblood of your business, your customer should always be your highest pr... »

How to Buy a Business

How to Buy a Business

If your own business is well-established and of a certain size, you may consider buying another existing one. A good purchase can see you reaping copious financial rewards, but a bad one could utterly sink you. It’s therefore vital that you investigate your potential target fully, and negotiate a deal tailored to its current positions/situation as it relates to your own. This guide will help you approach a target, investigate it, make and follow up on an offer, negotiate the final terms and ensure a smooth transition. How do I approach negotiations when buying a business? One of the first steps will involve approaching the vendor. Most businesses will have appointed professional advisers to handle the sale. Contact these first, rather than the current management. You must then register you... »

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