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.

Changing Office Culture

Office jobs are becoming more and more popular in the UK as so much work is now computer based. Today, around 25% of the total British workforce is employed in an office. A friendly and comfortable working environment is important no matter what your job role, and offices are a prime example of this. The amount of work that gets done in an office can vary hugely depending on many factors, from the provision of office supplies to noise levels and the quality of the furniture. So how can you ensure you have productive and pleasant office surroundings? A friendly office has repeatedly been voted the most important element of a good workplace. Nobody wants to arrive at work to find hostility and silence awaits them. A friendly atmosphere, where everyone gets along and people are welcoming and ... »

Top 5 Tips on Growing a Small Business

Tim Campbell, founder of the Bright Ideas Trust The Government’s focus on the UK’s small businesses in the 2011 Budget highlights the importance of small business growth to the UK economy. The Government should therefore welcome the findings of a recent survey of over 2,000 small business owners by T-Mobile, which found that 48% of small businesses are expecting to see some business growth over the next six months. Tim Campbell, leading small business expert and founder of the Bright Ideas Trust, offers his advice on the steps small businesses can take to secure future growth: Make the most of your small size No business can afford to remain static in the products and services it offers, whether large or small, but small businesses are particularly well-positioned to react quickly to chang... »

Do You Have an Exit Strategy for Your Business?

When you started your business, did you have a vision about where it would take you and how you would eventually exit the business? If not, it is something you should consider and plan for so that you maximise the return on your years of investment; time and money! There are a number of different options available for disposing of a business and some important considerations to make before you close the door of your company behind you. Key Mistakes That Sellers Make Allowing too little time to complete and successfully execute an exit strategy Focusing on price rather than optimising the value of the company and the terms and conditions of sale Selling to the first person that comes along without researching the market to find out what potential buyers may be out there Trying to do it inde... »

Strategy – What’s Your Next Move?

There are over 4.5 million businesses in the UK and every year 400,000 are formed, with nearly as many failing. Most businesses stay small or plateau at a certain turnover without being able to grow – probably because business owners are working ‘in’ the business rather than ‘on’ it; making tactical day to day decisions rather than strategic ones. So what distinguishes a successful business? How about the following?: Knowing your strengths and weaknesses Having targets in place A business plan covering all aspects of the business Effective targets and measurements in place Ensuring that product and service offerings meet the needs of the market Ability to create a competitive edge Efficient, clear and consistent business processes Inspired and driven leadership Getting back to your c... »

How to Avoid Disaster… and Rise from the Ruins if it Hits

Chris Barling is CEO of ecommerce and EPOS systems supplier, Actinic and has been through a few ups and downs in business. So far, he’s managed to survive all of the downs and would like to share the lessons that helped his company survive. He’s also included some advice to help you recover if disaster ever strikes. Watching the cash By far the biggest reason why businesses go bust is a lack of profitability or a cash flow crisis, resulting in running out of money. This can be caused by losing a significant customer, by the bank withdrawing lending facilities, or sometimes by over-trading – where you’re very successful but run out of working capital to cope with the success. In my business, Actinic, we try to cover this eventuality by producing a cashflow forecast every m... »

Primary Market Research vs. Secondary Market Research

Primary Market Research vs. Secondary Market Research

Market research is an essential part of any business plan, whether a fledgling business or a multinational organisation. Knowing that there is a sustainable market for your product and understanding what your audience expects from you is vital to a successful business launch. Market research can generally be split into two categories; primary and secondary market research, and during this article I will explain both and discuss their respective merits and appropriate uses. Secondary market research Secondary research makes use of existing data from whatever sources are available. There are government censuses, Mintel surveys, and many private market research agencies that allow access to their data; some of it for free. It can be hugely advantageous, especially as a place to begin. Seconda... »

What is SWOT Analysis and How Can it Benefit My Business?

What is SWOT Analysis and How Can it Benefit My Business?

SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is a way of looking at your business that can provide you with a clear picture of exactly where you are in the market. The methodical and critical approach found in SWOT allows you to use the lessons learned to grow and drive your business forward. It is an extraordinarily flexible method widely used by organisations ranging from the smallest start-up to blue-chip multinationals in order to critically analyse their current situation and identify how to improve their prospects or position. Done right, you can go from a position of stagnation and confusion to one of surety, progress and innovation. This article will provide you with a run-down of how to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in your own business... »

Writing a Business Plan: A Guide for Your Small Business

Writing a Business Plan: A Guide for Your Small Business

Every business needs a point to aim for, and to know how it’s getting there. Unless everyone involved knows precisely where and how the business is progressing, it can be very easy to fall off course. Plotting the direction of your business is the purpose of a business plan – a written outline of the strategy and initiatives needed to guide your business to its desired location. This guide will help you understand what to consider when writing up a standard business plan. We cover what a business plan is used for, how you can use the three-pronged approach of vision, values and mission to effectively communicate what your business is about, and how you can break this down into achievable objectives for the short- and long-term. What is the purpose of a business plan? The main purpose of a ... »

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