business strategy

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... »

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... »

Almost Quarter of Entrepreneurs Still Rely on “Gut Instinct” Despite Power of Data

UK business owners who align their firm’s strategy to data state it gives them a competitive edge Only 23% of UK businesses use data technology to make effective business decisions, despite 44% of entrepreneurs considering it to be an important influence in giving their firm a competitive edge, according to a recent survey. The survey, which featured 600 businesses, found that although nearly half of the respondents are aware of the potential in utilising data, only 40% believe that their business is effectively doing so. The research also shed light on what were the main barriers to businesses owners’ adaptation of data analytics; lack of knowledge in the area and an inability to distinguish what was important due to excessive sources and types was named as the biggest challenge, followed... »

How Card Payments Can Help Grow Your Business

Gert Scholts, Director of First Data Merchant Solutions, gives valuable business advice on how card payments can help to grow your small business. Key to the success of any business is accepting payments for goods and services, however choosing the right card acceptance provider can be both confusing and time consuming. A recent survey [1] conducted by First Data Merchant Solutions highlighted this by asking budding entrepreneurs and small business owners what fears and reservations they had around accepting card payments: Of those surveyed 83% had given some or significant consideration to accepting card payments in their business. However 77% admitted that they had little or no understanding of how card processing works. 81% of respondents were concerned about the associated cost and ris... »

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... »

6 Key Factors for Healthy Growth

Small firms that adopt six key factors will make more profit than those do not, according to new research from the Warwick Business School, which says it has come up with a ‘blueprint for success’ for small businesses. The survey compared the growth rates of 500 small businesses. Six key strategies were identified that set successful businesses apart, including HR planning, research and development, and growth ambition. Those that took the six rules on board had a ‘strong link’ to an above-average trading performance, Warwick University academics said, with research showing that nearly half (43%) of small firms adopting the blueprint criteria had benefited from sales growth of 17% within the past three years.  In addition, the findings indicated that implementi... »

Survive Downturn with 8 Strategies

8 Strategies to Survive the Downturn

Surviving the downturn in business requires careful planning and strategic action. The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has today published a guide which indentifies eight key survival strategies for business. Eight Strategies for Surviving the Downturn is a guide to help businesses plan survival strategies and activities which could help them in facing the current economic challenges. It provides businesses with practical help and topics to discuss within their management teams as well as with their advisors. Commenting on the guide’s publication, ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza said: “As November’s ICAEW Business Confidence Monitor showed, confidence in business dropped to its lowest recorded level since the survey began. Few businesses... »

Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy

Making and using a marketing strategy has a strong positive impact on profitability. This is because small businesses that employ a marketing strategy tend to focus on their customers and markets, integrate their marketing responses and work out in advance where their profits will come from. This briefing answers a range of questions people in small business often ask about marketing strategy: what is a marketing strategy? what’s the difference between marketing strategy and business strategy? where does the marketing mix fit in? what is a marketing plan? what information do I need and where do I get it? what should my marketing strategy consist of? how do I get started? What is a marketing strategy? A marketing strategy defines objectives and describes the way you’re going to ... »