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The Business Plan Company Blog

All that glitters: rock star startups grab all the attention

Nov 01 2018, - by Warren Harmer

Startups have become one of the hottest things to be involved with in the business world with governments, businesses and investors all clamouring to be part of the next Uber, Canva or Stripe. I get it. There’s a lot of money to be made for the very few that make it into the stratosphere, not to mention the prestige and kudos for being the genius who came up with the idea, or investor who saw the opportunity. The scale of these businesses is so huge and the potential so big they are dazzling. Investors are throwing their chequebooks at them.  ..

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Website basics for startups

Nov 01 2018, - by Warren Harmer

Written by: David Bay, Unicorn Digital Services  ..

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Sell less to sell more

Oct 04 2018, - by Warren Harmer

When I first started consulting, the firm I was working with were master salespeople. Or so I thought at the time. They had a strict sales process that the whole team had to follow verbatim, and we were trained endlessly to repeat the script. That included workshops, rehearsals and even tests, that involved ‘selling’ to each other, following the process word-for-word and not stopping until the client said yes. One of the key elements of their approach was to withhold pretty much all advice from the client so they would only get it if they signed up. I shudder when I think of that approach now, and have reinvented my own sales process from the ground up. With much better results.  ..

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Forget about time management

Oct 04 2018, - by Warren Harmer

As a business owner, the most valuable thing you have is not money, but time. Your ability to leverage your time and generate value is the foundation for creating a successful business and a satisfying life. But ‘time management’ is one of those terms that is so overused it has become meaningless. It’s easy to use ‘time’ as an excuse for not completing a task as promised. “I didn’t have time” or “I’m too busy” really means, “it’s not priority”. ..

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Technology: the key to unleashing your growth

Sep 04 2018, - by Warren Harmer

Written by: Daniel He, The Business Plan Company  ..

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Before you ask for money, put your pants on!

Sep 04 2018, - by Warren Harmer

Imagine for a moment that you are an investor, with eager entrepreneurs pitching their big ideas to you. In a very short time you need to make an assessment of the proposal, opportunity and risks. Alternatively, put yourself in the shoes of a bank loan processor, assessing a multitude of applications for business finance; again you need to quickly make decisions on the risk of the submission and likelihood of repayment or default. If that was you, what would you be looking for? Key criteria would include a strong performance, a well presented proposal, strong business management skills, reliable business owners, a proven track record and a well-operated business. No surprises there. A vital tool in the communication of the business, is the business plan, so strong presentation obviously increases the chances of getting a “yes”.  ..

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The Top 3 Social Media Tips For Small Business

Aug 02 2018, - by Warren Harmer

Social Media can offer small business owners a fantastic opportunity to connect and interact with potential and current customers in a cost effective and time efficient way.  Our new marketing planner Tanya Duncan shares her 3 top tips for small businesses starting out with social media.
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Sorry business owners, hard work is not enough

Aug 02 2018, - by Warren Harmer

Gina Reinhart once famously said “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire... spend less time drinking, or smoking and socialising and more time working.” For the millions of small businesses who work endless hours, late nights and weekends over many years (i.e. about as hard as you can work), her quote doesn’t really ring true. In fact, for most business owners, when business gets harder, they just work harder and longer, a strategy I have used myself. My conclusion: hard work is not enough to grow a business beyond small.  ..

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$24,000 for Facebook? Marketing ≠ gambling.

Jul 03 2018, - by Warren Harmer

$24,000. That is the amount quoted to a colleague recently just to manage Facebook for their small business for a year, an amount larger than the whole marketing budget for most small businesses. In fact, this is not an isolated case, with many clients being quoted 5-figure fees to manage small parts of their marketing activities. Such fees are not unreasonable for larger businesses, with larger budgets and some form of marketing coordination. The fact that these fees were then paid by a small business operating a knee-jerk marketing strategy is foolhardy but typical. Many businesses jump on the nearest passing bandwagon, in the absence of an overall strategy or plan, and just look for quick fixes, not knowing any better and feeling anxious that they ‘need to be on social media’.

So here is a reminder that marketing needs planning, research and evidence to build a cost effective plan which won’t bleed your cash. Here is my list of tasks that small businesses should tick off when approaching their marketing, in order:

1. Fundamentals – work out the basics first
Define your target markets
Assess buying cycles and seasonality
Customer surveys
Competitor analysis
Branding and positioning

2. Deciding what to do
Research marketing channels and costs.
Work out your budget.
Create a short list.
Assess the risk of each.
Create an annual schedule for marketing activity and spend that fits your budget.
Create a schedule for marketing for at least 6 months.

3. Measurement and review
Set up your systems so you can measure what worked.

4. Execute plan
Spend money here

5. Review
Watch the results, outcomes and measurements closely
Decide what to do next, based on what worked (and didn’t).

In this schedule, note that money is not spent until Step 4 but in most cases it’s the only step that most businesses do. No research, no planning and no measurement. The problem with managing a marketing strategy on the run is that your messaging can be off, targeting the wrong markets using a shotgun approach that costs more than it needs to; not that you would know because no one is measuring anyway. It’s like putting the car in full speed with no roadmap.

So next time you get the feeling that you want to place a big bet on one single type of marketing, go back to the plan and ask yourself does it fit into the strategy and budget? Do your results suggest that it will work. Most importantly, can you afford to lose the investment if it doesn’t work?
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“It won’t happen to me.” Cyber risks are real and increasing.

Jul 03 2018, - by Warren Harmer

By:  Byron McPherson, Reliance Partners ..

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