Expert advice: How to build a better business plan
The start of the new year is the ideal moment to reflect on the year past and look forward to the year ahead. Finding the time to do this can be a challenge but data analytics and business management tools can help you with quicker and easier business planning.
We asked business experts for other tips on what to think about in January to plan for business growth in 2017.
Warren Knight, a digital marketing strategist, says a deep understanding of your target customer will help you better plan for their needs and understand how to meet them:
Building a successful business starts with defining your online target customer. As the digital world becomes more crowded with businesses selling the same products/services as you are, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to market your business.
Being laser-focused on your target market is crucial for your business. Once you define who is going to buy your product or service, you know who is most likely going to need your business and the problem you want to solve. Being a big fish in a small pond rather than vice-versa is a more effective strategy. It is easier to build your reputation and sales if you are more targeted in your marketing.
To fully understand the different types of target customer one really good tip is to give them a name, or what I like to call; a persona. Until you do that, you only have characteristics that define who you want to target, and once you humanise them by naming them, they become a more online customer.
To give you an example, Debbie is my target customer. She is 38 and has two children, lives within the M25 area of the UK, has a disposable income, drives an Audi and is time short. Debbie also wants to learn more about social media as she isn’t tech-savvy, works full-time and runs her small business on the side. This is my niche target market for one of the technology companies I founded.
I know exactly how my online customer browses online, where they spend their money and exactly what they are looking for from a product/service. Can you say the same?
Russell Dalgleish, founder of Exolta Capital Partners, believes a lost vision is a missed opportunity to make your business a game-changer:
The new year is the perfect opportunity to revisit your business vision. Whether you’re a one person start up or at the helm of a company with multiple employees, having a clear vision that truly reflects your beliefs will help to guide every decision you make and unite your team behind a common goal.
Too many businesses will carefully craft a vision statement, file it away and forget about it. If you have gone through this process in the past, now is the time to think about why you weren’t able to fulfil this vision in 2016. What roadblocks did you face? What compromises did you make? And what changes can you implement next year to bring you closer to being the business you set out to create?
Think big and dare to dream about what mark you want to make on the world. Choosing to set up your own business was a clear indication that you meant to make a difference, so do that in 2017.
Mark Asquith, entrepreneur, keynote speaker and host of small business podcast Excellence Expected, suggests businesses should focus on finding new revenue opportunities within their existing services:
2016 has been a tumultuous year for Britain and 2017 is sure to bring with it uncertainty too. To this end, as a UK business you must focus on looking at where you can generate revenue from things that you take for granted in order to create a solid, reliable recurring revenue stream. For example, as a service based business it is important to look at how you can turn the services that you offer in to packaged, problem solving products that target a specific niche market and deliver a reliable solution to a proven problem. Why? To stabilise the cashflow within your business and allow you to no longer rely on constant “selling” to bolster your business bottom line.
A predictable, reliable recurring revenue stream that builds from the cornerstone of your knowledge, packages that knowledge into a tangible product and surpasses the expectations of your target audience should be a goal for your business throughout 2017. Imagine opening 2018 with a guaranteed monthly income based on a one-time sale, recurring-payment product that generates revenue in a much more passive way than you’re used to.
To start, ask yourself this: what problems do I solve for people that I don’t yet get paid for? Then get started. My top tip for SMEs is to provide value upfront before trying to make a sale. This isn’t a revolutionary tip, yet so many businesses still try to sell, sell, sell, before they give, give, give.
Carrie Green, founder of The Female Entrepreneur Association, says the new year brings a fresh opportunity to make brave business decisions and explore new avenues:
Dream big and play big in 2017 – that’s my top tip for the year ahead! There are so many opportunities out there, you really can achieve amazing things in 2017, more so now than ever before, because of the power of the internet. Amazing things happen when you step outside of your comfort zone, so think of the things can you do that will help propel you forward. If failure wasn’t an option, what would you do? Reach out to those big companies, publications, institutions, individuals – whatever your ambitions – pick up the phone, write that email and chase what you want, it isn’t going to chase you. Make 2017 your best year ever!
Find out how Worldpay can help your business grow in 2017.