One reality all business owners need to face, in some form or shape, is the impact of the predicted economic slowdown on your business. It’s either going to impact directly, because of the sector or industry you are in, or indirectly, through the customers or clients that buy from you.
Some clients of mine have said they have done pretty well during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, but are now feeling the impact because now their client’s clients have less disposable income. Be it B2B or B2C the story is the same. The guidance given here is about how to pull through such situations as best as possible.
The question is, how do you deal with any economic uncertainty and the changes it brings? More specifically, how do you recover from the changes COVID-19 has brought? How do you adapt to the 'new normal' imposed on the world, businesses and individuals? This is how to recover. You go through 3 stages. The response, the recovery and the reconstruction. These phases overlap. We have been through phase 1 and that’s coming to an end. Phase 2 is recovery and these are some points to consider:
So, what has worked well during the response stage? In your immediate response to the epidemic, what has worked well for you? Have you accelerated those plans to digitise some of your services now that you have no choice, or have you been able to cut costs by having some of your staff work from home whilst managing social distancing?
Have there been products or services you have been producing more efficiently during this time? It could simply have been that you have streamlined some of the processes in such a way you may not have thought about before the pandemic hit. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. You need to take account of these things that have all of a sudden worked well for you during this time that you can continue with.
Have you birthed a new idea as a result of this that has become one of the new services or products that require development, but when developed can be your ticket to recovery. It will help immensely in the recovery process. There are some good financial packages out there like the Bounce Back Loan, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Self Employment Income Scheme, Furlough and many more. Whilst some of these are winding down, use them to leverage your current position as much as you can.
Showing leadership. As an entrepreneur of a micro, small or medium size company, panicking could mean drowning, but strong leadership on the other hand, can be the key to your success. So far, the British public has generally remained calm and pulled together. This is a huge positive! It is very easy to panic when it looks like there is no way through this and other people are looking up to you for their livelihood and state of mind, especially when you own a business with employees that may have families to feed.
The British government has also played a huge role in helping business with loans and grants, in spite of the fact that a lot of people have also fallen through the net. However, your reaction in the midst of the storm will contribute to the welfare of your business, members of staff mentally and physically too. This is where your true leadership qualities will come to light and should structure your decision making process.
Remaining calm does not mean faking it, but rather being transparent. It would probably appear more realistic if you let your workers know you are concerned yourself without losing control than making light of it and therefore burying your head in the sand, or displaying an attitude of unconcern. It’s better to take the attitude that this change is happening with me, rather than to me.
This should help improve business performance at a time when staff morale could be at an all-time low if the situation is not handled professionally and a show of empathy and communication is not displayed appropriately. Strong leadership displaying confidence yet transparency is key.
Business Health Check. This is a good time to have a business reality check and take stock of where your business is at the moment. How does pandemic affect your business in the current situation and future going forward? And most importantly, where do you want it to be in the future? A business Valuation, Performance and Health Check carried out by one of our Business Advisors is designed to help you shed light and get you to achieve the performance and value that you want.
These sessions will also offer suggestions for business improvement and modelling, or re-modelling. It is also an opportunity to see if your business goals align with your business objectives. If this is not the case, you may even find out that you need to manoeuvre your business in a different direction or bring about a change in your products or services.
The sooner you come to terms with it and bring about the changes, the better for your business. You do need to ask the question about the relevance of your product or service in the short to long term. You may even pivot to something temporary based on your current core competency.
A typical example is Rolls-Royce and BAE making ventilators. These changes need to be communicated with facts, sensitivity and focus on the solutions as much as possible with clarity, purpose, and direction especially with those who will be most affected.
Help customers gain regain trust and confidence in your product or service. Simple things like observing social distancing, observing good hygiene practice and things that the client or customer can see and acknowledge that you take them and their health serious is important. If you are a retail outlet or restaurant or in the hospitality industry, customers need to be confident to use your service.
For example, some shops like Aldi have a red and green light in front of their shops indicating when you can come in or not. They have obvious hygiene points with sanitisers and kitchen towels available to customers, etc. In a subtle way, they are showing they care for the client, building confidence in the venue and the brand. In the same way, your staff, clients, customers and visitors must know that they are safe in your work environment.
Offering a client the opportunity to have an online meeting with you where possible, instead of in person is a sign of building trust. In all of these acts, it’s important that the perceived value of what you do for them remains the same or better. You can get more info on this from the government’s guides on reopening businesses.
As a business, you also need to look within and see where you may need help yourself. Be it from the government or other sources if you are struggling. Business mentoring and coaching or sitting down with a business advisor could be a good idea. Entrepreneurs often take care of everyone else but themselves. Take care of your mental health. If you collapse and you are a micro business, the business collapses. The same is true of some small businesses where a lot depends on the owner. Working from home is not the same as taking a break.
If you are not sure or in doubt about making your business sustainable in these uncertain times, seek professional business advice, which is what our Business Advisors are for. Ignore the fake news going around which is often the case in uncertainty. Go for objective and professional advice.
If you can identify with any of the 5 tips and require further insight into key areas to help your company through this challenging economic time please feel free to call and speak to an RBSS Business Advisor on 033 33 55 1696 or drop us an email on the link below. We provide real business solutions for start-ups and existing micro and small businesses.
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There are numerous tips on how to succeed in business for start-ups. However this is practical advice for real results from feedback from businesses we have worked with and ours:
1. Business planning
2. Test Marketing
3. Right Finance
1. A good way to kick start this guide is to state the obvious. Most successful Entrepreneurs who don’t start with a Business Plans do one early on into the start of their business – That’s because they realise it’s a good idea. In fact, businesses always start with a business plan, but maybe just not in the way of a formal one. A Business Plan is a document setting out a business's future operational, marketing and financial objectives and strategies for achieving them. Benjamin Franklin supposedly said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” A business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but aids it. On the other hand Winston Churchill also said “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it”.
From our experience, it appears many people seem to think that setting up a business has more to do with talent and experience than planning. However, keeping your business plan alive is what we say is mandatory. There is no use doing one and then filing it away, just to tick that box. It’s a live document. The business plan serves as a guide for keeping the business on the right track. It also lays bare ideas and opportunities you may not have previously thought of. However, you should not be rigid with the Business Plan. It can be altered to align with changes within the company or economy itself. It serves as a roadmap to success. You can have a 1 year or up to 3 year business plan. In fast moving industries, looking beyond a year is irrelevant. It’s advisable to renew your plan at least every 3 years. That way you incorporate new ideas and do away with the old before they become obsolete.
2. Where possible, test marketing is essential for any business in order to keep abreast of the trends in their particular industry. If you can’t test the market, then take up the concept of lean startup. This is about being less wasteful and still providing a service or product that is meaningful. Given that test marketing comprises of real-life buying and selling without the buyers being aware of their participation as being in a test market situation, it gives the company involved a real feel for the demands of that particular industry. This helps in Business Modelling & Planning and a real eye opener in addressing business’s strategies to improve business performance.
However, developing a finished product is often very time-consuming and could be capital-intensive, it could therefore be a real negative if it misses the mark or does not reach its intended target and profit. The Lean Startup (which is an approach to building new businesses or innovations where entrepreneurs investigate, experiment, test and iterate as they develop products) works around this issue through the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and a concept known as the Pivot. This involves an early prototype model or service being produced and available to prospective customers who are savvy enough to understand the company's vision and willing to offer feedback on the product or service. The idea is for the company to avoid, as early as possible, building a product or service that customers do not want. This is referred to as the build-measure-learn feedback loop. In the pivot, a business hypothesis about the product and the business model or engine of growth is tested. If it does not pass the test, a corrective course of action is taken or the prototype model is completely dropped.
3. Right Finance. This is often one of the most challenging aspects of any business especially early stage businesses and start-ups. However, obtaining the right finance is crucial and the backbone to any business. It is essential businesses get the right start up finance at the beginning of their businesses and in the future based on their business financial projections and availability. Getting the business financial projection correct is essential as this could determine the kind of finance and access to finance required, which would also determine the repayment rate and\or terms and conditions. Many new businesses aka Start Ups over project their profits and therefore get easily sucked into business loans with inappropriate repayment terms when this could have been easily avoided.
Whether you are a start-up business or an existing business that wants to grow the company to the next level, you may need some form of cash injection to help you on your way, alongside the right business plan. Whatever, the case might be, it is vital. At RBSS, our experienced and professional consultants can help you start right or if you are an existing business help you with the correct financial projections and help raise the right finance appropriate for your business.
If you require further insight into these key areas to help your company start and grow or you just want someone with the required knowledge and experience in business please connect with our business advisers at RBSS Consulting Ltd on 0333 355 1696 or drop us an email on the link below. We provide real business solutions for startups and existing micro and small businesses.
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Whether you are a start-up business or a business that wants to grow the company to the next level, you may need some form of cash injection to help you on your way. But asking for money isn’t that simple. Any money lender will want to see a thorough business case and financial projections, to help them decide if investing in your idea is going to be a profitable one, or not. The business advisors at RBSS Consulting in Romford, Essex, help companies of all sizes get finance ready. Here is our four-step process that we will take you through.
1. Business Goals and Mission Statement
You’ve decided to take the plunge and begin the rewarding journey of entrepreneurship. Self-employment or starting your own business is a noble calling and is not for everyone. Do you want to sell products, services or both? What are your business goals? Do you have a mission statement? If you don’t have answers to these questions, not to worry. RBSS will help you define your business goals and mission statement. This is a necessary and vital step in creating a business plan. When networking or attending a social event, when people ask you, ‘What do you do?’ you will have a clearly defined answer formulated.
Entrepreneurs often work in solitude without having anyone to bounce ideas off of. Our business consultants are here to help you flesh out your concepts. It’s one thing to repeat your objectives to yourself or even write them down on paper. It’s a completely different ball game when you communicate your thoughts out loud to someone who can give you feedback. A mundane scheme can become revolutionary. You may be leaving money on the table by not considering other ways to diversify your product or service offerings. By diversifying, you increase your market share. A larger market share is usually indicative of more revenue and what business owner doesn’t want more revenue!
3. Research Demographic and Competition
Who is your demographic? Where are they located? How will you reach them? What are their spending habits? These are just a few of the questions we will ask you so that you can eventually build a profitable enterprise. Many novice entrepreneurs make the mistake of asking these questions after they’ve had their soft opening. If the right questions are posed and answered before opening, businesses would last longer and be of greater good to society. Are there other businesses like yours in the area you plan to serve? Do these businesses serve the same target group? Our expert business consultants will help you pinpoint your digital and brick and mortar competition.
4. Business Plan
Perhaps your parents will lend you money without a business plan, but a bank won’t. An investor, whether a bank, angel or venture capitalist worth their salt will need to see a clearly defined and well-executed business plan before they will even consider your solution and give you access to finance. All of the research results and questions answered will go into your business plan. This plan will be clearly formatted with every ‘i’ dotted and every ‘t’ crossed, complete with graphics, tables and examples. If you’re not a finance person, we have a consultant on staff that can generate your financial statements. This business plan will be the key in your success towards acquiring financing.
5. Due Diligence
There are the mundane but necessary things to make sure you have in place and up to date. They are the more legal requirements that we have to make sure you have in place. They relate more to the directors or owners of the company. This is in order to comply with the Anti Money Lending and Know Your Customer rules. They are the proof of identification, proof of address, a few months’ business bank statements and sometimes a CV for the directors. In some cases you may be asked for a credit report. We do this to make sure that these things don’t end up being the stumbling blocks after all the hard work has been done. Again, don’t worry about a thing. An RBSS Business Advisor will help you make sense of all this on a one to one basis.
What type of finance can RBBS Consulting help you get access to?
There are a number of ways for you to raise finance for your business. Here we explore the common avenues:
If you want to find out more about these options, they are explained on our Raising Finance page.
What's stopping you? Call the business consultants at RBSS now to help you get your business finance ready.
Undeniably, customers are at the heart of every business and you need to keep on acquiring new ones to keep your business afloat. It doesn’t matter what you do, you may be a consulting firm or a bakery or a real estate agent, your business needs new customers. They not only provide increased access to finance but also help in boosting business growth.
However, it is easier said than done. In the competitive business world of today, you certainly need that extra edge over competitors to be able to draw in new customers. Here are 5 essential tips to get new customers and stay on top of the game –
1. Make it easy for customers to find you
Have you been complaining about how you just can’t seem to get new customers? Well, think for a second – is your business easy to find? It doesn’t matter how great your services are or how amazing your product is, it all boils down to the fact that are you visible to potential customers or not. Increase your online presence; put a digital marketing plan in place, make use of online directories as well. Make sure that you put yourself in front of your potential customers. Visibility is the Key to Credibility which leads to profitability.
2. Leverage your existing network
Try to put your existing network to use when it comes to getting more customers. Request your old customers to provide a referral; these could be the strongest leads for your business. Make efforts to network within your target market. For example, if you run a bakery business then join local baking groups, online baking communities and more. Then leverage this network to increase your customer base. Why not look up your local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and join their networking events?
3. Speak at events and exhibits (or host one)
Sign up for speaking at events, exhibits and meet-ups within your target market. This is the best place to put your business out there, in front of your potential customers. If there are not many relevant events, then maybe you could host one? It would be the best chance to connect with your target market.
4. See whether free trials work for you
People don’t buy what they see or hear, they buy what they experience for themselves. If you can provide a free trial of your product or service, then advertise the same. If a complete free trial is not viable for your business then you could offer a small sample for free. This is a proven way to gain new customers; ones that are more likely to turn into regular clients. This isn’t proposing offering a free service as part of your accessing the market. It also works better for some businesses than others and can be built into your model in a positive manner.
5. Run a referral program
Referrals are often undermined whereas they should be treated like gold. Plan and put in place a referral program which mutually benefits everyone. For example, ask your customers to refer a new customer and both of them could get x% off on the next order. Overtime, you will have a good number of new customers coming in from your referral program itself.
If you would like to talk to an expert about acquiring new customers, then connect with the top business adviser in Romford, RBSS Consulting on 0333 355 1696 or drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We provide real business improvement strategies and also offer business start-up plans for small businesses.
The type of finance you choose will depend on what sort of business you are setting up, how much capital you need and what you will use it for. For example, you could:
Use your own savings or personal borrowings to get the business underway, especially if you can’t get finance or investment from external sources.
Borrow money from family or friends. But be careful. It is often hard for them to say no, but what happens if the business fails? How would you pay back their money? What strain would that put on your relationship. Are they ending you the money, or investing in a share of your business? Remember to put things in writing.
Borrow from a bank if you have a credible business plan and can offer some security. If your business is seasonal in its cash flow, it’s essential to be able to clearly illustrate these to your bank so you can plan an overdraft. Many businesses use overdrafts for day-to-day borrowing and to manage cash flow, and loans for long-. You may want to use funding to finance large purchases such as equipment. When considering bank finance, it is generally a good idea to take professional advice from your accountant or business adviser.
Can you secure outside investors? Perhaps you are willing to sell shares to business angels or venture capitalists. This can provide short-term finance without the need for repayment. Having investors can also bring in additional business expertise. When you hand over shares to investors it is likely that they may want some control over its management.
Do you qualify for a grant? Grants or government supports can offer cheap financing, and often come with business advice or consultancy. However, there is usually a lot of competition for grant schemes, and you will invariably need to meet various criteria first.
For those unable to get bank finance, you could consider commercial lenders – such as insurance companies and building societies. These tend to have lower interest rates. However, commercial lenders are also subject to fewer regulations than banks and so you may have to provide some security in order to obtain funding.
Consider crowd funding – also known as crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their resources to support efforts initiated by other people or companies. Crowdfunding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, start-up company funding, or free software development, inventions development and scientific research. Crowdfunding can also refer to the financing of a company by selling small amounts of shares to many investors.
Most businesses use a mixture of finance sources. For example, you might invest your own money to cover market research, bring in outside investors to share the risk and borrow from the bank to purchase equipment and machinery.
All of this can be confusing and overwhelming, so it is advisable to speak to a business consultant first. Our Romford-based team at RBSS Consulting can be reached on 0333 355 1696 or by email at email@example.com.