Unless your business is located on a public premises, such as a shop which advertises itself just by being there, it all starts with a database of purchasers; be them past, present, future, or all three. In spite of this, whether the customers are from walk-ins or clients from businesses, their personal and business details should be gathered into a database for ongoing contact, marketing and reminders. This will in the long run aid in getting more customers and business expansion and growth strategies.
However, are consumers nowadays now so immune from the bombardment of online banners and messaging, in whatever form it is delivered? And have they shifted from responding to offers to do business, to working out what they want for themselves and then searching for it? If they have, what’s the point of trying to approach them? Why not just create a nice website with ecommerce plugins and do some posting on social media to create awareness? This is what most business start-up plans aim to do, in way of the future to enhance their business performance?
This is looking at it from a different point of view. It’s the same as having a high street shop where people can walk by or notice it and walk in on impulse. Even if they don’t buy today, they now know it’s there and can come back in the future or recommend it to others. And being virtual, there is no rent, rates, insurance, maintenance costs etc. Funds for business are therefore very considerably reduced!
Is a virtual shop really the same? Do people walk by or drop in on impulse? If they are searching, with the impact of SEO spending to get on page 1 of Google. This should have the positive effect of getting more customers onto your business website and some eventual purchases too. This is certainly one important aspect on how to grow your business.
Whatever the approach, there is no getting away from the age-old imperatives of knowing:
Through our real case studies and practical work with businesses, the most common issues that we have unearthed, is their lack of new customers and clients and help to raise finance. Here we have helped many a business improve business performance making their business sustainable, compete effectively, improve profitability, structure their decision making process and achieve business goals.
In the last month alone at RBSS Consulting Ltd, we have helped client businesses to implement marketing programmes such as the ones stated below:
In most cases, the first strategy in their marketing plan was research.
This is because they didn’t know the answers to the seven questions above.
In that case, how did they get where they are?
Initial diagnosis. The common trend is, they rode on a wave of new demand with automatic growth by getting in early into a new gap in the market and did very well at the beginning, until the market became choked with new competitors. This resulted in the prices going down, customers proving to be disloyal, business becoming a struggle and it therefore became difficult to make ends meet and meet the business development plans before getting far into the business.
Action Plan and solution. Some clients did not contact us until they had lost all hope of their business getting out of the above situation. At the initial stage, we had to convince them in becoming aware that without market research the risk of wasting money is high because spending decisions will be based on a hunch and assumption rather than hard facts. Going into many of these cases, the first discovery we made is that there was no CRM (Contact Record Management) system. Therefore, there was nowhere to collect data about their customers and prospects who will be used in drawing up the research result. We were also able to direct them in setting up an easy to use CRM system.
Results. The appropriate research was able to proceed and it turned out a lot easier than our clients had expected. Furthermore, it was informative and surprisingly fun. A transformation occurred and they switched from scepticism to motivation as they started to see why their sales and margins had declined and understood that knowledge is power on the way to solutions to business growth plans.
So, what about the database issue?
There are two approaches:
This works out fine until the drought comes, as it did and will eventually.
Those who choose this approach and are consistent, avoid the drought when it eventually comes.
So, are the marketing methods wearing out?
Yes. This is mainly because many who use them do so insufficiently, which is the reason why effective marketing has become so difficult for everyone.
Fortunately, there is a ‘but’ for those who invest in and manage a live database of customers or clients of the past, present, and future in a way they understand, communicate with effectively, and listen to as a guide. For these, there will always be good business. That will never change.
If you can relate to any of the above, please discuss this with an experienced RBSS Business Advisor by contacting us or booking here.
I am often assured that a professional business, such as a consulting firm has a business plan and when I ask to see it, it often isn’t a business plan.
Instead, it’s an income and expense budget with a cashflow forecast. In other words, it is what banks ask for when considering a loan application, such as Start-up loans for access to finance and something small businesses ask their accountant to prepare, for no other reason than for a loan application.
Often when I ask the business owner which actions are aligned with the business plan to achieve the forecast numbers, I usually get a shrug of the shoulders, a weak smile and a; “It’s just the arithmetic of the number of clients I think I’ll provide a service for throughout the year”.
So, what should a business plan actually be?
Well, before answering that, consider this:
You have a sole trader client who is a self-employed plumber. In presenting last year’s accounts and tax return, he says to you, ‘I need help to grow my business by getting more customers’. He would therefore be expecting help in certain areas, such as; on how to improve business performance by putting business development plans in place.
You probably wouldn’t recommend a business or marketing plan because you don’t have either of these yourself. And if otherwise, it wouldn’t be the right place to begin anyway.
And because you were unable to help him, he falls prey to a more costly marketing consultant or you lose him to a more forthcoming competitor.
However, if your business already had a good business plan it would have identified your plumber’s problem and how to deal with it profitably. You would have the right suggestions for business improvement and therefore strategies to improve business performance which will address the cause of his lack of customers and cash flow.
Back to the business plan. What should it look like if you are to help your plumber client put some business growth plans in place via a business plan?
A sentence that states 5-10 years from now; what status your business looks to achieving to make it stand out. An example would be; “the biggest/most profitable small local business solutions advisor”
A sentence that states what your business does, who for and to what standards. For example; “we help small businesses to solve problems and grow”
Six statements of which must be measurable and achievable to fulfil the Mission Statement and keep moving towards the Vision:
For example; “All round business/financial advisory services to small/medium businesses”
For example; “Practical solutions at affordable prices for permanent income from every customer”
For example; “Automation everywhere to minimise employment and maximise data”
For example; “A small stable group of experienced people that will exceed planned results”
For example; “a 100% return on total assets”
The approaches I will take to ensure that the objectives are achieved.
For example; “Quarterly market intelligence report on competitor activities”
The detailed steps that named individuals will take by specific dates.
For example; “Eric will set up a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system loaded with prospects and clients by 30 June 2021”
The expected expenses incurred by implementing the business plan and the revenue receipts as a result.
For example; “New costs of £50,000.00 to get total sales to new customers of £240,000.00 for 2021”
Monthly management accounts showing actuals compared to budget.
Weekly/monthly KPI (key performance indicators) report of pre-sale statistics and trends.
Meetings to agree to corrective actions and changes. If you are an accountant wanting to grow your business and to understand how to add better value to your clients, then please click here.
If you can resonate with any of the above points or need assistance or guidance relating to a new or existing business plan or any other guidance related to your business, get in touch with us today. Please feel free to call and speak to an RBSS Business Advisor on 0333 355 1696. drop us an email, or use the form below. We provide real business solutions for start-ups and existing micro and small businesses.
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As businesses in the United Kingdom and the world at large begin to open up, now is the time to do some recovery and reconstruction thinking and look at business improvement strategies. You need to think about:
Once the above has been decided, it’s time to think about how to fund and achieve the direction. This could involve a further business investment. You may need help in various areas and raising finance may be one of them. You may need it for; cash flow, paying staff, buying stock, buying equipment, re-designing your business model, paying for operating expenses or even to pay for an exit strategy and much more. There are different ways of getting different business funding, however I am focusing on business loans at this point. Here are 5 tips to achieve this:
1. Hire a Business Consultant.
If you are unsure of where to start, I would recommend your starting point as consulting a Business Advisor or Mentor or finance Consultant. There is also your bank manager, googling it (not a joke actually) or speaking to another business who has successfully raised a business loan. One of the specialities of a Business and Finance Consultant is to advise on how to access finance. This could include, raising finance for a new business, such as various start up loans or a business loan to grow your existing business to fund new products or services. A Business Advisor could also advise you on if you want to expand or divert your business too, with the intention of getting more customers. They can also help you carry out a Business Valuation, Performance and Health Check Service to improve business performance by making your business sustainable, compete effectively, improve profitability, structure your decision-making process and achieve business goals to ensure it is on the right track. It is always advisable to get an expert, such as a Business Advisor’s opinion on the best business loans to go for. That way, you are guided on whether getting the business loan is in your interest, at the right time, which one and how much to apply for.
2. Due Diligence. Usually, a lot of businesses fail at the first hurdle on their way to getting a business loan. To access finance, you will need or be in a position to get the following: Previous years' Management Accounts (regardless of if you are a sole trader or limited company), up-to-date management accounts coupled with at least 3 months business bank statements. In some cases, a business plan with a 2-year cash flow forecast. In addition to this, you may be required to provide the last set of 4 quarters of VAT submissions, and your latest debtor’s book. Now not all of this may be required by the same funder at the same time, however get them ready, be prepared or have ready access to them if you are looking for some serious funds.
3. Don’t ask for a 100%. If you are looking to build a business with no skin in the game in terms of financing it and you are looking for an unsecured loan, then if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. No funder want to fund 100% of your growth or new business. They need to see you have invested something in cash or in kind, something tangible. There are various ways to show your investment in the business and I’m not talking about your time spent working in the business, but actual quantifiable ways.
4. Seek available funding. If your business has been affected negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic, I would advise you first opt for the UK government’s Recovery Loan Scheme. The government is providing it to help businesses of any size to access loans and other kinds of finance to enable them to recover after the pandemic and transition period. Up to £10 million is available per business, and the actual amount offered and the terms are at the discretion of participating lenders. These are a network of accredited lenders, listed on the British Business Bank’s website. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender. However, as the borrower, you are 100% liable for the debt. The scheme is open until 31 December 2021, subject to review. You can also be rest assured that the terms and repayment rate will be one of the lowest you will be able to get in these times.
5. Alternative lenders. Another option of how to access a business loan, is through a number of alternative funders, such as funding circle and the like. They offer loans to businesses that have at least a 2-year history. There are also other alternative lenders out there that have great options and levels of flexibility for repayment, such as VA Money, etc. As a Finance Broker, we are able to help you access these hidden sources of funds, who you may only e able to approach through a broker like ours.
If you are unable to get a business loan, how about considering outside investors? Perhaps you are willing to sell shares to Business Angels or venture capitalists or consider crowd funding. We work closely with Crowd cube as one of the organisations to help our clients raise funds? Having investors can also bring in additional business expertise, and this can be in the form of contacts, networks you may not have access to, mentoring, etc
This isn’t exhaustive and therefore it takes us back to my first point on using a Business Advisor to advise on the best possible way on how to get access to finance. That is what they are there for and will do all the leg work for you, besides knowing your best options and leaving you to spend your valued time running your business especially if you are low on staff or a micro business.
If any of the points stated above resonate with you or you would just like some advice on which direction your business is heading, get in touch with us today. Please feel free to call and speak to an RBSS Business Advisor on 0333 355 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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I am struck by how many of the business owners I meet that do not consider this, and when I raise the subject, they usually tell me that they are relying on a private rental property and a modest pension for their retirement with no further access to finance.
They do not see their business as a saleable asset but as a source of cashflow that will have no value when they stop working
And so often when I look at the financial structure of their business, its only assets are the debtor book, (some of which isn’t collectible), creditors at about the same value as the debtors, some cash in the bank and equipment and stock which would fetch less than book value if sold off.
It’s therefore true, such a business is really not saleable, just something to close down and walk away from; as do 250,000 other UK small businesses owners every year for this very same reason.
However, majority could be sold for a six or seven figure sum if managed differently
Such an amount would transform the owners’ retirement finances from ‘getting by’ to luxury.
Yet I get strong objections to the above proposition such as, “this business is all about me, so it isn’t saleable”
I politely disagree with the above and put it to you that any and every business is saleable
Well, it is instructive to first look at big businesses, which are all about money and return of investment (ROI) to see what they do. The aim is to not to be as ruthless as them but to learn for free what you can adapt.
Here is what they do (just in their financial management stream – there are 4 others*):
At face value, much or all of this sounds time-consuming, costly and bureaucratic. To an extent it is. However, big businesses perform the above actions for the very good reason that it works, knowing that time invested in doing this provides a very good payback and ensures their survival.
And remember, every big business was once a little one whose founders had the foresight to introduce strong business performance strategies and financial management at an early stage.
The average big business sells for 14x pre-tax profits. Yet I have seen small businesses making £50K pa close down for instead of selling as a going concern for £500K+
It may seem that chasing another order or dealing with a customer crisis is a better use of your time. However, it should account for all you do. Appropriate business and financial management would make the orders come in automatically and prevent the customer problem in the first place.
Knowledge is power and good financial management and other applicable actions gives you the power to make smart decisions that will build a saleable business worth millions.
Most of what I have instanced above are not difficult to implement. And if you find this a challenge, your Business Advisor at RBSS Consulting Ltd, Romford will do it for you, helped by low-cost apps.
Please note: not every action mentioned above will apply to your business which is a good reason to call in an experienced and professional Business Advisor for expert guidance. If you can resonate with some of the above points or are in any doubt as to which direction your business is heading in, get in touch with us today and you can be rest assured we will point and lead you in the right direction at RBSS Consulting Ltd.
Your first step is for free and takes 15 minutes by
Booking a free assessment here
to find out how much your business is worth today, what it should be worth, and the actions needed to get it there. All in a comprehensive report tailored just for you.
Another RBSS Consulting Business Consultant service…
“Delivering Real Business Solutions”
(*The 5 business streams are Marketing; Operations; Systems; People; Finance)
Following the Budget 2021 announcement, find out what all small business owners need to know.
Covid-19 has been a challenge for all of us. It has presented a completely unique and unprecedented obstacle for small businesses as well as causing a global economic crisis. In the centre of it all, millions of small business owners are wondering how they can recover.
But it’s not just the recovery that’s important. After the coronavirus outbreak, which is still just as severe as when it started, how are small businesses supposed to thrive? The world can feel pretty hopeless at the moment, but we are here to help your small business make it through.
Micro, small, medium and large businesses need all the support they can get in these really trying times for business. This includes the self-employed, employees and those working in the gig economy. Below is a summary of the additional measures the Government announced on the 5th of November 2020 by the Chancellor.
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.
After 3 months of COVID-19 and during this response phase to the attack, how have some of the finance packages the government put in place been responded to by businesses in the UK. Apart from the premises business rate related grants and the job retention scheme, some of the other popular funding support schemes that businesses have responded positively to are:
Has this been a load of hype or have they been accessible real solutions. How have they done so far?
You have probably been bombarded with information on the above measures that the Government has taken to support and protect businesses of all kinds against the impact of the COVID 19 virus in the UK. There is a lot of information going out to businesses and employees at the moment. The information isn't static but evolving daily. I have received many calls and I understand your frustration and concerns. After several conversations with senior staff in Financial Institutions, Trade Body Associations and Funding Associations and reading subsequent follow up documents from the government, things are much clearer. The operational mechanisms for delivery and implementation are still being worked on in some cases.
As you would have heard numerous times, we live in a fast moving world especially where business is concerned. New today, obsolete tomorrow. Selling your product/service is more about reaching out to your customers unlike when, it used to be the other way round. This however, could be very challenging when you are stretched and have limited resources or at least not unlimited. There’s a never ending list of tips on what every small business owner should know. However, I’d like to focus on 5 tips which is a good place to start. Please note this is practical advice for real results from feedback from businesses we have worked with.
One of the prominent ways to prevent your business from being stagnant is to stand out from the competition. One of the most common questions business owners need to ask themselves is: ‘Is my business still relevant to the target market I have and am I presenting or packaging it in the best possible way taking in to account the resources available to me?'. One of the catch phrases in businesses today is; beyond expectations or exceeding expectations. The way to achieve the above, would be to look at your business from a constructively critical view. The following 5 tips can help you revive your business:
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
Every business whether start-up or existing micro, small, medium or large enterprise, needs expert and valuable business advice. That’s where RBSS steps in. We provide a full diagnostic on areas of your business or field you may not have thought about, but are important. A business consultant can also be an excellent sounding board to help get you out of some very tricky situations. Some business solutions are ways to raising finance, business valuation and health checks, business planning , growth strategies, profitability and efficiency strategies, business modelling etc. These services are available to both start-ups and existing businesses.
In this blog I will focus on 4 key areas a consultant can add value to your business.
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.