Plan it, Janet!!

The last two weeks have been very manic with two clients requiring in-depth business plans to enable them to seek bank funding.

Now, both clients are established companies with between 8 and 20 years track record. They are exciting to work with as they are in very interesting fields and are known in their markets to have a high level of expertise.

Although the reason for doing the business plans was to get bank funding, the whole business planning process has had other advantages for both businesses.

Firstly, the process has allowed the directors to review their successes so far. Many business owners don’t take the time out of working in their business to acknowledge how far they have come. As we can all be inclined do, they concentrate on the negatives without giving equal importance to the positives. Having a specific opportunity to review their many successes has enabled them to renew their enthusiasm and remind themselves why they went into business in the first place.

Secondly, the planning discipline involves reviewing every part of the business and the relative effectiveness of each area. It looks at each area of the business in an objective way and enables the business owner to assess which areas of his business are working well and which need tweaking. This is an invaluable exercise, which is often left undone due to work pressures.

Thirdly, by doing a full swot analysis directors are forced to look at the strengths, weaknesses, opporunities and threats associated with their business. In identifying threats and weaknesses, acknowledging them, and exploring them in detail, directors have to look them squarely in the face and resolve to deal with them. In doing so the business becomes stronger and better able to deal with the negatives. Conversely, in identifying strengths and opportunities fully, the directors are able to see those areas which have contributed to current success and on which the future of the business will probably be based.

Finally, if done properly and revisited regularly, the business plan can become an important strategy document. Having spent the time to evaluate the business and plan for its success, so that a clear picture is formed of its future, the business plan then becomes a measure against which the directors’ goals can be assessed.

For these reasons, and others, I strongly urge clients to have a business plan, which they update on a regular basis. Not for the banks benefit but for their own.

Fiona 🙂

What value a good presentation?

There are lots of opportunities out there for business people to do presentations, which add value to their business and their audiences’. And yet relatively few take up these opportunities. Why is that?

It is nervewracking (at least to begin with) but presenting a subject close to your heart, to a group of your peers can be thrilling and highly motivating. The key is to stick to what you know and to make it as lively and interesting (to others!) as you can. That way your audience is engaged and you get terrific feedback.

Yesterday I experienced two very different, but equally interesting, presentations at networking groups I am a member of.

At lunchtime Thomas Picton talked about developing an exit strategy so that you can leave your business with as much in your pocket as possible. Now you may think this is a fairly dry subject, but Thomas kept it light and the audience participation kept it relevant to them. Now the audience benefited from the talk because it prompted them to think about something they will have to consider at some stage. Thomas benefited because it was clear he was just the person to go to when it comes time to consider your exit strategy.

A win:win but not a hint of selling!

In the evening I then went to the MBWF meeting at Kilver Court in Shepton. The subject there was time management and the presenter Sandra Pennyfather. Many of us think we know all there is to know about time management (even if we don’t put all of it into practice) and it is certainly a topic which regularly comes up as a seminar topic. What made this presentation different was the very personal slant Sandra gave to the talk. There was no element of preaching – just this is the mess I found myself in and this is how I turned things around.

On top of the well presented subject matter, Sandra’s use of powerpoint was, as one member of the audience said “The best use of power point I have seen in a long time! Usually when I see a projector and what is clearly a power point presentation I think ‘Oh dear!” But you used it as a proper visual aid and it was great!”

Again,  the audience benefited from some refreshed takes on how to manage their time, and Sandra certainly benefited from the empowerment she experienced from giving the presentation.

So next time you see the opportunity to do a presentation, bite the bullet and give it a go!

Fiona 🙂