Monthly Archives: May 2016

Business Internet Products Tips

Starting a business is an incredibly exciting time for any entrepreneur; however it can also be stressful with so much to do in so little time. The start-up phase is also characterized by significant expenditures against a backdrop of uncertain income. However, there are a number of products and services that can help you maximize your chances of success while also saving you considerable time and money. This article aims to introduce you to some of the less obvious ones that are available via the Internet. These products and services can help you set your business on the right path from Day One. While these recommendations will not be appropriate for all, those who need to bootstrap and build their business the hard way will benefit the most.

1. Create a website

Regardless of whether you intend to sell online or not, all new start-up businesses should secure a domain name and create a website as soon as they can. Thankfully, the cost of getting a site set up has fallen significantly over time and there are now a host of different packages and providers to choose from.

2. Download a profile of your industry

The factsheets, reports and guides from Scavenger are essential reading material for anyone starting up a business in the UK. The Business Opportunity Profiles are downloadable reports on specific UK industries. With over 800 reports in total, the range includes everything from ‘Children’s Day Nursery’ profiles to ‘Coffee Shop’ profiles to a profile on ‘Wedding Planners’.

Where: www.scavenger.net Cost: Individual reports cost around £5.

3. Set up your company accounts

One of the big challenges start-up companies face is managing cash flow. Insolvency is one of the main causes of failure for entrepreneurs in the UK. However, with some careful and appropriate financial planning, cash crunches can be avoided. While this in itself is an important reason for buying a bookkeeping package, there are countless other reasons ranging from the ability to manage invoices through to managing payroll. The two main recommended introductory packages are QuickBooks® Simple Start from Intuit® and Sage® Instant Accounts. View online demos before you purchase.

Where: www.sage.co.uk and www.quickbooks.co.uk Cost: From £43.97 at www.amazon.co.uk

4. Download business planning software

When you start up it is important to write a business plan to ensure you adequately plan the future of your business. The very process of creating a plan is beneficial, not least because it forces you to take a holistic view of your company. Business Plan Pro is the best-selling business-planning software available. It is easy to use, saves time, and has over 500 sample plans to get you started. It is also available via download so you can get instant access to it and hence pay no postage and packing.

Where: Business Plan Pro is available from www.paloalto.co.uk Cost: RRP is only £79.99 for the Standard version and £129.99 for the Premier.

Talent Management Talk About

Every CEO claims to struggle with the challenge of getting the right “talent,” but what does this really mean? Their real concern is:  Do I have the people who will understand my agenda and be able to really change how work gets done, at pace? This is the wrong question.

Individuals can make a difference in an organization, but a social system — particularly in large organizations — is always stronger.

Fundamentally, organizations domesticate people—they condition people to work in certain ways, and they inadvertently perpetuate the status quo. People get tagged as “talented” when they fit in (or pretend to). This ends up exacerbating conformity and fear, and perpetuating the very problems that the CEO is hoping to solve.

Real change requires understanding three dilemmas about “talent management” systems:

They are tribal.

Despite the size of modern organizations, people are still very tribal — they maintain and seek out small groups of “like minded” people with whom they find comfort, and it’s through these tribes they define their work. Talent thus looks a lot more like currying favor than any deeply analytic meritocracy, even when it comes to senior team ascension. Too often, CEOs say they’re looking to promote talent but end up promoting familiarity.

Smart senior leaders understand this, and they tend to fight and work to get the exposure and familiarity to executives from their “tribes.”  Until senior leaders understand their complicity in this problem, and how the tribalism of their talent conversations contributes to it, their talent systems will continue to cripple them.

They reward compliance, not creativity.

While senior leaders promote and protect their “tribes,” once you get two steps outside of the C-suite, the problem becomes worse.  Talent identification becomes about minions. Leaders often promote and protect the people who make them look good; too often, there are also the people who don’t challenge leaders. “Minions,” if you have not seen the movie, are cute and dependable, but they’re not about to create your future.  I have worked with talent in dozens of organizations on multiple continents, and they’re typically bright, confident, articulate people.  I would propose, however, that they’re not vastly distinct from the masses that work around them.

 Most of them ignore the importance of context.

Some of the most storied “talent factories” in the world — companies like Exxon, General Electric, Goldman Sachs — say that they focus on the best people, but what they really mean is that they focus on people who thrive in their context, and in their social system.  All of these companies have a distinct “type” that they look for –which brings its own risks.  Becoming a talent factory isn’t about hiring or promoting the best people, it is about understanding the DNA of your social system, and building from that baseline.

Understanding your social system and the people who thrive in it is exponentially more valuable, particularly if you want to drive high performance. But let’s not confuse this with “talent.”

To start, spend your next “Talent Review” writing down the descriptors used to label individuals. Here’s an example from an executive team of a global company that was trying to drive stronger execution:

  • “I’ve heard he is not very popular”
  • “She has a very strong personality, and creates too much tension”
  • “How is his attitude these days? In the past, he was pretty negative and pushy?”
  • “He seems like a resister”
  • “He has a nice personality”
  • “____ was very impressed by him”

They realized that the talent that they needed were pushy, demanding and delivery-focused, that their system that had a bias for privileging “niceness” and non-confrontation. The organization, even at the senior-most levels, was inadvertently reinforcing the organization’s status quo.

This happens everywhere.  Organizations cultivate in their talent systems toxic ways of policing the status quo, and then they wonder why they can’t change.  Smart organizations, and truly aspirational CEOs, need to own this reality and spend their resources and energies differently.  Broadly, the talent lenses and approaches we use, drive us toward the wrong, backward looking, conclusions.

Business Plan For Easy Plan

So, you have decided to start up a new business. You begin to do some research and find that almost everything you read recommends that you produce a business plan. Why is this so? Because the benefits of compiling a business plan are numerous – not least, the fact that committing your thoughts to paper dramatically improves your prospect of getting started in the first place. A business plan also helps you gain a holistic view of the business and helps you to devise a strategy to ensure a successful launch for your idea.

Having decided to produce a business plan, there are three main ways to write one:

1. Pay someone to write it.

2. Write it yourself using Microsoft® Word and Excel.

3. Write it using a task-specific software product such as Business Plan Pro UK Edition.

If you, like many entrepreneurs, are time rich and cash poor, option 1 quickly removes itself from the equation, given the cost of having someone write a plan for you.

You are then faced with the choice between using Business Plan Pro or building everything yourself, from scratch, in Microsoft Word and Excel. Why are we not recommending otherbusiness plan software options? Because Business Plan Pro is the best business planning software available – without exception. Palo Alto Software (the maker of Business Plan Pro) has a proud history, has had category leadership for years and has extensive lists of testimonials and independent reviews on the website, all corroborating this view. By all means, consider other software options; however, we are confident that your own analysis will reveal that Business Plan Pro stands head and shoulders above the alternatives.

When it comes to using Word and Excel there are undoubted benefits – not least the fact that they are ‘free’ in the sense that they are bundled on most PCs. The interface is also familiar, given the popularity of their use. However, while these tools are excellent when you know exactly what you need to produce, they offer negligible assistance when it comes to producing specific content, such as that required for a business plan. If the purpose of the business plan were simply to jot down a few notes to keep you on track, they would suffice. However, if you intend to circulate the plan to peers, colleagues or prospective investors, you will need to produce a plan worthy of your name. After all, you are the author!

Here are the reasons why we believe that using Business Plan Pro is the easiest way to write a business plan:

1. Offers significant time saving

Business Plan Pro was designed to help you write a plan as efficiently as possible. It comes with extensive help, lots of examples and expert advice.

2. Provides the structure

Business Plan Pro walks you through a list of specific tasks, step by step, in stark contrast to the blank screen and flashing cursor you face when you create a new document in Microsoft Word.

3. Includes hundreds of examples

Business Plan Pro includes over 500 sample plans so you can browse plenty of examples to help give you ideas.

4. Ensures you do not leave out any sections

Over ten years of history means that we know what sections to include, where they should appear in the document and what you need to put in them.

5. Makes the numbers part easy

We recognise that while compiling the financials is an essential part of any plan, it is a very challenging area. We have simplified this process with the inclusion of easy-to-use financial wizards and automatic calculations, linking together all the financials from Start-up costs toSales Forecast to Personnel Expenses to Cash Flow to Profit and Loss.

6. Free support available

Alongside the extensive in-product help, we also offer a free support line and a comprehensive help facility on our website.

7. Signposts relevant resources at appropriate points

The software also includes links to relevant local resources where you can read specific advice on any areas with which you need further assistance, including trademarks, company formations, and more.

8. Designed specifically for producing a business plan

Whereas Microsoft Word is a general purpose tool, Business Plan Pro is designed specifically to help you write a business plan with the least amount of hassle.