Tag Archives: Business planning

Roll out the Red Carpet for 2017

Have you rolled out the Red Carpet to welcome the New Year and the opportunities it may bring?

Or are you just crossing your fingers and hoping it will be better than last year?

Now the Christmas and New Year festivities are over, the Holywood glitterati are rolling out the red carpet for the Awards season. Accustomed as actors are to being centre stage, it’s not surprising if they see acceptance speeches as an opportunity to draw attention to the current events, political issues and good causes that are personally important to them.

What will be important for you and your business in 2017? Are you prepared for whatever may come your way? Are you ready to grasp the opportunities as they arise?

There’s no denying that we all face the coming months with some uncertainty, so having a business plan in place that enables you to monitor your progress and adapt to meet the challenges ahead will be more important then ever.

Here are five things you can do now (it’s not too late!) to make the most of 2017:

  1. Do your market research. Even if  you think you already know everything there is to know about your market, now is a good time to re-visit your existing market data and see if anything is likely to change in the coming year. Have your customers’ needs changed? What are your competitors doing? Are there any new legal requirements you need to incorporate in your plans?
  2. Complete your SWOT analysis. Use the market research to ensure you are making the most of  your strengths and to highlight any upcoming opportunities. Identify any weaknesses or skill shortages in the business. Ensure you are aware of any external threats, such as new legislation or a competitor product launch.
  3. Use the SWOT analysis to formulate your business plan. Set your business targets for the year, define your objectives, review your financial planning and work on a strategic marketing plan to make sure you achieve them. Don’t forget to allocate sufficient money to your marketing budget to enable you to meet your sales targets!
  4. Create a monthly advertising, promotions and events calendar, making sure you maximise the opportunities from seasonal and local highlights such as Easter, Bank Holidays, Christmas, local events, etc.
  5. Address any skill shortages you identified in the SWOT by learning a new skill, employing new staff or outsourcing to experienced professionals.

Outsourcing skills you don’t already have to a professional is a great way to give your business the edge. If you need some help with your 2017 business plan, or would be interested in attending a business plan clinic or training session, contact us for more information:  http://www.bluejmarketing.co.uk/contact-page/

Jackie Wilson MCIM APM

Get Set For Summer – Holiday Checklist for Small Businesses

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When you’re running your own business, there never seems to be a good time to take a holiday. There’s always another customer to see, an urgent order to fulfill or a meeting you just can’t miss.

But taking a break can…

  • boost creativity
  • reduce stress
  • improve happiness levels
  • increase productivity

…so it’s even more important for small business owners to book that holiday and get away from it all for a few days.

If you’re having trouble deciding how to fit in a holiday…and worrying what will happen to the business whilst your away…we’ve put together a useful checklist to help you get your business ready for that all important break.

Small Business Holiday Checklist:

  1. Give your customers plenty of notice of the dates you will be away.
  2. Manage your time carefully, ensuring any outstanding work is completed before your holiday.
  3. Consider delegating or outsourcing essential jobs that can’t wait till you get back.
  4. Make sure your expenses, invoices and outstanding bills are up to date before you go.
  5. Update your email auto-response and answering machine message so your clients know when to expect a reply.

And finally…

…dig out those flip-flops, book your space under the parasol, sit back and relax!
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Whatever your plans, we hope you have a fun and profitable summer season.

Jackie Wilson – Marketing Consultant & Business Mentor
Catherine Wainwright – Finance & Accounting
Elizabeth Worrall – Corporate Financial Planning
John Wilson – Quality, Environment, Health & safety

Three Resolutions You Should Make For Your Business

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Get 2016 off to a sparkling start with these three resolutions.

  1. Do your market research. Even if  you think you already know everything there is to know about your market, the New Year is a good time to re-visit your existing market data and see if anything is likely to change in the coming year. Have your customers’ needs changed? What are your competitors doing? Are there any new legal requirements you need to incorporate in your plans?
  2. Complete your SWOT analysis. Use the market research to ensure you are making the most of  your strengths and to highlight any upcoming opportunities. Identify any weaknesses or skill shortages in the business. Ensure you are aware of any external threats, such as new legislation or a competitor product launch.
  3. Use the SWOT analysis to formulate your business plan. Create a monthly calendar to promote your business strengths. Address any skill shortages by learning a new skill, employing new staff or outsourcing to experienced professionals.

If you need more information on how Blue J Marketing can help with your 2016 business plan contact me: jackie@bluejmarketing.co.uk

 

12 Tips of Christmas Planning

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Are you ready for Christmas?

At this busy time of year, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in the day to day running of the business that you forget to plan for the Christmas holiday period .

We’ve come up with a 12 point check list to help make sure you have everything covered, so when the 24th comes around you can go home, relax and enjoy the festivities with your family and friends.

  1. Check staff rotas to ensure all departments are covered over the holiday period.
  2. Ensure Customer Service are ready to deal with any queries that come in over the holiday, especially between Christmas and New Year.
  3. Monitor December sales figures daily and take any necessary action to achieve end of year targets.
  4. Social media and email marketing are both useful last minute marketing strategies to help boost sales.
  5. Set up a social media plan for the holiday period to make sure someone is monitoring your social assets at all times. You will need to have a clear policy in place to enable designated staff to respond to in-coming comments, know how to handle negativity and even manage a crisis situation.
  6. Notify customers of: last order and delivery dates before Christmas; dates that the business will be closed; first order and delivery dates after the holiday.
  7. Contact your accountant in good time to make your final preparations for the year end. Make sure you have all the information you need to complete the finances for the year, including supplier statements and customer payments.
  8. If you’re a sole trader, don’t forget the self-assessment deadline is the 31st January.
  9. The period between Christmas and the New Year is a good time to do a stock take and a bit of spring cleaning….both physically and mentally!
  10. Should Christmas turn out to be white, have a plan in place for getting essential staff into work.
  11. Have a Health & Safety policy in place to clear snow and ice from company car parks and walkways. Advise staff on how to travel safely in icy and snowy conditions.
  12. And finally….don’t be a Scrooge! Make sure your staff feel appreciated, everyone gets some time off (including you!) and comes back to work refreshed and ready for a happy, busy and prosperous New Year.

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Four steps to put the ‘blue-sky’ back in your business plan

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With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s easy to get swept up in what may be your busiest time of the year and forget all about next year’s business plan until January. But if you can put aside some time now to review you current position and start thinking about how to make next year even better, you will give yourself a head start …and something to celebrate in the New Year.

 

We’ve all been so focused on cutting costs and concentrating on the core business to survive, that the creativity has gone out of the business planning process. Creative ideas can give businesses a competitive edge, so now is the perfect time to follow these four steps and put some blue-sky thinking back into your 2016 business plan.

Step 1:
Do the essentials first…analyse sales, profit and national economic data to track trends and forecast 2016 sales based on current business.
Step 2:
Complete a SWOT analysis to identify ways to improve current products or services and identify market gaps and opportunities for new ones.

Step 3:
Once you’ve identified the opportunities, set aside some time for a creative ideas session. Include staff members from all departments. Those at the customer facing end of the business can often provide valuable insights into customer needs and expectations. Including them in the planning process will have the additional benefit of improving motivation and job satisfaction.

Encourage everyone to contribute by asking questions:

What? What if? How? Where? When? Why? Why not?

Even the most outlandish ideas can spark something of real value, so don’t dismiss them too quickly.

And most of all….have some fun exploring all the possibilities!

Step 4:
When you’ve completed Step 3, go back to Step 1 and re-assess your sales forecasts including the estimated revenue from the new opportunities. Don’t forget to increase the marketing budget to cover the cost of promoting your new or improved products or services.

If you’re struggling to think beyond the familiar, or running a business on your own and need some help with your creative thinking, bringing in a consultant with a fresh perspective may be just what you need. If you’d like some help with your plans for 2016, send me an email: jackie@bluejmarketing.co.uk

 

 Jackie Wilson Dip.M MCIM Chartered Marketer
Jackie is a Chartered Marketer, Doncaster 100 Mentor and Yorkshire Business Collective Advisor with extensive management experience across a wide range of industry sectors and a passion for delivering effective marketing solutions.

 

Summer Holidays…a welcome break or a business nightmare?

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We all love the holiday season…but If your business has a bad case of summer flu, we have some tips to help improve your immunity system. 

Whether you’re reading this on the beach (shame on you!) or stuck in the office covering for staff on holiday, chances are that the summer season will have had some kind of impact on your business.
Will you be expecting a sharp down turn again in September?
Or are you scratching for sales because all your customers are on holiday?
Do you find your annual sales graph is full of peaks and troughs?

Three tips to avoid the seasonal sales slump

If this year’s summer break isn’t proving to be as relaxing as you’d hoped, start planning now to make the most of the Autumn and pre-Christmas sales. 

  • Analyse: Analyse your annual sales figures to identify seasonal trends. What caused  those peaks and troughs?
  • Research: Research your market. Examine buying patterns. Look for opportunities. Is there a seasonal use for your product or service that you’re not currently exploiting?
  • Plan: Use the quiet holiday period to start planning for the rest of this year. Create a marketing calendar utilising special offers; discounts; competitions; vouchers; PR; advertising; events; social media. Use your planning to encouraging purchase during quiet periods as well as maximising sales during peak times.

If you’d like some help with your marketing plans, send me an email: jackie@bluejmarketing.co.uk