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Do I need a business plan?

Tania WillettOwner and PR Consultant at TJW Public Relations
A business plan is very important. It provides structure, acts as a point of reference and much more. However, I also believe that it's important, particularly for small businesses and start-ups, to not get too caught up with getting that business plan perfect before you start acting. Ideas, concepts and strategies change over time, and that change usually comes about through trial and error. It's ideal to go out and test the market and see if there is a real need for a business, service, product or concept. Then you can regularly check in with your business plan and adjust accordingly.
Brett ElliottOwner at Brett Elliott
I have written over a dozen business plans and offer documents for emerging enterprises.In my opinion, a business plan is a sales document. (It might sound strange but hear me out...)You need to sell yourself on the idea of the business; developing conviction in, and commitment to your enterprise, its principals, its structure, and processes, as well as be comfortable with the risk profile for you as the founding sweat equity partner. If you are the business owner and director, you are the principal stakeholder that needs to be sold on the enterprise you are undertaking. If you are sold on the business and 100% committed the roll out process outlined in your business plan, you can sell it to other stakeholders, which may include sweat equity partners, investors, and early stage customers.They aren't necessarily going to want to read your business plan, but you will need to be able to answer the key questions a well-written business plan will provide.A business plan provides a structure to flesh out all the nuances of the enterprise, test assumptions, reduce risks, and zero in on challenges and opportunities. It also provides the foundation thinking from which your website, sales tools and branding material are drawn from. It will also provide essential content for your offer document (if raising capital by selling equity).However, as a business owner, particularly if early stage, your focus is going to be sales, so don't let the writing of a business plan become a form of procrastination that holds you back from getting out there and sellnig your product or service.
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What have been some great activities or exercises you have done at a team day. Needs to be in house.

What topics would you like covered on the day - self or work matters. Any Motivating Videos you... read more

Melanie GrayOwner at MyCL (My Computer Lab)
We did personality profiles on a team building day. Was really insightful, got us all understanding each other a bit better and how to work better with each other.
Tracey MillerOwner at artation
Hi SandraLast year I started my business artation which is making art work for team building. Working to a theme of your choice we provide a painting activity for your people. For example the theme of the painting might be the aims of the conference or the values of the company etc. The participants work in small groups to paint on a canvas. No painting experience is necessary. Each group is given a plan to follow. Teams need to communicate and collaborate to make their painting on canvas successful. This is the absolute opposite of competitive team building. At the end of the session all the groups put their canvases together, like a puzzle coming together to reveal the big picture.Later the painting can be exhibited in the office as a constant and tangible reminder of the team building day and what they can achieve together.http://artation.com.au/Kind regardsTracey Miller
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How are we all finding business at the moment, confidence good?

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Best quarantine service - Methyl Bromide Gas Fumigation

Methyl bromide is one of the few fumigants that may be used safely on a very large scale of living... read more

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Who do you use for merchant business accounts? What are the fees like?

Hi Anna,If you are a small business owner, and just want to collect payments, have a look at both PayPal and Stripe. Neither of them have monthly charges, just a set percentage of the transaction, and both are easy to integrate into a website, especially if you use Wordpress to build your website, which you should do. :-)All Australian banks charge a setup fee, plus a monthly fee regardless whether you actually make any sales or not, so I strongly recommend looking at Stripe in particular, but you may already have a PayPal account, and it is easy and free to upgrade it to a business account.
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Hi everyone, can I ask how many women from this group are located in regional Australia?

I would love to have a rough idea of how many female business owners live beyond the major capital... read more

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Anyone here had any experience with successfully acquiring a Technical Co-Founder?

Any suggestions, thoughts and words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated. read more

Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Hey Darren,Great question. I have had success in acquiring a Technical Co-Founder. The process took awhile (and it should because it is important). Finding a co-founder (technical or not) is very similar to dating and relationships. You need to take time to find out if you mesh well as a business team. You need to build up a friendship and trust.I always suggest starting on a small piece of the business or an unrelated short project that you can complete to see how well you work together before committing to a long term partnership.The next factor in acquiring a technical co-founder depends how you plan to compensate them. Are you starting with them from the ground up and only offering equity? Ensure that the percentage you agree to give them vests over time (as should everyone with equity). Also ensure they get equity that matches the level of effort and expertise they are bringing with them. If you are offering pay and / or equity ensure that the blend makes sense (again with vesting on the equity).The most important thing is that you give them latitude on the technical side to make the best suggestions and implement the best solutions (especially if it is not your expertise). A co-founder wants to be able to add value and not be micromanaged.Lastly when looking for a technical co-founder you need to look where technical people spend their time. Try connecting with people already in your social network (friends or friends of friends). Try looking through your professional connections to see if anyone you've already worked with or know may be interested in the venture. Then if you still have not found someone, start looking on places it GitHub where developers spend a lot of their time. You can search by location and see what type of projects they are interested and currently working on to see if things make sense.
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When you're first starting out in business you need to limit the number of coaches and experts you follow.

Agree or Disagree? And why/why not? read more

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What is the best way to advertise/get business for handmade lip gloss, soap, body balm etc.?

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Final letter of demand: Does anyone have a good template they would like to share?

I have some debts that need collecting. read more

Have you download the CollectMore app on your mobile phone? Has some great ideas on how to most effectually get money from people that owe you.
Sputnik Sputnik
Not a lawyer, but having written them quite a few times before, and given the circumstances, I wouldn't sweat the quality of your prose. They just need to do a few things so however you word them is fine - with one small ethical warning.Practically, as long as you state specifically what the claim is for (reference to original task and/or invoice), and when specifically you need it paid (day & time Friday at 5pm is always a good one) and give them a reasonable amount of time to make payment (2 weeks would usually be more than enough) you're pretty much there. That covers the actual 'demand' part.Two things you may want to consider:1. You may also like to say pay it by this date OR if you have a query regarding the charge, enquire by the date (assuming they haven't already).2. You will also need to decide on the tone of your letter. If it's all out war, you have nothing to lose, just be short, sharp and shiny. If there is ANY chance at all of getting payment through negotiation, don't be afraid to soften it a little and write like you'd speak to someone you actually like. ie "I know this has gone on a while now and is not ideal for either of us, but I really need to do something to bring it to a close. I'd really appreciate you contacting me to resolve this or if you don't have any queries about the charge, paying by time and date below so i don't have to look at alternative ways of getting it resolved... "Good luck!
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I want to make a little explainer video or slideshow kind of thing; something simple. What app should I use?

Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Michelle,I think it really depends on your needs and comfort level with software. YouTube has a built in "Creator Studio" it may not be as robust as some apps, but obviously it integrates well with YouTube.I know many people that use Adobe After Effects, but if don't already own a copy or are not familiar with it, the pricing and learning curve may overwhelm you.I'm not really aware of any mobile apps specifically designed for creating explainer videos, but I'd be happy to hear about them from others.
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Which is the best form of communication for a small business?

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Can anyone give me some tips with expos?

I have been asked to do my first bridal expo in sept and I am not sure what to expect or what would... read more

The Warwick Merry book that Monika has recommended will help set you up very nicely indeed. It covers many of the elements you must get right. Preparation and follow up is essential, resource planning for both is often overlooked or grossly underestimated. If you have 200+ enquiries to respond to you must have them prioritised, who needs a follow up within 24 hours and who can happily wait a week! Hot prospects followed up more that 10 days after the Expo ends will by then have cooled significantly. Three tips I always find me exhibiting clients appreciate are:1 'Wear comfortable shoes', as you will be on your feat for at least 8 hours, Even better, take a 2nd pair and change them midway through the day, it makes a real difference to your endurance, stature and presence and it really shows when prospects approach your stand.2 Never stand on the front edge of your stand adjacent to the visitor’s corridor. Step back to expose a clear and inviting area of vacant floor where a visitor can comfortably enter your inviting display.3 And most importantly make certain all your exhibition staff master the art of the 60 second sales call, this will ensure that you don’t get bogged down discussing details with one prospect, whilst 4 others pass you buy because your already busy. Happy to provide details on fast tracking prospect qualification, interest logging and politely getting them off your stand feeling they have been efficiently and courteously looked after.
Monika NewmanVirtual Secretary/Personal Assistant at Absolutely Virtual
Jacky go to Warwick Merry's website and download this complimentary PDF with lots of useful tips about Tradeshows - www.warwickmerry.com/PDFs/Top10TradeShowTips1.pdf
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What kind of terms and conditions or disclaimer do you usually include on an invoice?

I am about to create an invoice template for our b2b business (cause we just locked in our first... read more

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If you had a captive lawyer at no cost, what questions would you want answered for your business?

Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I would ask about the following topics:Royalty agreementsTrademarking word marks and logos
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If you could do business with anyone in the world - who would it be?

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When should I write off a receivable as a bad debt? Is it worth taking the customer to court?

HUNTER LEONARDFOUNDER AND CEO at BLUE FROG MARKETING PTY LTD
Hi SusanI'd say no, unless the outstanding money is significant. My experience is that you'll end up spending way more money, and still not get the debt paid. Best to just move on, and put in place policies to reduce the risk of it happening again.One possible way to force the person to pay up (and provided you've done whatever you promised to do in exchange for that money) is to threaten public naming and shaming of the individual/company. Sometimes the threat of public visibility of their poor credit or payment behaviour can have more weight than a legal threat. Something to consider.Hope this helpsHunter
Get yourself a good debt collector and have documented credit policies for your company. That way it's not you having to make the decision, it's just the company policy. Debt collectors have reasonable success at chasing debts providing they are not too old.IMHO it's better for you to focus on bringing new business in rather than burning time and money with solicitors and losing focus on your business. Take the learning and move forward, if providing credit, always ask for a signed account application and directors guarantee and charge interest on late payments. The only purpose of 'interest' is to keep people interested in repaying the money they owe you.
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How can I speed-up the collection of receivables? Should I offer extra discounts for prompt payments?

Try the free app 'CollectMORE'. Mainly for DIY debt collection, but it might have some good ideas also.
Eugene,Payment for your services is a completely fair transaction. Payment in advance is reasonable if you need to do a lot of work or have unrecoverable outlays before you can deliver. Payment on delivery is a reasonable demand under any circumstances. What guarantee do you have of being paid after you have delivered the goods? For established trading relationships (i.e. dealing with someone you know you can trust) extending limited credit might be OK. Are you in the business of providing credit? No. There are banks that do that and that is where people can go to get the money they need to pay you for the services you are providing. If the bank won't take teh risk, why shoudl you? The is a cost and a risk to extending credit. You should pass that cost on to your client. The risk is that you will not get paid. Why incur the cost or take the risk when you have the option not to.Discounting to get paid early is not a good idea. It could imply that the price was loaded to start with or that you really need the money and are prepared to take less than your job was worth. Not only that, you are demeaning yourself by appealing to greed in order to get paid. Just don't do it.Some people will try an argue about what terms they can get elsewhere, standard business practice and so on - any reason that they can try on you to walk away without paying you. There are no standard There is no accepted norm. People specify their own terms these days. As long as it's fair and ethical, it's OK. If you clients are insistent on not paying you then they're really not the clients you want. Let them ruin someone else's business.In every business there are good clients and bad clients. Keep the good ones. Lose the bad ones.
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How do you price your products and services correctly?

Hi Derric,The correct price is the one that allows you to maximise the profit you generate from a product line. Too high and demand will be too low. Usually the person with the biggest problem with pricing is the business owner, not the customer.When you learn to focus on and sell value, not price, the sales process is much easier. You never want to be the cheapest in a marketplace unless you have found a way to be more efficient that everyone else in that marketplace. e.g. Aldi and CostcoHow to set a price? Survey your competitors, analyse their strengths and yours and decide where you want to position your product in the quality vs price continuum. Review your prices on a regular basis. If you're not getting an occasional complaint that your prices are too high then I would suggest they are probably too low. Focus on profit ahead of turnover.Hope this helps.
HUNTER LEONARDFOUNDER AND CEO at BLUE FROG MARKETING PTY LTD
Hi DerrickThere are a number of strategies to pricing correctly. 1. Know what competitors are charging and adjust your price according to your positioning strategy. If you think you offer a better value proposition or you want to be known for higher quality or premium, price higher than them, and if you want to be a lower cost, higher volume producer price lower than them.2. Value - on rare occasions you can completely change the paradigm on pricing in a market - I heard of an example in manufacturing where a company doubled the life expectancy of a key component in a production facility, they could have priced their product at twice the competitor, but ended up charging more than 1000x the competitor because they found out that by doubling the lifespan of that component they saved companies millions in production downtime.3. Cost Plus - in this method you have to understand the cost inputs to your product or service - it isn't just production cost, it's time and money to sell, market, insure and other items- but in essence you cost out everything you can think of and then add a margin which not only covers this but gives you a profit too.4. Survey - by surveying potential customers of a new product or service, you can determine their sensitivity or interest of that product at certain price levels and based on this determine where you should price for optimum return for you.hope this helpshunter
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I'm curious, which (if any) back of house business functions would you outsource first, given the chance?

Steven FreemanOwner at Evolved Sound
Non frontline customer related tasks as much less risky to outsource.
Sally Cannon
You could also look into outsourcing lead generation. By using a company specialising in cold calling and lead generation it is likely the results will be much more successful than trying to do it yourself. There are many reasons to outsource your cold calling and telemarketing and to create a consistent lead generation campaign that tops up your pipeline of leads and appointments every single week without you taking the focus off meeting the prospects and closing the deal - usually the thing most people enjoty doing and do best. However that being said it is critical to find the right parter. In particular when outsourcing sales you need to make sure that the third party you engage will represent your business and brand the right way.
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