Whether you’re a sole trader or a larger organisation, knowing how your business is performing is critical to continued success. This is where your key performance indicators (KPIs) come in. [Read more…] about Business Countdown 9: review your KPIs
Christmas Countdown - 12 weeks to improve your business
It’s Week 10, and our thoughts have moved to competitor analysis. When you started up and produced your first business plan, did you identify your competitors? And have you kept that up to date?
Completing this analysis forms a vital part of your marketing plan. Don’t let it be a one-off activity. Here’s our tips on how to put together a comprehensive analysis that will help inform your business strategy.
And if this sounds great but you won’t have time to do it before next Christmas, let alone this one, then Hour Hands can help. Simply give us a quick brief and our research team will put together a detailed report that will make a difference to your business. Why not check out our case studies to see how we’ve helped other businesses?
Identify the competition
Start by identifying who your competitors are – you could do this from a potential customer’s point of view, using search phrases someone might use to find services like yours. You could also look at other sources of information, such as directories.
Once you’ve drawn up your list of competitors, it’s time to work through questions such as:
- How does their website compare?
- Is their branding strong and consistent?
- What products or services do they sell?
- What geographic area they operate in?
- How does their pricing work?
- What makes their product unique?
- What are the benefits of their product or service?
- Which market segments are they targeting?
- How they market their services – what channels do they use and how often?
- What type of content do they have?
Develop additional questions that fit with your business and market. Be thorough, objective and positive.
Look in the mirror
Also assess your own business. You’ll be able to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and where your product or service fits in. Think about:
- How your service compares? How is your company different from the others on your list?
- Do you review your marketing effectiveness? Do you know what works?
- Make sure you repeat what works, but don’t be afraid to try new things.
- Collaboration – don’t be too quick to avoid the competition; it might be beneficial to collaborate if your services are complementary.
- Are you thinking of entering any new markets? If so, competitor analysis will be invaluable for your planning.
Hour Hands Research Packages
The sheer volume of content on the internet means that research can take far longer than it needs to. Don’t waste your time ploughing through poor quality or unnecessary information. Hour Hands can take your brief and find the information you need, quickly and efficiently. To give you a guide, our competitor analysis research package costs just £100 and will provide you with a detailed report covering at least 10 competitors, but we can source information on anything you need – just contact us and we’ll get started!
It’s week 11 of our countdown, and this week we’re discussing why your business needs a Business Management System. [Read more…] about Week 11: Business Countdown
That’s right – this week marks the beginning of our 12-week countdown to help you make a difference to your business by Christmas! If you haven’t seen our 12-week planner yet, then you can download it here.
It might seem like a lot to do but don’t worry, Hour Hands has it covered. Our weekly series of tips and tricks will ensure that you hit all your targets stress-free.
Week 12: Set up a cloud-based bookkeeping system
Let’s face it, many people find bookkeeping to be an extremely arduous task, and it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re drowning in a mountain of receipts, or struggling to invoice clients when you should, then it’s time to get on top of it. Here are the Hour Hands hints and tips for taking control.
Keep proper financial records
Keeping good records is the key to staying on top of your accounts and managing cash flow. You’ll need to keep track of all payments coming in and out of your business account, to understand exactly what and where you’re spending, and help you forecast future cash flow.
You should also keep track of all your invoices so you know who owes you money, how much, and when it’s due. Store each invoice in chronological order and note on the invoice when it’s been paid.
Keep all your receipts
Make sure you get an invoice or receipt for everything you buy for your business, and file them using a logical system. If you’re audited for either tax or VAT, you’ll be able to find everything you need quickly and easily.
Remember it’s not personal
It’s vital to keep your personal and business finances separate so that your accounts are clean. If you run a limited company, the law prohibits you from using the money in your business for personal expenses.
Upgrade with your business
For a small business starting up, a spreadsheet is often enough to keep track of your records. As your business grows, and especially once you become VAT registered, it’s time to switch to a cloud-based bookkeeping system. The packages we use most frequently are Quickbooks, Xero and Kashflow.
There is no denying that bookkeeping takes a lot of time, so outside help can be a lifesaver. A good accountant can often save you more money than they cost, so it’s a wise investment. However, you’ll still need to prepare the paperwork and ensure it’s all in order before you can pass your records to the accountant.
If this still sounds like too much work, and your time is better spent elsewhere, then Hour Hands can do the hard work for you. Check out our case studies to see how others have benefited from our business support services, or contact us to find out more.