What do you call a vegetarian beef burger?

24 May 2019

Regular readers of this blog will know I am somewhat obsessed with the names of companies, products and services.

So often during my advice clinics I ‘help’ my clients discover the name they had chosen for their business has already been registered as a trade mark at the UK Intellectual Property Office. At this point some of them say they will no longer be able to start their business without the name they had their heart set on.

I explain that any name can work for a business. As long as it is legal, available and memorable. For example who would have thought these names based on fruit would have become associated with successful ventures (including the most valuable brand in the world).

Apple

Apple2

But, if you can come up with a great name for a business then so much the better. For instance what would you call a vegetarian beef burger? A Vurger of course. And that is exactly what The Vurger Co has done.

Vurger-co

You can read their story in detail here, but it is interesting to see that the idea started with health issues in a similar way to Deliciously Ella. And they way they initially tested the concept with a market stall. The best way to get feedback on a new edible product. I’m looking forward to finding out if they taste as good as they look.

Now I think about it, perhaps Vurger is too good a name, and they risk committing ‘Genericide’ in the long-term. This BBC website article explains how some brands that became household names lost the rights to their very own trade mark. ‘Genericide’: Brands destroyed by their own success. Maybe they will need to follow Google’s example and publish “rules for proper usage” of all its trademarks.

 


The future of motorbikes is electric

23 October 2012

Kawasaki KR1-SI normally leave the coverage of all things patent related in the capable hands of my colleague Steve van Dulken and his Patent Search Blog.

However, Steve is not the keen biker I am (nor the owner of the best motorbike ever created). So he is unlikely to have come across this story in the latest issue of Bike Magazine.

It is about a patent for an electric motorbike from Honda in Japan. And I have to admit I struggled to read all 19 pages of the patent application. But my understanding of the innovation, is the use of smaller electric motors located near the rear axle. This avoids the need for a traditional chain to provide motive power from the engine to the rear wheel.

The point of this story is that you can use patents as a form of market research. It is unlikely Honda would go to the trouble of protecting this idea if they weren’t planning to launch an electric motorbike in the near future.

You can read more at the Espacenet website. US Patent: US8028785  (B2) ― 2011-10-04 ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE or European Patent: EP2168858  (B1) ― 2012-06-06

Honda_electric_bike

Honda_electric_bike2


Soul Trader – Putting the heart back into your business

2 October 2012

Rasheed_OgunlaruRasheed Ogunlaru, life and business coach has been a Business & IP Centre partner since our earliest days. In addition to running the Your life, your business workshop once a month in the Centre and mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs with TieUK, he singlehandedly converted me to the benefits of life coaching.

I have to admit that perhaps due to a scientific background, or perhaps just plain old cynicism, I had always been wary of life coaching. I decided the only way to address this prejudice was to attend Rasheed’s workshop five years ago. After three hours I was entirely convinced by his eminently practical approach, to putting your heart and soul into your business.
So it is great to see his practical philosophy translated from workshop to published book in the form of Soul Trader published by Kogan Page. And having read it through this week,  I would put it at the top of my list of recommended reading for everyone starting (or growing) a business. I am still a big fan of Starting Your Own Business: The Good, The Bad and The Unexpected by David Lester, but Rasheed has addressed the key issue of what you really want to get from starting a business, and to make sure you end up running it, instead of it running you and your life.

Soul_Trader_coverHis introduction sums it up nicely:

Most people do not go into business solely to make money. They want to make a living, make an impact, make a contribution, make a statement, make something of real worth and value. They want to enjoy what they do, and make themselves happy and their families secure and proud. They want to make a break from the humdrum, and express their skill and abilities. But sooner or later many business owners fall into the same old trap, lose sight of what’s important and struggle with life balance.

The book consists of eight C’s made up of seven chapters and a ‘plus’ which focusses on insights to help anticipate and embrace Change.

  1. Clarity: Know your mission, talents and values.
  2. Customers: See life through customers’ eyes to win their custom and loyalty.
  3. Courage:  Unleash your inspiration / wisdom and adopt an athlete’s attitude.
  4. Co-operation: Punch over your weight; collaborate. Use / build your network.
  5. Conversations: Learn the art to connect, converse, create and convert leads.
  6. Creativity: Know when to work, rest and be at your best, (re)gain life balance.
  7. Compassion: Connect from the heart – be transformational not transactional.

Early on Rasheed gets the you to conduct a personal SWOT analysis. Which is an excellent way of discovering what you do well, and what you need to work on or get help with.

heart_and_chairThe book is peppered with examples from his hundreds of clients over the years, and covers a problem I have encountered many times, which he calls the ‘blindness of the visionary’. People become so (understandably) obsessed by their business idea or invention, they completely forget about their customers. This leads to a very expensive and risky approach to market research, where you bring your product or service to the market and then find out if anyone will buy it. Much better to find out as you develop your idea and tailor it to what you customers say they want.

Once again Rasheed gives a practical solution to this problem by showing how to map out your customers. He also explains how to develop a set of customer ‘scenarios’, to help understand the psychology of your customers. He doesn’t shy away from the realities of doing business in the real world as a soul trader. Without sufficient income (and avoiding the number one cause of failure – cash-flow) your business will not survive. Even social enterprises have to generate enough money to pay their staff and to invest in growth if they are to succeed. These are the hard questions that so many avoid tackling in their business plans:

  1. How much money to you need to live on, and to break even in business?
  2. How much money do you seek to make this year, next year and the year after in turnover – before costs and tax – and in your personal profit after cost and tax?
  3. On average how many sales or customer does that equate to per month and year?
  4. What specific action are needed to reach those goals, and what are the challenges?
  5. What evidence, research and assumptions are those figures based on?
  6. Looking again at those figures, what are a) realistic, b) optimistic and c) pessimistic sales figures for the next 12 months, and what would they mean to you and your business?
  7. What are your main products and services? How are they priced? What are all the costs involved? Which are the most lucrative? Which incur the most costs? Which involve the most hard work? Which are most dear to your heart and to your customers?

I have been talking to lots of makers recently such as jewellers, and many haven’t properly come to terms with the issue of wanting to make everything by hand themselves, but also selling enough items to make a living.

Rachel_ElnaughCourage is term one doesn’t  come across often in business books, but Rasheed rightly recognises that this is an essential ingredient in business, and gives practical tips on how you can develop it. I am constantly in awe of the people I meet who are at the beginning of a journey that would terrify me. The book contains an example from ex-Dragon and Business & IP Centre supporter Rachel Elnaugh. Rasheed asked one simple question during an advice session, and at a stroke gave her an insight which revolutionised her life. “I can honestly say that session with Rasheed was like walking through a doorway that has led me into a completely new and completely fulfilling life where success, money and love are all now flowering.”

Cooperation is an undervalued aspect of business, with many people I meet worrying about their competition before they have even started trading. The book talks about the importance of developing business partnerships through cooperation. And again Rasheed gives practical advice on how to grow and then utilize your support networks.

Conversations, which convert contacts into customers replace the ‘hard sell’ for soul traders. After all, no-one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants their opinion to be listened to. This chapter also includes how conversations work via social media channels and what precautions you need to take them online. There a lots of practical examples here, including how to deal with complaints by using, Acknowledge – Reflect back – Say what you can do.

Towards the end of the book Rasheed introduces his two-page business plan. As he says, ‘Business plans are written for two purposes and for two audiences: 1) for you to identify who and where you are, where you’re going and how you’ll get there; and 2) for investors or funders for the same purpose. If you’re seeking funding from others then you’ll need a longer, more detailed business plan…”

To sum up, I found Soul Trader to be clear and simple, friendly and supportive, passionate and soulful – just like Rasheed himself.


Fixies re-inventing the bicycle

10 May 2012

I never cease to be amazed at the products and services being re-invented for the modern market. I’ve already mentioned the bare-foot running movement and it’s breathtakingly expensive equipment.

Adam rides a Tokyobike Classic © Horst Friedrichs

Image © Horst Friedrichs

However, since my bicycle was recently stolen (UK bike crime figures), I have been on the lookout for a replacement, and intrigued to discover the fixie bike phenomenon. I have to admit I was half-aware of a different and simpler kind of bicycle from my lunch-time wanderings around the Kings Cross area, particularly in the vicinity of the University of the Arts, inhabited by trend-setting students.

My eye was drawn to the almost Nietzschean purity and strong colours. One bike was all-white, even including the drive chain, another was mat black and gold with painted tyres. A recent article in the Evening Standard about Horst Friedrichs‘ new book London’s most stylish cyclists, seemed to only show examples of fixie bikes.

The point is that once you remove the complex Derailleur gears and forget about heavy suspension, bike designers can let the minimalism of the two wheels and frame come to the fore. The fact that these bikes tend to be hundreds of pounds cheaper than their more sophisticated siblings is another attraction.

However, there is just one fly in the ointment, and that is the hilly nature of the geography around my local area. Bicycles developed gears for a reason, and that was to get their riders up hills without having to get off and push every time the slope got steep.

I’ve been assured that in London they work just fine, but I certainly haven’t seen any up on the South Downs on my walks.

Then there is the question of true fixed wheel fixie, or the softy version with a free wheel bearing. I have to say the thought of being thrown over the handlebars because I forgot to keep pedalling when going downhill, does worry me somewhat.

So I have a dilemma, choose a beautiful two wheeled retro bike that harks back to the early days of cycling – and suffer, or go modern for an easy ride.


The Apprentice hits the mark with gourmet street food

25 April 2012

Lucky_ChipThis evening’s Apprentice shows the show’s researchers have their ears to the ground with regard to the latest trend in street food retailing.

Pop-up shops selling gourmet fast food is all the rage in the trendier parts of London these days.

Luckily the Kings Cross development area is just one such place, with its Eat Street, just up the road from the updated eponymous station, and literally across the road from the recently opened University of the Arts.

I have been lured over to this new venture on numerous occasions, despite the relatively high prices compared to traditional fast food outlets. But the food has always been worth it, with a notable spicy burger which had a real bite to it.

As was pointed out during this weeks Apprentice episode, branding is a key element of any enterprise, and some of the stalls in Eat Street certainly have memorable names. My favourites are Daddy Donkey, Well Kneaded Ltd, Yum Bun, Hardcore Prawn, and Eat my Pies.

tongue-n-cheekHowever, I think that Tongue ‘n Cheek needs to find a way make its delicious sounding underrated meat cuts and Italian inspired street food treats, such as Ox cheek with caramelized onions and polenta, a bit more accessible given the queue size I observed the other day.

These names certainly compare favourably to the Apprentice team’s choices of Gourmet Scot Pot and Utterly delicious Meatballs.

Update: August 2012: I’m now a regular at Eat Street as their days and stalls expand all the time. I’ve just had probably the best burger I’ve ever tasted from Tongue ‘n Cheek. It was their Heartbreacker Original burger, made from Ox heart and dry aged beef burger, spicy chimichurri sauce, water cress, cheddar and sour cream. And it tasted amazing.


Let our Industry Guides show you the way

23 April 2012

industry guides

I was rather surprised to discover this morning that I have failed to blog about our wonderful Industry Guides. This is even more of a crime when I consider how my colleagues have toiled over them every six-months to hand-pick the best information for researching key industries.

Although by no means comprehensive (not really possible in the British Library due to our vast range of content), these guides highlight useful databases, publications and websites, hopefully in an industry or topic you want to research.

Below is a list of our current guides:

 


Totseat – our Scottish Success Story

4 April 2012

totseat logoIt was great to hear from Rachel Jones the inventor and founder of Totseat who are based in Edinburgh.

She told me how the first Totseat was created from her wedding dress (with an understanding husband watching while she chopped it up). This followed on from a disastrous meal out with a small child – and various filthy high-chairs being proffered from the downstairs loo.

Totseat-DenimThe purpose was to create a safe haven from any adult chair for a small child – i.e. replacing a traditional high-chair when none was available, or they are too filthy to use. Rachel created a cotton Totseat from the original silk version, and enlisted the help of a friend to make it child safe. Soon lots of her friends wanted one too.

Being somewhat neurotic, Rachel took safety to heart and enlisted help of BSI test house, paediatricians, physiotherapists and the Child Accident Prevention Trust. With the safety attributes firmly embedded, she made 20 prototypes, with slight variables, (all by hand) and lent them to 20 families – along with a disposable camera – requesting as many testing experiences as possible.

Rachel then visited the British Library Business & IP Centre to see what other brands were ‘out there’ on international basis. As well as looking at trademarks, names, patent and design rights.

Several months and 900 testing experiences later Rachel had a ‘final prototype’, and managed to secure an appointment with John Lewis for a ‘reality check’. But it turned out that John Lewis loved it. Her reaction was, ‘yikes’!

She continued to use the Business & IP Centre for Mintel and Keynote research papers on state of ‘the nation’ (Childcare industry, nursery industry, accessories etc). She found this invaluable, as access to these reports are otherwise totally out of financial reach – and this sort of information remains a key part of their business planning and strategy.

Since going into production four years ago UK growth has been strong in high street stores, and now export growth is surging ahead with 40 plus countries. Totseat is now the leading product in its class, with multiple award wins, recognising its design, and safety attributes.

And now Totseat has been joined by Oobicoo, which was short-listed for Best Soft Toy 2012. The adorable, cuddly, soft toy tot Oobicoo is made from gorgeous soft plush and, at 60cm tall, is the perfect size to be an instant baby brother, sister or best friend.

Rachel describes the British Library as a ‘magnificent mind-space’ whether exploring, befriending or nurturing information for both day to day and strategic business.


Another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs with Mothers of Invention

19 March 2012

Another fantastic event this evening with a range of inspiring women entrepreneurs and their stories.

Jones_EmmaThe event was chaired with great warmth, energy and humour by Emma Jones  who launched her first business at age 27, and successfully sold it two years later. In 2006 she launched Enterprise Nation as a website to help anyone start and grow a business from home. The company has since expanded to offer online services, publications, events and finance to small businesses across the UK. Emma is also co-founder of StartUp Britain, and currently acting as the campaign’s chief executive.

Sophie_CornishAs co-founder of shopping website notonthehighstreet.com, Sophie Cornish has won many prestigious awards including the ECMOD Direct Commerce Award for the last three consecutive years and the Online Retail Award Prix D’or 2010. They now host over 2,500 businesses on notonthehighstreet selling 40,000 different products.

They came to the British Library Business & IP Centre early on to look at trends in Internet retailing. And worked hard on their business plan to the extent that they new their numbers inside out. Sohpie emphasised that creating a brand is the key challenge for any business.

Her tips were:

  • Own your mistakes
  • There is no silver bullet
  • Hard work is your unique selling point
  • Cash is king

Kamal_BasranFrom helping her parents prepare samosas for the English pub they ran, to setting up her own food business The Authentic Food Company in 1985, Kamal Basran indulged her passion for cooking authentic Indian food and opened a small business supplying local catering establishments with hand-made samosas and other Indian snack food.

Today, the company has over 240 employees and has a turnover of over £31 million. The company are supplying many of the UK’s top hotels, pub chains, restaurants and retail outlets with the range of quality international cuisine.

When Kamal started out in business, she was a full-time teacher, settled in a comfortable lifestyle, married with two children. While out shopping she saw some ready made samosas, but once home discovered they tasted horrible and threw them into the dustbin. This was the trigger for starting her own business. She had no idea how to start, but wonders in retrospect if this is perhaps the best way.

She began making 600 samosas a week, and grew the business to over a million meals a week.

Her tips were:

Number one priority was to organise her children.
Then, learn how to do everything yourself (nothing is too menial).
Finally, don’t listen to other people (especially your parents!)

Her reasons for success were:

  1. Target your market
  2. Grow gradually
  3. People – 25 nationalities
  4. Products – are the best quality
  5. Customers – we love our customers

Rosie_WolfendenRosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine are the founders of Tatty Devine whose distinctive fashion designs have made them brand leaders. In 2011 they had a boom year, with a £1 million turnover and kick started 2012 with opening a Selfridges pop up shop which launched their new silver label. The two London Tatty Devine boutiques are located in Brick Lane and Covent Garden.

Harriet_VineThey are independently run and design every piece, 99% of the jewellery is made by hand in their workshops (based in London and Kent). Their custom-made jewellery has been worn by everyone from Claudia Schiffer to Jessie J.

They are very proud of producing their own book on How to Make Jewellery.

In the last two years they have started letting others in to their business, such as developing a new website, to enable them to concentrate on the jewellery.

Christina_RichardsonChristina Richardson is founder of The Nurture Network the UK’s first on-demand marketing department for start-ups and entrepreneurial growth businesses. Christina has spent much of her career managing and growing FMCG brands worth in excess of £100 million.

Now she and her blue-chip trained team, work flexibly across multiple businesses – being their marketing expertise, part time or for specific projects – calling in creative specialists from their network as and when they are needed.

Her tips for new businesses:

  1. You need to give yourself the strongest foundations you can. Be distinctly different by playing a different game.
  2. Define your brand by being clear on your ‘onlyness’. Think about who your brand would be if it were a person.
  3. Test your brand out with real people.
  4. Have a vision, but with numbers. Know the future you want to create.

And for existing businesses:

  1. Marketing is everything that touches your consumer.
  2. Always think consumer first. Choose which group will be your most valuable customers. This will inform your marketing chooses.
  3. Plan with the end in mind and be objectives driven.
  4. Use everything you can do to spread your brand
  5. Bootstrap and collaborate

The evening closed with a lively question and answer session followed by some serious networking until closing time.


The Key Trends for 2012 from Cate Trotter – Insider Trends

25 January 2012

logo_insider_trendsI have been covering sessions from  founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends Cate Trotter for a while now: Insider Trends – The Future of Online Marketing, The growing grey market in the UK and How to become a cutting-edge retailer.

As previously, Cate showed an impressive grasp of the trends that new and existing businesses need to know about, to keep ahead of the competitive curve.

Tonight’s topic proved even more popular than before, requiring a move to a larger room, and an overflow event last-night.

Here are my notes from the event:

Cate started the evening by identifying three headline trends for 2012 of Doom and Gloom, Ubiquitous Digital and Humanness.

Doom and Gloom (aka – the economic recession is killing business opportunities – or is it?)

  • If you only read the papers or watched TV you would think the end is nigh.
  • Unemployment is at a 17 year high in the UK, with over 1 million young people out of work.
  • The UK economy is predicted to grow by 0.2% in 2012 (i.e. no growth to speak of).
  • But…
  • Interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, and barriers to entry are at an all-time low, thanks to technology and the internet, with the likes of Facebook, PayPal and on-demand printing.
  • Slowly we are shifting to become a nation of entrepreneurs.
  • There are plenty of opportunities for person-to-person (P2P) businesses thanks to the likes of Kickstarter and SellAnApp. Or how about MinuteBox which allows you sell your expertise by the minute.
  • Opportunities also exist in the off-line world too, such as ‘cheap and cheerful’ offices for start-ups like The Ugli Campus, or how about opening the first cafe for entrepreneurs.
  • Too many business websites use ‘me too’ branding with stock photography and unclear messages – Cate gave the example of BubbleWebs  as one that ‘shows what it does on the tin’.

BubbleWebs_home_page

Ubiquitous digital (it really is everywhere now)

  • 65% of adult internet users now use a social networking site of some kind.
  • By the summer of 2012 over 50% of Brits will be using a smartphone.
  • So:
  • Cate’s tip no.1 – Mark your location on Google Places to boost traffic to your website.
  • Cate’s tip no.2 – Make sure you website is mobile friendly using 11 Excellent Solutions for Making Your Website Mobile Friendly.
  • Need to think beyond using social media just for marketing and PR – add customer support roles (e.g. Hippo Munchies in India using twitter prompts from customers to re-fill their vending machines).
  • Companies will develop intelligent and selective strategies for social media channels. No more scatter-gun approach to digital marketing.
  • Digital data will give commercial insights. E.g Klout score to measure your online influence.
  • A/B test your website your website using Optimizely to maximise visitors.

Humanness (the importance of trust in a digital commercial world)

  • Ask yourself how is your digital strategy enhancing the lives of your customers?
  • More targeted communications and email lists – less scatter-gun.
  • Google is starting to highlight more human related content, so you need to have people talking about your business in social media.
  • Which means you have to do stuff that people think is worth talking about.
  • Results in a move away from novelty campaigns to real customer value. E.g. Zappos.com have a 24 hour staffed phone line, and up to a year to return products.

Zappos_logo

  • Inspirational brands talk about why they do what they do, not what they do, or how they do it – read Start with why by Simon Sinek or watch him speak at TED.
  • The need to stay human, once you grow beyond a single person business, think of your brand as a personality or celebrity.

2012 is all about being connected – individuals, networks and businesses
Use customer value to cut through the ubiquitous social media noise. Connections through honest communication is key.

Cate ended her talk by encouraging us to go away and start experimenting with some of the ideas covered. We now had 11 months lead on our competitors.

She really wants to hear from us how we a get on, so please get in touch with her at cate@insider-trends.com


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – A monster of a book about a monster of a man

24 November 2011

Steve_Jobs_by_Walter_IsaacsonMany thanks to Debbie Epstein for giving me this amazing book as a present.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson is the only authorised story of the life and death of one of the most influential figures of the last 50 years, who died on 5 October this year, aged 56, from pancreatic cancer.

The book is something of a monster at 627 pages, and chronicles Steve Jobs‘ life from his childhood, through the creation and early days of Apple computers, his battles with Microsoft, his sacking and 12 year later return to the company he founded. Isaacson managed to interview Jobs himself over forty times, and tracked down more than a hundred friends, family, colleagues, competitors and adversaries.

I found it a compelling read, and managed to complete it in less than a week. It is perhaps the most honest and revealing authorised biography ever written of an industry leader. Isaacson uncovers both the amazing stories behind the revolutionary products Apple produced. However, he also reveals something of a monster of a man.

Jobs was a sensitive person, perhaps more so due to being adopted at birth, who spent several months wandering across India in his youth looking for spiritual enlightenment and followed Buddhism for the rest of his life. But he could also be the most manipulative and down-right nasty person it is possible to imagine. So much so, that his early colleagues referred to his ability to distort reality to his own ends (Reality distortion field even has its own Wikipedia entry).

Having been something of a computer nerd as a teenager in the mid-1970s I first came across his creations in the form of an Apple II computer. As you can see it was some way from the sleek and sexy design of the more recent iMacs. So reading the story of how Jobs and Steve Wozniak developed these machines made for riveting reading.

Apple II computer

Although he made many mistakes along the way, as well as many enemies, and a trail of broken colleagues, his vision and passion resulted in products which have truly revolutionised the computer industry, and made Apple the most valuable company in the world.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Steve Jobs was that he never felt the need to conduct market research (something we recommend all our clients in the Business & IP Centre should do). Instead he worked on creating ‘insanely great’ products people would discover they didn’t know they needed until they saw them.


Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

14 November 2011

GEW_logoTonight as night as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week we held another great Inspiring Entrepreneurs. This time the topic was Question Time for Entrepreneurs, and was a chance to grill our assembled panel of experts.

Emma Bridgewater, Chairman and Founder of Emma Bridgewater Ltd, Vernon W. Hill II, Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Metro Bank, Lara Morgan, Founder of Pacific Direct Group Ltd and Company Shortcuts Ltd and Tim Campbell, Founder of the Bright Ideas Trust.

Jonathan Moules, enterprise correspondent at The Financial Times, was in charge of moderating the team.

Emma BridgewaterEmma Bridgewater admitted her business was more home counties than ‘wild west’.

You will have to go through tough times. So even if you don’t feel strong enough, when it is your company, you feel differently about it.

You will surprised how creative you can be in business when you first start out and have no money.

Having to think about accounts was something unpleasant, but necessary.

Her value add, was to make modern dishwater friendly pottery.

‘We have spent ‘shed loads’ of money trying to protect our designs. I don’t think it is possible to protect them.’ The next new design is the key to success. And your brand.

Vernon W Hill IIVernon W. Hill II managed to extend his five minute introduction into an impassioned 15 minute talk about the amazing success of his banking ventures.

Be aware of the brand hierarchy: Basic brands,
Emotional Brands and Legendary Brands. When you reach the top stage you have fans not customers.

You need a clear business model that differentiates you from the competition. The culture of your company must be unique but matched to your business model. Your business execution must be fanatatical

In the US they gave away 28 million pens, and they were trying to get the number up. They let dogs in on the theory that if you love my dog, you must love me.

Metro Bank have 90 percent customer satisfaction rate, Barlcays has minus 35 percent.

Emotional brands create massive value. Look at the example of Apple who grew from a five percent market share less than 10 years ago.

Are you really emotionally and equipped to go down the entrepreneurial road? Ask yourselves does your product or service add value? What is different about you? Successful entrepreneurs start with the end result, not the process of getting there. In the UK we concentrate too much on the technicalities.

He went through 15 years of the press saying ‘this won’t work’, so having a thick skin is essential.

Ninety percent of people they see looking for investment don’t have a business plan, they just have hope. Not good enough! If you don’t have convincing numbers to raise money you will fail.

‘My problem is dealing with the government every day!’

In the US they were recruiting 6,000 jobs a year, most came from existing staff contacts. If they didn’t smile in the first interview then they were out.

Lara MorganLara Morgan.

The ability to just keep going is vitally important. Jack of all trades and a master of one, where you recruit others to fill in the other roles required.

She worked on her own for two years, morning, noon and night. Her first recruit was a ‘gobby’ hocky player who had the ability, and could be taught the skill required.

Be aware that you can recruit people if you are creative as employers, find out what will lure someone in other than money.

You can actually learn lots of good stuff from books. This is a solution Lara has applied on many occasions.

Understanding finance was a painful part of becoming a successful business. You don’t need to to do the numbers, you do need to understand them.

Finding the right staff, means being utterly rigorous in you recruitment process. Make sure you test skills, because there is a lot of flannel from candidates. Check with your receptionist for their behaviour. Maths, English and culture tests are key. Invest time in this and you will be rewarded.

It took several years to work out what our USP was. It became representing the best products to the best hotels. A key to this was understanding the market place and the competition better than anyone else.

There are very few new ideas, so you just need be aware of how you are different and better.

Tim CampbellTim Campbell

There is a huge value in mentors and advisors. Having a wise head behind you will help solve some of your issues. Having a loyal team with you on your journey will be a key to your success.

Entrepreneurs need to learn to rely on others to deliver the expertise required for the business.

You may need to extend your sales technique to family and friends in order to raise capital for your business. However, business angels are sitting there waiting to find ideas to invest in. There needs to be a better way to bring these two together.

You can’t expect people to invest in your idea if you aren’t prepared to stand by the loan, or put in your own money.

Employing people who don’t have the same passion as you do, is the biggest problem. Managing them out is incredibly difficult. You need to be incredibly clear about what you want from your recruits.

Don’t compete on price, there will always be someone cheaper.

Intellectual protection can be a very costly route to protect something that may not be unique enough. Speed to market is your best protection.

You can learn from other first mover’s mistakes.

The time to pull the plug on his business, was when he realised he could not get the 2,000 outlets needed to reach the minimum size. There is an inner voice you can hear when you go to sleep at night. Listen to it, and to advisers you trust.

There is nothing wrong with a lifestyle business (small scale).

 

Video now live here, Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011 by BIPCTV’s channel

Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2011

by BIPCTV’s channe


Inspiring Entrepreneurs Media Maestros – 12 October

13 October 2011

Matthew_RockJust back from a great Inspiring Entrepreneurs event, Media Maestros chaired by Real Business magazine founder Mathew Rock.

He kicked off the evening by talking about his own experience of building a successful media business.

He listed six key points he has learnt over the years:

.

1. You are you own brand. So make sure you have a point of view you can express to the media.
2. As much as possible, tell your story yourself. Be your own PR person.
3. Don’t worry if you’re shy, just tell your story with your passion.
4. Digital dialogue, means you don’t have to depend on broadcast media.
5. Understand the new media hierarchy – chatter,  promotion, influence
6. Influence still matters, be ready for that first, serious article to build your reputation.

Shazia_AwanShazia Awan the founder of Peachy Pink and Max Core, kindly returned to the British Library following her succesful talk at our Mothers of Invention evening  in March.

This time, as well as sharing her amazing success story, she also included some practical advice for getting media coverage.

She had five years experience of working in Press Relations, but wanted to go into the fashion industry.

She argued that advertising is often too expensive for a small business. But that the media are open to entrepreneurs making contact with them directly.

­In order to maximise the impact of the initial launch of her Peachy Pink brand, she organised for 50 underwear models to walk down Bond Street on a very nippy day in December, wearing Peachy Pink underwear. By spending three days ringing every newspaper,  magazine and media outlet she could find (with a follow-up reminder the evening before), Shazia ensured her story appeared in every red-top newspaper. As a result the store sold out within two days, and she received contact calls from 15 countries.

She­ talked about the danger of entrepreneurs trying to keep control of every aspect of their business, as it grows you have to learn to let go a bit. And you need to be clear in your own mind how using PR will help grow your business.

When asked for examples of mistakes she had made along the way, she said she prefers to think of them as learning curves. Viral marketing can be effective, but you can get carried away with it. As Peachy Pink becomes an international brand, they are beginning to capitalise on their London and British connections.
­

Next came a panel discussion with Jonathan Moules, Louise Third, and Rob Pittam:

Louise Third is a director of Integra Communications
–    Plan media work
–    Do quality research
–    Top tips
o    Plan ahead – only a few have a marketing and PR plan within their business plan
o    Identify your key audience
o    What is news – look at your press release and say ‘so what’.
o    Be realistic about the coverage you can expect

Jonathan Moules is enterprise correspondent at the Financial Times
–    Read the newspapers you are going to pitch to
–    Understand the kinds of stories they are looking for
–    Your story pitch should be like your elevator pitch – short and simple
–    Test it out on friends first
–    Learn how to build a relationship with a journalist – have an opinion on a subject
–    FT readers can see through marketing bullshit

Rob Pittam is a television and radio correspondent, he was also broadcast presenter for the BBC Working Lunch programme.
–    Don’t be afraid to ring newsrooms, they appreciate how hard it is to cold call.
–    It is passion that gets people on to television.
–    Sex sells – although journalists won’t admit it.
–    Journalists will give feedback – email first then follow up with a phone call
–    If something has already happened, it is too late for broadcast media to cover
–    The story is always about people not things
–    Think about the audience, so you will need to let a bit of control go to the journalists.

The evening ended with a busy Question and answer session:

Q – Do you need different PR for different life stages of your business?
A – Identify your key messages for the long term, then identify the key ways of getting these messages across. Start local, then regional, then national. For Business to Business services, start speaking at events to raise your professional profile.

Q – Can you use historical stories?
A – Good stories from the past can work in the print media, but not for broadcast. But the bottom line is that there needs to be a great story.

Q – How to get into professional journals?
A – Be prepared to write your own articles.

A – PR is a drip-drip process, you may not get any mention of your company name each time.

Q – How can you benefit from an important story in the media?
A – Develop your role as an expert / commentator.

Q – How do you leverage a personal brand?
A – Planning is key. The media need to be involved before your launch.

Q – How do you find time for PR?
A – Make sure you block out a couple of hours a week in your diary.

Q – How do you get celebrity endorsement?
A – By getting your product into their (or their agents) hands to try out. Even celebrities love a freebie.

Q – What kind of PR works for service businesses?
A – Look for specialist publications. They will often have a lower threshold for news and articles.

A – Patience is essential. You have to wait for the right hook to hang you news item on. Set up a Google alert to track opportunities.


Dee Dee’s Vintage, another Business & IP Centre Success Story

27 September 2011

Dee_Dees_Vintage_logoI received a lovely surprise tweet recently. ” Hi Neil! I had a one-to-one with you  couple of years ago. Still implementing your advice – it was great!

It was from Dee Dee O’Connell, the founder of Dee Dee’s Vintage.  And after my blushes died down, I recalled the information advice clinic where we met. In particular I remember being impressed about how much thought Dee Dee had already given to her business idea, and how resourceful she had been.

Dee Dee didn’t have the delightful logo above at the time, or her partner Ian White.  But I was confident she would be successful, with her enthusiasm and expert knowledge of the vintage clothing market place, and her entrepreneurial spirit.

I get a lovely warm glow from being a small part of our success stories.

Below is the blurb from their website www.deedeesvintage.com:

Dee Dee’s Vintage is a brand new online shop, specialising in Americana and classic British vintage clothing. We began life back in June ‘09 as a stall at the Vintage Pop-Up Market at Brick Lane, East London. We can now be found at selected vintage fairs, markets and festivals all over the UK. Check out our blog for the latest updates on our events.

We’re based at The Print House in Dalston, East London – home of Dalston Roof Park and Café Oto.

They are also on Facebook and Twitter: www.facebook.com/deedeesvintage
twitter.com/deedeesvintage

Dee Dee O'Connell and Ian White

Dee Dee's Vintage with Dee Dee O'Connell and Ian White


A cake slice with a musical difference

13 June 2011

cake server musicWhilst shopping for a new corkscrew today, I stumbled across another fine example of a niche within a niche, (Luxury foods in terribly bad taste).

This time the niche in question is cake slicers (also known as cake servers).  And I am rather ashamed to admit that the source of, what is in my opinion, a rather naff  product is my homeland the United Kingdom.

As you can see from the photo of the bright pink packaging on the left, the manufacturers are well aware of the rather tacky nature of their product. In fact the Kitsch’n’fun range from Kitchen Craft is deliberately aimed at the fun end of the market.

Kitsch’n’fun is a novelty range of items taking on a life of its own. Having quickly developed with some of the most talked about and fastest selling items available. Ideal accessories or pocket money gifts, the selection continues to grow and appeal to the youngster in all of us!

However, the photo does not tell even half the story. But, fortunately I was able to track down a video of the Cake Server in action on YouTube. Of the choice of four tunes available I think the wedding march has to be my favourite, as my mind boggles at the idea of it in action at some posh wedding. I challenge you to watch the video more than three times in a row.


The Apprentice Series 7 – the rise of the entrepreneurs

24 May 2011

the_apprentice_180x180My relationship with The Apprentice series has been something of a roller-coaster ride since it started in 2005.

I have to admit that I didn’t get to see any of the first series, and regret not having watched the wonderful Tim Campbell succeed without comprising his values. I say wonderful, because he went on from winning the first series to become a friend and supporter of the Business & IP Centre in our early days. And I was fortunate enough to get to know him during this period. He has since gone on to found the Bright Ideas Trust, to help young people turn an idea into a business.

I did avidly watch the second, third and fourth series (the ‘Headless chickens’ shopping trip to Marrakech being my favourite episode. However, I became increasing disenchanted with both the egotistical nature of the candidates, and the appalling behaviour on display each week. From backstabbing their fellow ‘team’ members, to outright lying in front of Allan Sugar.

However, with this seventh series the producers have decided to ‘refresh’ the show with a new angle. Instead of the winner spending a year working with Lord Sugar, something neither party would relish I suspect, they get £250,000 to start a new business on his behalf.

So instead of a group of somewhat dysfunctional, insanely ambitious corporate wannabes, we have a group of insanely confident aspiring entrepreneurs and an inventor.

This brings the show into my bailiwick, as our main activity in the Business & IP Centre is to help entrepreneurs and inventors achieve business success.

Already, during the first three episodes, I have spotted ways in which we could have helped the contestants avoid disaster. So, I have decided to cover each show, and identify where our information or services could have made a difference.

During the first episode we were introduced to the contestants using a set of pithy sound-bites. And already I spotted Helen Milligan who desperately needs to attend our workshop Your Life, your Business, with our amazing business coach Rasheed Ogunlaru. Why? Because anyone who says “my social life, my personal life don’t mean anything to me. I live to work, that’s all I do”, Episode 1 (50 seconds in), really needs to get some perspective on their life.

In the second show, we saw the two rival teams, Venture and Logic, develop mobile phone Apps. In this case a couple of hours researching our eMarketer database would have given them plenty of information about the hot trends in this rapidly developing market. Instead their decisions were made in a vacuum and based on their own ideas of what might be popular.

The third episode was all about buying a set of items for the recently refurbished Savoy Hotel, finding the best quality at the best price. As is so often the case with The Apprentice, the producers ensured the contestants were under pressure by giving them one day and just a set of Yellow Pages. Surely I wasn’t the only one to be saying, ‘where is their laptop?’ With the help of Wikipedia they could have discovered what a ‘cloche’ was and where to buy one . They could have used Google Maps to ensure the most efficient route around the required shops, avoiding schlepping from North to South London and missing the deadline. Or perhaps finding their nearest cash and carry branch.

With access to our Kompass database they would have been able to source and locate the producers of just about any product, and start finding out prices, to give them an edge when negotiating with suppliers.

Tom PellereauAlthough Alan Sugar has already ‘fired’ three of the contestants it is difficult to tell who is going to make it through to the final at this point. However, I really like Tom Pellereau, the lone inventor in the group. His refreshing honesty and lack of political chicanery, may be his undoing in the Board Room, but I sincerely hope not. Perhaps I am to naive in thinking that, just like in Series 1, the good-guy might win.

You can read about Tom’s inventions on Steve Van Dulken’s Patent Search Blog


Visit from the School of Communication Arts

11 May 2011

School of Communication ArtsYesterday I hosted a visit for thirty students from the School of Communication Arts. I have to admit I had not heard of the school before, but have been very impressed by Marc Lewis their enthusiastic Dean.

I was initially a bit intimidated by presenting to such a young and dynamic audience, but they gave me an easy ride, and seemed genuinely interested in what the Library and the Business & IP Centre had to offer.

The school have created a great Prezi slide show to explain how they are different.

And here is an introduction from their prospectus:

Have you noticed that the best ideas are usually so simple that it is hard to believe that it took so long for someone to conceive of the idea in the first place?

School of Communication Arts is unique for so many reasons. Here are three things that make it such a unique place for you to launch your career;

A student to teacher ratio of 1:6 (that’s six teachers to every student!!). Every teacher is a top creative practitioner. Which means that our students develop a powerful network of valuable contacts whilst developing their abilities.

An entirely new vocation (Ideapreneur). This has captured the imagination of the advertising and venture capital industries. So much so, that some of our Ideapreneur students will receive £10,000 of funding for their start-ups whilst at the school.

An accredited curriculum written by practitioners using wiki tools. This simple idea enables us to teach the most up-to-date knowledge, which is essential in such a fastchanging world.

There are plenty more ways in which The School of Communication Arts is considered to be the leading school for advertising, some of which you will find in this prospectus. But the thing that sets us apart, more than anything else, is our cohort.

I wish you good luck in winning a place at the school. If you are successful, you are on a fasttrack to a very rewarding creative career. All the best, Marc Lewis


Kate Middleton to marry Prince Harry

17 March 2011

The most important activity for any start-up (or existing business come to that) is research. If you don’t understand your customers, your market, or your products properly, you will make mistakes. And these could cost your business.

With this in mind, it looks like Guandong Enterprises ltd failed to do their research when producing a piece of memorabilia to celebrate our forthcoming royal nuptials. Although the names are correct on the ‘Royal mug’, the image is of red-haired Harry, instead of his older brother, less colourful brother Will.

Ironically although this mug is not likely to be a best seller, its value is going to go sky-high due to the mistake.

Kate Middleton ‘marries Prince Harry’ on souvenir mug


Real practical market research the MOMA way

4 February 2011

moma1Despite having probably the largest collection of freely available market research reports in the UK, we always emphasise the importance of field research.

In fact I am part of an excellent workshop run by Victor Higgs on  Practical Market Research.

So I was fascinated to read the story of Tom Mercer, the founder of MOMA foods in yesterday’s Evening Standard.

To test his idea, Mercer spent a night in the kitchen of his Waterloo home pouring his fruit, yoghurt and oats concoction into Tesco water bottles, on which he had Pritt Sticked his own labels. After a long night that killed off several blenders, he set up a trestle table in Waterloo and handed out his shakes to commuters for free, in exchange for their email addresses.

Later that day, he sent out surveys asking for feedback. “The positive responses gave me the impetus to quit my job,” Mercer says. That decision led to four months experimenting with recipes, and biking around London train stations looking at sites. “I would stand there for hours, counting the number of people who walked by and the proportion who stopped in coffee shops. On one occasion I was chucked out by police for loitering.”

Mercer worked out that he needed a footfall of about 10,000 people between 6.30 and 10am to make the business viable. Eventually he secured a first site – at Waterloo station – and spent £10,000 of savings on a van, stall and cooking premises under a Deptford railway arch.


The growing grey market in the UK

26 January 2011
Retired man on bench

Photo Walter Groesel - Stock.XCHNG

Last night I attended a packed Insider Trends’ talk at the Business & IP Centre. Last time the topic was How to become a cutting-edge retailer, but this time Cate Trotter the founder and Head of Trends was talking about the rise and neglecting of the over 50’s market.

As a newly minted 50+ myself (well last September anyway), I was doubly interested in what Kate had to say, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that by 2020 the over 50’s will form the majority of Britain’s population. So that makes me part of the only growth market in the UK.

Once again Kate provided an excellent talk, and left the audience pumped full of relevant statistics and marketing angles.

Here are my notes from the evening:

Untapped markets: The grey pound – Monday 24 January

Profile Marketing Opportunities

–    The population in the UK is getting older, already more +60s than -16s
–    People are living longer
–    Family sizes are shrinking
–    Number of 90 year olds expected to double in 25 years
–    78% of income retained post retirement, but loss in commuting and mortgage costs increase available money
–    +65’s spending £100 billion a year Recession
–    Older customers are better prepared for economic decline than younger
–    Many are working part-time to bring in an income Segmentation
–    Important part of understanding your customers
–    Need to add more age categories. 50-65 and 65+ are not enough
–    Need to be aware of not pigeon-hole by age – much more diverse than the younger categories, due to widely varying life experiences

–    So use lifestyle segmentation instead

  • Live Wires – active and working, many interests, technology aware, spend on holidays
  • Happy and fulfilled – active, but more traditional, financially well off, lots of holidays, spend on quality traditional brands
  • Super troopers – often have lost a spouse, don’t like advertising and new technology
  • Living day to day – spends rather than saves, more interested in material wealth than time, tend to choose premium brands
  • Unfulfilled dreamers – hard working, dreams of un-achieved ambitions,
  • Rat race junkies – could retire, but not yet, into technology, more than one marriage

–    Need to be aware of sets of baby-boomers coming through

  • Flower-children are now approaching their mid 60s
  • So interested in green such as Prius cars and green funerals
  • Believe that old age starts at 72, not 65
  • More old travellers going further afield and more adventurous
  • The SKIers – Spending Kids Inheritance

Adapting your business
–    Attitudes, physical (eyesight) and cognitive (memory) impairments
–    Over 50’s buy 80% of top of the range cars (BBC news report)
–    But many have enough mainstream products (washing machine, microwave, TV). However, they might upgrade at point of retirement with help of lump sum
–    From products to services – or service related products (e.g. sport) less equipment for the home
–    Travel

  • Generally continues until late 70’s and early 80’s
  • GrandTravellers – grandparents and their grandchildren on holiday together – something relatively new and growing
  • Travel gripes – single supplements, insurance costs, active sports insurance

–    Clothes

  • Comfortable and cool clothes lacking in the market place
  • A younger style, but to fit an older shape
  • Children’s toys and clothes as presents

–    The Home

  • Home improvement rather than new products
  • B&Q
  • Employing independent traders + reputable traders marketed towards an older customer
  • Ergonomic tools (SandBug from B&Q)
  • Packaging older people can open – %80 are not – Primelife President
  • Smaller packs and designs – one person teapots (Debenhams small wok a bestseller)

–    Home health care

  • Philips Defibrillator – talks you through
  • Retrofit-friendly homes you can grow old in – e.g. doors wide enough for a wheelchair, room for safety handles – Joseph Rowntree Foundation – http://www.lifetimehomes.co.uk

–    Fitness

  • Pensioners are fastest growing group of gym members
  • Scope for specialist centres
  • Zumba – very popular with older dancers

Design

–    Product and service design, also websites and fixtures and fittings
–    A lack of interest in older consumers from mainstream companies
–    Specialist

  • Simplicity computers – replaces Microsoft Windows with 6 buttons – option to pay by cheque in the post
  • Tesco online shopping has an access setting
  • Photostroller – purpose built controller to access Flickr content
  • PostEgram – a Facebook app for printing out content
  • Presto – an Internet printer with a remote control system for the sender – customer doesn’t need a computer
  • Kaiser’s in Austria – e.g. easy to reach stock, reduced glare lighting, slip-proof flooring, pleasant places to sit, reading glasses to borrow, all employers over 50 – sales 50% above forecast
  • Odeon Senior Screen – with different snacks – coffee and cake instead of fiz and popcorn
  • Danger of alienating older customers who still feel young – if they can reject it, they often do – don’t want to be associated with ‘that group of people’ – they expect products and service to cost more

–    Inclusive

  • Kindle – allows you change size of text and have text to speech
  • Nintedo Wii is becoming more popular in care homes – active game playing
  • ClearRX by Target in the US – simplifies medication for entire families
  • Ferrari Enzo – with wider doors and lower floor o    Harley-Davidson – trikes for the older market – still cool design
  • Mobilistrictor – a suit to age the wearer by 40 years – useful to test our store design etc
    – used by Ford when developing the Focus – e.g. boot has no lip, dash doesn’t reflect light – became Ford’s best selling car
    – used by Derby City General Hospital building design
    – General Motors used older engineers – key card and push button start
mobilistrictor_Richard_Hammond

Richard Hammond trying out the Mobilistrictor

  • Legibility of writing
    – Larger fonts
    – Bolder colours
    – Clearer typfaces eg Tireseais typeface
    – Use of icons and symbols
  • Interface design – e.g. Apple iPhone and iPad, Facebook (103 year old woman who uses an iPad to interact)
    – Additional advantage of extended appeal to disabled, parents of young children, those heavily laden – e.g. small trolley in supermarket
    – Involve audience in your designs

Marketing

–    Only 1 in 5 sticks to brands they now – happy to try new products and service, but as late adopters
–    Only 1 in 3 own a mobile phone
–    Less influenced by mass media as advertising does not reflect their interests, have become cynical, but not being wired, are more open to national and local marketing
–    More time to shop around – and more time to think if they really need it, so more critical, and more time to write reviews. Can become experts in new products
–    More time to tell their friends about products and services – word of mouth becomes even more important
–    Need to use younger (not too young) faces in images – or take out faces – e.g iPad just shows hands, so appeals to all ages
–    Retail and experiential – e.g. Harley Davidson stores – older are less likely to buy online
–    Only 1 in 4 over 65’s have used the internet, but this is growing very fast
–    Over 50’s represent 25% of online population, but those that are spend longer online
–    Silversurfersday – increase confidence
–    Raceonline2012 led by Martha Lane Fox from LastMinute.com – can buy a £99 computer, with a cheap wireless dongle from 3
–    Better designed websites – e.g. Jitterbug from Samsung aimed at older customers, who can call to order as well as online
–    Email marketing more effective with older customers – e.g. eldergym newsletter
–    Free magazines – e.g. Staysure magazine for the over 50’s – based on airline magazine model
–    Segmented approaches – e.g. Ninento DS using Girls Aloud and Julie Walters in different ads for the same product
–    Car adverts tailored to age group. E.g. the young are interested in loans, the older are not
–    Appealing to the adult child
–    Look for older people in marketing agencies, if you can find them.
–    Be aware of emotional issues associated to buying older products such as walking sticks or elasticized trousers

Conclusion
–    They represent the only growing market in the UK
–    They have time and money to spend
–    There is currently very little competition
–    Be aware that they are difficult to profile – very varied with more variety in the future

Approach requires
–    empathy
–    must not be patronising


Company Partners top ten most common business plan mistakes

30 December 2010

Lawrence Gilbert at Company Partners has come up with his top ten most common business plan mistakes.

As someone who spends much of his time helping entrepreneurs develop their business plans, Lawrence has seen many hundreds.

Top ten business plan mistakes

  1. Typos and spellings – it sounds small, but it is a killer. Nowadays there is just no excuse. My own spelling is atrocious, but I use a spell checker all the time. Use a spell checker, proof-read your work, or get a friend to proof-read it. Sloppiness in producing the plan will indicate sloppiness in your business.
  2. Poor structure – again no excuse. There are templates and examples around, we ourselves run business plan workshops and there’s software that will structure it for you.
  3. Executive Summary – people get confused as to what that is. It’s simply a short, punchy, straight-to-the-point summary of all else in the plan. About 2 pages, that is interesting enough and factual enough to almost stand-alone. After reading it, you should want to reach for the phone to contact the author, or at least feel you want to read more in the main plan. Although at the front, it’s the last section to be done.
  4. No contact details on the cover page. Someone reading the plan shouldn’t have to hunt through it for contact details – put them clearly on the cover.
  5. Over hyped – expressions such as “fantastic”, “unique”, “incredible” are meaningless and over-hyping your product or service shows naivety. This is closely coupled to the next point…
  6. Lack of evidence – if you state a market figure, or statistic, try and show where it came from. It gains credibility. Do real market research; don’t just ask friends and family (they don’t count).
  7. No effort made to sell the product/service – the proof of the concept comes when you get sales. There are many, many, good ideas around, but not all of them are commercial. Will customers actually give you their cash for your product? Get out there and make some sales, show it will be bought.
  8. Not using Appendix’s – cluttering up the plan with pages of market statistics is not conducive to having it read. No one will struggle through a badly organised plan, just mention the facts and refer to the full information in the relevant appendix.
  9. No detail to the sales and marketing plan – it’s as though you think that the product/service will sell itself – it won’t. This is often the worse part of the plans we see.
  10. Unbelievable and incomplete financials – We’ve all seen the “hockey-stick” projections, where in the first year the revenues are minimal, but then by golly they shoot up at an incredible rate. Having unrealistic numbers, or incomplete numbers, or contradicting numbers are all plan killers.