06-09-2013 16:52:07 in Practical Small Business Advice by Marvist Consulting LLC
 Internet marketing has opened up new options for small businesses to explore and develop.  With the help of Internet marketing, small businesses can increase their online visibility by applying strategies like SEO, PPC, social media, e-mail marketing, banner ads, etc.  Internet marketing has many advantages - it is cost-effective, has speedy reach, can target potential customers, c...

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04-07-2013 14:13:44 in Case Studies: Small Business Owners by Colin Smith
I'm regularly approached by wannabe entrepreneurs who are interested in operating a retail business but who are extremely nervous given what is now almost the accepted wisdom that retailers in the UK are in terminal decline.  The constant stream of UK retail institutions that have collapsed in recent years seems to only strengthen the perception that entrepreneurs should avoid the retail sect...

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17-06-2013 14:17:39 in Business Plan Writing by Colin Smith
A key part of the Government's plans to revitalise the UK economy is to stimulate entrepreneurship.  In addition to attempts to support UK entrepreneurs, since 2008 successive Governments have also sought to make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to base and build their businesses here in the UK.  To facilitate this process of attracting high net worth individuals to the UK to start ...

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25-05-2013 20:58:42 in Franchising by Colin Smith
The world of franchising is enormous.  There are a myriad of business models in almost 100 industries and it can be hard to gauge which franchise is for you.  We have dedicated two articles so far to evaluating a franchise opportunity which covered twenty questions that I believe are essential to properly evaluate any franchise opportunity.  The first ten questions can be found here...

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23-05-2013 19:12:16 in Franchising by Colin Smith
With over 1500 different franchise opportunities currently available on the UK market, it can be pretty daunting for those who are looking to become franchise owners to separate the good from the bad or to recognise an opportunity that is truly great.  However, like the person who saves money on a house purchase by skipping a detailed survey, there will always be those who either do not trust...

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19-05-2013 20:48:47 in Franchising by Colin Smith
The purchase of a franchise is a very serious step.  The financial commitment is huge, including the initial fee for the franchise, the capital to fund the franchise to its breakeven point and the ongoing franchise fees, not to mention the further losses you could be exposed to if the franchise was to fail.  Given the huge upfront and ongoing costs of franchise ownership as well as ...

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13-05-2013 13:12:34 in Practical Small Business Advice by Colin Smith
The work I do with established small businesses essentially focuses on the answer to the following problem in the clients particular situation: "How can we achieve more with the resources that we have".  The small business owner might dress this up as wanting the business to be more profitable and more efficient, or perhaps as wanting to grow the business or as reclaiming their personal life ...

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08-05-2013 10:14:11 in Practical Small Business Advice by Colin Smith
The idea of continuous improvement is hugely seductive yet notoriously difficult to translate into action.  My experience is that when we resolve to make any kind of change for the better, whether in our lives or our business, we tend to make a temporary improvement before we then backslide toward our original condition.  Why is this?  Is it simply a lack of either individual or ins...

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30-04-2013 10:13:44 in Small Business Strategy by Colin Smith
In my day to day work, I often review the strategic plans of my clients.  Too often, the strategies are generic, cover-all-the-bases, consensus-driven statements that are more descriptive of what they want to achieve rather than a clear, concise outline of how these goals will be achieved.  These "Wish List" style strategies are not really strategies at all.  They are usually an att...

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15-04-2013 21:39:09 in Franchising by Colin Smith
In response to increasing demand from clients, we have introduced a franchise evaluation service that provides all the information prospective franchise owners need in order to make an informed decision as to which franchise opportunity of more than 1500 currently available in the UK market is best suited to their experience, interests and personal and financial goals.  The launch of this f...

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02-04-2013 12:44:08 in Small Business Strategy by Colin Smith
We are often approached by wannabe entrepreneurs for help with market research and forecasting.  Whilst this is critically important in order to assess if a viable opportunity even exists, this is only the beginning of the planning process.  Once you have done the basic market reseach that confirms that an opportunity in your chosen market actually exists and put together some basic fina...

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19-03-2013 13:10:33 in Small Business Strategy by Colin Smith
The vast majority of clients that engage our services are either in the pre-start up phase of their business journey or are struggling to transition from one phase of their business development to the next.  In almost every instance, when you dig down deep enough, the question that they want us to help them answer is, "how can my small business consistently generate sustained, superior profit...

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12-03-2013 21:23:54 in Mission, Vision and Goals by Colin Smith
There is currently some debate as to the value of goals.  For the record, I am a big believer in the power of goals to drive behaviour and boost the performance of both individuals and organisations.  I do understand, however, the arguments against goal setting that have gained some prominence in recent years.  Adam Galinsky for example, a professor at Northwestern University's Ke...

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12-03-2013 10:13:32 in Process & Performance Improvement by Colin Smith
I am passionate about small businesses and the impact that they can have, not just on individual lives but also upon the UK economy as a whole.  Small businesses are the engine room of the UK economy.  According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), There were an estimated 4.8 million businesses in the UK which employed 23.9 million people, and had a combined turnover of &pou...

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05-03-2013 19:59:05 in Small Business Planning by Colin Smith
There is a growing consensus of opinion amongst the entrepreneurial community that the traditional business plan is increasingly irrelevant, especially amongst the early stage technology start up community.  Alexander Osterwalder, author of Business Model Generation, recently advised technology start up founders to "burn their business plans", claiming that they were "too dangerous to the h...

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04-03-2013 22:11:28 in Business Plan Writing by Colin Smith
Once you have accepted the conventional wisdom that a business plan is essential for any small business, the question then becomes whether to write it yourself or to seek professional help. You might be surprised when I tell you that I am an advocate of business owners writing their own business plans, especially if you are writing it principally for your own benefit. To those of you determined ...

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04-03-2013 12:57:47 in Project Management by Colin Smith
It was Leonardo Da Vinci that famously said that "art is never finished, only abandoned".  The idea behind that statement is that the creation of any work of art is not about crossing some kind of imaginary finish line but rather about realising in concrete form an image or idea that was held in your mind so that the world can see what you see.  Since most artists lack the skill to per...

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27-02-2013 14:06:54 in Market/Industry Analysis by Colin Smith
Although we talk collectively of start up businesses as if they are a homogenous group, the truth is that not all start up businesses are alike.  One of the most important ways in which one start up may differ from another is in the relationship between their new product or service and it's market.  These product/market relationships can be generally typified by one of the following de...

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26-02-2013 19:34:00 in Market/Industry Analysis by Colin Smith
Let's imagine for a second that you have successfully developed a genuinely innovative product that more elegantly solves the significant customer problems in your chosen market than any other existing products.  The small test markets to which you have exposed your product have enthusiastically embraced it and there is a real buzz building amongst the industry and amongst consumers about y...

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24-02-2013 18:04:37 in Practical Small Business Advice by Colin Smith
What do you think would happen if one of the world's greatest violinists were to perform anonymously in a busy Metro station to over one thousand passers by during the rush hour immediately preceding the start of the working day?  Do you think that in an incongruous setting at an inconvenient time, sheer talent and quality would prevail?  Would a crowd of appreciative music lovers gather...

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