James has created a successful career in building and selling businesses and has been at the forefront of UK enterprise for over 20 years. He is the founder and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw Private Equity, a mid-market private equity firm, based in Mayfair.
Hamilton Bradshaw boasts a portfolio of 40 companies across a variety of sectors from early-stage to long established businesses. The portfolio ranges from recruitment to real estate and the combined turnover of the businesses is over £400 million. The company follows James’ ethos of investing in people, by choosing to work with management teams of exceptional quality and a proven track record.
Writing a Good Business Plan
When applying for funding or presenting your business to an investor your business plan is the key to communicating the business goals.
- A business plan will help secure funding and acts as a measure of success. Ensure it is interesting, without giving too much away to encourage further reading.
- Use SMART objectives to determine results. Your objectives need to be specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and set to a time scale.
- Extensive research into your market will give you an idea of market trends, and what your potential competition are doing.
- Include financial performance and projections; offering investors a projection of where you feel the business can expand to will aid the success of your proposal, as well as setting goals for you to accomplish.
Cash-flow is one of the most important elements to running a successful business. Knowing how to manage it correctly can mean the difference between success and failure.
- Set-up regular emails with a breakdown of your outgoings and revenue. This will help you keep track of your cash-flow and let you plan ahead to create solutions for more efficient operations.
- Research different methods to help you improve your cash-flow; this will help improve your chances of further investment e.g. more efficient distribution channels, stock control methods.
- Managers are more vigilant about human assets, research ways of motivating staff to work at a more cost-effective rate.
- Regularly check competitor suppliers and services. There may be other companies providing the same services but at a lower cost.
Marketing your Business
- When thinking about marketing your business refer to the 4 P’s; Price, Product, Place, Promotion.
- Know who your target customers are and how to reach them. Many small businesses make the mistake of spending money trying to reach as broad a market as possible, when a smaller budget on targeting people who are actually likely to buy, would reap far more rewards.
- Visibility and transparency of your business will increase your client or customer base. This will help your business to gain more interest as well as build loyalty.
- Develop an online presence, this provides a low cost way of achieving exponential growth for the company. It is essential that you have a website and always take into account where it ranks on search engines.
- Make sure that campaigns, initiatives and news that you are rolling out offline are duplicated in the online space. You can achieve this by engaging people through social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, as well as through trade forums, review websites and blogs.
Technology in Business
- Technology has provided us with new channels of distribution (online), this can help if budgets are low. Realise the potential of using the internet, for both selling and promotion.
- Millions of searches are made each day online. Consumers are very time-poor and impatient if YOUR business is not featured on at least the first three pages, you will lose out on passing trade. You can help improve online search options by doing an audit into your search engine optimisation (SEO), PPC and general online presence.
- Keep up to date with the latest trends in technology to ensure optimum efficiency in your business. As technology develops, and more efficient ways of doing business come onto the market, take advantage of them.
- Cut costs by implementing automated services within the business. This will save time and focus can be applied in other areas of the business.
- Technology is an important factor to the success of your business, but do not forget that client contact is equally as important. Building relationships is key to your success but needs to be rolled out offline as well as online.
- Not one person can do everything in the business - build a team of people that have expertise in specific areas.
- Businesses consist of 5% concept and 95% execution. Therefore, you and your team’s expertise, knowledge and networks can add value to your business.
- Define your company culture and think of ways it adds value to your business activities.
- Build up case studies about how you and your team have executed on previous projects. This will enhance prospective clients and investors to trust in your ability to develop and grow the business.
Other useful tools
The websites below are aimed at start-up businesses.