3437 days ago
Like all businessmen I am sitting down reviewing the year just ended and working out how 2013 will be different. Under my direct control my restaurant (the excellent Real Man Pizza Company in Clerkenwell) has moved from loss into profit. It has missed its budget but still that is a starter. Not quite as good as our Manx kipper pate starter but still good enough. But next year will have to be better. And so I will work with my colleagues to ensure that it is. We plan. We think of changes. But if I am reading the thousands of business articles that are published every week, we are missing something in not looking to engage in dramatic innovation. This is deliberate.
Yes there will be some innovation. We introduced a couple of new soups onto the menu just before Christmas and also a new egg vegetarian pizza – the Woodlarks pizza. I will be introducing two new pizza dishes with the next menu in the summer and a new pudding dish as well. And as of Januaary we move to stocking just one range of beers, the award winning Curious Range made on a vineyard in Kent. But this is evolution not innovation. A company always needs to refresh and broaden its product offering – that should be a constant process. Innovation is taken to mean wholesale changes to the way one operates.
Innovation is by its nature disruptive and you need to ask yourself can your business cope with wholesale disruption in what will be a tough year for us all. In most cases I suspect that the answer is no.
3445 days ago
We all know that a this time of year Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can face cashflow problems. Your costs are pretty much unchanged but for most places not only do you enjoy one week’s less trade but it just seems as if others are reluctant to pay. Cheques just get delayed in the post seemingly forever. What to do?
3461 days ago
Last week I discussed the strange reluctance of some businesses to increase their prices in order to increase profitability/reduce losses. Hopefully you have already considered how you can achieve that in the New Year. Next week I shall look at the third way to improve profitability – cost cutting. Today it is the hardest but least painful way: increasing volumes.
3468 days ago
There are only three ways to increase profits: cut costs, sell more by volume or to put up prices. I shall address the first two at a later date but the quickest route to increasing the profitability of your business is to stick prices up. Yet often we are reluctant to do so. You sort of accept that wages will go up year on year if only to match inflation so why should prices not follow?
3487 days ago
Starting a business and running it in your early years is bloody hard. We all know that. We now that 70% of start ups will go bust within seven years. We would all rather be in the 30%. And in your early years there is a temptation to do almost anything, to take on almost any contract in order to ensure that your business is in that 30%. But that can be a mistake.
As it happens, twelve years after starting my first company I find myself more or less starting up all over again trying to grow my revenues as a writer through various enterprises and agreements. Naturally I have a business plan. Naturally I will not hit the targets set out for years one and two (if ever). Given the uncertainties that exist in any business I may beat them. I may miss them. All I know, from past experience, is that I shall not hit them exactly.
There is a temptation