The Apprentice and your business plan

The Apprentice is back on British television screens as the smash hit BBC show enters its tenth season this week. Lord Alan Sugar is once again offering £250,000 towards a new venture for the winner. Whilst the show sees contestants approach a number of business challenges, the public often laugh and scoff at how poorly prepared and inept contestants can be.

The contestants come from a range of business and legal backgrounds. It is open to anyone with a new business plan and remarkably, many contestants that reach the semi final of the show, which revolves around screening and picking at their business plans, are shown up for the flaws in their thinking.

In order to create a solid business plan, you might seek independent specialist advice. Business plans often make or break the chances of a start-up venture from succeeding. It is often advisable to have your plan checked by a bank or accountant to make sure your financial estimates and targets are accurate and achievable. If you live close by to Lord Sugar’s Chigwell home, you might look to pass your plan under the eye of an accountant in East London.

Employment solicitors
Employment solicitor

If you are planning to take on full time or part time staff from the outset, it would also be advisable to check your figures with a specialist employment solicitor in London if the business is to be based in the Capital. There is a mountain of legal and health and safety obligations for businesses that employ staff as well as the drawing up of employment contracts and insurance liability requirements.

In the 21st Century, a marketing plan is a vital part of the business plan. Traditional marketing activities are still popular and effective. Leaflet delivery companies can be employed to spread the word about a new local store or service such as hypnotherapy, life coaching, massage or cleaning and ironing services. Advertising in newspapers and magazines as well as on billboards, bus stops, train stations and on public transport may also be viable options. Another cost effective way for developing a service company is to join a business networking group. Click here for more about business networking.

Yet it is the internet where many companies now look to for marketing success. A strong website and social media presence is increasingly important in order get noticed if your market is wider than the local community. Having a strong Search Engine Optimisation strategy is key to success for most. You can find out more about SEO and get SEO tips here.

Business Plans - strategies
Business Plans – strategies

If you are starting out as one person, it’s important to make sure the business appears efficient. When in meetings, it is advisable to have a call answering service on hand to take calls and pass on messages rather than have a prospective client or customer go through to an answerphone. It also gives the impression that the business is larger than just you.

Whatever your business area, getting your business plan right before you start and adapting it as you go is likely to give you a far more secure footing. An estimated one in three businesses fail in the first three years, having the right business plan might just make all the difference.