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Key to financial planning

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Let’s write a business plan

  • Be clear and focused about what you want to achieve – this will help align your team so you’re all working toward the same thing.
  • Choose the type of business plan that works for you – you may like to have a document, or a business canvas might work better.
  • Keep it short, simple and easy to understand.
  • Keep your goals realistic and relevant to what is going on in the economy and in your industry.
  • Use Stats New Zealand’s Data for Business website to find useful business tools and statistics.
  • Contact Stats New Zealand to get useful business data.
  • Get out and speak with your customers to gain understanding of how your product works for them and whether it’s something they would pay for.
  • Do a SWOT analysis to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Ask your advisor or mentor to review your plan and give you feedback and suggested improvements.



Importance of monthly progress reports

The weekly progress report is a management tool used in all kinds of organisations, small and large. As the process represents an investment in time for all involved, it pays to consider whether you are just going through the motions or whether you are getting the most out of the process. This article covers what makes for a good weekly progress report and why they matter.

The basics of a good weekly progress report

There is no single report format that is perfect for all circumstances, but the following are common themes where progress reporting is being used to good effect:

  • A recap of the prior week
  • What is planned for the week ahead?
  • Any issues that need managements attention or action
  • Any notable achievements

Other important factors include the length of the report and whether the content is to the point. Most points should be able to be covered in a sentence or two and bullet points are an excellent format. If a section is much longer than that, the detail might be best covered separately in an email on just that topic.

In terms of over all length, a general rule might be no more than half a dozen sections and four to six points within each of those sections. If the report is much longer than that, it is likely that the creator is investing too much time and that the most critical information might be swamped by the surrounding points.

Consistency is also an important factor. A remote team may want to report in as often as daily and an investor may only need to be updated on progress monthly, but it is critical that there is a set frequency for which the report is created. In fact, a reluctance to produce regular updates can be an indicator that other issues may exist.

Why progress reports matter for the manager

Most directly, the weekly progress report is a tool for staying on top of the most important things that are going on in your team. In-person interactions such as one-on-ones are crucial, but having a written summary of the things your employee views as most important can be just as valuable. Down the track, when you’re asked to present on your teams achievements for the quarter, you’ll be glad you have a written record of them.

A consolidated weekly progress report can also be used to good effect to communicate up the management chain what your team has delivered. This will, by its nature be a larger report and will likely be skimmed rather than pored over in detail. However, a consolidated report can be a handy reference for senior management when, for example, a particular project is being discussed in a meeting.

A key and often overlooked benefit of the weekly progress report is as an opportunity to give regular feedback to your team. Having a comment or taking an action on at least one thing in each report you receive shows that you are paying attention and supporting your team. Anything covered in the Issues or Achievements section should be considered an opportunity to provide feedback.

Why progress reports matter for the team member

As a team member, the report is a chance to draw attention to what you believe are the most important aspects of what you are working on. Again, any achievements or issues that need the support of your manager should be communicated prominently.

The report is also a chance to take stock of what you’re working on. If you find yourself feeling like you don’t have much to report in a given period, it might be worth considering how you’re tackling the issues currently on your plate. Is it possible you need additional support with an aspect of a task currently assigned to you?

Additionally, having a record of what you worked on months or possibly even years down the track can be hugely valuable if you are preparing information in support of a promotion opportunity, or even when bringing your CV up to date!

Progress report formats

There are many options here. Some to consider are:

  • A simple email. This has the advantage of low overhead and fits in well with everyone’s workflow, but keeping everyone to a common format is a challenge.
  • A word or excel template can provide structure to the report. Some reporting templates are available on this site.
  • An automated tool such as Reportify can be great, especially for cutting down on the time spent on collating a report to send up the line. An automated progress reporting tool can also help with notifications and organisation of the reports for future reference for both the team manager and team member.

Are you getting the most out of your weekly progress reports? Considering what’s in it for you and your team or manager may help in answering this question.

The 3p’s of effective marketing

Jerome McCarthy introduced the term “4 P’s” many years ago to describe a brand’s marketing mix. All marketing textbooks use this terminology to refer to product, price, place and promotion. But in a study of marketing textbooks, it was found that there is no common order to the way they are listed or treated as tactical marketing decisions. Indeed, the idea that they are tactical and not strategic also is not generally discussed.

The first “P” can be considered to be product or product strategy. But this is nothing more than positioning, which itself includes virtually all aspects of how a product is designed to be perceived by a consumer. Since positioning is strategic in the sense of determining where a brand should be in the minds of consumers vis á vis competition, once the positioning decision is made, there are just tactical marketing mix variables to set. This, then, is the “3 P’s.” And there is only one logical order for the 3 P’s and that is price, then place, then promotion.

As a restatement of a brand’s positioning strategy, a brand’s core benefit proposition suggests what pricing strategy it should use. If it’s offering more “benefit,” then a price skimming strategy (relative to its closest competitor) makes sense; if it’s offering more “value,” then a price penetration strategy would be most appropriate.

From the product strategy, i.e., the core benefit proposition, and the pricing strategy, a brand can deduce its distribution strategy. Since a brand’s business model is influenced by price and place, a price skimming strategy generally implies selective distribution and a price penetration strategy generally implies intensive distribution. Yet many companies mix this up and try to make a profit selling a few low margin items.

Finally, promotion comes last. Advertising agencies won’t like this, but it’s the truth. Promotion is communicating the product, price and place strategies to the target market. That’s all. Too many companies look to advertising and promotion to rescue a brand in trouble when the problem lies in the core benefit proposition. Both push and pull promotion strategies can be used to communicate the core benefit proposition, but with advertising (a pull strategy) it seems easier to forget what promotion is for.

If advertising doesn’t reflect a brand’s core benefit proposition, then it may be amusing or interesting, but it’s useless as a driver of sales. “Enjoy the Ride” and “Life Tastes Good” have nothing to do with the evaluative dimensions that consumers use to choose among brands of cars or soda. Nissan and Coca-Cola learned that the hard way.

Even the best marketing plan (the positioning or product strategy as represented by a brand’s core benefit proposition plus the 3 P strategies) will have reduced effectiveness if it can simply be copied by competitors. What is needed is some way to deal with that.

Source: Principles of Marketing.

Summary of the marketing logic

  • Base a brand’s pricing strategy on its core benefit proposition.
  • Base a brand’s distribution strategy on its product and price strategy.
  • Use promotion to communicate the product, price and place strategies to the target market.