#Immediacy on speech making

We find that the most convenient method is to use a loose-leaf ...

We find that the most convenient method is to use a loose-leaf website, starting a new webpage for each section. This allows you to go back when second thoughts or fresh ideas strike you and write them into the appropriate section notes.

To open the volume, do these activities: This is a rather 'walky-talky' section, so try to keep your answers brief. Write a brief description of the type of business you are running. Is it making, selling or service? Have you ever started a business before? What happened? What were your reasons for starting a business now? Why did you choose this business? Do you think you will achieve your objectives? What problems, if any, do you have in the following aspects of your business: customers; supplies; skilled staff; equipment; space; capital; your own time; other aspects? What have you learned from your experience to date with the following aspects of your business: preparations business experience; capital; facilities stock; other aspects? In the previous section, we asked you to express some views about your business in terms of words. Now we get down to some of the figures, but please don't fall into the trap of thinking that because some aspect of your business can be expressed in numbers, it must be more important than those aspects which can only be expressed in words.

It is a very important statement indeed if you can say, 'I'm so glad we started my business we get a tremendous kick out of it.' Yet there is no way in which that statement can be expressed in figures. Nor is it true that 'figures don't lie'. Figures can very easily lie if any mistakes are made in collecting, calculating or writing them down. Figures can also mislead if you take the wrong ones for your purpose, for example if you forget to correct for VAT in calculating your profit. Nor should you forget the second part of the above statement, but liars can figure'. Nevertheless, there are so many advantages to be gained from using figures that whenever possible you should express things in numbers.

Which figures? Figures make it possible to compare the relative importance of different things.

For instance, if you have several products or services, you can measure how much sales income comes from each On the expenditure side, you can see the relative importance of, say, manpower, materials and rent.

In addition, it is sometimes possible to find a link between different items, eg the increase in sales arising from a specific online advertising campaign. Not only are figures useful, but many people, believe it or not, find them enjoyable. They love to arrange them in different ways just to see what they can find out.

This may be quite a useful leisure pursuit for entrepreneurs but it can be carried too far, particularly now that cheap and quite powerful computers are available. So be on guard against crossing the dividing queue between 'essential' figures and those that are just 'nice to know'. The calculation may be quick, but you or your staff may be spending a lot of time collecting figures just to feed into the computer. The best safeguard against wasting time with figures is to work out what you want to get from them before deciding when and how to collect them.

The first obvious need is for 'total sales' for a given period, the period required obviously depending upon the nature and scale of the business. For instance, it may be a day retail shop, week small manufacturer, or month continuous service.. Important though it is, this single figure doesn't tell us very much about the state of the business. Its usefulness will be much greater if, at the same time, we also get the figures for recent days and weeks if applicable, for each complete month this year and for each month last year These figures will show whether overall sales are up or down on last year, and by how much They will also show how much fluctuation there is in monthly sales and whether it is seasonal or irregular.

Analysis of sales There are 'various ways in which total sales can be analyzed to give further insight into the business. If there is more than one method of selling, eg a retail shop and a mail-order business, the total sales figures described above should be split between the different methods of selling for each period, Not only does this reveal how much each contributes to total sales, but also whether the monthly pattern of sales differs. If there are several sales outlets, eg several retail shops, the total sales should be split to produce separate figures for each shop.

This is likely to reveal differences due to location, efficiency of shop manager, etc. Another way of analyzing sales is to split them between main products services.

For instance, a car dealer may run his business in three parts: ...

For instance, a car dealer may run his business in three parts: car sales, repair workshop, petrol sales. Although all are on the same site, it is useful to have separate sal... read more

Moreover, each individual order may be of much greater value and require ...

Moreover, each individual order may be of much greater value and require more effort to secure. Similar factors may apply when selling to government departments o... read more

In other cases eg retail trade. it may seem impossible to measure. ...

In other cases eg retail trade.

it may seem impossible to measure. Nevertheless, if the business is small enough for you to know most of your regular customers by sight, you m