Tagged: Writing Skills; Self Development

Why Writing Concisely is Crucial


So, I started this piece by using the word brevity, then I thought to myself, who knows that word.

Concise and exact use of words is crucial in communication, just try and decode the following:

“We respectfully petition, request, and entreat that due and adequate provision be made, this day and the date herein after subscribed, for the satisfying of this petitioner’s nutritional requirements and for the organising of such methods as may be deemed necessary and proper to assure the reception by and for the said petitioner of such quantities of baked products as shall, in the judgement of the aforesaid petitioner, constitute a sufficient supply thereof”.

I guess a point can be made for the KISS method in writing – Keep it simple and short.

No wonder swear words abound. It fits the KISS description accurately.

As one professor once said:” Why use a twenty five cents word if a five cents one will do”.

The above: Give us this day our daily bread.

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Tips on Writing a Business Plan


170221_2837Writing a Business plan is a crucial exercise for anyone wanting to sell an idea or going into business.

It is essential that new entrepreneurs analyse and think through every conceivable aspect of their proposed business idea.

Doing a Business plan has a number of distinct advantages:

  • You will develop a holistic understanding of how the business operates;
  • You will clearly understand what viability, profitability, break-even, customer satisfaction and cost improvement means,
  • The compilation of a Business Plan will develop your conceptual, creative, analytical, problem solving and decision making skills.
  • Lack of planning is the one “management failure” singled out by Business development corporations and experts worldwide.
  • Drawing up a Business Plan (giving due thought to the process) is a tool just as a pilot will use a pre-flight inspection checklist or as PR professionals will use conference checklists.
  • Compiling a Business Plan is an exercise that will necessitate getting involved in all aspects of the Business.
  • As an employee the business planning process will help you develop, because it will give you practice in thinking about competitive conditions, and how you will market the business.

Putting your plans on paper will involve many processes.This is very important for the following reasons:

  • It forces you to research every conceivable area in your business
  • It forces you to arrange your thoughts in a logical order
  • It forces you to think through every eventuality before it occurs
  • It will become your guiding action plan in running your business or implementing your idea
  • It provides a platform through which you can sell your ideas to others.

To draw up a Business Plan is not that complicated, all it will require is time, patience and effort.

By doing the research yourself you will learn a lot of interesting things about yourself, your company and the proposed plans. But the knowledge and skills gained will pay off in the long run.

Whilst compiling your plan please bear in mind that anything you leave out of the picture will create an additional cost, or drain on your money, when it crops up later on. If you leave out or ignore certain items, your business is headed for disaster. It is simple – Be thorough. It is in your own interest.

During the 80’s and early 90’s I was a Senior Business Adviser and training specialist working for the then Small Business Development Corporation. The following list of tips is what I used to share with course delegates. It is based on my experience in analysing 1000’s of business plans.

SOME HINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN COMPILING A BUSINESS PLAN

  1. Always write with the proposed writer/evaluator in mind – Minimise industry specific language and jargon. Avoid highly technical descriptions of your products, processes, and operations. Use layman’s terms.
  2. Always ensure that your Business Plan is of a good appearance – First impressions are often lasting impressions.
  3. Base your Business Plan on irrefutable facts or evidence as far as possible.
  4. Some form of practical, do it yourself research is always better than just relying on old information.
  5. (See No.3 above). Spend plenty of time on market analysis. There is a school of thought that says: First get clients, then design the business around them.
  6. Spend time doing the financials, especially cash flow planning. At the end of the day it is cash that pays accounts, not profits which could be on paper. The need to forecast cash flow requirements is to set targets, encourage you to correctly estimate your working capital requirements (Many businesses fail due to running out of cash) and enable you to arrange financial assistance well in advance (Bankers are people that will lend you money only when you don’t need it – So show them you are organised).
  7. Test your ideas by asking a neutral outsider to for his/her opinion.
  8. Spend more time planning than regretting it later on.
  9. Outline every conceivable aspect of your proposed idea or venture. Remember it is often the small things that make a difference. “ You can sit on top of a mountain, but not a pin”.
  10. Design your business and plan from your customer’s viewpoint. This will ensure a customer service approach from the start.
  11. Substantiate. Substantiate. Beware assumptions.
  12. Always use supporting documentation such as media cuttings, letters of commendation to show the evaluator that your plan has merit.
  13. A business plan is a “living” document. It is not set in concrete.
  14. Update it as your knowledge grows and whenever your strategies become more concrete.
  15. Be realistic–base your projections on the results gathered from your analysis. Be honest about positive and negative findings.
  16. You may have two sets of business plans–one internal, one external. To be an effective management tool internal business plans usually are more detailed than those presented externally.
  17. After completing your plan, ask yourself the question “Will I be prepared to lend finance or effort based on this proposal”?

Getting Rid of Writers Block


This is one of those days. Sitting trying to find the words to write a blog post that would get me more readers.

I know that my tone sometimes are too serious and sound theoretical at times, but then I am always reminded of the words that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.

This is where my new tool Writemonkey is brilliant. By providing me with a black blank screen and just a green cursor, I have no option but to let my creative juices flow. (Thanks to Brian Solis for this link).

Many years ago I read this book called Writing from Both Sides of the Brain. In this book the author describes a technique of writing using a blank pen (one who has no more ink), using carbon paper between two sheets of paper.

By not being able to see what you are writing, you are effectively shutting of the left brain – the editing side.

She then explained why it is useful to use this technique first thing in the morning. She explained that by starting to write everything that comes to mind iro of how silly it may seem, creativity will be stimulated.

I have used that technique with great effect. I do a Mind Map about an upcoming presentation just before I go to bed and then start to write first thing in the morning. In that writing, I normally discover a number of nuggets of wisdom and my speech just about completed.

Brain Scientists and Accelerated Learning experts call this the Reticular Activating System at work. While you are asleep, your brain in effect does some filing and filtering and through that filing create associations in the brain.

Apparently your reticular activating system is like a filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. It takes instructions from your conscious mind and passes them on to your subconscious. For example, the instruction might be, "listen out for anyone saying my name".

Simply put, your RAS is a filter within your brain which determines which information that is taken in will actually be noticed by your conscious mind. Your brain can process over four hundred billions bits of information per second, but you are only consciously aware of about two thousand. Your RAS is responsible for determining which bits of information are the lucky two thousand that get noticed out of the four hundred billion.

The RAS sorts through the information based on similar information patterns already established in your brain.

Let’s say there are hundreds of conversations going on in the room, it is hard to hear any of them specifically. All of a sudden you hear someone across the room say your name, how could you have possibly heard it through all the noise?

The answer is your RAS sorted through all of the other conversations which it determined as unfamiliar and unimportant to you, but upon hearing your name, sent the message directly to your conscious mind.

Basically the Reticular Activation System is how the Law of Attraction works. We get what we focus on; we create what we think about and the RAS system of our brains just helps this process along.

By doing a mind map the night before, you activate the RAS to do that filing and link every thing together.

All you need to do the next morning is to get it out (Retrieval) and where I used to use paper, I now use my new tool, WriteMonkey.

And using these techniques I am curing writer’s block.

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