Manual The Plan: Personal Balance, Career Success, Financial Strength

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The clues that tell you whether a company is worth investing in: How to read a balance sheet By Tanya Jefferies for Thisismoney. Share or comment on this article: How do I read a balance sheet - what shows if a company is strong or not? Toggle Search. This is Britain shows pedal power: Exports of luxury bicycles Stricter MOT removed 3 million 'dangerous' vehicles from Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester see biggest house Axe Woodford now!

Pressure mounting on board of Patient From cradle to the grave: Mothercare chairman Clive Veterinary practice operator CVS brushes off shortage of Comments 35 Share what you think. View all. More top stories. They might be giants: Do US smaller companies still offer rich pickings? How to invest to beat inflation: A global fund manager's tips Can UK shares shake off the Brexit hangover - and where are the best places to invest now?

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Teenagers can't cash in a child trust fund until Bond market moves trigger global shock waves - what does it mean for your investments? Don't panic and stick with shares for the long run It pays to keep your nerve when markets dive Do you have to invest in an ethical firm to save the planet? Why some investors buy shares in companies like Shell - so they can tell them how to behave I hold a single certificate for lots of Diageo shares, but only want to sell them slowly to avoid a big tax bill - how can I do this?

Get ideas to improve your wealth in our Money Pit Stop. Fund and trust ideas for income investors Going for growth? Fund and trust ideas for emerging markets Dumb tracker, cheap do-it-all fund, or smart beta? How you can track the market. The investment industry's world of abbreviations Acc: Accumulation - any income generated by the fund like dividends or interest is automatically reinvested. Inc: Income - any income generated is distributed by the fund instead of being reinvested.

Dis: Distribution - any income generated is distributed by the fund instead of being reinvested. R: Retail - the fund is aimed at ordinary investors. A, B, M, X etc: Different fund houses use letters for different things. Market strategies are the result of a meticulous market analysis. A market analysis forces the entrepreneur to become familiar with all aspects of the market so that the target market can be defined and the company can be positioned in order to garner its share of sales. A market analysis also enables the entrepreneur to establish pricing, distribution and promotional strategies that will allow the company to become profitable within a competitive environment.

In addition, it provides an indication of the growth potential within the industry, and this will allow you to develop your own estimates for the future of your business. Begin your market analysis by defining the market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends and sales potential.

The total aggregate sales of your competitors will provide you with a fairly accurate estimate of the total potential market. Once the size of the market has been determined, the next step is to define the target market.

The clues that tell you whether a company is worth investing in: How to read a balance sheet

The target market narrows down the total market by concentrating on segmentation factors that will determine the total addressable market--the total number of users within the sphere of the business's influence. The segmentation factors can be geographic, customer attributes or product-oriented. For instance, if the distribution of your product is confined to a specific geographic area, then you want to further define the target market to reflect the number of users or sales of that product within that geographic segment. Once the target market has been detailed, it needs to be further defined to determine the total feasible market.

This can be done in several ways, but most professional planners will delineate the feasible market by concentrating on product segmentation factors that may produce gaps within the market.

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In the case of a microbrewery that plans to brew a premium lager beer, the total feasible market could be defined by determining how many drinkers of premium pilsner beers there are in the target market. It's important to understand that the total feasible market is the portion of the market that can be captured provided every condition within the environment is perfect and there is very little competition. In most industries this is simply not the case. There are other factors that will affect the share of the feasible market a business can reasonably obtain.

These factors are usually tied to the structure of the industry, the impact of competition, strategies for market penetration and continued growth, and the amount of capital the business is willing to spend in order to increase its market share. Arriving at a projection of the market share for a business plan is very much a subjective estimate.

It's based on not only an analysis of the market but on highly targeted and competitive distribution, pricing and promotional strategies. For instance, even though there may be a sizable number of premium pilsner drinkers to form the total feasible market, you need to be able to reach them through your distribution network at a price point that's competitive, and then you have to let them know it's available and where they can buy it. How effectively you can achieve your distribution, pricing and promotional goals determines the extent to which you will be able to garner market share.

For a business plan, you must be able to estimate market share for the time period the plan will cover.

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In order to project market share over the time frame of the business plan, you'll need to consider two factors:. Defining the market is but one step in your analysis. With the information you've gained through market research, you need to develop strategies that will allow you to fulfill your objectives. When discussing market strategy, it's inevitable that positioning will be brought up. A company's positioning strategy is affected by a number of variables that are closely tied to the motivations and requirements of target customers within as well as the actions of primary competitors.

Once you've answered your strategic questions based on research of the market, you can then begin to develop your positioning strategy and illustrate that in your business plan. A positioning statement for a business plan doesn't have to be long or elaborate. It should merely point out exactly how you want your product perceived by both customers and the competition.

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  • How you price your product is important because it will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategy and computations can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:. Distribution includes the entire process of moving the product from the factory to the end user. The type of distribution network you choose will depend upon the industry and the size of the market. A good way to make your decision is to analyze your competitors to determine the channels they are using, then decide whether to use the same type of channel or an alternative that may provide you with a strategic advantage.

    As we've mentioned already, the distribution strategy you choose for your product will be based on several factors that include the channels being used by your competition, your pricing strategy and your own internal resources. With a distribution strategy formed, you must develop a promotion plan. The promotion strategy in its most basic form is the controlled distribution of communication designed to sell your product or service. In order to accomplish this, the promotion strategy encompasses every marketing tool utilized in the communication effort.

    This includes:. Once the market has been researched and analyzed, conclusions need to be developed that will supply a quantitative outlook concerning the potential of the business. The first financial projection within the business plan must be formed utilizing the information drawn from defining the market, positioning the product, pricing, distribution, and strategies for sales.

    The sales or revenue model charts the potential for the product, as well as the business, over a set period of time. Most business plans will project revenue for up to three years, although five-year projections are becoming increasingly popular among lenders.

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    When developing the revenue model for the business plan, the equation used to project sales is fairly simple. It consists of the total number of customers and the average revenue from each customer. In the equation, "T" represents the total number of people, "A" represents the average revenue per customer, and "S" represents the sales projection. Using this equation, the annual sales for each year projected within the business plan can be developed.

    Of course, there are other factors that you'll need to evaluate from the revenue model. Since the revenue model is a table illustrating the source for all income, every segment of the target market that is treated differently must be accounted for. In order to determine any differences, the various strategies utilized in order to sell the product have to be considered. As we've already mentioned, those strategies include distribution, pricing and promotion. The competitive analysis is a statement of the business strategy and how it relates to the competition.

    The purpose of the competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors within your market, strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage, the barriers that can be developed in order to prevent competition from entering your market, and any weaknesses that can be exploited within the product development cycle. The first step in a competitor analysis is to identify the current and potential competition.

    There are essentially two ways you can identify competitors. The first is to look at the market from the customer's viewpoint and group all your competitors by the degree to which they contend for the buyer's dollar. The second method is to group competitors according to their various competitive strategies so you understand what motivates them.

    Once you've grouped your competitors, you can start to analyze their strategies and identify the areas where they're most vulnerable.

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    This can be done through an examination of your competitors' weaknesses and strengths. A competitor's strengths and weaknesses are usually based on the presence and absence of key assets and skills needed to compete in the market. To determine just what constitutes a key asset or skill within an industry, David A. Aaker in his book, Developing Business Strategies , suggests concentrating your efforts in four areas:.