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A Guest Post by Peter Grant from Minuteman Press International

The world economy, despite the best efforts of its countries’ governments, is still weak and fragile. Nevertheless, a good number of businesses are making the most of the fledgling economy and pushing their ventures forward, and the key to benefiting from the current business conditions is to make the customer number one.

Perfecting your business plan

You’ve probably read swathes of material about business plans and what absolutely must be included. Here’s the crucial bit: in essence, your business plan should give details about exactly how your business will meet its goals in the short and long term.

Write down realistic, attainable goals that are manageable, like making your target market aware of the image projected by your business. Remember that the needs of your business will change over time, so be prepared to have to change these goals if circumstances dictate it.

Acquiring customers – and meeting their needs

When there’s a downturn in business, your firm will have to work hard to win your customers – and their loyalty. To achieve this, the key is to deliver excellent service and to always do that bit extra for your customers and clients. Of course, you’ll also have to do more for your customers than your competitors are willing to do.

Working out what exactly you can afford to do for your customers should complement your USP – or unique selling point. What is it that you can offer that customers are unlikely to get somewhere else?

To discover what it is that makes customers tick, it is vital to research their opinions, lifestyles, and hobbies or interests.

The business arena

To be successful in your industry, you must understand how it operates and who exactly represents the competition. One low-cost way to achieve this is to network. Studying the ways that other businesses cope with the repercussions of the recession is sure to be beneficial, and you may even receive some essential services at a reduced cost if you choose networking partners.

Once you’ve got to know your customers and your competitors, be sure to test your products, assess their success, and determine what you need to work on before your business goes into operation.

Let’s talk money

While we are still in the doldrums of a sluggish economy, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to start a business successfully. Depending on the region in which you live, you could take advantage of government grants and other incentives to get your business going. Many governments are more than happy to help business people set up because the jobs created will help to grow the economy.

Those who decide on getting into business via a franchise could find it simpler to obtain funding. Banks are often more inclined to lend when you are following an established business model.

Advertising your business

In order to get your marketing spend under control, you should explore simpler methods of marketing. This is where you can use social media to your advantage by posting or tweeting regularly and using competitions as a way to generate interest. Doing this will also help encourage visitors to your website.

Speaking of websites, if you don’t yet have one – get it set up. You can run a website much more cheaply these days if you buy your own domain and upload a WordPress template. This will mean updating your website can be a breeze – and you can do it yourself.

Legal stuff

Since you will deal with a lot of confidential data (for example, bank details, names of customers, and addresses) you should draw up procedures to keep all information secure. When your business expands, you will need to train your employees on these processes. You should also check whether you need insurance or a business license, and you may also incur tax on sales once the figure goes past a given threshold.

Peter Grant is a franchisee at Minuteman Press International, a printing franchise operating throughout the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. Minuteman Press provides a wide variety of printing services and has been voted #1 within the printing industry for 2012 – its 20th time overall. Visit to find out more.