How to create the killer business plan you’ll actually follow this year

money treeToo often annual business plans are so wordy they get stuck in a drawer, or there are too many things that need attending to that the business owner gets overwhelmed and struggles to execute the plan. Or the ideas are so hidden in words that they get lost. The reality is that 12 months is a short period of time and you can’t execute everything that you want to do… so you have to be selective. Set yourself up for success, not for failure.  

Every year, as well as putting out fires, solving problems, managing staff and clients, you need to be executing key strategies that will help you get towards your long term vision faster. The following article and exercise will help you create a quick business plan that your whole team will understand and help you execute.

The 2 Page Business Plan aims to uncover the really important objectives that will drive your success in the coming financial year. The idea is to identify the most important goals for the year – the ones that will make the biggest impact towards your long term goals as well as move you forward in the short term.

It includes three key sections:

  1. 1. The Core Business Drivers – what are the most important objectives for your business this year? With specific targets added (how to quantify these drivers)
  2. 2. The Key Strategies that will turn these objectives to reality
  3. 3. The Action/Project Plan for each strategy – the things you have to do, by when and with what resource in order to execute the strategy.

Note:

Your 2 page business plan sits alongside your annual budget. Your budget should outline your profit goal for the year, your planned expenses and the income targets you need to achieve that profit.

Then your 2 Page Business Plan outlines how you are going to achieve this.

EXERCISE

Compete the following:

  1. 1. Your Core Business Drivers

What are the most important objectives for this year? The key focus areas that will drive the business forward and ensure you achieve financial objectives?

Limit this to 3 or 5 objectives that will make a real difference.

Example:

  • Increase Membership
  • Retain and increase value of existing members
  • Grow partner network
  • Decrease dependency on me
  1. 2. Specific targets

Underneath each ‘driver’ put a specific target

Example:

  • Increase Membership
    • 60 new member firms on this year
  • Retain and increase value of existing members
    • Increase value of membership based by 40%
  • Grow partner network
    • Bring on 4 new suppliers this year
  • Decrease dependency on me
    • Hire part time telemarketer and book keeper
  1. 3. Key Strategies

Commit to 2 to 5 key strategies that you believe will achieve your core drivers

Example:

  • Increase membership:
    • New brand launch PR
    • Lapsed leads campaign
    • Events programme
    • Partner collaboration programme
    • Content marketing
  1. 4. Create a project plan for each of the strategies to make it a reality:

Resources – what needs to happen, who will do it, how much?

Timeframes – when and how long will it take?

Example:

  • Lapsed Leads campaign:
    • Write and send new brand email (date)
    • Prepare scripts and train telemarketer follow up (date)
    • Get appointments (on-going)
    • Use new sales presentation to convert

 

Follow the steps above and you will have a plan you can stick on your wall and see every day, not in your drawer gathering dust.  Hope you find this useful.

Happy growing!

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PS.  For more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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The Pillars to Successful Business Growth Series. Pillar 2 – Your Business Model.

pillar-of-autumn-1541725-639x979So you have a great product or service. You know there’s a need for it out there, you’ve defined your customers and your market (if not refer to Article 1 in the Pillars To Business Success Series).  You may well have proven just how great your offer is, with consistent sales under the belt. But how much thought have you given to the growth plan for your business?

The true value in your business will ultimately come not just from what you sell, but also how well you grow.

To grow well, you need to think about your business model, sooner rather than later.

There are two key questions to ask yourself when thinking about your business model:

  1. What is the potential for this business in the future (what is your vision for where you are taking it)?
  2. How will it scale?

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Let’s look at each in turn.

What is the potential for your business?

When I’m working with new clients, we spend a fair bit of time considering this question. We look at what you personally might want out of the business financially, the size of the market you are in, the competition you are up against, your future portfolio of customers – in terms of both size and value.  We consider what you are offering now and who you are offering this to, and how this might need to change over time to enable the true potential of the business.  We build a picture of what’s possible for the future, check in with your appetite for growth and your commitment to make this happen.

How will it scale?

When we have a clear picture of what’s possible, we look at the business growth plan that will enable this.  How and what is your business currently set up to deliver? How will it need to be set up in the future to enable the size and scale of business you are hoping to build? What changes do you need to make to ensure this growth can happen?  Will you be expanding into new markets? Do you need to make changes to the product or service itself? What team infrastructure is required to support the growth? What needs to happen to the way you make and deliver your product service? How can you reduce dependency on you and other key people, with systems, technology, team and training? We also look at the time frame over which these changes need to take place.  If your vision for future success is five years out, you don’t need to make all the changes necessary right now.  You can map them out over time and determine what you need to be working on right now to ensure you are preparing for growth in the future.

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to consider. Business is really a thinking game, and a planning game as well as a doing game. To be a good business person you need to think about strategy as well as delivery.

Here’s a definition of strategy taken from a well-known dictionary:

Strategy: A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

The question is always, are you willing to do the thinking necessary to plan for a successful future? Or are you always going to be too busy delivering your product or service today?

My job as a mentor is to ensure my clients have the structure, support and guidance to do the hard thinking now that will set them up for the future.

If you think you might be ready for this … email me at laura@liber8u.com to find out more about my programmes.

Happy growing!

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PS.  For more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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How to grow your business… the Pillars to Business Growth Strategy Series

liber8-pillars-chart-450x289Nearly 5 years ago now, after selling my last business, I accidentally fell into being a business mentor. I found myself speaking at business networks, telling my story about how I went from being an advertising copywriter to creating and ultimately selling my own advertising agency… the approach I took, how I planned the sale right from the start, and what I learned about business along this way – with my agency and my subsequent pet care business. Before long people were asking me if I could help them turn their business into a valuable asset and my business mentoring career began.

 I get clearer and clearer all the time how best to increase a business owner’s understanding of the fundamentals that will determine whether they build a successful business that feeds them wealth and freedom into the future, or whether they build a hard working job that will stop feeding them income the minute they stop doing it.

Over the next seven blog posts I’m going to share the key pillars to growth I believe can help any business owner, regardless of their industry, get a better understanding of what they need to do to be a smart business person.

The Pillars of Business Growth Strategy

Firstly, in Blog 1 in the series, I’m going to explain what the Pillars of Growth Strategy is … and what it isn’t.

What is it not is a revolutionary new concept that will set the business world on fire. There’s nothing new in here. It’s business 101 really.

What it is, rather, is a hopefully easy to understand summary of the fundamentals of what any business needs to grow. It seems obvious to someone who’s been through the journey of creating a business, but experience now tells me that it is not obvious to most small business owners – it certainly wasn’t to me when I started.

Your product is not enough

I meet business owners all the time. They seek me out and ask me for help on a regular basis. I take on 10 – 15 new small business clients a year and work with them intensely for a 12 month period. What I see so often is that business owners typically focus all their energy into creating and delivering a great product or service, based around something they feel passionate about.

And of course, having a great product or service is important, and forms the first pillar in the Pillars To Growth Strategy.

What many business owners don’t do, or realise they need to do, is focus equal amounts of energy into the several other pillars that ensure your great product or service forms the centre of a great business – one that will ultimately have true value.

If you focus on all six of the pillars with equal enthusiasm, and apply yourself to learning what you need to ensure each is operating at maximum effectiveness, you will build a great business – one that is independent of you.

The 6 Pillars to Business Growth

The six pillars are:

1. Product – what you sell, and the need it meets in the market
2. Business model – Where you are taking this business, how it will make money and how it can scale/grow bigger than you
3. Delivery – how you take your product to market, your distribution channels, operational effectiveness and efficiency and the robustness of the systems that support this
4. Sales & Marketing – how you attract new customers and retain and grow your existing customers
5. Team – the structure of the organisation you need to build and the quality of the people you engage, the way you ensure high performance
6. Financials – how you keep tab on your performance by driving revenues and profits up, and the reporting around this that lets you know how you are going

Most business owners are good at a few of the pillars, where their natural skills and experience fall. For instance I was always good at the sales and marketing and ensuring great product delivery. But I sucked at financials and team building. I learned this the hard way, and had to surround myself with people who knew these areas better than me before my business could really grow.

How about you? Which are you best at and which do you avoid because they are outside your comfort zone?

Exercise
Look at each of the six pillars and rate your business 1 – 5 for each, with 5 being “Nailed it” and 1 being “Oh dear not really.”

If you accept your business needs to score a 4 – 5 in each pillar to be truly successful, what areas do you need to put more effort into? And what is your plan to achieve this improvement?

Next blog in series
In the next of the 6 Pillars to Business Growth blogs I’m going to take a look at the Product pillar and see what distinctions we can make to make this rock even harder for you.

Happy growing!

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PS.  More more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key 8 …

pen and padWhen it comes to business success, there is an underlying trait that every smart entrepreneur has – not just the ability to have a good idea, create a business, to set a vision and dream a dream – but the ability to see it through.

One of the biggest personality disorders I see among business owners is what I call the ‘magpie syndrome’.  This is the tendency to drop everything and run off after the next bright, shiny idea.  I see it all the time. It’s a lack of focus and often stems from not having a clear end goal and a business plan. Sometimes chasing another opportunity pays off, but more often it just weakens focus, takes your eye off the ball and often has a financial cost too.

Key number 8. Be disciplined

The disciplines of business involve having a long term and short term business plan with clear objectives and strategies. It means having an annual budget with forecasts, monthly actuals, clear reporting. It involves having clear job descriptions and performance reviews for everyone including the owners.  It means doing a proper business case to support a decision to do something that isn’t in the annual plan.

So many business owners I start working with are really sloppy when it comes to the infrastructure of their business – they don’t have a business plan, don’t have a budget, don’t set targets and do not have good reporting in place. They have no mechanism for monitoring and measuring their progress. And as a result they often find themselves running round and round the hamster wheel, working hard and going nowhere.

You have to be disciplined.  Business isn’t a fairy tale and it won’t have a happy ending if you don’t learn the rules of business and apply them thoroughly.

Exercise:  Rate your discipline

Do you have a clearly articulated and purpose for your business?  Yes/No

Do you have a business plan that can be shared with your team each year? Yes/No

Do you have measurable targets in place?  Yes/No

Do you have clear and regular financial reporting in place to monitor progress? Yes/No

Do you have a budget forecast that is updated and used as a management tool?  Yes/No

Do you use a business case study approach to making decisions?  Yes/No

Do you run regular performance reviews with your team Yes/No

If you answer mostly yes, you are applying a disciplined approach to business… it will help you grow for sure.

If you answer mostly no, you are most likely taking a more random approach to business which will likely be an impediment to growth.  A willingness to put more structure and focus into your business practices will help you grow, seek some assistance now to ensure you run your business the way it should be run.

As always feel free to email me questions or ideas at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

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PS. Early bird pricing for 2016 Acceler8or Programme ends soon.  This is a 12 month journey to accelerated growth you’ll never forget, please email me at laura@liber8u.com for more information. If you are serious about growth or creating financial freedom from your business sooner rather than later, you will want to be involved.  Only 3 places left.

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 6 …

NikeIn my view, branding is one is the most misunderstood and least valued weapons an entrepreneur has on the road to success.

To be blunt, I think one if the biggest differences between really successful entrepreneurs and small business thinkers is their commitment to having a powerful brand. If customers love your brand and your teams deliver on your brand promise, they don’t need to love you… and when customers love your business more than they love you… you’ve really nailed it!

Key number 6. Build a brand that stands for something

Your brand is not just a logo and a bunch of colours – despite what many graphic designers will tell you. It’s not what goes on your business card. It’s everything your company stands for. It’s driven by the difference your business is making in the world and by your company vision.  It influences how you stand out from your competitors, how your staff behave, how you approach your marketing and every other business strategy.

The best companies in the world have strong brands. Great CEOs understand what a brand is all about. As the CEO of your own business I encourage you to study branding… look at successful companies you admire, see if you can work out their strategy by studying their brand.

If you are going to invest in anything right now, I’d say invest in your brand. Talk to a good brand strategist and ask them to assess your brand.  And if they tell you that you need to do some work on it…. be willing to spend the money. Look at it as an investment in your future, not as an expense.

Exercise:  study branding

If you really do want to build a valuable business and be a wealthy entrepreneur rather than an owner operator, then you need to understand the power of your brand. If you do already, great. If not, it’s time to educate yourself. Look at brands you love and see if you can work out their business strategy from their brand. Compare your brand to a brand you believe to be really valuable.  How does it stack up?  Google articles on branding, see if you can really understand why a whole industry exists just to help people with their branding.  Why is it so important? Here are a couple of articles I found on the subject as a starter for 10:

http://www.slideshare.net/liquidbranding/branding-booklet-slideshow

http://www.slideshare.net/coolstuff/the-brand-gap

As always, feel free to email me with questions, ideas, thoughts for discussion at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

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PS. Early bird pricing for 2016 Acceler8or Programme ends soon.  This is a 12 month journey to accelerated growth you’ll never forget, please email me at laura@liber8u.com for more information. If you are serious about growth or creating financial freedom from your business sooner rather than later, you will want to be involved.  Only 5 places left.

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 5 …

9ERZUJ4KZDOne of the biggest obstacles to increasing business value  is the dependency of that business on its owner. And an even bigger danger is the unwillingness of a business owner to let go.

Something I often hear people say is that their business is their baby. But it’s not.

Your business is not your baby. Which leads me to key number 8 in my bigger, better blog series:

Key number 8.  Remove dependency on you

I’ll say it again – your business is not your baby. I remember watching this powerful interview of a lady in America who had a bakery. It was doing very well in the town it was in, she was very proud of it and very emotionally attached to it but she needed help to grow, so she brought in two partners. She trusted them and sold third shares to each. Then they ganged up against her and fired her. She was marched from her own bakery at gun point (as you do in America). After the pain of losing her baby she decided that she wouldn’t get angry she would get even. So she started a new bakery business, but this time she decided she wouldn’t get emotionally attached to it. She approached it as a strategic exercise and within a few years had a chain of bakeries across America… whilst her old bakery with its two partners stayed small. I remember her saying that by not seeing it as her baby she could focus on what was really important and grow a business that wasn’t dependent on her.

And back to my earlier blog about exit and creating a valuable asset… a business depending on its owner has no value and no one will buy it. So you have to have removal of dependency on you as a key objective for your business over time.
But how do you do it?
In the early years of business growth, it is to be expected that the business will be dependent on the owner. To go into business and not expect to give it your all in the early years could be somewhat naive. So the goal is to lessen this dependency over time.
There really are only 4 ways to decrease dependency on the owner of a business.
1. Technology – in today’s world, it’s never been easier to find ways to use technology to help scale a business without necessarily using more of your time. In my pet care business, our sophisticated matching and booking system took care of the administrative side of the business for us. Our pet carers and clients met online, they got in touch with each other, they arranged the care they needed together and when the job was completed, the pet carer logged back into the system to close the job online, enabling them to go into the payroll system. Head office was responsible for recruitment, training and marketing. We built a team of 150 pet carers nationwide with a headquarters consisting of just 3 people working part time from home.

2. Products – it’s possible to build value into your business in ways that grow the revenue without growing the need for you to service your customers. This is true particularly in service businesses, where the value is derived from the exchange of expertise for money. Turning the expertise into products that can ideally create recurring revenue can be a way to both increase value and decrease dependency. For example, I have a client who creates internal process systems for his clients. He is creating software that will enable clients to map all their systems and host in one place for easy access. Clients will pay his company to set up the systems then pay a monthly license fee to access the platform that hosts their systems map. Staff can log in and access any information they need at any stage of a process, without having to ask anyone.

3. Systems – what’s clever about the product being created above is that my client recognizes the need for good processes and systems within any organization. If staff know what to do and how to do it at any time, things run smoothly without needing the owner to tell them what to do all the time. Growing a business requires consistency of delivery to your growing customer base. Everyone needs to know what to do and how to do it – the way you want it done – time and time again. The only way to ensure this happens is to document what you want done and how you want it done… then ensure everyone involved knows about it. There is a chapter on creating systems in my book “Liber8 your Business.”

4. Team – a business cannot grow without people. And you will never be free or create true value in your business without a team. People will set you free. You need to create the systems and the culture you want to invite people into, then find the best people you can to join you on your journey. This in turn means you have to learn how to be a leader and a manager. In my experience this is one of the hardest things about growing a business… you have to confront your own leadership style, learn to let go, learn to trust and be willing to let people make mistakes with your business. Which brings me right back to ‘your business is not your baby’. If you are too emotionally invested, you will struggle to allow others the opportunity to grow with your business. You will hold the reins too tight and slow down your own progress. Learning to build a high performance team is not easy… but it is totally necessary. The Liber8 Academy has a good pool of experts who can help you with this, if you are willing and able to do what it takes.

Exercise
Grab that big piece of blank paper again (I have several A3 pads lying around my office and house so I can pour out my thinking at any time). Write in the middle: “Decreasing dependency on me” then put 4 headings: Technology; Products; Systems; Team. Under each heading brainstorm ideas that will free you and your business over time. Write down as many ideas as you can without questioning the practicality of your ideas. When you’ve exhausted your thinking, go back and circle the ideas that have the most merit, and then the ones that you can begin to implement sooner rather than later. Remember, you can’t decrease dependency quickly, it takes time. You need to build it into your long term and short term planning. Financial freedom will come when you have a business that operates smoothly and profitably without you having to be there all the time.

As always feel free to email me with your questions and ideas at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

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PS.Want to build that business that is not dependent on you?  The 2106 Acceler8or Programme kicks off late July and will be transforming life and business for 10 committed business owners. There is a big early bird saving to be had, check out the programme by clicking here then get in touch for the details.

 

 

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 2 …

K91LZQUBJI (4)Here it is … key 2 of my 8 keys to a bigger, better business. These keys are aimed at ambitious business owners, those looking to create something of significant value both in terms of what you offer and in terms of what your business is ultimately worth financially. Getting bigger and better isn’t necessarily easy, but if you’re up for it, read this key and think about the exercise at the end before the next blog.

Key Number 2.  Create an asset not a job

If your business is dependent on you for its survival, if it can’t survive for more than a few months without you being there to keep it going… and you haven’t got a plan to change this over time… you haven’t created a business, you’ve created a job.

The difference between an owner operator and a wealthy entrepreneur is that an owner creates a job whereas an entrepreneur sets out to create an asset.

An asset is something that will feed you income even when you are not working… which means it has to have value. A business that is a true asset has to generate profits without dependency on you, and it has to grow value over time so that someone else would want to pay you significantly more than you’ve invested (including your time, sweat equity, opportunity costs and money) in it.

So if you are serious about building a bigger, better business… you have to ask yourself now, have you created a job or an asset? Where is the real value in your business? Is it you and your talent and your skills? Or have you created value through systems, product and team?

And you have to ask yourself if you are willing to make the necessary changes. Because doing what it takes to move from a small business to bigger business, one that has true financial value, takes a shift in mindset. Are you willing to do what it takes to make this shift or would you rather stay inside your comfort zone?

The answers to these questions will determine whether its worth you reading my next 6 keys on creating a bigger, better business.

Exercise

Answer the question honesty: Have you created an asset or a job?

If its the former… you are on the right track, so what needs to happen to increase the value of your asset? Write down the 5 key strategies you have in place to ensure growth.  (Keep reading my keys… we’ll cover this).

If it’s the latter… do you really want to change this? Think about your comfort zone … how willing are you to get uncomfortable in order to grow? In my experience, only those willing to make changes in mindset will do what it takes to create a valuable business. It isn’t for everyone but it is worth it.

As always feel free to email me at laura@liber8u.com with questions or ideas on this topic, or leave a comment below.

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The 2016 Elev8or Group is coming soon!

For ambitious business owners who want to create an asset not a job.  Only 10 business owners will be selected to join … are you ready for it?  Click here for more information.

 

 

 

Does your business ever feel like a life sentence?

My early mentor in business was Robert Kiyosaki. I studied with him all around the world, long before he wrote the Rich Dad Poor Dad books.  One day, at his business school in Hawaii I was sitting next to him at dinner.  We were talking about finding your life purpose and building a business around this.  I asked Robert how to find my purpose, my passion.  He replied, “Laura, you’ll find what you love by looking at what you hate most.”

This thought stuck with me and over time, as I’ve worked with and talked to hundreds of business owners, I realised that what I hate is seeing small business owners becoming slaves to their business – after setting out with a dream of creating their own destiny, being their own boss, running their own lives, they find themselves chained to a business that doesn’t pay them enough, works them too hard and impinges on their quality of life.  It’s not supposed to be like this.

The team at Liber8 are committed to setting small business owners free.  To help them create businesses that are not dependent on the owner for survival, that can grow and prosper and pay the owner back handsomely for all their hard work.

Are you ready to turn your business into a valuable asset?

We’re running our 2015 Acceler8or Programme with a workshop kicking off very soon – designed to help you build an asset not a life sentence.  If you’d like to know more about it, email me laura@liber8u.com and we’ll send you some information.  It’s for a small, select group of business owners how are ready to build the business that sets them financially free.  Are you one of them?

Be free and happy!

motivation-new

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Plan your business with the exit in mind… a mantra I never grow tired of!

If every business owner started their business knowing it was meant to be an asset not a job, we would be a nation of wealthy entrepreneurs and one of the leading economies in the world. My mission is to help every business owner I come into contact with grow a business as it should be… something extraordinary that they can eventually exit from and leave a legacy of greatness.  This short clip explains this… take a look.

Does this sound like something you’d really like from your business?

If so you might want to join us on the ultimate journey to create financial freedom from your business… The all New Acceler8or Programme kicks off this month. We’re helping passionate business owners build the business they really deserve. Click here today for more information.

Yours in freedom and happiness

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“Starting a business is easy. Creating something of value is harder”

 

TVNZ Interview

TVNZ Interview

If you have a few minutes, take a look at this interview with me on TVNZ Good Morning show earlier this week. To be honest I was quite thrown by the questions asked. I had expected it to be a jolly chat about my book, with a view to inspiring some talented mums at home to consider the opportunities, just like I had. I wasn’t expecting the first question:

 “Why do you think anyone can start a business?”

Wow, that made me think. Watch as I look up into my brain for the answer.

And then it came to me, starting isn’t the hard part. Anyone can start a business. But not everyone has the vision and the fortitude to make it work.

In the interview, I end up back on my own soapbox, showing how passionate I really am about the need to approach business with a long-term view in mind.

The good news is that I got to explain my mantra – ‘start at the end and work backwards’. Think about where you are taking the business and what you want out of it financially, as well as what you want to do right here and now. Plan your business properly – start with a good idea and a clear market for it – and be clear what the end game is.

I’m not sure I inspired those stay at homes to launch into business tomorrow, but I did get to say my piece. The reason I do what I do – helping small business owners become big business owners by planning their way to financial freedom.

I hope things are going well for you in your business right now. I’d love to help you plan your end game and plot the course to get there.

Acceler8me 2014 kicks off July 3rd – for business owners serious about growth. You can find out more about it here – just use the enquiry form supplied to have a chat about it.

Hope to see you soon!

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