Archive for the 'Business Strategy & Planning' Category

Categories for Small Business Goal-Setting

Posted by

small business goal settingOne of my mastermind group members is working on her business goals for next year and she brought up a good question: How, exactly, do you set goals for your business?

The first step is to realize there are categories of goals. This helps you to focus on goal-setting in a more structured way.

Here are the categories I use, and some of the items within each category:

Financial goals: revenue, expenses, profitability, investment, tax strategies.

Infrastructure goals: systems, processes, software, hardware, etc. that help you run the administrative side of your business. What tangible items do you need to acquire? What processes do you need to add or modify to run your business more efficiently and effectively?

Overall marketing, PR and sales goals: number of clients, number of new clients, number of renewing clients; increased media exposure. Number of prospects, number of proposals going out the door.

Internet marketing goals: website visitors, social media connections/likes/followers, email marketing open and clickthrough rates, online ad statistics.

Product/services goals: Are there any new products or services you’ll be offering next year? When would you like to launch them? What market share would you like to have among your competitors? Are there any products or services you’ll be modifying or removing next year?

Customer service goals: Is there anything you’d like to add or modify that will enhance the customer’s experience of working with you?

Team/staffing/leadership goals: Which new team members would you like to add, as employees or subcontractors? Anyone you need to let go of? Do you need to make changes to the way your team does their work or reports back to you? How is team culture and morale? Are there any team members who merit some additional mentoring?

Personal goals related to your business: How many hours of work a week? How do you want to feel about your business? Which personal values are brought forward through your business? What would you like more of? Less of? And the big question: WHY are you in this business? What’s your personal goal?

It’s never too early to begin thinking about what would make next year amazing for you and your biz! This is a great list to share with your mastermind group members if you work with small business owners.

no comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning

Think Small and Accomplish Great Things

Posted by

Mary was ready to create huge changes in her consulting business. How exciting, having a big dream!

She had a million ideas and a solid, well-planned task lists to back up the big plan.

Except there was one small problem – Mary’s dream was dying on the vine. By thinking big she was overwhelming herself. She was paralyzed.

Mary asked me, “How do you accomplish all the things you do? Do you have some mysterious time management system that I need to know about?”

Nope. No time management system. No crystal ball. No magic wand. Just one mantra: Think Big and Think Small.

Thinking Big is about dreaming and strategic design; it answers the questions, “What do I want?” and “Why do I want it now?”

Thinking Small is about tactical planning; it answers the question, “How do I accomplish it?”

Great things are accomplished through thinking in small steps.

Anyone who has tried to stop smoking or lose weight knows you do it one day (one hour, one moment) at a time. Anyone who has attempted to do a 10-mile hike knows it’s simply a case of one foot in front of the other.

People with big business dreams often forget these well-known truths about how to tackle big things.

Mary became frustrated because things weren’t moving fast enough. She was ready to give up her dream because there was too much to do and she didn’t know which task to do first.

When she started a task, she abandoned it if it took longer — or was more complicated — than she thought it should be.

Thinking small means I’m a failure.

We’re afraid that thinking small and taking small steps forward because we equate it with being small and having a small life.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If you want the big, juicy, vibrant life you desire, you have to break it down into doable steps.

No matter how much you try, you can only really do one thing at a time.

You may think that multitasking makes you more productive, but studies show that multi-tasking actually reduces your ability to accomplish tasks. It slows you down.

Instead of trying to do five tasks simultaneously, I’m advocating this approach: put exquisite, conscious effort into one task at a time, complete it, and move on to the next.

How do you know which small step to take first?

You have been gifted with four pillars of life the day you were born: your intellect, your emotions, your intuition, and other human beings.

Start by asking yourself, “What one small thing can I do, right now, that will move me towards my big goal?”

Don’t give up if the answer doesn’t come to you immediately; have patience and allow the answer to bubble up to the surface. Trust your mind and your heart. Write down the tasks or draw them on a piece of paper and ask yourself, “Does this feel right?” Write in pencil so that you can re-arrange it until it truly feels right to you.

If the answer still doesn’t come to you, ask other people for help.

Talk about your goals and plans with colleagues and friends. Talk to supportive people who fully understand your big dream and can help you to look at the small tasks you must do to accomplish the goal.

Then do one small task at a time.

I’m encouraging you to do both: Dream Big, Think Small, and you will succeed.

3 comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning
Tags: , , , , , ,

Should You Create A Product?

Posted by

Great question! I’ll work off the premise that by “product” you’re referring to anything from writing a book to creating a live or self-study training class.

Products can be a great way to sell to different price-points; if clients resist paying $400 – $1,000 a month for private one-on-one sessions with you, they might join a group or buy a book. Products are also a way to honor people’s chosen learning style. Some people prefer self-study; others prefer classes, while others prefer one-on-one mentoring.

Should you create product?

My response would be, “It depends on your business model, vision, and strategy.”

  1. If your business model is to have a multi-tiered business where you offer multiple services and products, then yes, go ahead and create product. Make sure your financial plan and marketing plan is in place, make sure you have the support of a VA or administrative assistant if necessary, and then go for it.
  2. If your business strategy is to position yourself as an expert in a certain niche, then yes, go ahead and create product.
  3. If the vision for your business is to stay compact and focused, if the strategy is to reach people on an individual basis, then a product may be a distraction to the thing you’re actually selling: your personal service.

Small business owners shouldn’t create product just to create product — there should be a business reason for initiating the product creation cycle and a business reason for creating a particular product at a particular time.

I’ve seen too many small business owners create product which has no natural tie-in to their core marketing efforts to their primary target market. It’s like they’re launching a secondary business which needs its own marketing to capture its own audience. That’s a lot of work.

For instance, in the National Speakers Association, members are highly encouraged to create product, but with one strategy in mind: that you can sell that product to the audience after giving a speech. You literally sell books in the back of the room, or promote our next webinar series from the podium. Your marketing efforts are focused solely on getting speeches; the selling of the product happens naturally following the speech.

The small business owner needs to ask:

  • Why am I creating this product?
  • Do I have the bandwidth and money to create and support this product?
  • Do I have a natural avenue to an audience to sell my product?
  • And if not, how will I reach that new audience?

Creating products opens up a lot of marketing questions and marketing work, along with the time it takes to create and test the product. (Of course, you can always hire someone to create the product for you, but that’s another story.) My opinion is that a new small business owner, or a really busy small business owner, should consider carefully whether he/she has the bandwidth in time and money to begin creating and selling product in conjunction with their core business.

But if you have a good business reason to do it, and the time and money to invest in it, then go for it! Creating products is great fun and a wonderful learning experience.

Comments Off on Should You Create A Product? for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning
Tags:

Taking an Entire Month to Create Products

Posted by

Do you ever have that disturbing feeling that trying to squeeze one more minute out of your day will render you senseless?

Like you, I struggle with finding time to write books, create new classes, and put together new information products and programs. I have a burning desire to create these things; I think about them and plan for them constantly. I guess it must be the “teacher” in me — I want to share what I’ve learned with other small business owners.

Each year our mastermind group meets in person for a live Mastermind Retreat Weekend. A few years ago, I came to the Retreat with just one burning question: How can I take a month off of work to write an updated version of a book and create a new class?

It seems an insurmountable dream and challenge. I hadn’t had a full month off work or school since I’d been in college (oh so many years ago!). A whole month off with only 2 projects to work on? Woohoo!

My mastermind group helped me to plan out a strategy for taking the month of August away from my business:

1. Figure out how much money you need to save so that you can cover your August business and personal expenses.

2. Figure out if you’d still work with existing clients, or ask them to halt work with you during August. I decided that I would work with existing clients, but not take on any new ones for August.

3. Figure out how to schedule your month off for maximum enjoyment and relaxation, and maximum productivity. After all, I was taking the month off to get 2 big projects finished. I decided to run my mastermind groups just a few days out of the month, and work on projects the rest of the time. I’d take Friday’s off work completely so that I’d have a month’s worth of 3-day weekends to relax (especially as I’d be working really, really hard during the other four days creating my class and book). I’d schedule time with family and friends during August for outings and visits, as well as some “me time” to walk in the woods or go to the beach and be in solitude.

4. Ask for support. I told my husband and my mastermind group I was going to take the month of August off; they loved the idea! I’ve also told my students and members that my hours would be limited in August, that I’d still be there to support them but that they might not get 24-hour turnaround to emails or phone calls. And then I told the world!

5. Stay present. This was a tough one for me, staying present and aware during the month of August. I paid attention to two things: how I used my time, and whether I was creating the balance between work and relaxation that I was seeking.

It was a great adventure and I’m looking forward to doing it again!

3 comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning
Tags: ,

11 Things To Do When Business Slows Down Over the Holidays

Posted by

I’m sure you’ve seen it happen every year: your business slows down during predictable times, like the summertime months or the holiday period at the end of the year.

For the self-employed who rely upon steady cash flow, this can be a disconcerting time. Should you just take a time off until things naturally pick up again? Or should you try to find the needle-in-the-haystack business that might be out there during slow times?

This year, vow to be different! Instead of languishing in no-business-never-land, get off your butt and do something to build the foundation of your business so that natural business cycles don’t affect you too deeply:

  1. Clean your office. Go through all the piles of papers that have been sitting around and get rid of them once and for all. Remember the office organizing mantra: do it, ditch it or delegate it. File all your papers, dust and vacuum your office. Reorganize your desk and your office so that you can find everything you need in 60 seconds or less.
  2. Review that stack of books. I know you’ve been meaning to read them, but will you seriously finish 20 or 30 books anytime soon? If not, pick one or two you want to focus on, and put the rest back on the shelf. Commit to reading 30 minutes a day. If the average adult reads 200-300 words a minute, that means you could read up to 6,000 words in a half-hour session. Typical books are 50,000 – 60,000 words, so you could finish that book (finally!) in about 10 days of easy half-hour sessions.
  3. Take a mini-break from work. Walk away from your office and enjoy a day or two of renewal and relaxation. Go to a day spa. Take a weekend retreat. Go for a walk in the local park. Take your honey to lunch. Breathe.
  4. Get ready for tax season. If your business slows down during December, no worries! Use that time to prepare your tax files so that you can whiz through tax season (it’s coming sooner than you expect!). Tally business-related mileage for year. Estimate your last tax payment for the current year (many self-employed people make quarterly estimated tax payments; the final payment is usually due around mid-January). Send your final invoices for the current year.
  5. Send business holiday cards and gifts. If the slow time falls around the holidays, use them to your advantage. Get into the holiday spirit with your clients by mailing holiday cards and gifts to them. Make specially-discounted holiday offers to clients/customers. Offer them gift certificates that they can give to their family, friends or colleagues for your services and products.
  6. Do your accounting and bookkeeping. Enter all revenue and expenses into your recordkeeping system. Balance your checkbook. Set your budget and revenue goals for next year.
  7. Become goal-oriented. Take this down-time to look at your current goals, to see how you’re doing so far and to write some new goals for the next 12 months. Create an updated marketing plan and budget. Make sure your budget includes a cash reserve to cover you during slow business times. Even if this business slow time falls mid-year, you can still spend time planning for the next 12-24 months.
  8. Go back to school. List the topics you’d like to study, the classes you’d like to take, or the books you’d like to read, to keep you up-to-date with your industry and business skills. Use your quiet business times to read, study and add to your intelligence pool.
  9. Get some personal chores done. Slow business times are ideal to schedule your annual dental and eye exams. It’s also a great time to clean out the attic, garage or basement. Remember, a strong personal foundation helps to propel your business forward.
  10. Go shopping. No, not for personal items (though that’s always fun!), but for business items. Have you been putting off buying a new PC, laptop or tablet? Now’s the time to research what’s out there and determine your next computer purchase. Is your office chair uncomfortable? Spend some time at office furniture stores “butt-testing” for a quality office chair that will support you properly. Stock up your office supplies. Buy some music to play in your office to inspire you. Invest in that software system you’ve been eyeing.
  11. Spend time with family and friends. When business is busy, it’s easy to sequester yourself away to get all that work done. Now that business is slow, come out of your cocoon and visit with family and friends. They’ve been wondering where you’ve disappeared to!

As you can see, slow business times can be used productively to prepare you for the next burst of business coming your way. Renew your business, your office, your Self, and create a firm foundation for the busy business days ahead! Always ask yourself, “How can I use these days wisely?”

Will you be doing anything for your business during the holidays? I’m looking forward to the “quiet” week between Christmas and New Years Day, when I’ll be working on a new class design. 🙂

 

More from the blog:

17 comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning
Tags:

How to Imagine Your Future

Posted by

At this time of the year, we’re encouraged to set our business goals for the next 12 months and beyond. But when I speak with small business owners, you consistently tell me that you can’t figure out what the future of your business looks like. You can’t imagine a year from now, and you certainly can’t imagine three or five years from now.

I think you’ve put the cart before the horse. Instead, first figure out what you value, then design your next year to create a meaningful life and career.

Here’s an eye-opener exercise that’s sure to help:

Take a piece of paper and divide it into thirds. (Here’s a More/Less Worksheet PDF you can use.) In the first column, write down all the things and feelings you’d like more of. In the middle column, write down what you’d like less of.

Don’t try to do this exercise in one sitting. Instead, do a quick, initial brain dump of your wants and needs, then walk away and let it rest for a few hours. Come back later to review your worksheet, and continue to add items as they bubble up to the surface.

Once you feel the first two columns are complete, fill in ideas for projects that will help you achieve what you want from the other columns. Here’s an example of a More/Less Worksheet completed, to give you some guidance.

At this stage, just list ideas for any and all projects that could help you achieve what you want. If you begin to edit your thoughts, you might remove a project before you know whether it would be viable.

Slowly, your future unfurls before your eyes. By imagining what you want more of and less of, you begin to imagine a future that’s exactly right for you.

There are times when you’re not sure what you want or how to get there. That’s okay and you might find this blog post intriguing, a different way of looking at the situation.

 

4 comments for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Next »