It’s time to make business goals. How much time have you scheduled in for planning this year? If you want a successful business, you have to plan!
The reason many small and solo business owners don’t plan is because they are caught up in an endless list of daily tasks that keep them running. By the end of the day you may find yourself too tired to do the creative thinking and brainstorming necessary for successful planning. So what you need to do is reserve thirty minutes or more first thing in the morning when you are refreshed and not stressed where you can think clearly and when great ideas can bubble to the surface. Do this for just 30 days.
Go ahead and schedule that time right now. Go ahead. Because if you don’t you’ll read this and then go back to doing things the way you have always done them. It’s human nature.
It wasn’t until I really grasped the crucial nature of planning for a successful business that my business growth exploded. Since then, in my work as a small business coach, I’ve walked hundreds of small and solo business owners through this process and it really can be fun and exciting. So how do you get started?
You need to create a Business Design that is based around your long term goals, your lifestyle and around creating both active and passive income streams so you’re not stuck just selling time for dollars. You got into business to live a certain lifestyle and you need to consider that when planning. A Business Design will take you through several important steps that will end up being a repeatable system that you can implement over and over in your business.
1) First you need to determine where there is an obvious need in the marketplace, within the scope of your talents, skills, passion and knowledge that you can fill. Where are there people searching for the solution to a problem you can solve, who are willing and able to pay for that solution? Don’t make the frustrating mistake of creating a product or offering a service because you think people want it. Go find out what they want first by doing some basic online research.
2) Once you’ve identified an obvious need or growing trend within your area of expertise, you’ll need to develop a series of sequential or related products and services that can address that need and that group of people over time. I call this the Product Funnel. If you get a client, you don’t want to lose them after a single sale, do you? So you need to plan out a natural sequence of products that you could sell over time to that customer.
3) Next you’ll need to figure out how you will lead people from one product to the next. One way might be to offer levels, like beginner, intermediate and advanced. You could have a basic version of a product and a fully loaded version. You could create a product or service that addresses sub niches within a bigger niche. For example, people that need to learn about marketing their business need knowledge in many areas: how to create a great website, traffic generation, how to use e-mail marketing, how to use social media, and how to write good sales copy. So how can you logically move buyers from one purchase to the next in a way that will increase the value you give them and the loyalty they have for you and your business.
4) Figure out the “plumbing”. What marketing materials will you need? What new web pages will you need? Will you need to add new autoresponder lists and write new e-mails for new leads? Do you need any programming done? What about photos, graphics or videos? Make a list of what you’ll need to support each product in your funnel.
5) Decide on a Marketing Design. Pick 3 primary marketing activities you will relentlessly focus on implementing to drive leads to your business and generate online traffic. Obviously working on your webpages and following an online lead generation system is crucial. You may also include search engine optimization or pay per click ads with Google or Yahoo. Don’t forget to focus on active marketing offline as well. Pick marketing that allows you to connect directly with your leads, through speaking, networking or phone sales.
6) Finally, map out a schedule for next year, or at least for the first 6 months:
- Decide exactly which marketing activities you’ll do each week and month.
- Decide when you’ll launch new products and when you will need to start marketing your new product.
- Schedule tele-classes, webinars, speaking engagements—whatever you can plan in advance.
- Schedule in your vacation times so you know when not to plan business activities.
- Add any regular activities to your schedule.
In one month, with just 30 minutes a day, you can complete this task. I cannot tell you the feeling of elation when you see your business plan there, on your calendar, in black and white. The energy, focus and clear goals that it creates are so motivating. And the successful business that will be the result is the real reward.
So the next time you’re tempted to skip the planning, think of what you really deserve to achieve and how you’ll get there so much faster by planning.