Leverage, Estimate, Action, Polish – leads to improving and growing your business
Where do we Start
For many years there have been masses of business plans available on the internet and all have been very similar. Pages and pages of information that is hard to put together, difficult to make sense of and monitor. They have been developed from large corporate organisations and for the view of banks and for business owners to get external funding.
Most small business owners struggle to complete them or don’t bother, and rightly so.
This doesn’t mean planning is not essential or useful, quite to the contrary. The issue with these is the format they have been compiled in.
The research I have conducted, confirmed what we have been told for years, that most small business owners don’t plan at all. Those that do (which is only less than 10% - 10/100 = 10 people) only do short term superficial planning on things they know they can do, not things that will lead to success.
Of the 10% who do plan (10/1 = 1 person), 5% (.05/1 = .05 person) do so well and of that 3% (.03/.05 = .0015 person) generally achieve at least 80% of their goals.
What do I need to have an effective business plan
There are steps involved to create an effective and useful business plan but they all require clarity.
Planning takes clarity and effort, but not as much effort as the actions. Get clear.
Your long term vision is a reflection of yourself. How much you know yourself and are connected in shown in the long term clarity of your plan. How much you know yourself is reflected in the level of detail you have in your vision and plan. The trusting you can achieve it is reflected in the mission.
If you want to have more clarity, get real with yourself, uncover the hidden and let go of the fears, embrace the tucked away about you, your dreams and what you’re good at and what you love doing.
The only things in your Vision and Intentions are those that you are passionate about. Yes it is true there will be Milestones and Goals that don’t drive you as much or at all, but if they are linked to the things you are passionate about then your motivation and ability to manage the business and team to achieve your desired success will be much higher.
The important part here is to leverage everything you know about yourself and your business in the planning process and in the content of the plan, the strategies chosen and your personal actions.
Clarity is core
If you have clarity around what your key strengths are and what you want to create in the longer term then you can put things in your plan that others would let them get in their way or stop them in their tracks.
When I say longer term I mean big hairy audacious goals that many people put in the “would be nice someday” basket, yet too scared to think about exactly what you want it to look or feel like and how it might happen. It is when we embrace this and surrender to the dream, accept that we can have this and do deserve this that the Universe can start to assist in it’s actualisation. It knows what we need, when and from whom it is best serving everyone.
There is another contributing factor here to the level of clarity we can have around what we want to achieve and that is the scale of the objective and our personality.
Let me explain this with an example, a story.
Quinten was a social worker working for an international aid organisation. He was involved in the funding allocations for different branches and streams of the organisation. Quinten became aware of the fact that much of the funds received paid for the wages of organisations management and staff and that only about 3.5% went through to provide aid. His personality was that of a person who is Earthy and has great long term vision, for the team particularly. Quinten could see where and when the funding allocations should be modified and have a more significant impact on the objectives of the aid project. A few years late he created his own international aid organisation for young international students to receive basic essentials, where most of the funds and resources donated went to the aid recipients. One of his fund partners (Robert) had a different personality and couldn’t see the long term benefit to the recipients or to himself and the organisation by structuring the donation allocation that way. Instead Robert was thinking of the short term affordability of the organisation to meet it’s running costs and needs, then provide aid. This didn’t allow his vision of aid provided to be as large and impactful as Quinten’s, nor in a similar time frame.
In case you didn’t get the moral here, take your personality into account, for example how long term you can see and what the level of detail this enables you to have. You can always ask me about this if you are unsure.
Get out of your own way
The big key here is to not let yourself be held back by fears, inhibitions and not knowing the details of how. The one thing I know from my own experience and that of clients I have worked with, is that the how is often provided in perfect timing to when it is needed, and in the perfect way. There is a lot to be said for accepting that we don’t have to be an expert in something to be able to understand it, complete it or do it. Now don’t let me get on the band wagon of doing everything yourself, I will come back to this point later, as it is very important, just not now. Now it is important to realise understanding or being able to do things well is often used to self-sabotage and prevent small business owners from taking any action. If you have a pattern of doing this activate strategies to prevent this or to do when the trigger occurs. If you still struggle get help to address the root cause, don’t bury your head or put a Band-Aid over it as it will only come up again, like the bubble in the Contact book covering. The things mentioned in this section can be used as a checklist in your plan.
The planning process
There are specific areas your Big Picture Long Term Plan (in the corporate world this is often referred to as a 10 year or 5 year strategic plan) that should be covered to make your plan complete. I am not going to detail here all the things I look at in 13 aspects of a “Business Plan Review”, I am going to give you the key elements though. The first perspective is the levels of depth you can break things down into and chunking down is essential to make things manageable and still motivates you. This diagram explains the levels of chunking that can be used when working from big picture down.
There is also the areas of your business that should be included in your plan, some parts of these refer back to your Business Model. Now something really important I want to clarify here, the misuse of the term Business Model, it does not refer to your sales funnel or offerings. It really means the elements that make up what your business does and how it works internally and externally and include things like Revenue Streams, Product / Service Creation and Innovation, Organisational Structure, Financial Management, Key Income Generating Activities, Relationship Management Policies and Procedures, Operations Systems and Procedures, Delivery Methods, Marketing and Advertising, Social Justice.
Areas to include
So the key areas of your business that should be include in your plan are:
- Purpose, Vision And Mission
- Market Landscape
- External And Internal Business Analysis
- Business Strategies And Objectives
- Organisational Structure
- Uniqueness And Value Proposition
- Niche and Ideal Client
- Sales Plan Or Funnel
- Systems And Processes
- Business Finances
- Revenue Streams
Whilst it is true not all areas have to be included, when you do your plan will be more effective and more powerful to attracting the right people and systems in your business.
At a minimum you should have content for those shown in this diagram.
For each of these areas can identify at least three Milestones, things that show you are on path to achieving the chosen Purpose and Vision. The Milestones identified are like the signposts you would see on a road trip – for example when driving Melbourne to Canberra you know you are on the right highway when you see signs for Seymour, Wangaratta, Holbrook, Gundagai and Yass. The three perspectives that can be used for the Milestones are around the phases of your business – establish, growth and innovation.
Think about things that are personal and important to you, what are the big indicators you would expect to see on the journey to the completion of your Vision. For some it is a level of accomplishment or business turnover, or a level of external contribution, or the size of a team, or the outcomes achieved by the business.
Strategies and goals
The next chunk is to identify the 3 most effective strategies to reach each of the chosen Milestones. What they are, how they will be done, who by and when, is one a trigger for another. These strategies shouldn’t be taken on what others are using, but what works best for how you do business, your personality meets your values and the possible return on investment. Then if you have more than a couple on your list of possibilities, tune into your gut or guides or whatever fits with your philosophy and see which feels best or you get a yes for.
When the most effective strategies have been nominated it is time to detail the goals for each specific strategy in terms of numbers, money and time and expected time, type and measure of return on investment for each.
All this information assists in estimating the resources required to pull this off in the way you want to. These resources include time, people, money, space, equipment, knowledge, experience
Time for Action
Going through all of these steps enables you to identify the actions that will efficiently and effectively lead to the achievement of your goals, and inadvertently the Big Picture Vision.
Know we all know that carrying out the actions can be easier said than done. Though in my many years of business mentoring/coaching I have repeatedly found this is mostly because people don’t know what order to do things or have not planned strategies or things to identify these are working. All things that have been ironed out by this approach to business planning.
This means there is lost opportunity and the rate at which things happen is much much slower, we make more learning experiences than effective action creates. It also means we won’t or can’t get help.
Though there are other things that we do let get in our way, often this leads to excuses, yet they are real to us at the time. We overestimate what we can do in an day or week, yet under estimate what a few can achieve in a month or a year.
Who’s doing what
So now I get on the soapbox of small business owners trying to do everything themselves. I find there is always three primary reasons for this:
- The priority of themselves their business in their lives (which comes from the value they see it has)
- The desire to save money because they feel they don’t have any
- The lack of clarity of the best order of actions and lack of a plan
When you try and do everything yourself you are not valuing your primary asset – you. Let’s just flip the perspective for a minute. If you were a staff member in your team who was paid by the hour, you would be wanting you to only carry out those things that you are really good at because you would be paying too much for them to do things you or someone else could do and you know they can do the things in half the time that someone else can do them. This is how you should see yourself, then engage people to help you do things that are not your strengths so you can use your time more productively and save yourself money. Because after all, let’s be honest, you are probably great at the income generating or relationship building tasks.
In response to reason 1 - be real with yourself. Evaluate your life and business values at least annually (they can shift order from year to year), show yourself love and respect every day, understand what lights you up and what roles are a priority for this to happen. If you struggle with this, I go into depth in this in the Action Without Overwhelm program.
In response to reason 2 – Implement a way of ensuring you can financially afford to engage the help you need, my Business Prosperity Blueprint is included in the 2018 Business Action Group (contact me personally if you want more information about this).
We have already combatted reason 3 in this article.
The Action Plan
Now it is time to go the next step and develop the action plan from each of the strategies and goals, put estimated times against these and names of responsible to both carry it out and review it (yes that is right, I will talk about this more in a minute).
If you are doing everything yourself, make sure you put these in your planner and/or diary. If you have or are going to have team members you can put this into a project management software like Microsoft Project or use something like Feng Office or Trello or Podio.
No person is infallible or perfect. Please everything won’t go right the first time, so best to learn from experience of others and personal specific advice. Don’t give yourself a hard time when that happens, it happens to everyone and that is where a support group or team are valuable.
To polish the silver we don’t use a Dremel, we use a soft cloth and gently polishing agent. It is the same in business. Success comes not from making big changes, but small gradual or incremental ones over time.
Some things planned won’t reach the expected results and that is ok. It is not worth quitting over. Instead evaluate what happened, make a small tweak (like change the heading size on your webpage or title or your ad) then do it again, notice the results and if it wasn’t better change it back and change something else.
Be realistic with what you can do and in a specific time frame, and don’t try and do it all alone.
Make time for yourself and acknowledge even the small progressions, better yet celebrate them in our Bloom Your Biz Facebook group.
The first thing I want to suggest is to read and follow this article.
If you get stuck post in the Facebook group or contact me directly.
Now, if you are ready to claim your profitable business, to provide the life you really want to have, start with having a private 'Business Clarity Vision' session, this will kick start your best year yet by refining your plan and maximising your innate abilities so you can manifest money and change your world.
Tara Bulum has been a business mentor/coach for over 12 years and has worked with hundreds of people in various parts of the world. She primarily assists innovators and creators to get the pro-type out into the world so they can create a viable and sustainable business from it while contributes to changing lives.
Tara can be contacted through the contact page here or by phoning 0416 060 752.