Category Archives: Plan

Want To Have a Powerful 2016? Do This First.

1.6.16All the resolutions, intentions, goals, and planning for your business will be diluted until you take the time to complete your 2015 business year.  This is serious.  You will suffer from a syndrome called: Rehearsal Exhaustion.  What is that you may be asking?  According to changingminds.org, Rehearsal Exhaustion is “constantly referring back to our past to make sure we don’t forget it, and to predict possible future outcomes.  As more and more things are left incomplete, we are more and more distracted and exhausted by the ever-increasing rehearsal.”

Yes, that’s right, without completing your 2015 business you will be destined to replay it and the more you do that, the more dispirited you will become about creating newly in 2016.

So what is the process of completion?  It is the conscious act of reviewing what we did or didn’t accomplish in 2015.  Declaring that it was in the past, that you are okay with what happened, and can give up the right to beat yourself up about it in the present.  By doing that, we are freed up to create a new future which is not bogged down by the past.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?  If something is incomplete, we do continue referring back to it to make sure we don’t forget it.  So to avoid that state of mind, let’s just complete 2015 and then be ready to move on to 2016.  This isn’t hard.  It does require some time and thought.  What are the working parts of your business that you may want to complete?  Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself.  This list certainly is not exhaustive so please add to it.

Regarding your Business in 2015:

  • Who were you being?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What did you learn?
  • What do you need to improve?
  • What challenges did you have?
  • How were your relationships with your staff? Clients? Contractors?  What could change?
  • What new products did you offer?
  • How well did your marketing work?  What worked best about your marketing?
  • What new marketing ventures did you try?  How did they work?
  • What product did you sell the most?  The least?
  • What was your gross profit, expenses, net profit?
  • Overall what was the best thing about your business in 2015?
  • What was the worst thing about your business in 2015? What would you do differently if you could?

If you get stuck on doing this completion process alone, please contact me.  I am here for you.

 

What’s In Your Future?

11.18.15This time of the year many entrepreneurs are in a conundrum about working: When should I work? How much should I work? Should I offer that new service during this time of the year?  After all, entrepreneurs are not immune to the enticement of having fun during the holidays and putting away their entrepreneurial concerns until next year.

It is tempting, isn’t it?  Just let everything go and have fun?  And I say you should have it, but do this one big thing first—plan for next year now.  If you make your business plan now, you will not waste the first quarter of 2016 creating a plan to implement.  You will already have it—ready to go.

You can design a simple business plan by thinking about 2016 as if it is already finished and it was the greatest year ever for you in your business and in your life.

Ask yourself the following questions about your business in 2016:

  • How would you describe your business?
  • What was your mission and vision?
  • What were your financial goals?
  • How did you accomplish them?
  • What new services did you create?
  • How much money did they make?
  • What challenges did you overcome?
  • How did you overcome them?
  • How many new customers did you add to your customer list?
  • What did you do to add new customers?
  • What systems did you add to your infrastructure to make managing your business easier?
  • How is your relationship with your vendors?
  • Are they a referral source for you?

As you develop the answers to the above questions, write down the actions you will take make them happen.  This is what I call, planning the future from the future.

You may want to add or subtract from this list of questions.  Each business is different and has different needs.  The point of this blog is to encourage you to plan now from the future for a brilliant 2016.  You will be ready to go in January with a plan that is solid, and you will know the actions to take to make it happen just as you said it would.

If you get stuck or want to brainstorm, please call me.  I am here for you.

 

Five Tips For Keeping Your Business Growing On Your Vacation

7.8.15It’s that time of year again.  Many solo entrepreneurs are ready to go on vacation.  They dream of white beaches, pleasant hikes, and hanging in a hammock on a tropical island.  They plan to come back to work refreshed and renewed, but often they return to work more stressed out than before they left.  Usually that’s because they didn’t plan how to manage their business while they were away.  And the result of no planning was tropical stress—there were no pleasant times spent lying in a hammock—there was work and frustration on a tropical island.

In order to help you avoid the stress of vacating, plan ahead and try these following five tips to insure that your vacation is just as you envisioned it.

  1. Plan to take your vacation during your business slow season; you know when that is for your business.  Stress will be reduced if you know that your potential clients aren’t really thinking about services anyway.
  2. Let your clients know beforehand that you will on vacation and how you plan to handle their requests while you are away.  You can send an email to your clients letting them know when you will be gone and how to contact you if there is an emergency.  If you write a monthly or weekly newsletter devote space in it to announce your vacation plans too.  Set your email to auto response with a similar message.  And remember to leave a clear voice mail message as well so that clients will be reminded that you are on vacation and the approximate times when you will return their calls.
  3. Set certain times each business day when you do intend to reply to urgent emails and business emergencies.  Usually, twice a day for a couple of hours is plenty of time to keep in contact with your clients.
  4. Find out in advance, if where you are going provides sufficient telephone and internet service.  If you are really going off the grid and there is no service, then have a trusted colleague set up to handle your business emergencies.  And, introduce that colleague to your clients in advance.
  5. Invest in a cell phone battery charger and computer charger so that you are not stopped by a dead battery and no way to charge it up.  Bring a travel power strip to eliminate the problem of a hotel room with not enough outlets.

Do these steps make sense to you?  Yes, it will take some planning ahead to insure that your vacation is relaxing and rejuvenating.  You will enjoy your time off more if you know that your business is running smoothly, and most importantly if you have been in communication with your clients and your potential clients regarding your time off.  They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and be impressed with how seriously you think about their well-being while you are taking care of your own.

Why Not Change?

5.13.15You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.

William Faulkner

There is something about change that sometimes makes us cringe and hold back.  I think that it is the unknown and our lack of belief in ourselves that keeps us from accomplishing what it is that we want to accomplish—if only we could make that first step.  We know we are capable of changing but we hold back unless something calls us forth.  Often we let our fears, or imagined fears, keep us from moving ahead.  Sometimes we just have a first reaction of “no” for any change that is required.  Whatever the mechanism we have developed for holding back when change is present, it is time to call it out and see if it really serves us.

I recently talked to a potential client who had a different protection from making a change.  Her well-rehearsed protection is “changing everything all the time”.  She is an idea machine with an idea a minute.  She reminded me of a hummingbird flitting from one flower to the next.  She would touch on something then immediately move on to next great idea.  No wonder she was frustrated and unable to make a go of her business.  Her business changed every other day.  After listening to a seemingly endless list of ideas, I realized that she didn’t really like change, so to actually change she would have to pick one thing and just do it.

I agreed with her that the list of ideas was excellent.  In fact, I pointed out that I could see a theme in the ideas that pointed to her towards a vision for her business, and from a vision for her business she could start with one offering from the list of ideas.  She really didn’t like the idea of just choosing one and after some indecision she reluctantly chose one idea.  We then made a little plan on how she could implement that one idea.  The plan included how long the implementation would take, what the simple steps were needed to achieve the goal, how much she would charge for it, and an estimate on how much she could make.  Then I asked her to just follow the plan for two weeks and see what happened.  Part of the plan was to complete one step a day and report back to me every day as that step was complete.

You can probably predict the outcome of this plan.  Yes, it worked.  She stayed with the plan and began to meet people who really were interested in what she was doing.  Within a couple of days of focusing on the project she met people who were interested in using her services.  She was excited that her idea was well received and decided to follow through with providing the product.  She changed her way of being and it took courage to do so.

I don’t know if the change will last.  It really doesn’t matter because now she has tasted what it is like to stick with something.  I think this will be the beginning of a new way of being for her.

If you are stuck and know that change is required to move forward, please give me a call.  I would love to hear from you.

 

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Miles Stuart

 

It’s Time To Build An Ark

5.6.15“Predicting Rain Doesn’t Count.  Building Arks Does”

-Warren Buffett

Buffett’s quote applies to life as well as to business.  He is referring to preparing for adversity, hiccups in business and in life that can take us out if we’re not prepared.

Often we only begin to build the ark after the rains come.  This is not the best plan.  With some reflection, you can discern what backups you need in preparation for what might happen to seriously stop your business or prevent it from performing at an optimum level.  I am not talking about the major disasters either.  I think it’s better to have backups for the small daily details of your how you effectively run your business.

If you think about what you do in your business daily, and what props you use to perform even the smallest tasks, you will begin to see areas where having backups is vital to be open for the day.  Simple things like, telephone lines, internet connectivity, keys to open the door.  Yes, simple things like that.  Nothing is more frustrating than turning on your computer and the line is dead or picking up the phone and line is hissing.  Then what do you do?  Do you have a backup plan?

Here are some suggestions about what I have and use.  This list is designed as a way to prompt you to think of what is necessary for you to run your business.

  • Keys hidden in top secret places in case I lose my key.
  • Two land lines, cellular lines and 3 different internet connections.
  • I know business people in different areas of the region who will let me use their internet and telephones, if mine go down.
  • Two different independent VPN networks.
  • Google voice mail and land line voice mail
  • Two independent printers
  • Passwords I frequently use in a paper list format in two locations.

This is just the short list of ways I have to “build the ark”.  I am sure that you could add to this just by reading through it.

The most important back up is to have relationships with people who you know you can call or go to for support if a system goes down.  We don’t always think of people who we can count on to be there for us if we are in trouble.  It is important to build the relationships before you urgently need them.  For instance, have you built a professional team of people including a lawyer, a business coach, banker, accountant and computer technician?  If not, please do that now.  That team will be there for you when and if you have an urgent challenge.

Please use this blog as stimulus for building your own “ark”.  You will be very happy you did—even if you never need it.

This Is A Great Time To Begin

3.25.15Spring is the time of plans and projects.

Leo Tolstoy

No matter where you live, and what the climate is like right now: rain, snow, sleet, winds, sunshine, it really doesn’t matter does it?  It is Spring.  Spring!  Even the word sounds hopeful, fun, exciting, energetic and makes you hum a little.

Today’s topic is “time to start your new plans and business projects”.  Imagine my delight to see that Leo Tolstoy also thought the same thing.

April is the beginning of a new business quarter.  It is also the time to formulate and implement new business projects and/or plans that you have been thinking about.  Given that you have reviewed the success of the first quarter, you know where you want to spend your time creating something new, or if not create something new, how you want to refresh and improve what you are already doing that is working.

There is much about your business that is successful.  How do I know that?  I know that because you are in business.  So, this week, if you look at what is working well in your business, look at that component and see if it needs any trim tabbing.  The term “trim tab” is a nautical/aeronautical term relating to a small supplementary rudder that is attached to a boat or an airplane that keeps the direction steady without the pilot having to continue to apply pressure to control it.

If you look at what’s working in your business, you will know if it needs a “trim tab” so that it essentially runs itself.  An example of this is adding a virtual assistant to your staff for publishing your blogs, hiring a web designer to refresh your web site or a bookkeeper to do your books.  You get the idea.  How can you make small changes that will free you up for creating new projects that will make your business even better?

Since your list of new projects could be very long, it is important that you choose one to work on that will have measurable results and that you can realistically put a “by when” date on.  And, I suggest that you work on one project at a time.  Please do not overwhelm yourself with several projects at once.  You will make more progress when you follow a new project to completion.

Enjoy the new energy that Spring brings to you!

 

Photo courtesy of Cliff Thorbes, Vancouver, B.C.

What Is Your Higher Purpose?

1.14.15I don’t think life is absurd.  I think we are all here for a huge purpose.  I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for.

Norman Mailer

If you are making a business plan for 2015, you have followed some steps to have that plan be brilliant.  You have completed on the results and failures of 2014.  You may have defined a bold purpose or not even thought about having one.  Experience has taught me this: Successful people have a purpose and live their purpose every day.

Yes, you may think.  I have a purpose, it is to make more money this year than last year.  Really?  How has that been working for you?

Purpose is defined as: something set up as an object or end to be attained a.intention b.resolution, determination (Merriam-Webster)

As you can see, “purpose” has power behind it.  Purpose gives one inspiration and drive.  By its definition, it is active, it is dynamic, and it has the power to pull you out of yourself and become a bigger, bolder you.  What I mean by a bolder you is, a purpose which inspires you allows you to step up and be more than who you know yourself to be right now.  Reminding yourself of your purpose each day will set you up to go up the road to success not down the road to mediocrity.

In developing your purpose, think about the problems that you are solving for your clients or target market.  What is your purpose in solving them?  Why are you solving those particular problems?  Questioning yourself rigorously will provide you with a solid purpose for the work you are doing and service that you are providing to your target market.

No purpose is too big or too small, neither honorable nor unworthy, as long as it is your authentic purpose.  When you discover your authentic purpose, you will know it.  You will feel more clarity and energy about your work.

If you get stuck and want some help with your purpose, please feel free to contact me.  I am happy to help you.

You can also use the space below to share your purpose.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Image courtesy of papaija2008 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have A Brilliant New Year By Doing This One Thing

1.7.15Welcome to your new year 2015!  Have you been having fun?  I do hope so.  Now that we are finished with the holidays and all of the fun of the holidays, travel, families, presents, New Year’s Eve, it is time to re-enter into work.

And yet, something is not quite right yet is it?  You are ready to plan or perhaps have planned for a brilliant 2015 and yet, all those plans may still seem a little flat or dull to you.  What in the heck is missing?  Completion of 2014.  Yes, that’s right—in order to be fresh and energetic in your work you need to complete 2014, or it will lurk behind you causing all kinds of mischief that you can handily avoid.

Completion does not mean finished, as in done with, or never to be looked at again.  It means, loosely stated, being whole or OK with what has happened in the past.  Danger lurks in incompletion: Rehearsal Exhaustion: constantly referring back to our past to make sure we don’t forget it, and to predict possible future outcomes.  As more and more things are left incomplete, we are more and more distracted and exhausted by the ever-increasing rehearsal (changingminds.org).

It makes sense, doesn’t it?  If something is incomplete, we do continue referring back to it to make sure we don’t forget it.  So to avoid that state of mind let’s just complete 2014 and then be ready to move on to 2015.  This isn’t hard.  It does require some time and thought.  What are the working parts of your business that you may want to complete?  Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself. This list certainly is not exhaustive so please add to it.

Regarding your Business in 2014:

  • Who were you being?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What did you learn?
  • What do you need to improve?
  • What challenges did you have?
  • How were your relationships with your staff? Clients? Contractors?  What could change?
  • What new products did you offer?
  • How well did your marketing work? What worked best about your marketing?
  • What new marketing ventures did try? How did they work?
  • What product did you sell the most?  the least?
  • What was your gross profit, expenses, net profit?
  • Overall, what was the best thing about your business in 2014?
  • What was the worst thing about your business in 2014?
  • What would you do differently if you could?

By going through the list above and answering the questions, you should be on your way to being complete with 2014 and ready to start 2015 anew.

If you find the list too much, just answer what questions make sense to you.  The effect will be the same.  The idea is to have you focus on completion of the 2014 business.

As always I am here to help.  I look forward to hearing from you in the space below.

 

Image courtesy of [Serge Bertasius Photography] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Are Your Intentions?

Blog 12.17.14“What one does is what counts.  Not what one had the intention of doing.”
Pablo Picasso

When you are designing your 2015 business plan, your plans will be influenced by the elements we have previously discussed: what worked and what didn’t work in 2014 and what it is that you intend to provide to your clients by looking ahead to what they will want from you in 2015.

The plan that you design will be informed by two powerful elements: intention and commitment.  These elements are found in any noteworthy human endeavor.  Let’s look at what each element means and how they work together to build a powerful business plan.

Intention: the thing that you plan to do or achieve: an aim or purpose

Commitment: a promise to do or give something

As you can see by the definitions from Merriam-Webster, the two words are dependent on each other as the intention calls forth the action from the commitment.

Your plan requires both intention and commitment to succeed.  The plan is weakened by just having one of them.

As you continue to design your plan be mindful of having both.  A simple example is your plan to increase your client base by 20%.  The intention is the idea to increase the client base; commitment generates the actions you will take in order to achieve it.  You may be committed to blogging each week or going to two networking meetings a month.  The point is that the committed action follows the intention logically.

You do not have to make a year-long plan.  You may want to make your plan each quarter of the year.  That is a perfectly great idea and will allow you to design the year building on the shoulders of the previous quarter.  It also permits you to commit to small baby steps in order to achieve the intention of the first quarter.

In the space below, please share your first quarter intentions and commitments.  I am looking forward to hearing from you.

 

What’s Your Plan?

121014Plan“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”
Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra makes sense.  And yet, although we all know it is essential to make a plan for our business, we hesitate to do it.  Or we do it haphazardly at best.  So what is your plan for 2015?  If that question seems a little too intimidating to you and you are frankly left speechless, let’s begin with an easier question.

What do you want to contribute to your clients in 2015?  Surprised?  It’s not the typical question about how much money do you want to make in 2015.  That question is useless unless you think of your clients first.  To enlarge on the question about contribution to your clients, first you have to trust that if you make a contribution to them, you will be fairly compensated for the contribution.  This is not some airy-fairy “build a field and they will come” type of thinking.  It is solid in that people are willing to pay for what they want.  It is up to you as a business person to provide the answer to a problem that a client has.  You already know how to make a contribution to clients, if you didn’t you wouldn’t be in business.

Doing some thinking about what problems clients have is a very valuable use of your time.  It’s useful to brainstorm about what problems you solved for your clients this year.  Write them down and then project into the future about, what is the next predictable problem the client will have upon solving the present problem?  This is called “getting out ahead” of a problem.  You are presenting a solution to the problem that the client doesn’t yet know he will have.

Of course, to solve the next, yet to be presented problem, will take planning on your part.  You can’t solve all of their problems, and you can solve some of them.  Pick 3 problems that are predictable for your clients.  When you list 3 major problems that your client will have, and that you can solve, that will become the foundation of your plan for that client for next year.

In the comment section below, please tell me about 3 problems that your clients have that you plan to solve in 2015.  As always, I look forward the hearing from you.