You need a business plan

Why should you have a business plan? Your business plan is a strategic blueprint for your business. Even if you are a consultant, a CPA or bookkeeper, an artist or any other type of person marketing yourself and your services, you will benefit from having a business plan.

A business plan is fundamentally a document that outlines how you want to make money and contribute to your clients. If you are looking for funding, you absolutely have to have one.

If you don’t plan on seeking funding, a simpler plan will work fine. It’s important for you to be able to write down exactly what it is you do so you will stay on track. Otherwise, those shiny bright objects will keep appearing and you’ll end up with a lot of distractions instead of focusing on what will bring your business success.

Business plans have a lot of flexibility depending on what you do and offer. The first year you write one it takes a lot more time. Every year after that, you can update and tweak the direction. You’ll also want to update your goals and revenue targets.

It’s most helpful if you start the business planning cycle about October to give you full advantage of time to think through what you want to do the next year. If you haven’t started one for 2011, that’s OK. Get started now and have a goal to complete the plan by the end of February so you can follow it this year.

In your plan, you’ll want to start with outlining

1. What you do

2. How you do what you do

3. Your vision

Your vision is a compelling goal that pulls you into the future. It may not ever be fully accomplished.

Your vision is what you want to affect because you are who you are and you do what you do. It is related to your passions and reflects your heart’s desire, even when it is business-related.

Examples of vision can be related to the change you want to see happen because you do what you do.

Vision can be as simple as one of my client’s whose vision is to make sure her family is in a good financial position when she retires.

Another client’s vision has a vision of changing the integrity of the industry she is in. Her standards are much higher than some others in her field.

You could also have a vision related to the world or children. Your work can support movement toward your vision or it can be a personal vision that drives you because with part of the money you make, you could affect a cause that you are passionate about.

The point is that vision fuels your actions. It’s the overarching intention that keeps you centered and moving forward. You can take action every day toward something related to your vision.

Next week, I’ll share more about what you can do to have a stellar business plan that will support your growth.

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on FacebookTwitter, andLinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

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success starts with listening

The reason I am sharing what I am sharing with you today is so you can learn some tips about marketing your services from my experiences.

If you are fortunate enough to have your parents still together (mine just celebrated their 65th anniversary,) then you may be familiar with the needs of adults as they age.This past week I interviewed individuals and franchise owners who provide companions and caregivers for seniors. My parents want to stay in their home and as they age, they need support with everyday living. I see the difficulty they have keeping up with the house, food, doctor appointments and daily life. My brothers and I want the best for them and to make sure they are comfortable and safe in their home.

If you have navigated the maze of senior services, you may have experienced what I did. After asking for referrals and making a number of calls, I scheduled interviews with two companies. Here’s what I experienced during screening calls and interviews and what you can learn from the successful strategies people used and the mistakes (in my opinion) that others made.

Most of the people started the conversation with me by asking about my parents and their needs (a success strategy.) They listened with care and answered according to my interests and my parents needs. During a phone interview, one gentleman began our conversation with a long litany of why his company is the best (a sure fire mistake.) He used terms like:

– bonded and insured

– the number of people he employed

– all sorts of facts and detail about his company

What I really wanted to know was what his company stood for. What he is passionate about and how he approaches working with seniors interested me. All those facts are important, but not the first things he said. He could have asked a couple of questions to start our conversation such as “Can you tell me a little about your parents’ needs?” or “What are you looking for in a caregiver?” Both great questions that would enable him to guide the conversation as to why I should consider his company.

His start to the conversation was quite robotic (and nervous.) I was actually speechless for a minute trying to decide whether to say thank you and hang up. Then I decided to give him a chance and ask him what was different about his company. His energy and focus completely changed and he shared why he wanted to help seniors stay in their home. I really got that he cared, however, by that time it was a little too late.

Other people I talked to connected personally with me right away and the needs for my parents. Ultimately my parents chose a woman who showed passion for her work with seniors, demonstrated that she understood their needs and was ready to start immediately. She built trust with them and they liked her, so she is starting this morning with my parents.

It’s a good reminder that success starts with listening to your potential customer and sharing passion and heart for what you do, not facts, grabs the attention of your market.

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Join the Market You Mondays community on Facebook to learn more about marketing yourself as an expert.

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You can have everything you want

Zig Ziglar, master sales trainer and motivational speaker said, “You can have everything you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” When you focus on helping other people get what they want, you develop a wide network of relationships.

Recently, I had lunch with the CEO of an consulting engineering firm. Part of our discussion centered around how important relationships are in doing business. She said her network and her relationships, including those of the firm, have gotten them through these last few years. She’s a firm believer in community participation and staying connected with key people in her network.

As you think about your career or your business this month, make a list of people you would like to meet. Think big on this exercise.

– Who has connections that would benefit you?

– What can you do to help to that person?

Most people realize that the strength of their connections and network contribute to their success. People say yes to those they know, trust and like. Whether you are a business owner or employee or independent professional, you daily have the opportunity to persuade people to support you, your ideas, your budget, your career, your business.

Your chances are much higher that people will support you if you have a good relationship with them and they know, trust and like you. Whether through a professional organization, a networking group, an educational program or community group like church or non-profits, you can meet people anywhere that can support you and be in your network of relationships. It’s up to you to take time to get to know them. 

If you’d like to learn more about Building Relationships through Networking, please join me on Wednesday, January 19 at 3 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Central or noon Pacific for a no-charge webinar where you will learn important strategies to build strong relationships through networking. I’ll lead the webinar and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions as well.

The webinar is filling up quickly. Register now for Building Relationships through Networking to secure your space before we reach our capacity. We’ll be delighted for you to participate.

 

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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What You Do in Ten Words or less

Today’s Market You Mondays tip is how to tell people what you do in ten words or less when you are networking and meeting with people. It’s a big challenge and worthy of your time. When you effectively communicate what you do in ten words or less, it helps build your personal brand.

To get started ask yourself a few questions:

1. What do you do best that benefits other people?

2. What do you do to make their lives easier?

3. Think of your best clients. What are their problems and how have you helped them?

What you do is not your title or your profession. Most people tune out when you use your title to tell them what you do. Titles such as designer, accountant, coach, artist, chiropractor, speaker, consultant, therapist, counselor, financial services advisor, CPA and many others do give people an idea of who you are. Your job is to explain to them how you do what you do in a way that is relevant to them and distinctive from other people in the same profession.

This is one of the most important tasks you need to complete this month. Spend some time brainstorming words, phrases, outcomes that could describe what you do.

It’s always a great idea to ask your clients what results they’ve gotten by working with you. Take their words and add to your list.

Coming up with what you do in a phrase that resonates with people takes time so give yourself several rounds of brainstorming and editing. Keep narrowing your content until you can get it into ten words or less. The benefit is that when you meet new people, they can learn a lot about you in a few seconds.

I’ve changed the words I use several times over the last few years. What I’m most happy with right now is “Translating Business Challenges into Opportunities.” Most of my clients are experts in their field who have a great reputation, however, they are not getting the business results they want for themselves. What I do is explore with them what they do best, listen to client stories and then find the words to describe what they do. Often clients don’t realize the gold mine they have in their business or they are looking at the benefits from their point of view, not from their clients’ perspectives. Once we discover that nugget, we create opportunities that result in revenue growth.

People tend to talk about the process of what they do, not the results. Start thinking in terms of the results you provide. Write down what your clients say.

At first, you may write a page or several pages. That’s fine, don’t stop. Each time you look at it again, keep paring away until you get to the essence of what you do.

You’ll want to be able to use this in several ways depending on the situation. You will want flexibility so you can use your phrase several ways while networking. You can use it as a tagline and to create a short introduction or a 30-second commercial. Your goal is for people to ask you more about what you do or even better set an appointment with you.

Make sure to use action words and benefit-oriented words. Words that Sell: More than 6000 Entries to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas by Richard Bayan is a great tool to help you get started. I find his books to be very helpful.

Next Monday, I’ll share more tips about what to say when people ask you what you do. I’d love for you to join my Market You Mondays community on Facebook and add your comments and ask questions.

 

Kathy Garland specializes in translating business challenges into opportunities that result in business and personal growth. She speaks frequently on business growth and leadership topics. Join her conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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