I bet if you’re reading this article you are a business owner.
I’ll go one more step and bet you want it to be successful (actually you need it to be successful).
And I know you’ve heard the statistic that 50% of small businesses will survive 5 years or more. And only approximately one-third will survive 10 years or more. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016)
So when we know the stats, when we’re connected so strongly to our businesses and our customers, why do so many businesses fail?
To shed a little light, a CBInsights analysis of 101 failed startups polls the reason why a business failed according to their founder:
- 42% of small businesses fail because there’s no market need for their services or products.
- 29% failed because they ran out of cash.
- 23% failed because they didn’t have the right team running the business.
- 19% were outcompeted.
- 18% failed because of pricing and cost issues.
- 17% failed because of a poor product offering.
- 17% failed because they lacked a business model.
- 14% failed because of poor marketing.
- 14% failed because they ignored their customers.
Other reasons included legal woes, burn out, lack of passion..
Now I’m not sharing these stats to scare you – I’m sharing them to empower you.
A way to get started in ensuring your business is a thriving, successful, energetic hub of customers and profits is to plan for it to be so!
And that’s what we’re going to do today.
Whether you’re just starting out in your business journey or you’re a well seasoned boss ready to re-strategise then settle in with a cup of tea and let’s get started…
5 Steps to Successful Business Planning
Step 1: Discover and Define Your Purpose
Knowing your purpose, declaring your purpose then choosing to live your life in service to that purpose can sometimes feel pretty overwhelming.
However when you do exactly that, a couple of amazing things can happen for you personally:
- Your energy is amplified because you’re clear on your path and objective.
- You can create powerful goals in dedication to your purpose.
- Your time is being spent channeled towards achieving these goals and you feel fulfilled by your work.
- You are charged with passion and intent.
Sounds pretty awesome right?
Specifically for your business, defining your purpose can:
- Increase your productivity because you’re doing the work that lights you up.
- Help make your business decisions a lot easier because you have an anchor to help guide your direction.
- See the business you build becomes completely aligned to helping you fulfil your purpose.
- Guide you to communicate the mission which supports your purpose succinctly and with authenticity to your customers and community.
So if I were to ask you right now: What is your purpose?
What would you say?
Trust me, you’re not alone if you’re struggling answering this question.
Maybe it’s because when you declare your purpose there’s a commitment to work to achieve it – this pressure can turn some bosses off, so instead your ‘purpose’ becomes a big, great grey area, kinda there but never truly defined.
However when you discover and define it, live it, breath it and settle into it, your business can change – which is why it’s first important step towards Successful Business Planning.
Your purpose is your “why”, your driving force, your true north. Read more about Why Your “Why” is so important here.
Step 2: Set Goals with Intention
Does this sound like you (and be honest)…
You set big, beautiful goals that excite your socks off, only to quickly lose the energy and drive to achieve them.
They end up in the ‘too hard’ and ‘not enough time’ basket.
Chances are, these goals aren’t rooted in intention.
Goals that are based in intentions are like goals that have been dipped in magical powers.
Intentional goals help you push through that feeling of giving up and help you to roll up your sleeves and move through the challenges.
When you’re super clear on why you’re working so hard, what the end result is and how it’s going to allow you to feel you can get the work done and your Successful Business Planning will be a breeze.
Intentions are about how you want to feel, act, be; how you want to show up in your life (and your business) how you want to approach and enjoy each day.
You can tap into your intentions by asking yourself: “How do I want to feel?”
The reason we set intentional goals is to help anchor us to our purpose, allow us to live into that purpose.
There’s a few other ingredients that can help you reach your goals (like setting mini-milestones, deadlines and accountability systems) however basing your goals in intention is the best place to start.
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream. Not only plan but also believe.” – Anatole France
Is it weird that one of my favourite things in the world is getting settled in for a good old strategy session with a customer? (I am a Strategist so it makes sense)!
The third step to successful Business Planning is the actual planning…
Now some Bosses confuse “planning” and “tactics” with STRATEGY.
Let me break it down for you:
STRATEGY is the bigger picture, the ultimate outcome of a specific goal.
PLANNING is about systems and steps you need to take to ‘win’ the strategy. It’s all about ‘how’ you will succeed in your strategy.
TACTICS are what you use to follow the plan. These are the action steps you need to take to get there, the nitty gritty, the to-do’s.
From a strategy session or a series of sessions, you should walk away with:
- The overall big goal, the why, the purpose for the strategy.
- 3-5 points around what this goal means to you and to your customers.
- The ideal plan of how this strategy is going to be won.
- A timeline for the plan.
- Mini-milestones that act as markers along the way of the plan to let you know you’re on track.
- An outline of the tactics you’re going to implement in this plan.
- A clear understanding of who is in charge of what area of the plan.
- An understanding of what it means when you this strategy is won.
- A back up – what happens if the plan falls apart, what will be affected, how will you recover?
If you have a team, ideally your strategy session should be with your team leaders. If you’re on your own, it’s a great idea to get a coach or mentor to guide you through a strategy session.
Walking away from a strategy session is a great feeling of having a path and plan laid out for you.
What you do next however, is crucial.
Step 4: Focus Your Energy and Get the Work Done
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
There’s a difference between saying what you’re going to do, and doing it.
Coming back to your Successful Business Planning: by focusing your energy on the steps you’ve outlined that are going to lead you from point A to point B (your plan) you are more likely to get there.
Here’s a few tips:
- Manage your time according to who you want to be, feel and act in your business and life.
- Increase your productivity so you know the hours in the day are making a difference.
- Increase your dollar-productive time – meaning the tasks you’re spending time on are making a difference to your bottom line.
- Ensure your energy is invested in the plan: the steps you’ve outlined you need to take to achieve or win your strategy.
- Review your progress, highlight what you’ve achieved, what you need to look at in more depth, what you need to start and where you can delegate.
- Take time for yourself, reward yourself when you win, remind yourself it’s OK when you lose, give yourself the space you need to come back to base.
If you feel yourself getting off track with your energy, come back to Your Why, come back to your customers and what you’re here to create.
Step 5: Go the extra step for your customers
Arguably the most important step in Successful Business Planning!
Choose to do more, go the extra step, make it easier, align yourself with your intentions and filter that through to your customers.
Be exceptional for your customers.
When you add an element of exceptional customer care into your plan you’ll be ahead of the game.
And there are so many ways you can do this in your business….
Most come down to making your customer experience more enjoyable, memorable and impactful.
You can try to do this at every stage of your customer journey: when they’re a stranger and don’t know you, when they follow you, when they connect with you, buy from you, stay with you.
Here’s a few examples:
When Your Customers buys from you:
Say you sell an ebook all about bringing home a newborn baby. This is a very low barrier, low engagement process: a customer finds the ebook sales page, pays you, downloads the ebook.
Simple and effective right?
Take the extra step of sending a follow up email and let them know how grateful you are they purchased it, say thank you for buying it, let them know your intention for the book and even possibly the best place/time for them to read it.
You can always send another email a few days later checking in to see how they enjoyed it, what their favourite part was, if they had any feedback, something funny you’ve found about bringing home a newborn and a few extra articles they might want to read.
You are showing your customer there is more to your relationship than just a sale.
When Your Customer is engaged in a process/plan/product with you:
So if you’re a health coach and you’re creating recipe plans for your customers who you know are struggling to maintain their new eating plan.
Why not include a note/email/blog about not punishing yourself when you divert from the plan and some easy steps to get back on track.
Let them know they’re human and we all make mistakes and you’re here to guide them and support them.
They’ll be more likely to follow through with the plan you’ve created and stay in your community, ready for your next offer when they feel this support and encouragement.
When Your Customer stays with you:
If you’re a Life Coach or Success Coach and as part of your high-value program you have a private facebook group for anyone in the program at any given time to interact and connect.
Allow the customers who have gone through your program to stay in the group, treat them like your tribal elders, the leaders in your group that others can look up to.
When you see them doing excellent things in their market, publicly praise them, highlight them for their achievement – reward them for staying as part of your community.
You’ll see that most of these strategies are about connection and value.
You’re not asking for another sale or more money, you’re building your relationship with your customer at every point.
Once you’ve created a basic business plan the really cool marketing plans and strategies can start to be crafted – and that’s the fun part.
If you’re struggling in any way to get started to plan your business, or you want to start from scratch, re-strategize and build again, let me know, I’m here to help!