Q. Do I need a traditional business plan? By this I mean something formal with a structured template.
A. No you only need a traditional business plan if you need to borrow money from a bank. Most business owners who write a traditional business plan file it away on their computer or it sits gathering dust in a drawer and never look at it again.
Q. What sort of business plan do I need?
A. Something practical, so that every week you know exactly what tasks you need to do to move your business forward. Something that’s yours, written how you like it, something that you are actually going to use and something that you love!
Q. What do I write it in?
A. It could be written on a bit of scrappy paper, on post-it notes, in a notebook or in an app like Trello or Asana. What’s more important is that you write the plan in something you like, that you are going to use.
Q. Where do I start?
A. To quote Stephen Covey you ‘‘Start with the end in mind’. Think about where you want to be in 12 months time, what do you want your business to look like, what do you want to be doing?
Q. What only 12 months?
A. 12 months is a long enough time for a business goal, as a lot can change in 12 months (look at how things have changed in the last 6 months with the Covid-19 pandemic!)
Q. What’s the best way to write a goal?
A. Write your 12 month goal using the SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound) format.
Q. What do I do after I’ve written my 12 month goal?
A. A 12 month goal can seem big and far away, so you then need to break the goal down into smaller goals. Usually 3/4 through out the year. Write the smaller goals also in the SMART format.
Q. How do I get from the smaller goals to a plan?
A. The easiest way is to take the 1st small goal, which is usually for 90 days and write down all the actions of how you are going to reach your goal.
Q. Why can I never stick to my plan?
A. Sticking to a plan is the hardest part, the day to day running of your business gets in the way, life gets in the way, there’s always something more exciting to do.
Q. What can I do about it then?
A. Get yourself some accountability as it always works. Accountability isn’t rocket science but the fact that when you know somebody is going to ask you about something, it makes you do it!
Q. What if I reach my goal early or I know I’m not going to reach my goal?
A. Nothing is cast in stone, as it’s your goal and your plan, you can change it. You are the master of your business, nobody else is!
If you don’t have a plan for your business and as a business owner you should have! Then why don’t you come on my workshop: How do you want your business to look in 12 months?’.
On the 2 hour workshop you will:
For more information about the workshop and the dates: bit.ly/2EuIamG
‘Hi - I’m Karen and I share my over 30 years business experience as a Business Mentor. I love to work with female business owners that already have a ‘good’ business but want a ‘great’ business. I do this with 1-1s, groups and in workshops. What I do with each business is different. I coach and encourage, to get the best out of you. It's all in there, I know it, I bring it out and watch your business grow!’
Do you understand what I do and who I do it for? Was it clear? And more importantly could you explain it to somebody else who might need my services?
As business owners we need to be really good at describing what we do. At answering the question ‘What do you do?’
You probably think you are good at introducing your business but are you? Do you get people recommending your business, just from your pitch?
Have you ever asked people for feedback: Did they understand what you do from your introduction pitch? Was it clear? Did they get it?
Giving a great introduction pitch is important for a couple of reasons:
When you work for yourself this is your chance to make a great first impression. So don’t waste it!
We can get asked this question in lots of different situations: by family and friends, at networking events, an actual elevator pitch or by anybody we are talking to.
Let’s look at each one of these…
Family & Friends
Do you struggle getting family and friends to understand what you do? I know I do. In my past it was easy - I used to work for big corporations, nobody really knew what I did but it didn’t really matter. They would say Karen works for a big company, she has a great salary, the company is doing well on the stock exchange etc.!!
This was enough for most people as it showed I must be doing well (little did they know that there is more to life than being on the corporate hamster wheel and a big pay cheque - but that’s another story!).
At some point at networking events you will have to introduce yourself and most people dread this. If you’ve worked in bigger businesses you might know this as the ‘creeping death’! Waiting for your turn and getting more and more anxious.
I’ve heard lots of people introduce themselves and their business at networking events, some are good at it but a large majority aren’t. Mainly because they are not prepared, there is no structure to what they are saying and they waffle on. They go on and on so much that you haven’t a clue what their business is and you switched off ages ago!
What a waste of an opportunity to make a first impression!
One business I know who organises networking events have even stopped letting people introduce themselves because it was talking so long and now they give each person a quick introduction. The difficultly with explaining somebody else’s business, is getting it right!
Have you heard of an elevator pitch? The idea is you get in an elevator (or in the UK we say ’lift’) and somebody famous like Deborah Meaden or Sir Alan Sugar get in the lift and they say to you ‘So what do you do’.
You then have the time from when the lift sets off, until them getting out of the lift to answer the question, say 30 seconds!!
Not long to make a lasting first impression!
This could be somebody you vaguely know that you bump into in the street, a neighbour or a friend of the family. The point here is that you wouldn’t explain your business in the same way, at a networking event or in the elevator pitch but you need to explain in a simple, clear way they will understand. Because you never know, who they know - and it could lead to your next super customer!
Whichever scenario you are in, when introducing yourself and explaining your business you need to be:
I have created a formula for writing an introduction pitch, which I teach to business owners on one of my workshops. At the end of the workshop each business owner has an introduction pitch which is unique to their business and which they can use in different situations.
The formula has two benefits:
The caveat I would say is that you don’t talk to your family and friends in the same way as you would introduce yourself at a networking event. So adapt the pitch, use different words but basically get the same message across.
Also your pitch doesn’t have to be perfect first time and there’s nothing wrong in practising. Read it out loud, read it to other people. How does it sound? Are you happy with it?
So what’s the formula….
It’s not easy…
Now this might sound easy but it’s not. Most business owners I know aren’t clear on what their USP is or know who their Super Customers are. If you are not clear, how can you describe each one in a simple, clear sentence?
BTW - Super Customers are very different to Ideal Clients as they are based on real people and not something you have made up. I always say that Ideal Clients are like looking for a needle in a haystack (impossible to find!) but Super Customers can be found because they are real!
Remember as business owners we need to be really good at introducing ourselves and describing our business. As they say - ‘you only get once chance to make a first impression’. Don’t screw it up!
Do you want to work ‘on’ your business and not only be clearer about your business but get your introduction pitch right? Then I’m organising more workshops soon, get in touch and I’ll contact you with the dates.
All blogs are written by Karen @ Project Complete.