Well, it’s not the competition. It’s finding new clients and customers.
And the number two concern for small businesses is keeping hold of the clients and customers they currently have.
Yet, despite this uneasiness among small business owners and entrepreneurs, remarkably few take proactive steps to effectively market their business.
The 90-day rule
One of the ideas I’ve learnt about from my coach Todd Hermann this year is what he calls the 90-day rule. What you do today will have an effect on your business in 90 days’ time.
The consequences of indecisiveness and procrastination may seem small now but the potential for them to have a much greater impact than you ever expected down the line is very real.
The key to getting those 90 days right is to plan.
Gone are the days of planning for the next 5 or 10 years – ok big organisations can still do this and of course any size business can have a 5 or 10-year vision. But as a small business owner, you really need to be agile and gazelle-like in your approach so that you can change course swiftly when new challenges and opportunities arise.
So the maximum length of time that you want to plan for is the next 12 months and within that you should have a detailed plan for the next 90 days.
How do you create a plan?
Step 1 – Research
No matter how well you know your market, your customers and your competitors – carrying out research on a regular basis helps you to understand more about your market so you can be alert to the changing needs of your clients and this positions you to serve them better.
Step 2 – Objectives
When you’re creating objectives, they need to be SMART – specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timely but the key is to beyond SMART.
And you do this by asking yourself how your objectives make your feel – do they excite you?
The more excited you are about them the more likely it is that you will achieve them because you are motivated at the prospective of what happens to your business as well as you when you reach them.
Also, remember that your objectives are like a marker in the sand so you can measure how well or not you are doing. Without them you can easily end up being very busy but not getting anywhere.
Step 3 – The body of your plan
This is made up of your ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how’.
So, what are you going to provide your customers and clients? Where are you going to provide it? Why are you providing it and how will you provide it?
Answering these questions will help clarify your strategy in your plan so that you stay on course and don’t get distracted by the bright shiny object syndrome.
Step 4 – Budget
Creating a budget is an essential element of your business plan. It enables you to plan and tightly manage the financial performance of your business. Be careful that you don’t get caught up trying to create the perfect cash flow projections or you could end up pulling your hair out.
In essence, your budget is designed to show how, within reasonable circumstances and success, your business is positioned to make money. However, your budget does not predict the future.
You do need to invest time in creating a budget but don’t try to make it flawless. Make your assumptions and then proceed.
Step 5 – Team
Every business owner needs a team to support them even if you are a solopreneur. You may do everything yourself in your business but there will be some skills that are outside the scope of your expertise.
You may need an accountant, marketer or support from a networking group. Or it might be on the personal side that you need help and support. So if you’ve had a stressful week working, for example, then joining a friend for a spa day or a workout at the gym might be exactly what is needed to rebalance you – it all helps and it can be very important.
Finding your focus
Business planning allows you to create a focus for the direction of your business and provides targets that will help your business grow. It will also give you the opportunity to stand back and review your performance and the factors affecting your business.
I would love to know how your business planning is progressing since the start of the year. Please pop a comment in the box below.