There is no perfect plan, so now what?

Things won’t always go according to plan.

Sometimes unexpected things happen to throw you off the rails.

You could spend a lot of time and energy kicking and scream “it’s not fair”, “it’s not my fault”, “everything’s ruined” OR you could do it differently.

I was talking with a new client the other day who told me he’s scared to fail. He has high expectations of himself and was taught that failure is bad and you should always avoid failure.

We tossed the idea around for a while. I asked him about the things he’s done in his life that he considered successful. Did he know exactly what he was doing each time he set up a business or took on a new client, bought stock, employed people?

“No, I made some mistakes”. He said, “I had to learn how to do things.”

Failure is not what you think it is. There is no value judgment. It’s part of the learning process. When a baby starts to walk we don’t tell him he’s bad every time he falls down, we don’t stop him from getting up and trying again.

I watch my baby grandson mastering walking. He falls over a lot. He used to cry when he fell over, now he just picks himself up and accepts that the falling is all part of the learning.

So, when things aren’t going according to plan, what do you do? Fall over and never get up again?

I’d bet that you usually get up and give it another go or find another way.

Your first plan is just that. Usually a first rough draft of where you want to go and what you want to happen. You might not know it’s a rough draft. You may not have allowed for “Planned Spontaneity” – the things that are going to happen outside your tight control and “Planned Synchronicity” where things will happen in their own right time.

So, let them happen. Just because things aren’t going according to plan doesn’t mean disaster is about to strike. It just means something extraordinary is happening beyond your control. Sometimes you might not like what happens; don’t believe everything should be easy and fun. I’ve usually found that the most painful mistakes were my best lessons and often, years later, I learn why it happened.

Whenever I plan, I set my intention for what I want, being as specific as I can (because you have to be careful what you ask for – you just might get it!) When I’ve finished my plan I ask for the result I want then include… “or something better.” Oddly enough I usually get the “better” outcomes!

Give it a go. You have everything to gain.

Your Step by Step Business Plan Checklist

People think business plans are only for new businesses – and yes, they are a brilliant way to encapsulate all you want to achieve in your fledgling business, BUT even if you’ve been in business for 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more – a really good well thought-out strategic business plan is going to make the world of difference.

Why?

Because things change!

The market changes, the economy changes, fads come and go and your competitors are always nipping at your heels… just waiting for you to lose enthusiasm, drop the ball or put the blinkers on and pretend that it’s okay to do business in the same old way!

A really good business plan is a living document that you refer to regularly and update annually. It must light your entrepreneurial fire – otherwise you’ve got the wrong plan.

What goes into a basic business plan checklist?

  • MONEY: Start with the end in mind. How much revenue, how much profit, and how much do you want to pay yourself?
  • PRODUCTS, SERVICES: Are they staying the same or do you need to change course, cull or reinvent?
  • CUSTOMERS: Still the same target markets or do you need to drop some and entice others?
  • TEAM: Who are your best players? Do you need more like them and less of the ones who are dragging the business down? What training do they need this year?
  • MARKETING: When you know who your customers are you’ll find it much easier to design marketing strategies to attract and keep them. DON’T start your business plan with marketing – don’t even go there until you know what the money goals are and who your ideal customers would be.
  • SALES: Set some projections to achieve your financial goals. Do you need training to get better at sales? The answer is usually yes!
  • BUSINESS GROWTH: Premises, location, online, offline, new markets, new strategies or consolidation
  • WORKFLOW, POLICIES, PROCEDURES: What would make your business run more smoothly?
  • SPECIAL PROJECTS: The ones you’re itching to get to but never seem to find the time. Put it in the plan to get it done.
  • YOU: Are you working in your ideal Core Genius role? If not, what needs to change?
  • YOUR VISION: Why this, why now, why YOU!

Now you could sit and nut this out on your own – it may take you some time and your brain might go into overload and start arguing with you…

OR you could get it done in just one day at The Perfectly Simple Business Plan workshop

Your call.

I’m here when you need me.

Ignoring these financial indicators could cause serious risk to your business!

There are tell-tale signs in your business that will give you an indication of how you’re tracking. Is business up or down? Are we making money or not?

You’re profit and loss statement is a good place to gather this vital information. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • The obvious one is – tracking your sales. Are they going up or down? Have they flat-lined?
    • Compared to what? Last month? Last quarter or last year? How similar were the conditions in that period? Are you comparing apples with apples?
  • It costs you more each month to deliver your products or service: Track your Cost of Sales. Up down or sideways? Do you know why? Buying too much product or your team not being productive enough could be the cause.
  • Your Gross Profit and Net Profit go down and your fixed expenses go up! Track them using the same method and fix this fast!
  • You only look at the “bottom line” of your P&L report. The numbers look OK but you don’t know how the business is trending. Don’t just track the NUMBER, track the PERCENTAGE of turnover.
    • E.g if you made $500k in Sales (turnover) and a 10% net profit you would have made $50,000.
    • If you made $50,000 Profit on $600k turnover you would have made 8.3% profit. If you watch that % month by month you can see what’s happening to your profitability. Track the % to see if it is going up down or sideways.
  • You take the profit as your unofficial “salary”. If you haven’t formally paid yourself a wage or salary it won’t appear on your P & L, so if your pay comes out of the profit and you take it all, you won’t have anything left for tax or growth or emergencies. Talk to your accountant about this and do a budget.

Learn to love the numbers! They are your friends. They can help you grow your business and they can prevent you from getting into trouble.

5 Practical Tweaks That Make Your Sales Go Through The Roof

It would be nice if sales automatically popped into your business without you having to think about it wouldn’t it? Imagine, money just pouring into your bank account.

Some people will tell you that you can have “passive income” effortlessly and easily without having to do too much at all.

I hate to burst your bubble but if you really want to see your sales go through the roof you’ll need to work at it!

While I do agree that you can set up “passive” systems and adjust your mindset to allow the flow of money into your life and business, there is a lot more you can do than just working on “closing the sale”.

Here are 5 practical things do implement to start getting better sales results:

1. Make sales a strong focus in your business

Making Sales is not incidental to a business – it’s the oil in the machine! Give it due care and consideration. Set sales targets and measure the results you’re getting.

Keep tabs on the number of leads you get, your conversation rate – from prospect to sale and the average amount of your sales on a daily weekly monthly basis.

Assign the responsibility for Sales to a specific person – the buck stops with them. If you have a team who need to also make sales, hold them more accountable to it. Train them if they’re not confident.

2. Have a specific sales process

Most businesses have haphazard sales processes. What’s yours? Do you have a flow chart with every step mapped out and who does what? More sales are lost from inefficient sales systems than possibly anything else.

Do you have a pre-sales system? What do you send a prospective client before they meet you?
(HINT: it should be something that addresses their fears, frustrations, and desires, NOT your company brochure or “all about me” info. Make it about THEM!

What do you do during the sale? What specific steps do you take to surprise and delight your customer? Elegant Selling is like dancing – you both take part.

What happens after the sale is made? Does the client know what to expect next? Do you have a process for happens next?

What happens when you lose the sale? What do you do? Walk away, blame the prospects and never talk to them again? Or do you hang in there and keep the relationship alive? If you really want this client to start a “nurture” sequence to keep them interested, informed and “learning” your way.

3. Stop being busy and go make a sale

It’s so easy NOT to make sales if it’s not your natural strength. You could look and feel very busy with marketing activities; newsletters, Facebook, blogging – there’s plenty to distract you and make you look busy without being effective.

Face to face time with prospective clients is the only sure way of getting an answer and the most effective way of influencing what that answer will be.

Don’t wait for customers to come to you. Look at your diary right now, allocate some time to make phone calls or set up meetings with people who could actually buy from you – no fudging this one: until your sales improve only invest time with people who can actually say “yes”.

4. Get other people to sell for you – affiliate marketing

You can double, triple even 10x your sales by having other people selling for you.

Have affiliate relationships with other business owners who sell a related product. Set it up so that they get a commission on every sale you make to someone they have referred.

This is a highly leveraged way of reaching out to prospective customers who are not in your network or not on your database. You get a nice warm recommendation from a business friend and the referee feels confident that you will look after them.

DON’T make it all about the money – make sure you are giving and getting the best referrals to ideal clients.

Think of the commission you give to the affiliate as marketing dollars well-spent

5. “Don’t change your act, change your audience.”

I first heard this from Lisa Sasevich, whose father was a world famous ventriloquist.

If you’re struggling to make sales in a crowded market place aim higher, not lower.

If you are confident that the product or service you offer could be of benefit to a different set of customers then adjust your prices and start marketing to a more affluent customer.

It might take a bit of courage to make the leap but start by making a list of all the people and organisations you could be doing business with.

Do your homework! Have some conversations with anyone you know in related industries to find out how to approach that market. Take some action, Google them, make some calls, send some letters and go to events to rub shoulders with these new prospective clients.

Selling didn’t come easily and naturally for me until I started to see it differently. It can be a learned skill and you can actually get to like it. I did! In fact, I like it so much I teach it to business owners, particularly in the Professional Services sector like accountants and lawyers.

Elegant Selling

[button_4 size=”large” color=”blue” align=”center” href=”https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/paulinebright.com/Elegant+Selling.pdf” new_window=”Y”]If you’d like a copy of my Free e-book     “Elegant Selling” CLICK HERE[/button_4]

 

You’ll learn

  1. How to Make More Sales effortlessly and easily
  2. How to write and use Simple Sales Scripts
  3. How to ask Great Questions and give Great Answers
  4. How to handle Objections and feelings of Rejection

3 things that stop you from making more profit and what you can do about it

Profit is a lovely thing!

You can do so much with it; grow your business, hire some great people, buy some new equipment, get ahead of your debts… and lots more besides.

But if profit is a dirty word at your business you might like to think about what you’re thinking about.

Before we even get to the 3 things that stop you from making profit let’s get rid of any negative thinking about it…

The media and “battlers” beat up on banks and big corporate for making “obscene” profits. Do you think it is “obscene” for a business to make a profit? How much is too much? How much would you be comfortable with in your business? Hmmm… is it possible you have a double standard blocking you from making more profit?

Do you actually know how much profit your business makes or do you leave that up to your bookkeeper or accountant to work out for you? You really shouldn’t! If you kept a good eye on your finances, including reading your Profit and Loss statements each month you’d get a better handle on it.

After you’ve cleaned up any negative beliefs and habits around profit you might like to tackle these profit leaks:

1. Giving your customers discounts even when they don’t ask for it.

Discounting your prices to make a sale will severely erode your profit. If you offer discounts, understand why you have a discount policy and how it fits with the pricing structure of your business. Giving discounts based on your “mark-up” will be killing your profit but, if you must discount, the price should be worked out on your “margin”.

Download the Mark-up vs Margin Fact sheet here

2. Letting your team get away with murder; killing your business with unproductivity

If you’re the kind of business owner who “likes to be liked” you may not be holding your team to the high standards you would really prefer for the business. You don’t have to be a grumpy tyrant to get the best from your team, but you do need to set some expectations and have a way of measuring performance. You may need to set some KPI’s.

If you’ve employed people to work for you, hold them more tightly accountable to their role. Sales people should have strategies and targets and be able to proudly report their weekly and monthly progress to you. Admin people should be able to prove their effectiveness. Marketing people should be bringing you high quality leads.

The Production Team; people who deliver services like accountants, technicians and trades people are billed for their time. Make sure you track their billable hours, track “write-offs” and Work in Progress (WIP) to make sure you are getting good value from your employees.

Train, motivate and reward the good ones, increase productivity and consider moving the poor performers out.

3. Getting side-tracked or bored

Distraction and disillusionment will have an increasing negative impact on the bottom line.

As a business owner it is your responsibility to lead your business. You’ll need clarity of direction and strategies to get there. When was the last time you dusted off your business plan? When was the last time you shared it with the team so they know where the business is headed and how their role fits with that? Have you got a Business Plan or is it time for an update?

Identify your best profit making activities in your plan then work your plan daily. If your plan doesn’t drive you and keep you interested and excited then it’s probably the wrong plan for you. Or you might have taken on the role of general dogsbody and trouble-shooter. You’re wearing too many hats! Work out what you’re good at, what the most profitable use of your time is and do that.

A really good plan will help you lean towards the outcomes you want and attract the things that are going to be of most benefit to your business. If you feel yourself getting distracted, go back to the plan, put daily activities in your diary that are consistent with the plan and be disciplined in your approach to getting tasks done.