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By: Nancy D. Butler, CFP®, CDFA™, CLTC, National Speaker, Business Coach, Above All Else, Success in Life and Business
I believe many people go into business because of a passion they have for the business they want to be in. For example, they love to cook so they open a restaurant. They love their craft as a hairdresser, so they open a salon.
They may not have the desire or expertise to hire, train, and manage staff, properly manage the finances of the business, conduct effective marketing, and all the other important things a business owner needs to know how to handle.
Having a written plan that you follow can keep you on track with both your short and your long-term business goals and what needs to be done, instead of only focusing on where the income will come from that is needed now. A business can fail due to the lack of a good plan.
What to include in your plan
It is important to be very specific with what the goals are, the deadline to complete each, how they will be paid for, who will do the work and how progress will be overseen and measured. This will enable accountability to better assure success. Goals might include increase in number of new clients/customers, percent or dollar increase in gross revenue, percent or dollar increase in net revenue, percent or dollar decrease in expenses, hire a new staff person for a specific position, increase square footage of office/store space by a specific amount for a specific purpose, etc.
Questions you should ask yourself when drawing up your plan
1. What makes you different or better than your competition?
How can you make your company stand out above the rest? Think of it this way, if your competition had the same product, same knowledge and same price, why should the client work with you? It is important, especially in a difficult economy for your company to stand out. Think “outside the box”. What makes your business unique so it will be noticeable and memorable, in a good way.
2. Is your product or service still a must for consumers when there is a need for people to cut back?
For example, when budgets are tight people may still eat out with their family but may stay away from the higher end restaurants. For entertainment they may forgo the expensive country club and opt for less expensive entertainment and sport. How will your business fair in a down economy? What is your plan to assure the success of your business in difficult times?
3. How will you assure you are running efficiently?
When things are going really well, some companies have a tendency to be more lenient with budgeting and other business guidelines. When things get tight they can be forced to re-assess how they have been managing the business. Instead of waiting for that to happen, successful businesses streamline operations, put better systems and business guidelines in place and run a more efficient and effective business on an ongoing basis and not just when it is required. So ask yourself, what systems or strategies should be included to assure the business is running not only efficiently but also effectively on an ongoing basis?
Time frame for your plan
Your plan should cover both short and long-term goals. For the short term goals (1-3 years) complete a very detailed outline of exactly what is to be completed, by whom and when. For the longer term goals state a clear vision for the future. Where will the business be in 5-10 years regarding: Gross revenue, Net revenue, Number of employees, Products and Services offered, Physical location of the business, Employee benefits, All systems needed to run the business efficiently and effectively.
Nancy Butler has 30 years of experience as a financial planner, asset manager and business coach. She teaches continuing education classes for financial advisors and insurance professionals. After building a financial planning and asset management business from scratch as a single parent with no other source of income, to approx. $200 million in assets under management and then selling the business, she is now a national speaker and coach to help businesses to do a better job for their clients while improving their bottom line. She also works with individuals to help them live a successful life and realize their dreams. Nancy has been quoted in many local and national publications including USA Today and The Day and was a speaker for major corporations such as Pfizer, General Dynamics and Dow Chemical. Her first book will be available the third quarter of 2012.
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Nancy D. Butler, CFP®, CDFA™, CLTC
Above All Else, Success in Life and Business®
P.O. Box 494
Waterford, Connecticut 06385
Phone & Fax: 860-444-0535