goals-plans-success

Better Planning For Better Results

Whether you want double-digit growth or more control and flexibility, you need a road map to get there. Since better planning can create better results, now is the perfect time to reflect and re-set your priorities to achieve more in 2018.

Planning is not a one-and-done process. Priorities may change as you go through the year based on competition, customers, team or other issues and opportunities. So, it’s not the plan but the process of planning that is essential.

Don’t invest months trying to create the perfect plan. Concise, specific and actionable really do work best.

5 Steps to Get More from Planning

#1 – Look Back. Before you start planning the coming year, take a few minutes to look at where you are today in your business. How do your sales, profit, and other key results compare to the same period last year and your current goals? Are you ahead, on track or behind?

#2 – Acknowledge Accomplishments. Even if you are on track, a natural tendency is to focus on what you didn’t get done or what you could have done better. It’s important to acknowledge your successes, big or small. Jot them down and pat yourself on the back. Most of all, continue to do the things that worked!

#3 – Learn & Adjust. No matter how much you plan or how well you execute, some things may not work out as you expected. We tend to view these as failures. If you learn from mistakes and make changes to improve it next time, you haven’t really failed. You simply delayed success! Don’t dwell on it. Make adjustments for the coming year and move on.

#4 – Set Goals. What do you want to accomplish in the coming year? Be specific and realistic with some stretch – think bigger! Also consider all areas of your business, not just revenue. You will want to track progress, so make your goals measurable. Consider the exact outcomes you want. Here are a few examples. Acquire 4 new customers each month or increase gross profit margins 5% by year-end.

#5 – Identify Key Tasks. Results come from doing so identify the tasks or things you must DO to achieve the goals you set. Most business owners, like you, have revenue growth goals. So, you likely want more leads, better sales conversion or more repeat business. What do you need to do to get them? Your plan should list these tasks. Remember to include time frames or deadlines – they help to keep you on track.

If you want to achieve more in 2018, create the roadmap to help you get there.  Be flexible to take advantage of opportunities that emerge – they will.  Most of all, start doing.

Where Are Your Opportunities?

If you are looking for ideas or opportunities to improve your business, check out my Business Success Checklist. It’s designed to help you uncover the opportunities and actions needed to get more sales, profit, control, and freedom from your small business. Click here to learn more and download.

reachsuccess

How To Reach New Levels of Success

As we approach year-end, now is the perfect time to reflect, re-focus and re-energize yourself and your business. It’s time to prepare so you can reach new levels of success this year.

Preparation starts with planning and it works best when you follow some simple steps.

5 Steps To A Better Year

Look Back. Take a few minutes to look at where you are today in your business and personally. What do you like and dislike? How do your sales, profit, and other key results compare to the prior year or the goals you set at this time last year? Are you ahead or behind? What about your personal goals? Did you make progress on your financial, family, health, social and other goals you set?

Acknowledge Accomplishments. A  natural tendency at this point is to focus on what you didn’t get done or what you could have done better. It’s important to acknowledge what you did accomplish, big or small. Take the time to pat yourself on the back and thank the team of people who made it possible.

Learn & Adjust.  No matter how much you plan or how well you execute, some things may not work out as you expected. We tend to view these as failures. But if you learn from mistakes and make changes to improve it next time, you haven’t really failed. You simply delayed success! Don’t dwell on it. Make adjustments in the coming year and move on.

Reset Goals. What do you want to be, do, have or accomplish in 2017? Think big, but be realistic — keep your goals to a manageable number. It’s difficult to stay focused if you have too many critical goals.

Identify Key Tasks. Results come from doing. Therefore, you need to identify the tasks or activities you need to do in order to achieve the goals you set. For example, a common goal for business owners includes revenue growth. So if you want to increase your sales by 15% next year, what do you need to do (or do differently) to get there?

Write down your goals and supporting tasks. Assign responsibilities (even if it’s you). Set deadlines. You now have the key elements of an action plan. With a roadmap to guide you, focus on implementation, the most important part!  In doing so, you will accomplish and achieve more in 2017.

Need An Action Plan?

Want to set a better course but struggle with planning and setting goals? Then check out my Ultimate Goals and Action Planning Guide for small business owners.  With my step by step instructions, plus easy to use templates and examples, you can create an effective and actionable plan for your small business in less than 8 hours! Click here to learn more and download your copy today.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

Make Planning Easy

7 Do’s & Don’ts to Make Planning Easier and Effective

“I know I should, but don’t have the time”. It’s a common belief when it comes to planning.  The truth is that taking some time to plan is the best investment of your time. It provides the focus and clarity you need to achieve what you want to be, do, have, and accomplish – in business and in life.

7 Ways To Make Planning Effective and Easy

Don’t Strive for Perfection. A plan acts as a roadmap but results come from doing. Spending countless weeks and months trying to create the perfect plan comes at the expense of taking action. Doing creates learning and you can adapt along the way. A plan that is 80% perfect and implemented now will always outperform a perfect plan that is never executed.

Focus on What Not How. Don’t let the ‘how to’ kill your dreams.  One of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to long-term goals is linked to our practical nature. If we can’t figure out how to get there today, we simply change the goal to something in our comfort zone. It’s okay if you don’t have a perfect picture of how you will achieve your long-term goals. Don’t change the dream, simply look for opportunities to appear and act on them.

Start With a Purpose. Your business should support your life, not the other way around.  Whether you call it a purpose or vision, it helps to have a picture of what you want your life to look like down the road.  How do you spend your days and your free time? What do you have in the future that you don’t have now? And why is this important to you? Jot down your thoughts. Then write down your vision.  Use paragraph, bullets or combination. Remember, it should be compelling to you, so don’t worry about what others would think. Keep it visible and review it often.

Set Goals. Your goals are simply the outcomes (results) or activities you need to accomplish over time to achieve your vision or purpose. Goals act as milestones along the way to measure progress. Ideally, your personal goals should cover important areas of your life: financial, personal, relationships, spiritual, health, and community. Your business goals should include all the important areas that drive growth and profit, not just sales. Be specific because vague goals create vague results.

Take Action. Goals without actions are nothing more than dreams. Whether you want to lose weight, earn more money or improve your business, your ability to get there comes down to one thing – doing!  You must take some action each day, week and month. Identify the tasks you need to do, prioritize them, and schedule time to do them. Think to-do list and enjoy checking them off when accomplished.

Don’t Keep It In Your Head. Put your goals and key activities in writing. For most of us, commitments we put in writing are stronger than verbal ones we make with ourselves. Create a simple action plan. Be concise and clear. And keep it short so you can review it often!

Build in Accountability. Once you commit to your goals and develop a simple plan of attack, share them with someone who will hold you accountable to yourself – your personal accountability partner. This may be a spouse, friend, colleague or coach. But it should be someone who has a vested interest in your achievement of the goals and will support and push you to do what you need to do. Click here to learn more about my accountability program.

Don’t let fear, dislike or attitudes about planning prevent you from reaching your full potential – in business and in life. Keep it simple, but do it. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish with a little planning.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

business action plan

6 Steps To Create A Winning Action Plan

In sports, getting off to a fast start is often the difference between a winning and losing season. According to Joe Gibbs, “A winning effort begins with preparation.”  The same is true in business.  It begins with an action plan.

Creating a winning plan is not difficult.  Sure it will take some time now, but saves a lot of time later. Most important, it delivers big dividends – more sales, profit, and control.  So what are you waiting for?

6 Steps to a Winning Plan

Research.

It helps to know where you are today before you map out where you want to go next year. Research is simply gathering information about your business, competition, industry, and customers.  So here are a few ways you can get up to speed:

  • Financial Trends.  Review your current financial statements – and the previous two years. Look at trends in revenue, margins, profit, and expenses. How about the number of customers, retention rates, debt, and receivables.  It can help you uncover the improvement opportunities – so you can focus your efforts in the right areas.
  • Competitive Analysis. How do you compare with your major competition?  Look beyond price and consider some of these competitive factors.
  • SWOT. An honest assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats goes a long way.  When doing your analysis, don’t be afraid to ask others – customers, vendors, employees – for feedback.
  • Industry Trends.  Is your industry growing or declining – and why? What changes are you seeing?  Are you capitalizing on the changes?
  • Customer Feedback.  They can tell you what you do well and what you can do better – all you need to do is ask and listen.
Mission Statement.

It may feel like fluff, but a clear purpose-driven mission statement for your business helps you keep your goals, objectives and values in mind – as you build your plan.  A mission statement summarizes the purpose of your business, what steps you are taking to achieve it and the motivation (values) behind it.  It should inspire you and keep you committed.

Goals and Objectives.

Start with the big picture in mind and look at all areas of your business – not just sales.  Goals are simply your destination on a map and objectives are your route you take to get there.  Here are two examples to demonstrate this point:

Goal:  Increase revenue by 25%

Objectives (to support this goal) might include some or all of the following:  Grow customer base by 10%, Increase average transaction from $203 to $225, Launch new product by March 31st,  Hire one additional salesperson by April 1st.

Goal:  Improve profit by 18%

Objectives (to support this goal) might include some or all of the following:  Reduce delivery errors and re-work by 10%, Invest in [technology] to improve scheduling, Eliminate products with margins under 15%, Revise and implement new credit policy by May 31st, Reduce outstanding receivables by 10%

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to get you to your destination.  Choose the ones that work best for YOUR business.  Your research can help along with my 155+ Profit Building Ideas.

Promotional Tactics.

Using the information above, now it is time to identify the marketing and sales tactics (or tasks) you need to do to accomplish your goals.  This should include methods to generate new leads, retain and grow existing customers and improve sales conversion rates.   You have a lot of options here, but it’s a quality versus quantity game.  Decide what you want and then execute with consistency.   Remember to include timelines for completion and responsibility if the task is delegated or outsourced.

Operational Tactics. 

Your business is a combination of people and systems that evolve together – and are the key to sustainable growth and profit.  So as you build your action plan, you need to look beyond the marketing and sales elements.  How can you improve your daily operations and increase efficiency and profit?  What actions can you take to build a stronger team — employees, subcontractors, vendors and suppliers? My business success checklist may provide some additional ideas. Remember to incorporate timelines and responsibilities here also to ensure the work gets done.

Budget.

While it’s never on the “can’t wait to do list”, preparing a budget to support your plan is important.  It shows you how the growth and investments you plan to make will impact your profitability. Simple works best so many owners use their current profit and loss format to complete their budget.

If you are serious about your business and committed to its success, an action plan is the best tool out there.  Make creating an action plan a priority and invest the time to do it!

Additional Resource

For help with setting goals and creating your action plan, check out my Ultimate Goals & Action Planning Guide, a step-by-step approach to planning. This guide provides everything you need, including tools and samples, to get it done!

Strategy, innovation and planning crossword

Success in Business and Life Takes Planning

Nobody goes into business planning to fail.  Unfortunately, they may end up there because they fail to plan.  A good plan isn’t complicated.  In fact, simple works best.  But, if done effectively, it will keep you focused on priorities, so you stay on track and actually accomplish more.

6 Tips To Improve Planning

Action vs. Business Plan.  While a business plan has its purposes, bank financing among them, a concise action-oriented plan will serve most business owner’s needs.  It’s for your use – your road map or blueprint to success.

Keep it simple and short (5-7 pages at most).  Don’t strive for perfection.  Simply lay out your goals, the actions (tasks) you need to do, and time-frames for completion.  Don’t forget to incorporate ownership for critical tasks and measurements to evaluate success. When it comes to planning, consider the words of General  George Patton, ‘A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.’  Sometimes simple is sophisticated.

Plan Annually and Review Quarterly.  It’s best to start a year with an annual plan, broken down into four quarters.  But don’t let your plan collect dust on the shelf.  Review it monthly or at least quarterly so you can make adjustments.  Assumptions you made earlier may no longer be valid.  Competitors and suppliers make adjustments.  Economic conditions change.  Staff and customers’ needs may change.  Your plans need to reflect this.

Look Back Before You Plan Ahead.  Know where you are today before you start planning where you want to go.  Look at your financials and key numbers.  How do they compare against your last year goals and your industry?  Then take a few minutes to write down your accomplishments (big and small) for the previous twelve months or last quarter.  It’s important that you recognize the things you did well.  Finally, make a short list of the things you didn’t accomplish and ask yourself what held you back and what lessons did you learn.  Don’t dwell on these, but apply lessons learned as you move forward.

Chunk, Chunk, Chunk.  Big goals are nothing more than a series of much smaller ones.  If a goal you want appears too big to conquer or takes a long time to accomplish, chunk it up into smaller ones over shorter time periods.

For example, if a business wants to increase team productivity by a certain percent this year, they will likely have a series of tasks such as developing and communicating productivity goals, document and streamline delivery procedures, create a team incentive, train the team on new methods, hold monthly team meetings, etc.  These smaller ‘tasks’ are much easier to handle and together will move them toward the bigger goal.  Remember, ‘By the yard, goals are hard; but by the inch, they’re a cinch’.

Think Big.   It pays to think big when setting goals.  The old saying ‘shoot for the moon, if you fall a little short, you’ll land among the stars’ explains why.  Often we set safe goals because we fear failure or simply can’t figure out how we can get there.  Sure it’s safe to set a 5% growth or improvement goal — but what if you chose instead a 30% improvement and asked for advice on how.  Employees, alliances, suppliers, other business owners and yes a business coach are all great sources for new ideas, but you need to ask.  What if you fall a little short and only grow 25%?   You are still better off than you would have been with a 5% improvement!  So think big, believe you can and ask for help if needed.

Measure, Measure, Measure.  Would you ever play a round of golf and not keep score?  Not likely, because you want to know if you improved or beat your previous best.  The same is true in business.  If we don’t link measurements to our goals, we have no way to evaluate how we are doing.  What we measure, we can improve.

So what are some of the things you should track and measure?  Revenue, gross profit margins, fixed expenses and net profit are obvious and most owners track these.  But depending on your goals, industry, and type of business, the others you track will vary.  Here are a few examples of some common Key Performance Indicators:  number of leads, sales conversion rate, average sale, A/R days, on-time delivery, quality percentage, customer and employee satisfaction ratings and labor as a percent of sales.

So now you have the recipe.  Start taking the steps you need to plan and achieve the success you want. For more help with planning, check out my Ultimate Goals and Action Plan Guide.

More Business Improvement Ideas.

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

reach success

Are You Prepared to Reach Success?

The summer is in full swing and we officially hit the half-way point in the year. It’s the perfect time to reflect, re-focus and re-energize. If you developed an action plan earlier in the year, now is a good time to revisit and re-prioritize.

Are you on track to meet or exceed your personal and business goals? If not, what’s holding you back? Were your goals realistic or do you need to stop procrastinating? Do you need to shuffle priorities based on competition, customers, team or other issues and opportunities? Be honest.

Or maybe you didn’t bother to put your goals down and create your road map to get there? Well it’s never too late to start.

Planning is not a one and done effort. It’s an ongoing process that includes monitoring progress and making adjustments. It works best when you follow these simple steps:

  • Look Back. Before you start planning the next 30-90 days and beyond, take a few minutes to look at where you are today – in your business and personally. How do your sales, profit and other key results compare to the same period last year and your current goals? Are you ahead, on track or behind? What about your personal goals – financial, family, social, community, health/fitness, etc?
  • Acknowledge Accomplishments. Even if you are on track, a natural tendency at this point is to focus on what you didn’t get done or what you could have done better. It’s important to acknowledge your successes, big or small. Jot them down and pat yourself on the back.
  • Learn & Adjust.  No matter how much you plan or how well you execute, some things may not work out as you expected. We tend to view these as failures. If you learn from mistakes and make changes to improve it next time, you haven’t really failed. You simply delayed success! Don’t dwell on it – make adjustments and move on.
  • Reset Goals. What specific goals do you want to accomplish over the next 30-90 days? Be realistic. Start with 4 to 5 (not 10 to 20). It’s difficult to stay focused if you have too many ‘critical’ goals. You will want to track progress, so make your goals measurable and consider specific outcomes you want. Here’s a few examples. Acquire 4 new customers each month or increase gross profit margins 5% by October 31st, or arrive home by 6:00 pm at least 3 nights per week.
  • Identify Key Tasks. Results come from doing so for each goal you set above, list the 5-7 key tasks, activities or things you must DO in order to achieve the goal you set. For example, if you set a goal to acquire new customers or increase revenue, one of the things you may need to do is increase the number of leads you receive. What do you need to do to get more leads? Likely a combination of efforts such as — email campaigns, referral system, postcards, monthly website specials, promote via social media, targeted networking and prospecting calls. Be specific, include time frames and assign responsibility, where appropriate.

Take a glass half-full approach. You still have time to finish the year successfully. Decide what you want – and take the actions to get it.

SWOT Analysis

How to Use SWOT to Uncover Opportunities In Your Small Business

As business owners, we often develop tunnel vision about our business. We may become more removed from the daily operations, have certain beliefs that are outdated or are so busy working IN our business that we can’t see the big picture.

So getting feedback about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is important as you develop your goals and plan your direction moving forward. Here is what you should consider:

What A SWOT Tells You

Strengths are those things that make your business stronger than your competitors and might include things like an established (loyal) customer base, a good reputation, a product or service that sells well, high-traffic location or quality employees.

Weaknesses are those areas in which your company could stand improvement. These make you susceptible to economic pressures, market forces, and aggressive competitors. Examples might include employee problems, lack of marketing and sales expertise, poor products or services, lack of capital or cash or bad location.

Opportunities are those things that have the potential to make your business more enduring and profitable. These might include new or expanding markets or products, mergers or acquisitions, strategic alliances, or competitors going out of business or leaving the market.

Threats are those things that have the potential to adversely affect your business. Threats might include changing market conditions, rising debt, cash flow problems, stronger competition, legal or tax changes, failing or weak suppliers or strategic partners or new technology.

How To Get Started

A SWOT analysis helps give you a very clear picture of the issues facing your business so you can take advantage of your strengths and opportunities and formulate a plan to address the weaknesses.

Keep your SWOT simple – but don’t do it alone. Ask for feedback from others. Here’s the steps to do a SWOT analysis for your small business:

  1. Identify the people you want to get feedback from, including employees, vendors, alliance partners, clients, investors, mentors or other ‘friends’ of your business.
  2. Send an email requesting feedback on your business. Include:
    • Brief explanation – example: “As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we are conducting an analysis that will look at our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”
    • Survey questions – example: What are the strengths of [company name]
  3. Recap the feedback into a summary document. List your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Don’t take everything as gospel, but look for some consistent trends or comments. Use this to help guide you as you formulate your goals and plans.
  4. Thank participants for their honesty and summarize for them what you learned – at whatever level of detail you are comfortable with.
More Ways to Grow Your Business

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.