Hi guys, welcome to this episode of the Business Bites. I am Rachel Brenke and I don’t even know why I am talking like this, but it probably has to do with the fact that I am freaking excited that the year is almost over and I am ready to get going on my business plan, not creating it but actually implementing it.
I want to talk with many of you because I know that there are a few people who are listening that haven’t even considered their business plan for next year, or their business goals, or something like I want to make more money or I want it to substitute my full-time job which are not bad goals at all, but it’s not as specific as it needs to be. I want to share with you guys my approach to business planning that literally will be in 15 minutes or less.
The thing about it is working with so many small business owners, I always ask, “Do you have a business plan?” They think they have to roll out this big, great plan like they created in business school or they think that people have created in business school, maybe you didn’t go. You don’t have to. The beauty of this is you can even write this on a post-it note, a cocktail napkin, whatever you have at your fingertips. You can make it digital, you can write it in crayon on your hands but I don’t recommend that. I recommend that you at least write it down.
What I want you to do is as we go anything further into this episode, I want you to get at least a piece of paper out. That’s exactly how I start my business planning. Go ahead, go grab one. Get a pencil if you have one, preferably not a pen, in that way you can make adjustments. I look back, I’ve been doing this forever, it feels like, which is a good thing. I wish I had kept these napkins and these post-it notes, these little piece of papers from the very beginning.
Unfortunately I didn’t, but I am going to try from here on out. The reason for this is because I think it’s very important as I’ve talked about in other episodes, reevaluate where you’ve come from and where you’re going. I was just filling up a little bit of time so you can get a piece of paper, well let’s go ahead and jump right in because, you know, these episodes are super short so you guys can get back to life and acting on for your business.
I think very methodically, I think in four quarters of the year, it makes it a lot easier for me just to wrap my head around the seasons. I am very influenced by the seasons changing, the time’s changing, especially when we get daylight savings and the weather is changing up on me. I’m very sensitive to that, my body changes, my mindset changes, and you know, life just seems to change that way as well.
If you’ll notice, and we’ll talk about in a little bit, buyer confidence and their patterns change also based on seasons. We’re just all influenced by it, we don’t realize it. The seasons kind of align with quarters but it also allows me to administratively be able to approach things very methodically and keep in line my taxes. We’re not going to talk about taxes here, but it does help because a lot of times your federal taxes especially if you’re in America, you can do on a quarterly basis, it just makes things easier.
Jumping right in, let’s go ahead on that piece of paper. I want you to draw a big square and then draw four squares inside. Basically, you’re going to draw a T and make our four squares because you’re going to make it have four quadrants, four quarters. Quarter one, two, three and four, super simple and easy. Within those I want you to come up with a couple of different goals. You’re going to have business goals and then you’re going to have life goals, and I want those done for each quarter.
The life one you may have to sit down with your family and yourself, life include yourself not just your family and the other obligations that you have. To me it’s really important to start first with life goals and aspirations for the next year, because for me that’s what goes on my calendar first, that is what I’m working towards. I’m working towards the quality of life not just a successful business. Successful business comes second, I want quality of life to come first, they do work hand-in-hand. In order to even make it worthwhile doing all this entrepreneurial work, I got to have the life that I want.
The different things I want you to include are like family vacations you want to take, maybe home improvements, the budgets that you want to do. Maybe you’re working towards getting out of debt, what does that look like. I recommend Dave Ramsey’s method of debt-free. I highly recommend debt-free businesses, that’s the method I kind of subscribe to. If you guys have any questions about how to do that, it teaches a snowball method and that’s exactly what I would recommend for you guys to do if you’re looking to get out of debt.
On the self side of the life goals, what are the things that you want to do for yourself? Maybe to lose weight, maybe it’s to get more active. For me last year it was to complete an Ironman … This year still, complete an Ironman triathlon, and I did it, and I’m doing another one next year. These are self goals that I have. I also want to learn to play a new instrument in the new year. This does not necessarily mean all of these are going to come to fruition, but putting it out there so I could help keep myself accountable.
That’s the life side, let’s dig in to the business side because we only have a little bit left and I’ve got a lot of information I want to tell you about business planning. On the business side I want you to have the goals of financial goals whether it’s being able to pay off debt in your business, the income that you want to make, maybe you just want to increase gross sales but your income is still the same.
You want to also look at your social media numbers, your email numbers, get that growth going, increase sales. Maybe customer retention, maybe customers expansion, you want to expand them into other products and services which is one of the easiest ways to make more money because they’ve already bought in to you once, that they’ve had a positive experience, they’re two to three more times likely to buy in to you again.
Come up with the business overarching goals that you want to have in each of these four quarters. You can also do a yearly goal which I put at the top of the paper and then break it down into quarters. That’s one way I look at it, start big and then break it down small. The bulk of what I wanted to talk to you guys about within the planning is the marketing strategy that goes along with the business plan. For all those goals to be met, you’ve got to amp up your business marketing.
I feel like a lot of you guys have this disconnect between, “Okay, I know that I wanna gain more customers but I don’t know how to do it.” The flip side of it is you’re just like, “Man, I have absolutely, um … I have all these marketing ideas but I don’t really … I’m just gonna kinda do it and then see what happens on the end.” I want you guys to get clear on, first, the business goals like I just walked through, financial, social media, email number, sales, customers retention, customers satisfaction. Also on the other side, what your marketing action is actually going to be.
I’m going to walk you guys through my method really quickly, that is really important. I think it will also help a lot of you that I saw were freaking out about Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas time, all going, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t plan a sale, what did you do?” A, you don’t have to do a sale by the way, but deciding to do it last minute is a little too late and you’ll see why. My approach to marketing strategy is methodical in these four quarters as you’re going to see, it makes it a lot easier, it devolves my content ideas for me as well, but also builds the buyer confidence without just coming out of the wood work all of a sudden and saying, “Buy from me” and then wondering why people aren’t buying.
You have to do what I affectionately referred to as priming the pump. You’re going to prime your clients so that when you have a call to action, they’re ready to buy, their engine is ready to start, they’re ready to go. You’ve built the buyer confidence. A lot of times the content, and this is referring back to the episode 12, The Magic of the Client Avatar, it say they come out of what your avatar wants to read, and see, and know and gain from you.
You guys can check out the transcript for that at rachelbrenke.com/epi12, and the episode is over there as well, and also on iTunes. If you need to pause, go listen to that and come back or whatever you need to do. They work hand-in-hand with this because you can’t just come out of the gate have these business goals, throw out these calls to action to buy and miss this critical step. I’m going to walk you through basically three points really quickly of how to get to there very easy.
We’ve got our four quarters, right? One happens inevitably almost every single quarter, there’s a holiday at some part that happens, especially in the last quarter, we’ve got two holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the quarter we’ve got the New Year and Valentines. In the summer we’ve got summer going on. Right there, I pretty much told you. If you’re sitting there thinking, “Man, I don’t know what I wanna work towards, I don’t have any launches in mind, I don’t know what I wanna do.” I just told you, use holidays.
Maybe on the flip side you’re going to kind of use holidays to pair with what you’re providing. You could do back-to-school type of stuff. If you’re in an area where school goes back in August, then you spend your summer, as we’re going to talk about here in a second, priming the pump in order to get people to [ready 00:09:27] to buy in a back-to-school. That is what I’m talking about with this, pick at least one promo, or launch, or call to action per quarter. Look at the holidays as one of the easiest ones.
Second, pair this with the educational values for your avatar, at least four blog post minimum, you can spread them out over the quarter. You’re probably going to want more than that, you’re going to want to supplement that with social media marketing, but you can pull quotes out of these blog posts that are priming the pump, they’re providing educational values on what your avatar may be looking for. I’ll give you a real life example here in a second.
You want to have at least four blog post, if not, one weekly. When I say blog post you can substitute that with email blast. I don’t suggest that being just social media blast, I’ve really strongly suggest that you do something that really get into the hands of your avatar and who is going to buy in to you. My example for this is I work with small business owners. That’s why you guys are listening to this episode. The beginning of the year, all of you guys, and that’s why I’m recording this, all of you guys are ready to reshape your business.
For me, I know that in the beginning of the year I’m going to be launching in it my enrollments for my different business courses, business products, different things that can help people plan, strategize and grow because that is the mindset … Remember, I talked about buyer patterns and mindset, that is the mindset that many of you guys who are my avatar are in. For me, the last three to four months, if you check my social media, if you check my blog post, everything has been educationally driven towards the beginning of the year so that I can work towards that.
All of my education, almost all of my posts have been stocked with educational value, they have a message that the avatar wants to hear that I want to tell you, so that honestly, when January comes around you guys already know me, you know that I’m credible, you know hopefully what I’m talking about. You believe in me, your confidence is built, your pump is primed so you’re ready to start the engine come January.
That is my last point for you guys, don’t start any calls to actions until the final week or two before your big launch, promotion, whatever it is that you’re hand holding and priming the pump of your audience too, you don’t want to do any calls to action prior to that. I am giving this framework in the final week or two, at least four blog post, I’m saying all of that from the mindset of the example that I gave you of one promotion per quarter.
You can do way more promotions than that, I don’t recommend less, but at least one per quarter that I want you to work towards. These calls to actions that I’m talking about in the final week or two, don’t start any of them until about that time, and then even at that point make them soft calls to action. Don’t do a hard call of action until your drop dead date of maybe your launch or the promotion, whatever it is that you want people to buy in to because you’re wanting to prime them up, get them ready, get them build up their confidence, get them to know you until you get to that point. That’s exactly how I approach the marketing point.
Just a quick recap for you guys. Start with your yearlong goals, break it into the four quarters. You’ve got the business, you’ve got the life goals, and then take your marketing action on the exact same piece of paper. Write really big in your different quarters, what are the big things that you’re looking to do. You’ve got launches, promotions, release a new product, whatever it is, put that in your quarters. They may be goals, they may be something that you’re not even sure if you’re going to work towards.
From there, you’re able to also, and you get another piece of paper out and go, “Okay, quarter one, I know I’m gonna be doing this promotion. What are the four, six, eight, 10 blog posts in social media pieces I need to write?” really quickly and that’s how you can create your content. I promise you it probably can be in 15 minutes or less, you may need to come back to it and that is totally cool, but at least 15 minutes to get all of this on a piece of paper.
Get it really clear, hand it off to a friend and mentor, business consultant, whoever it is so they can objectively look at it because you can’t always see the label when you’re standing inside the bottle which is another episode that I have on the blog as well. Just consider having someone else check it out, but always stay true to you in what you want to do for your business. Good luck in business planning in 15 minutes or less.
Rachel Brenke is a lawyer, author and business consultant. She is currently helping professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction.
Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke
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