As a small business owner you may be frustrated with various aspects of your business. You may feel as though you are working harder with no results, or perhaps it’s gotten to the point that you are on the brink of closing your doors. I totally understand that owning a business can be frustrating, but the best part of entrepreneurship is that you have the power to change things. With a few tips, a bit of hard work and some sound advice, it’s possible to turn things around – and that is what this series is about. In part 1 of the Direction Diva’s Save Your Small Business Series we talked about the importance of having marketable products; today we go back to the beginning and focus on the importance of planning.
I think this is the place where I eat my humble pie because when I began my blog, I didn’t really have a plan. I started blogging to stay in contact with groups of military spouses that I was the speaker for at various events. No thoughts as to how I would engage with new followers; I didn’t think about creating a contact list or setting up my website to work with sponsors or advertisers. I also didn’t have any products to sell nor did I have a clue when it came to tracking, hosting and development. To make matters worse I didn’t have a plan. [Tweet “Successful businesses have a plan that they follow and adjust regularly. #smallbiz #advice”]
Spontaneity and putting out fires was my methodology and while there is something to be said for going with the flow and capitalizing on last-minute opportunities, spontaneous business operations don’t get you very far. Having a plan does. Formal or not, understanding how you will reach and interact with your customers takes a focused and planned effort.
Just like you wouldn’t attempt to build a home without blue prints, don’t try to build a business by winging it. It doesn’t have to be formal or elaborate but if you want to succeed at any level you need a plan that answers the following:
- What is your product or service. Clearly define (and be able to explain – like you would to a child) what product or service your business sells. If it’s to complicated to explain in a simple sentence no one will see the value.
- What makes it different or better than what is already out there? There are lots of mommy blogs and military spouse bloggers so be different. Think about what you can do better than anyone else, then DO THAT!
- What is the problem that you are solving? The most successful businesses are the ones that provide a simple solution to a problem that exists. People are willing to spend money on something if it makes their lives better.
- How will you make money? What are the income streams? If you don’t have a tangible good or service that you can sell then you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.[Tweet “If you don’t have a tangible product or service you don’t have a business, you have a hobby. #smallbiz”]
- Who is responsible for running the business? This seems like a simple question, but it really needs some thought because owning a business is so much more than just hanging out a new shiny “Open ” sign. Have you considered whether or not you are the best person to handle all the roles? Are you an accountant, sales person, web developer etc? The running of a business is complicated and we all have our strengths. Do what you do best and hire out the rest.
- How will the business run on a daily basis? Outline the daily tasks that must be completed for your business to run and grow, and then determine what you will be responsible for and what you need to hire out. How will you handle social media engagement, marketing and outreach? What must happen when a sale is made? How will you distribute the product/service and how will you follow-up with your customers? What is your plan for keeping up to date with new technology? Thinking through and planning your daily operations is crucial for long-term success, and those who do so grow at a much faster and more stable rate.
- How much will it cost to run your business? What are the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly expenses? Understanding these numbers will help you develop and create the income streams that will not only cover the cost of operations, but help you to become profitable.
- What is your overall marketing & outreach strategy? How will you let people know you exist and what steps will you take to prompt them to buy your product or service? When starting out many new business owners take a “build it and they will come” approach, and then are disappointed with lack-luster sales. Create an overall marketing strategy and tweak it based on actual results.
With the internet making it easier to run a small business, it also makes it harder to be successful at it. Planning is an important part of long-term success and there are many ways to create a plan that works for you. Take some time to answer these questions and share with us where you are at in your planning process!
CLICK HERE for part 3 of
SAVE YOUR BUSINESS where we discuss Quitting!
In the meantime take a moment and create a plan for your business and let us know how it changes the way you look at things!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com