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Easy One Page Business Plan

Here's a quick and easy one page business plan format that you can use to set or update your company direction, focus and goals for 2010.  This is a great plan for small companies who don't typically have time or money to do detailed planning.  It also works well for individual career planning. Mission:

What is your purpose?  Why are you in business?  Why do you do what you do?  2 - 3 Sentences

Vision:

How does your purpose translate into concrete terms?  Paint a picture.   2 - 3 Sentences.

Objectives:

What by when?  What do you need to do this year to move your vision forward?

Strategies:

What overall approaches will you take to reach your objectives this year?

Plans:

The actual steps that you will take to reach your objectives.  Note that these may often be project that require plans in and of themselves.

Go ahead, schedule an hour and see what you come up with.   Keep refining your business plan until it meets your needs.  Then prepare to update it quarterly.  Business plans are useless unless they are looked at and measured. Post what you come up with, and see what others have done.  If you get stuck, call me.  I am offering  a free coaching session to everyone for January. Next week we'll talk about how to measure performance against your plans.

Are You Ready for 2010?

Have you reviewed and completed 2009 yet?& Or have you just let the year end without checking in on how you've done? Here are some great questions to ask yourself about 2009:

1. What did you accomplish in 2009?

2. What did you learn in 2009?

3. What is finished?

4. What is left to be done?

5. What will you take with you into 2010?

Once you complete this review, you will be in great shape to start 2010. You can think about what you want to do and create some solid goals and plans for achieving them. Next week, we'll talk about business planning for 2010. Once you review 2009, be thinking about where you want to be at the end of 2010. Happy New Year!!

Time Management, Part 2

Since we're now in the silly season, it seems very appropriate that I focus on the one thing that seems to be a major challenge in the holiday season - time management.  I mentioned some basics in the last post.  In this post, I want to really emphasize what's important.  As in knowing what's important to you is absolutely critical to managing your time.

Have you noticed when you or someone you know is dealing with a crisis, major illness or emergency - things seem to get done quickly and with amazing clarity.  All of a sudden, time is an absolutely precious commodity and it must be spent on only the most important and critical of things.  It becomes very easy to prioritize your time at that point because the consequences are dire and immediate.

It's when we lose that sense of urgency and go back to the everyday that we start being unable to manage our time and priorities get lost or  mixed up in the moment.

What if you could manage your time as if you were critically ill or in crisis without the crisis?   What would be different if you were aware of how valuable your time was every moment and spent it accordingly?  Would you work out every day?  Eat right?  Not watch so much TV?

We all tend to get lost in the moment at work, at home or when managing our businesses.   If you can keep what's really important to you present at all times, you will be able to gain a great deal of productivity and effectiveness - not to mention seriously lowering your stress level.

Your assignment this week is to really lay out the top 5 (no more) most important things in your business and life in writing.  Evaluate every hour you spend your time based on that list - and see how it goes.

Time Management 101

Here's a good starting point on time management:

  1. Know what you're goals are.  It's very difficult to prioritize your time  when you don't know what you want.
  2. Make a list of everything you want to get done.  This is your master to-do list
  3. On a daily basis, identify 4 - 6 things that you can do either in the morning or the night before to move you towards your goals.  Do or schedule those things first, before doing anything else in your day.  Don't try and do more than 6 things in a day.  That will just set you up for failure and frustration. We all have a limited amount of time.  The key is to be as effective as you can with the time you do have.
  4. Review your master list on a regular basis (weekly or monthly).   Delegate anything you can to others and  dump tasks you don't really need to do.  Add any new tasks that came up during the week or month.
  5. Learn to say no to things that won't move you ahead in your goals.

Art vs. Science

I had a conversation with a referral partner this morning who made a statement that I really enjoyed:  "Billing is an art. You really have to know your clients."  And it's very true.  It' s not so much the billing itself, but how each client will react differently to the same things.   Take the same system, but adjust it to each client and their needs.

One size never fits all when it comes to people - whether they are current clients, perspective clients or you.   The same marketing plan or business plan that works for someone else in your industry won't work the same for you.

The science portion is the base business or marketing plan and  the art is adjusting it so that it fits for you, your clients, your prospective clients and your situation - which can change at any time as well.

The same business or marketing plan that worked for you two years ago may not fit now.   The economy has changed.  You've changed.  Your clients have changed and so have your prospects.   It's always a good idea to review what you're doing and adjust it to the current conditions on a regular basis.  And you have some great places to look right above - you, your clients, prospective clients, the economy, etc.   That's the art of it.  It's not just your business and marketing plans either. This applies to your whole life.

And that's what makes it fun. It's both art AND science.

How Much Networking is Enough?

How much networking is enough to sustain or grow your business at the rate you desire?   This isn't an easy question to answer because it depends on  many things. If you really wanted to, you could go to networking events all the time, day and night.  There are more networking events than there are hours in the day.   But is all that networking really that effective?    The answer is no.  If you have no clear plan, goals or intentions, then any networking will be ineffective.  It will also not do you any good if you go to all these events and then don't follow up in a timely fashion with the people that you meet. So how do you choose networking events to attend?  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. How good am I at social interaction and relationship building?  This actually matters far less than most people think, but it does matter.  If you hate going to networking events, for example, it won't be effective for you.
  2. Who are my target clients?  (This is a huge topic in and of itself and key to any business.)
  3. What networking events do they go to?  Or where do they hang out?  It may be that the best networking for you isn't a networking event at all.
  4. Who are good referral sources for my target clients?  (Many professions receive most of their clients by referral rather than direct contact.)
  5. What networking events do they go to or where do they hang out?
  6. How many networking events can I realistically attend per week and still get the actual work and follow-up from the event done.  If you don't know how long on average it takes you to follow up after an event,  try 2 hours for every networking event and track it from there.  It's likely to be much higher than 2 hours.

The next question is a big one  -

How few networking events can I go to and still maintain or grow my business?     The fewer events you can attend and still achieve your goals, the more you can focus on actually earning the money - whether it is you yourself doing client development or a team of salespeople.

So how much networking do you do?

The Power of Choice

The most liberating and powerful thing about being human is that we have the power to change.  We aren't locked into the automatic responses to life that we developed as children.

Most of us didn't grow up in a perfect environment where we got everything we needed to be successful, healthy self-reliant adults.  If we were lucky, we got most of what we needed and parents that weren't perfect, made mistakes, but tried their best.  If we weren't lucky, there's all sorts of not so wonderful possibilities.

Most of us fall in the middle ground.  We got what we needed in some areas, but not others.  The challenge is to see what we didn't get as a starting point, not a wall.   We can choose something different than what we started with.

For me it's not just letting things go when issues come up in relationships.  That's what I learned in my family growing up - that was the family dynamic.  Instead, I'm choosing to try and work through the issues constructively.  (Note the word constructively :-)  )

It's hard and unpleasant, but the chances of a better relationship are much higher than if I just pretend everything is okay and nothing happened.   My marriage and my communication skills in business are much stronger for choosing this route.

How about you?  How will you choose differently now?

Cultivate an Attitude of Success

What comes first - the chicken or the egg?  It's the same thing with success.  Being successful or having a success mindset?  I'd say that having a success mindset comes before any outward evidence of success. It is the attitude that creates the success.

Think about it like dating - who would you rather go out with?  The happy, fun person who goes out all the time or the person who hasn't had a date in years.

Relate that to selling - who would you rather buy from?  The person who wears a tailored suit or nice clothes and is upbeat and outgoing or the person who is dressed in dirty jeans and complains.  Your attitude shows up as soon as you do - before you even open your mouth.

It's not something you can fake - it has to be genuine.  People will see right through it if you try and fake it, and you will be worse off than you were before.

So how will you cultivate an attitude of success today?

Well-Being - Your Capacity to Produce

I had a very pointed reminder this week of how vital it is to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. I've been running full-tilt, not paying attention to my needs for a while now.  This is something pretty common with a lot of people.  We often take better care of our cars than ourselves.

I, like a lot of people, equate more with better when it comes to work. For example, if your business isn't producing the results you want, then do more. I know better. I have years of experience insisting on solving the problem instead of throwing money or people at it. And yet I still fell into the same old trap. It's an easy thing to do, especially being Type A and working for myself. And the predictable happened. I woke up Friday morning with a nasty case of laryngitis.

For most folks this wouldn't be the end of the world, but for me, everything stops dead. Without my voice, I can't make a living.  I had to cancel a speaking engagement and several other things.  NOT good.

Stephen Covey refers to this as the "P/PC Balance."  In a nutshell, it's the balance of what you produce and your capacity to produce.  It is the very definition of effectiveness.  I literally killed the goose that produced the golden egg,  my voice. For me, another example is the shoemaker's children.  Well-being, the capacity to produce, is the one of the major things I watch for with my clients and yet completely neglected in myself.

My first priority now is to restore that balance by eating right, exercising and taking time off for myself.   I was lucky,  it wasn't anything really serious or debilitating.  Just a minor warning.

How about you?  Are you taking care of your well-being?  Or are you ignoring the signs that you need to take better care of yourself?

The Golden Rule of Communicating

Every time we talk to someone, we are training them how to talk to us.  It goes back to the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.   Think of this as the Golden Rule of Communications.  - Communicate to others what your expectations are.

Think of all the people you've talked to over the past few weeks.  What have they communicated to you.  Look for the underlying message whenever you talk to someone - what are the tone of their voice, their facial expressions, body language and speech patterns telling you?  Usually the words are the least important part of the message.

Now pay attention to your own communications.  If you were a complete stranger, how would you receive the messages you're sending?  Even better ask 5 people this week  what their experience is of you.

Does it match the experience you want them to have?  Are your words consistent with your body language and tone?  It isn't very effective to ask for a sale when your tone of voice says don't buy from me, I'm a lousy salesperson.  It's time to take responsibility for the message you send people.

How can you be more effective at communicating your intentions this week?

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