Ask the Mompreneur
How can current and aspiring business owners create a fast and useful business plan?
A typed up, formal, business plan was all the rage 10 years ago. To complete it properly, pretty graphs and spreadsheets had to be included and detailed plans talking through every single aspect of your business. I went to business school, so I've seen and written way too many of them.
Today, a formal business plan may no longer be required, but the importance of having a plan remains the same. Without a plan, you are just out there, sort of hoping that something you do will stick or work and that people will come to your door wanting to pay you money for your services.
What I recommend is that you look carefully at the following questions. Answer them as best as you can, then keep coming back to update your answers regularly. Business planning is a dynamic process, so don't let your inner critic convince you that it’s SO HARD or that it has to be SO PERFECT.
To get you started, I'll share a little bit from my plan in each section.
1. What is your vision for 10 years down the road?
In 10 years, I will be leading Make Your Mark and have a team of 10 or 12 people working with me. I'll be supporting women entrepreneurs as they build their dream business and life. I'll be conducting group coaching programs, one-on-one coaching programs and supporting my family in a big way. My company will be bringing in at least $1 million dollars each year.
2. Why are you in business – THIS business?
I am in this business because I love helping people achieve what they think is unachievable. I love running my own business and the learning, and self-development that goes with being an entrepreneur. I feel fulfilled when I can help people to see a different perspective and when I can partner with clients so that they create their version of an awesome life. Life is short and I want to help as many people as I can to make sure that their life matters. I want to help them create a meaningful legacy to leave behind.
3. Who do you love to serve and what problems will you solve for them?
I love working with entrepreneurs and am familiar with the challenges associated with starting your own business. I've experienced the fear and the sensation of being overwhelmed. Priority is placed on growing your business and it's important to make sure that other priorities, like family time, aren't neglected.
I help them connect with what really matters to them as a parent, spouse, entrepreneur, and individual and put together a roadmap to create a business that serves all those goals. We focus on the right activities in the right order to save them time and money. Oh yeah, and we have a lot of fun!
4. How will you reach them?
I will reach my target audience by joining networking groups (online and offline) for mompreneurs and new entrepreneurs. I will also reach them through targeted speaking opportunities. I'll offer free teleseminars and trainings and build a list of raving fans that I will communicate with on a weekly basis through my newsletter.
5. What does your business workday need to be like to create space that honors who you are?
My primary goal and focus is my family. I want to have Fridays off and be available for my children as soon as they get off the school bus at 3:00 p.m. every day. My "work day" will include time devoted to writing, working with clients, learning and also time for relaxing and exercising.
6. How much money are you making now vs. much do you want to make?
Get clear on what your monthly income and expenses are for your business. Based on those numbers, where do you want to be in 1, 5, and 10 years? Make sure that your goals are SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound.
7. What do you need to do on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis to reach your goals?
Let's say your goal is have an annual income of $120,000 dollars. If your service offerings average $1,000 per client, then you’ll need 10 new or repeat clients each month.
Back into that by asking yourself, how are you going to reach these clients? Will you do a certain number of networking events each month? How many sales leads do you need each month given your conversion rate? What does your promotional calendar look like for the next 6-12 months? If you have an online business, how are you going to build your email subscriber list? And so on.
My homework for you is two-fold:
First, finish your 7 question business plan in just 30 minutes a day. Just set the timer on your phone and work on your answers only until the buzzer goes off. This is a great way to overcome procrastination.
Second, picture yourself 10 years down the road, running your successful business, then start being that person today. If the "future you" is decisive, then start making decisions. If the "future you" is confident, then practice holding your head up high and believe in yourself. If the "future you" has extensive marketing skills, then start reading and taking courses in marketing. Challenge yourself to becoming that future you with focused actions starting today.
Jennie Wong, Ph.D. is a business coach and the creator of www.CartCentric.com, an online tool for getting product recommendations from family and friends.