Overwhelm is the #1 reason I’ve seen law firms not have a strategic plan, or even think about developing a strategic plan. They don’t know where to start, so they don’t start at all.
According to the dictionary, strategic planning is "a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them." So what does that really mean?
In basic terms, it is a written plan that will help you reach your goals. It is a simple way to make sure everyone on your team knows what they are working towards, what needs to happen, when it needs to happen, and who's going to do it. If the plan is followed (with potential tweaks, as needed) at the end of the time period your business will be where you want it.
I call this a Growth Plan (you can read more HERE). For example, if you said you wanted to grow your revenues by 30%, your growth plan would detail the strategies we are going to use to reach the goal of 30%.
When setting up a Growth Plan we:
Determine your current position in the market - How you compete in the market, your strengths and weaknesses, study your competition, understand your business model
Develop your strategic parts - Where do you want to be in 3-5 years, what about in 10 years, what do you stand for, what's your business purpose, and what strategies do you use to compete
Document the Growth Plan - Overall annual goal, quarterly goals, and outcomes that we want. Also, document the actions to be done to reach those goals, details on who will do what and when they will do it.
Implementation of the Plan - Communicating the goals and strategies with the entire team, as well as monitoring the progress
Not so complicated, right? It's really not but we humans tend to over-complicate things!
The golden nugget in a Growth Plan is in Phase 4- Implementation. You can make the best, biggest, and shiniest plan but unless you implement it it's worth nothing.
So I'd like to challenge you to write your own growth plan. Work through the above 4 steps and let me know how it goes!
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I recently met with a prospect that was interested in growing her business (super exciting stuff... my favorite prospects to meet with!). Her energy was contagious and I could tell she had a passion for what she was doing. It made me even more interested in how I could help her achieve her goals. Our conversation started off with her talking about her business- what service she provides, her customer demographics, the values her business holds, and where she wants to be in the next year or so.
Great! She had that info down and rattled off answers to all of my questions.
It was downhill from there.
The conversation continued with "Okay, this is where you want to be. Where are you now?"
Her response was "Well... I'm not real sure what our sales are. Nope, not real sure what my gross profit is. Ugh, no idea how much my monthly payroll runs."
What?!? I followed that up with, "How would we monitor your growth if we don't know your numbers?"
What I went on to explain to her was that it is impossible to do financial coaching or growth planning without accurate numbers. Accounting can be overwhelming and intimidating but numbers are concrete. They provide a map to your growth (positive or negative). They allow us to monitor progress, make adjustments to your strategies, and keep growing.
So at the end of the day you can have the best action plan and strategies, but without the ability to rely on your numbers you won't be able to measure whether you're going to reach your long-term goals or not. You need to be able to tell whether your plans are really working, or if you should change tactics to reach your goals.
If you've been relying on bad numbers, or NO numbers at all you should consider outsourcing your accounting to an expert. Let's setup a time to chat and see how we can help you GROW your business.
Do you know how many books, webinars, and tools there are in the market to help you with Time Management? I don't know exactly but I'd assume there's hundreds of thousands, and here's why I think you're wasting your money buying them. (Sidenote... this comes from the brilliance of my business coach, Todd Herman)
You can't manage time. It's a finite number. Everyone on this planet will get 24 hours in every single day. Period.
What you can do is prioritize your time. You can manage the right ACTIVITIES at the right time. If you are working 8 hours a day, what is the best use of that time? What is the most valuable use? What activities can you do that will grow your business?
The goal is to only be doing the activities that bring the highest value to your business. Outsource everything else. I want to challenge you this week. As you're going through your work week track everything that you are doing. Beside every activity write a dollar amount of what that brings to your business, or what it could potentially bring. After doing this for a week review your activities. What are you doing that you can assign to someone else? Are you using your time at the highest and best use?
Manage the activities, not the time. That, simply, is what time management is.
Have you stopped and asked yourself why your customers have chosen to work with you instead of a competitor? In the service industry I often hear that it is due to personality, charisma, or the like. Well, I hate to bust your bubble but it’s quite possible they’ll eventually meet someone else with a friendlier personality or amazing charisma and will jump ship. Instead of setting yourself apart on ‘personality’ I recommend setting yourself apart by creating experiences. Start this process with new prospects. Think about how your prospects currently feel when they contact you, and how you can offset, or change those feelings.
These 3 Steps will help you get started:
Write down and number all steps of how a prospect becomes a customer (read your website, call your office, meeting #1, meeting #2… all the way until they would become a customer)
Beside each step write how your prospect may be feeling.
Thinking of what you wrote in #2 above, what touchpoints or interactions can you build into the system to offset those feelings?
Here’s a basic example of a prospect’s journey when hiring a service professional.
Although that is a very basic journey map, it’s a start. Journey maps are designed to help you think deeper, create happier customers, and therefore increase profits. We can help you design better business processes by using a much more detailed journey map.
If you found this valuable and would like more information contact Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is a Strategic Plan? A strategic plan is simply a game plan of how you will compete in the marketplace. The plan itself essentially lays out where you are now, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there. Over the next several weeks we’ll walk you through the steps needed to create and execute on a successful plan.
Our process for developing a strategic plan for a customer starts with breaking it down into four phases:
1) determine who the business is serving, how they are competing, and what their strengths and weaknesses are
2) document a clear picture of what the business stands for (your “why”) and what the future will look like (your “vision”)
3) determine a detailed execution plan on how we will reach our vision (3-5 year goals), and
4) begin implementing and monitoring the plan to ensure we’re on the right track.
Why is Strategic Planning Important? Having a well, laid out plan helps you stay on track and not get lost in the day to day operations of your business. Not only does planning help you understand what needs to happen, it can help you identify what doesn’t need to happen. How many times have you made a business decision and later regretted the path it has taken you on? Or you operate on a “Trial and Error” basis to see what develops. With a plan in place you can identify the right opportunities that will help achieve your ultimate long-term success.
Many small businesses don’t think they need a strategic plan, but they are misguided. In fact, I would say a small business needs a strategic plan more than a large business for several reasons. In a small business the owner is usually working in the business, serving customers, managing employees, handling vendors, and anything else that may be needed. It is easy to get sucked into the day to day, or short term tasks, and forget about the long-term vision. Also, a small business may have limited resources, so it is harder for them to compete in a broad market. It is important for a small business to consider focusing on building a niche market, and having a plan in place to achieve that.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the term “strategic planning”. We’ll show you how to think through the four phases above. Our next blog post will help you work through a business model.
If you want to know more about this topic, email Joy at email@example.com
On my way to my CrossFit Box (aka "gym") this morning it occurred to me how similar CrossFit is to running a business.
Dedication & Focus To get results, working out takes dedication and focus. I am not a morning person (and when I say I'm not a morning person, I really mean to say I hate mornings)! But I am dedicated to becoming physically fit so I get out of bed most mornings at 5 am to head to CrossFit. I love the results I get from being dedicated. The same goes for results in your business. You must be dedicated to your vision, your people, and your customers. Without dedication you may get results, but it won't be the best results. The same goes for focus. You must focus on the end goal, whether that's losing weight or making a million dollars.
Community CrossFit is all about the community and building a tribe. When you don't show they get concerned. When you're sick they call. When you're slacking they encourage. They are family. The entire CrossFit organization inspires that community. Once you join a Box you become their family. This is the same feeling I have when I onboard a new client. They become family. I want to encourage them, inspire them, lift them up, and help them succeed.
Constant Learning CrossFit believes in teaching you about your body and what you put in it. I've learned how to stretch, what muscles I'm working, how to work certain areas, what to eat, what NOT to eat, why water's important, what vitamins I need, and lots of other things. Almost every time I step into the Box I learn something new. This helps me be a better athlete. As a business owner I have realized if I want to be a valuable asset to my customers I must constantly be learning. Sometimes I'm learning new things and other times I'm refreshing up on old topics. Either way I am challenging myself to learn, and be the best I can be in my business.