Plan: The 4 Letter Word in Business

Plan.  For some of us it’s a four letter word.  Though some parts of my business, I’ll admit,  are a little fly by the seat of my pants, I’m pretty serious about my yearly planning.

Here’s how I do it (This is how I plan for my businesses, in another post I’ll talk about how I handle my personal annual planning through an exercise I like to call New Years Roles & Goals):

I start with a look at financials and see if I’ve met my money goals.  I dig deeper and then look at how many new customers I acquired the previous 12 months and look especially at the percent of repeat customers.  I look at customers that have been previous customers but didn’t order at all last year.  This provides me a whole lot to look at and spend most of my review time here.

Next, I look at where I spent my marketing dollars and track my return on investment for each of my ads, events, networking groups, etc, individually.  (If you don’t currently track your return on investment for your marketing dollars I suggest you make this a priority this year.  It’s very enlightening.)  When I was studying marketing back in college, I learned that your marketing efforts over time should yield a four times return on your initial marketing investment.  In today’s marketing, you should be excited if you can get a two times return on your investment.  That’s why it’s so critical to see if your marketing dollars are, in fact, turning into qualified leads and customers.

Then, I review my processes and see what can be streamlined, outsourced or delegated.  This is my favorite part.  I get serious about what I want to focus on and what I can have someone else do.  This is where I get empowered in my personal goals and what I want to spend time on in the coming year.

Finally, I set some goals.  I make a vision board, and I post both where I can see them everyday.

This quarter, I’m rewriting my business plan from start to finish.  When I started Doodads 15 years ago the internet wasn’t nearly as beneficial as it is now.  The internet has completely changed how I interact with suppliers, place orders and involve employees (who work from home!).  So, I’m starting with a clean slate to see what I come up with.  I’m excited and scared at the same time.   Send chocolate. ;)

If you haven’t done so already, you’re probably saying, “This is too much work!”  Planning isn’t meant to be daunting, but it’s meant to be thorough.   And it’s meant to provide you a clear view of the past so you can move forward with confidence.   In time, your planning will become something you crave instead of something you curse.

I believe in the adage (that some credit to Benjamin Franklin, though the internet wasn’t clear on final credits) “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  So my charge to you: it’s not too late.  If you haven’t already done your annual review, make plans to do it now.

I know that this isn’t the only way to plan.  How do you do it?

Until then, happy planning!

The Plastic Bag Principle

Finding Happiness and Success (FOR Deseret Digital Media Media Sales Connect Event)

This summer I got to speak at Deseret Digital Media in Salt Lake City.  About 15 years ago, I used to work for KSL/KCSG Television, so it was awesome to be back sharing success principles to the now sales and marketing teams of all of the Deseret Digital stations and properties.

They asked me to share The Plastic Bag Principle, which is a portion of my Make It Happen keynote.  They wanted 45 minutes of happiness principles for life and business.  It was a treat!

Three Keys To Successful Small Business Ownership

An Elevation of Business

This month I’m celebrating 18 years as an entrepreneur! I started my first business when I was 19, a promotional products company that imprints company logos in things like calendars, pens, mugs and t-shirts. While it’s a small portion of my annual revenue (with speaking and consulting taking center stage), it’s still running and has run “in the black” every year since it’s inception.

Doodads has been my “training gym”, if you will. It’s the place I made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of wins and I have been able to apply what I’ve learned to Startup Princess, to my professional speaking career and to the other small business owners I consult every year.

Here are the three things that have made all the difference in my businesses over the years.

1. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. In a digital world, its still about networking and connecting. For my promotional products company 95% of my business each year comes from repeat customers or referrals from those repeat customers. That number is the same in my speaking business. You want to build the kind of relationships with clients, vendors and business professionals that help you grow your business year after year. Schedule time to build relationships, attend networking events, and to make sure your current customers know that you value them. Do you have a system in place for client retention? Do you have a strategy for networking events? Connecting with clients, connecting with other entrepreneurs and also connecting with leaders who have gone before who can mentor you to the next stage of your business – all of these relationships are critical.

2. A principle I call PLASTICITY. Plasticity is the process or art of being moldable. The willingness to take information and coaching so that you can reach new levels in your business. I’m a book junkie and a live event junkie – I always want to be at the top of my game, the top of my personal development and top of my industry, so I invest in knowledge every year. I also invest in a coach or mentor. Though I may be a coach myself, I always want to be leading in my industry, and I want to have the latest in education, accountability and growth in my business.

3. MARKETING CHANGES – Keep Up. As much as I wish the marketing plans and tools I used 18 years ago worked today – they don’t. Back then, Social Media didn’t exist (I’m not that old!) and websites were still just in development (and about $20,000!). I’m grateful for successes and advancements in the marketing landscape, but here’s the thing, trends change every year. There are new ways to connect with clients, while balancing traditional outlets that still provide value. It’s like a dance, keep some of the classic moves, but you need to add in something new so you don’t look like you’ve only learned the waltz.

Sure, I could go on and on about needing consistent graphics and branding; hiring good people and keeping them; making sure your profit and loss statements make sense and aren’t ignored…I believe in these things, too. But what I know is whether you’ve been in business for 18 months or 18 years, what’s KEY is keeping your business and your life in a state of growth and development. Keep learning, keep growing and keep applying what you learn for greatest success. I do that with the help of a good friend, Tiffany Peterson, who has been a paid mentor of mine, turn good friend. She was also one of our Startup Princess Fairy Godmothers! Every year she produces a powerful event that addresses these three KEY small business and sales principles and I’m grateful to be included in the speaker line up for the fourth year! I’ll be talking about the tweaks your marketing strategy needs to stay relevant in your industry and to stay effective as you share your message with new faces for new revenue.

Elevation meets the needs of building quality relationships, growing and learning, and keeping up on the latest in marketing strategy. What I love is the way Tiffany takes you through personal development AND business development and shows you how our mind is interconnected with my results. I loved reading about success long before I ever started reading about business, and I can tell you that both are critical to making your business thrive.

If you can join us and other entrepreneurs from all over the country and throughout the world, register here.

If you can’t join us – we’ll miss you, but the challenge is the same. What can you do in the next three months to improve your business relationships, to grow in your industry and to improve in your marketing? Make sure these goals are at the forefront of your mind and you’ll be able to grow and uplevel your business (and your life)!

Power Women of NSA

As a member of the National Speakers Association there are some sub groups to connect and mastermind with other like minded speaking professionals. This year – new group formed and they impressed me with a consistent, classy design. From the promotional lanyards to the printed flyers – it was awesome. Also, the dozen women that were in charge of the event for the day all wore black and white (I noticed)! Here’s the truth, folks, access to graphics is easier than it’s ever been. Whether you hire it out or DIY, remember that if your printing all these things anyway, you may as well make them (and you) look good. Nice work Power Women of NSA! – Michelle ‪#‎influence16