#1 Have a Plan! - The Importance of Writing Down Your Vision
This blog post is an excerpt from our upcoming book: 101 Ways to Market Your Service Based Business!
It may or may not surprise you that 99% of small business owners don’t really have a fully thought through plan. It’s important for the success of your business that you’re able to plan all the way to the end, by which I mean to the time when you either close the business (because retirement/boredom/lack of money) or sell the business (for pretty much the same reasons). And so I ask you, that throughout this book, to have an open mind about new ideas that can organically, grow your business.
In terms of your marketing, that is a plan all on its own, and thankfully I’ve taken care of much of the heavy lifting for you here. If you can follow through each step and implement these properly, not only are your tactical (short-term/day-to-day) activities covered, but I also cover off much of the long-term strategic objectives.
So what do you need in your plan? Well the first step is a vision. A vision of where you want to be in this business when you’re finished with this business. That could be 5, 10, 15, 20, or even 40 years from now.
The next is understanding WHO & WHERE your ideal customers are, WHAT they want, WHEN they need it, & HOW you can make it easily accessible to them. Its not about what’s convenient for you as the business owner, and very few of your decisions should ever be based on that. You have to be focused on what the customer wants and how much they’re willing to pay for it. You should also take a moment to consider whether or not your ideal customers exist and in great enough numbers (ex: How many other businesses are doing something similar, selling to the same audience?)
Third, you need to figure out what type of experience your clients should have when they come to see you or when working with you. This is going to play a big part in your long-term success and is critical to gaining those first few clients and referrals.
Fourth and most importantly is your financial assumptions and predictions. These are not numbers that you pull out of your ass based on what you think YOU would pay for them. Pick up the phone, do a few internet searches and find out how much everything costs. Then predict that for the next 5 years, your costs are going to increase at least 10% per year, compounded. So if the lease for your shop/office/clinic is $5000/mo, next year it’s $5500/mo, and the year after its $6050/mo and so on… do this for every major expense, including your salary. This will give you a very clear and realistic idea of how much money you need to start and run this business, and how many sales & you need to have to cover those expenses and still produce a 5% net profit (a good standard margin). I’ll be writing a second book on financials if these ideas don’t make sense to you here.
But once you have a solid plan and idea of where to go with your business you’ll be able to fully engage your partner(s), employees, bankers, and your customers! Being able to operate with a solid idea in mind of where you want the business to be in your desired time frame will really be something that sets you apart. And even if that goal is just to make a really great shop that you can run until you want to retire that’s still a demonstration of commitment on your part as to where you want to go and how you want to help people get the services/jobs they’re coming to you for.