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This blog post would be perfect for any time of the year, but it’s especially fitting during the season in which I’m writing it. We’re in the month of July and the 4th was not too long ago. And in the spirit of this season I’ve been thinking about the amazing amount of opportunity we have in the United States of America, the economic opportunities we have to grow businesses, to have an entrepreneurial dream that can be made to happen, to have a business that can be made better, or even to be a sales professional to grow your sales element. I’m just really excited to write this post today and one of the things I really wanted to get us started with was not a history lesson or something overly detailed, but just a little bit about our first documents as a country.
Many of you know, and many of you don’t know, that the first thing that was written as a constitution was called the Articles of Confederation. Now I know that there are many here who know much more about this than me, but essentially there was a document that was written, the Founding Fathers took action, they wrote a document down, and they later realized it was an imperfect document, it was a document that wouldn’t be able to last and didn’t work great for many, many reasons. So then they reconvened later and then they formed the Constitution, which is an incredible document and still remains as a benchmark and guiding light for us today as a country. So what is the point in bringing this up? Well, I think the point I want to bring up as we think about entrepreneurship and small businesses is, it’s very important to take action and write stuff down. It’s important to create plans and strategies even if there’s a possibility that it’s not going to be perfect and you’ll have to change it later.
There are three things we come across as I work with business owners, and three things I want you to pay attention to.
1) A Strategic Plan
Now we work with clients to help them create a strategic plan and that covers a lot of things in the business, such as the foundation of the business, the mission, where you’re going 10 or 25 years from now, and the core values (also known as the guiding principles). You also look at marketing strategies like figuring out your marketing guarantee and your niche, and also planning out your goals and financial projections in 3 years, 2 years, 1 year, 90 days, etc.
We have a process for this, but a lot of times when we start working with people, they don’t have a lot of clarity on this. So we encourage you to just start writing, start creating your strategic plan. Often times when we work with people they start taking action, they write stuff down, and they start seeing progress. But then they realize that there are some imperfections with their strategic plan. And so, after 3 months, 6 months, or a year, we keep developing it to make it a more perfect document, a more perfect strategic plan. However, for those of you who don’t have anything written down to begin with, those who don’t work off of a strategic plan or a business plan or anything like that, it’s hard to grow if you don’t have anything to work with. So I encourage you, if you don’t have a strategic plan, to start it immediately, and keep in mind that we can help with that.
2) Marketing Plan
This second step is similar to the first but with a marketing plan. We often work with people to help them create a marketing plan. A lot of people don’t know where to start. We have a process to help with that. A lot of it involves testing and measuring. And we have certain items we recommend based on the type of business that you have. Whether you are service or not, small or large, or who your focus is. We help with all that, but the reality of marketing is you don’t always know exactly what’s going to work until you put together a plan, know how much you’re going to invest in it, start investing in that marketing, and measure the results. It’s common to change the marketing plan as you get farther along in your business. But if you don’t start, well, it’s hard to perfect your marketing plan if you never begin. So again I encourage you to get started, write it down, and measure it, and then improve it as you get going.
There are a lot of different systems or processes in your business, so a system or process is the third thing. Now there are a tremendous amount of systems and processes and I encourage you to start creating them even if they’re not perfect. I’ll just give you an example: sometimes people with a storefront have an opening and closing checklist of things that need to happen. Someone comes in and they turn on the lights, they turn off the alarm. You do a walk around the store. You make sure things are clean, you turn on the computer, you do all these different things to open a store. Now, if you write down your checklist, you might be forgetting things in the beginning. You might not have everything on your checklist. But over time, you develop it, you perfect it, you make it better and better until many months or years later you have a very well-defined checklist or a process for a specific part of your business.
So I encourage you, if you don’t have your processes, get started on writing them down, even if you don’t know exactly what they look like. Even if you don’t think it’s going to be perfect, which it won’t be at the beginning. So again, our founding fathers started this country and created a document that wasn’t perfect and they ended up changing it with the Constitution, a document that was much more perfect. They took action from the beginning and they made something different or better based on the action they took originally. I encourage you as a business owner, work on your strategic plan, work on your marketing plan, work on your processes. We can help with that, but the most important thing for you to do is start today and make it a better than amazing day.
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