I didn’t see many stores this year for Black Friday because I was in the trenches with a client as usual. My wife, however, was out and about enjoying the sales and battling the crowds looking for some fun gifts. One problem? Several stores she went to were closed. During normal business hours. On Black Friday! She said she saw several other cars pull in, check the door and leave as well. Of course, she reluctantly went to their competitors and spent her money with them as I’m sure the other people did as well. Money just walked out the door and no one was even around to know. If you are in retail, you are open Black Friday, it’s just the nature of the beast. I cannot imagine why a retail store would be closed during normal hours on Black Friday. Meanwhile here are some tips for the rest of you who were open to increase your sales over this holiday season.
The short answer is yes. In my opinion, every business needs a business plan. It doesn’t have to be long and complicated, but it needs to exist in a written form. It’s not good enough to have a half-formed idea, you need to get it written down. Clemson University entrepreneurship professor William B. Gartner points out, that with a business plan “You’re two and a half times more likely to get into business, that’s powerful.” Why else would you want a business plan? Let’s take a look.
A business plan is a roadmap for your success. It shows strengths, weaknesses and the potential for your business to do well. This is especially important if there are multiple people involved in the business. How do you know your partner’s idea of success is the same as yours? How can you tell if you all are moving in the same direction? The business plan gives you focus and clarity. It shows you where you want to go and gives a path to get there. Just remember, with business, detours are the rule rather than the exception so be ready for them.
If you are looking for any kind of funding you must have a business plan. I recommend being conservative with your numbers if funding is a goal of your plan. The people loaning out money have been around the block a few times and will know if your calculations are realistic or not. I have helped many businesses that thought they had billion dollar ideas, but the entire market they were entering was barely a tenth of that. Keep the end reader in mind. Would you loan money based off unrealistic numbers?
Understanding Your Market
You really can’t go into business if you don’t know the market. Who is going to buy? Why are they buying from you? How do you stack up against your competitors? These questions are essential and a business plan helps bring them out and sets you up for success.
Over the next few days, I am going to guide you through a business plan. The traditional plan, which is what I will teach, is good for most businesses and is what you want when you plan to get financing. If you need something quick and dirty, use the traditional plan as a basic sketch. Remeber, the more time you spend on your plan the less time you are putting your business on the market. A plan is important but don’t let it be the excuse for not starting.
I have never liked New Years Resolutions, mostly because of the negative baggage attached to them. I was told as I grew up the only purpose of a New Years Resolution was to see how long it took to break it so from an early age I made goals. Sometimes I achieved my goal, sometimes I didn’t but since I could keep going towards my stated goal I hadn’t broken a promise, it just took longer than a year to accomplish it. The last couple of Years I had heard Dr. Larry Hass talking about what he does for the new year and it seemed very affirmational and useful so I have adopted it to my practice of goal reviewing each year. Mind you I set goals all the time but the first of the years seems as good a place as any for a goal review. Here are the 3 questions Dr. Hass writes down.
- What are my Achievements from last year?
- What Commitments Should I make for this Year?
- What are my Goals for this year?
Make sure to write down your answers because an unwritten goal is just a wish. Make sure to use the S.M.A.R.T. method when writing your goals to make sure they are good ones. That is to make sure your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Make sure to send me a note or give me a call if you need help with your business goals this year.
Email marketing is the cornerstone of a good content marketing campaign. If it’s done right the ROI is one of the best in the industry. If done wrong it’s a colossal waste of time. Out of all the tips I am giving this week the two most important are to be consistent and to be useful. People should know when your email will be coming and they should know there will be at least one piece of new and useful content. That is how you build your list and how you prevent subscriber drop off. Here is an infographic with more tips for you.
The last in the series guiding you through the daily, weekly and monthly life of a blogger. There is more to it but these three guides should give you a good start and serve to steer you in the right direction. Whether you blog as part of a Content Marketing plan, part of an affiliate program, to earn extra income or just because you like it, make sure you have some fun while you plug away at that keyboard.
The Direct Sales landscape can be tricky to navigate for new and old reps alike. I have put together a list of things to do and not to do as you run your DS business. Theses are proven strategies I have seen work with multiple companies and reps.
It’s been a rough week with the flu dropping me and everyone else at the office like flies. It’s a good thing I can coach virtually so I don’t have sick clients as well. Today I am posting two infographics about small businesses to make up for my week of rest. The first one is about the 5 Social Media tools you should be using and the second id a Small Business Start-up Checklist for those of you who are just beginning this journey. Something for everyone! As always drop me a line on Facebook if you have any questions or think you may want a coach to help your business take things up a notch. First consult is free and you will walk away with actionable info, not just a sales pitch.