Today’s blog post has been brewing for quite some time! I am obviously a huge advocate of business planning for a lot of different reasons, but I know there are some people out there that don’t get quite as excited as me about what it can do for your business. So in this post I want to share with you not only the business benefits of having a great strategic plan – but also the lesser known personal benefits that can have such a big impact on your mental, emotional and even physical well being. Not only have I personally experienced the benefits on both sides of the coin, but my clients consistently report the same results. And as usual, when I get excited about something I want to share it with the world!
So if you’ve ever read one of my previous blog posts (like this one on my Top 6 Business Planning Basics) or seen me speak at a workshop or event, you will know how excited I get about business planning. And it’s because I know what can be achieved by implementing what is essentially a very simple framework to gain clarity, direction and the essential competitive advantage for your business – and the game changing impact of partnering this framework with a clear, dynamic tactical plan. And I want you to know too!
Probably the most common complaint I hear from my clients and other small business owners about their own businesses is that they feel they are lacking direction. They know they want to get ahead, and succeed, but they are not sure exactly where they want to head or which path is the right one to take. Assessing the business landscape and carving out your own path within that can definitely be a daunting task. The key parts to creating a business plan are critical stepping stones to gaining that direction. My first step in creating a business plan with my clients is to identify their mission, vision & values. In other words – what is their why? What are they trying to create? How are they trying to make a difference to their customers? Setting a clear intention is vital. Sometimes putting a finger on your ‘why’ for being in business can be hard – and whilst most of us are driven by some sort of financial return for our time and energy, there is also usually an emotional why at the heart of your business endeavours. Identifying that why is incredibly powerful and something I would definitely recommend investing the time to work through – as early in your business cycle as possible.
Streamlining your activities
The related process of goal setting is similarly crucial to gaining that sense of direction – I am a BIG fan of goal setting and research proves that people who have written goals have a significantly greater chance of achieving them. Setting short, medium & long term goals in each area of your business – sales, marketing, and financials to name a few – and creating action plans to achieve these goals is a fantastic way to streamline your business activities and make sure you’re getting closer to your overarching goals. And speaking of streamlining your business activities – who feels like they are more reactive than proactive? I think we’ve all at one time or another felt like we’re not being strategic enough, or finding the time to work ‘on’ instead of just ‘in’ our businesses. Whilst there will always be busy periods where we only have time to react to customer demands, it is so important to maintain progress on our strategic goals. Not only are achieving these goals great for business, they are fantastic for your mindset and motivation – which is so important for small business owners to maintain. But more on that below!
Clear marketing messages
Finally, identifying a clear target market and point of difference, and subsequently developing a strong set of core marketing messages, is once again critical to creating that sense of direction. Quite simply, knowing who you are marketing to and what you are saying is so important to building a strong brand and cutting through all the noise in the market. I’m sure we can all think of a business or brand that has a bit of a ‘confused’ market presence – usually these businesses are trying to be everything to everyone, and haven’t done the work in terms of identifying their target market or point of difference. Don’t let that be you!
Sales & marketing is something I am also really passionate about – and as someone with over a decade of sales experience, I know all too well how important being comfortable with this part of your business is. Creating strong sales & marketing messages is something I do a lot with my clients, and again this is critical if you want to make an impact, particularly as a start-up. Being consistent and on-brand at all times, across all platforms, is the first step in making sure your sales & marketing messages are on point. Building trust with your customers is the aim of the game here, and in this area cannot be under emphasised! And by having clear marketing messages, you once again streamline your business activities and should gain a far greater sense of direction in your marketing efforts.
Another significant benefit of having a great strategic plan for your business is efficiency. And while we have already touched on this slightly, I want to spend a bit longer on the time management benefits that are so important for small business owners. Most of you would know that as well as being a business owner, I am a mother of two, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend… the list goes on! Time is something none of us have enough of, and managing your time efficiently is not only critical to your business success but so instrumental in maintaining a positive and productive mindset. I know from experience how having a clear business strategy makes it SO much easier for me to prioritise, make decisions about business opportunities, react to changes in the market, and much more. Being able to do all of those things better – and faster – means I can do a lot more in the limited time I have available to me. Which in turn does wonders for my productivity! And on that note, let’s now explore the personal benefits you can expect from having a great business plan in place.
Mindset & confidence
One of the reasons I love coaching small businesses is that we put our heart & souls into what we do. Passion is at the heart of why we do what we do, and more often than not our personal values and identities are strongly linked to our businesses. Many of my clients are mothers, and I know myself the important role our small businesses play in maintaining that sense of self-worth and independence while we’re juggling our beautiful babies. So it follows that if we’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or negative about what is going on in our businesses, it’s going to affect us personally too. And whilst all parts of having a business plan are beneficial to your mindset, the goal setting/action plan piece is particularly important here. How good does it feel when you achieve something you set out to – whether that goal is big or small? And how great is that subsequent boost in self-confidence – knowing that because you’ve achieved one goal, you can go on to achieve many more? Having clear business objectives and reflecting on your successes along the way is so critical for business owners to do, yet this is something that is all too often overlooked. When developing an action plan for your business, make sure you schedule in time to review your activities – for example, the effectiveness of your social media campaigns, a sales promotion, a new product line. If things have gone beautifully, you’ll get a great boost in confidence and know this is something you can incorporate in future. If things haven’t gone so well, you’ll be able to explore why and think about what you can do differently. Either way, you’ll be so much better positioned to keep moving your business forward which will have big benefits for your mindset.
Less overwhelm, more clarity. Less stress, more positivity. Less self-doubt, more confidence. Yes please!