How to create the killer business plan you’ll actually follow this year

money treeToo often annual business plans are so wordy they get stuck in a drawer, or there are too many things that need attending to that the business owner gets overwhelmed and struggles to execute the plan. Or the ideas are so hidden in words that they get lost. The reality is that 12 months is a short period of time and you can’t execute everything that you want to do… so you have to be selective. Set yourself up for success, not for failure.  

Every year, as well as putting out fires, solving problems, managing staff and clients, you need to be executing key strategies that will help you get towards your long term vision faster. The following article and exercise will help you create a quick business plan that your whole team will understand and help you execute.

The 2 Page Business Plan aims to uncover the really important objectives that will drive your success in the coming financial year. The idea is to identify the most important goals for the year – the ones that will make the biggest impact towards your long term goals as well as move you forward in the short term.

It includes three key sections:

  1. 1. The Core Business Drivers – what are the most important objectives for your business this year? With specific targets added (how to quantify these drivers)
  2. 2. The Key Strategies that will turn these objectives to reality
  3. 3. The Action/Project Plan for each strategy – the things you have to do, by when and with what resource in order to execute the strategy.

Note:

Your 2 page business plan sits alongside your annual budget. Your budget should outline your profit goal for the year, your planned expenses and the income targets you need to achieve that profit.

Then your 2 Page Business Plan outlines how you are going to achieve this.

EXERCISE

Compete the following:

  1. 1. Your Core Business Drivers

What are the most important objectives for this year? The key focus areas that will drive the business forward and ensure you achieve financial objectives?

Limit this to 3 or 5 objectives that will make a real difference.

Example:

  • Increase Membership
  • Retain and increase value of existing members
  • Grow partner network
  • Decrease dependency on me
  1. 2. Specific targets

Underneath each ‘driver’ put a specific target

Example:

  • Increase Membership
    • 60 new member firms on this year
  • Retain and increase value of existing members
    • Increase value of membership based by 40%
  • Grow partner network
    • Bring on 4 new suppliers this year
  • Decrease dependency on me
    • Hire part time telemarketer and book keeper
  1. 3. Key Strategies

Commit to 2 to 5 key strategies that you believe will achieve your core drivers

Example:

  • Increase membership:
    • New brand launch PR
    • Lapsed leads campaign
    • Events programme
    • Partner collaboration programme
    • Content marketing
  1. 4. Create a project plan for each of the strategies to make it a reality:

Resources – what needs to happen, who will do it, how much?

Timeframes – when and how long will it take?

Example:

  • Lapsed Leads campaign:
    • Write and send new brand email (date)
    • Prepare scripts and train telemarketer follow up (date)
    • Get appointments (on-going)
    • Use new sales presentation to convert

 

Follow the steps above and you will have a plan you can stick on your wall and see every day, not in your drawer gathering dust.  Hope you find this useful.

Happy growing!

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PS.  For more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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The Pillars to Successful Business Growth Strategy Series. Pillar 3 – Delivery

pillar-of-autumn-1541725-639x979If you’ve been following my 6 Pillars to Business Success Series, you’ll know that the first two pillars require you to have a product that matches a need in the market and is unique enough to carve a niche in that market and you need think about and plan for a business model that will enable you to scale and grow beyond the early days of dependency on you.

The third pillar is about ‘delivery’ – the systems and processes you have in place to ensure you can consistently deliver on the promise of your product again and again.

Delivery of expectation

Delivery is really about expectation. When you market your product and service well (we’ll get to the sales and marketing in the next blog), you create an expectation in the minds of your customer. This expectation carries across a number of areas:

Quality and consistency of product

Customers have an idea of what it is they are going to receive and an expectation of the quality they will experience – not just the first time they buy from you, but every time they buy from you. So your company’s ability to deliver a quality experience every single time is critical. As you grow, you have to be able to keep up the quality, regardless of size and quantity.

liber8-pillars-chart-450x289Quality and consistency of service

Your customers will also have an expectation of the level of service they receive – which will be bench marked against your previous service levels (you are expected to keep these up as you grow) and also against their experience with other providers. Each industry will have a standards benchmark that the market expects all players to deliver on. In an ideal world, you’ll know what this is and ensure your company delivers better service than your competitors – each and every time.

Efficiency and timeliness

How well and how timely you are on the delivery of their expectation is also a critical factor. You can have the best solution in the world but if it doesn’t arrive in time to meet your customer’s need, they won’t be happy with it.

A quick example – I ordered a mermaid blanket (yes really) online for my daughter as a Christmas santa present. It was a US based site, and international delivery was within 3 weeks. This was early November. There was plenty of time for it to arrive by Christmas. By early December it still hadn’t arrived. When I emailed, I was sent a link to a parcel tracking site. This was all in Chinese so I couldn’t make any sense of it. Further emails got no reply. A week out from Christmas it still hadn’t arrived, so I found another mermaid blanket on a NZ gift site, with guaranteed delivery before Christmas. This one arrived within 2 days of ordering. Then the original one arrived too – a few days before Christmas.

My daughter was thrilled to get two mermaid blankets from Santa. I was not so delighted. The original company continues to market to me, as I’m clearly now on their database. But I will never buy from them again. They had the superior blanket quality wise, but they let me down on the timeliness of delivery, and also their lack of reply to my emails and their lack of concern about their tracking information being in Chinese. They hadn’t set their distribution systems up well enough to match their delivery promise, they oversold and under delivered to me and many others I’m sure.

Delivery efficiencies

A key thing to consider about delivery is how efficiently your company can continually meet the expectations of your customers. As you grow it gets harder and harder to keep up the quality and control the costs involved to do this. You have to hire more people and invest in more infrastructure. Your costs go up and before you know it, your income is growing but your profits are shrinking.

So how do you grow and continue to deliver on customer expectations?

The answer to that question lies with these 3 things: systems, team, training.

1. Systems

You must have systems for everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. From how a customer is greeted when they first contact you or how the floor of the warehouse is cleaned to how your product is packaged, to how it is disbributed, how you present, how you communicate, how you deal with a complaint, how you do anything at all.

According to the online Business Dictionary, a system is defined as:

A set of detailed methods, procedures and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem.

Systems will set you free. And simply cannot be avoided.

To create a system, first prove that a process works (by trialling it for a while), then document it thoroughly step by step, and then ensure everyone in your company knows how to follow the process. One of my fellow mentors and author Mike Brunel, tells the story of how he started what became a $300 million company by following his business partner around with a dictaphone and then wrote up everything he did – this created a system they were able to sell to others all over the world. In their case, the system became the product because they found a way to do something better than anyone in their industry.

Put all of your systems into one ‘manual’ – which can be all stored online or delivered as a lovely glossy ‘welcome’ piece when new team members join. Let this become your manifesto … the ‘how we do things here’ guide to consistent delivery for your company.

Important note: Two of the areas you need systems for – to ensure you can afford to grow – are your sales and marketing, and your financial reporting. We talk more of these in future blogs in the series, but for now, be sure to build systems that enable you to plan your team and infrastructure growth alongside your sales growth – plan to have enough income/capital to be build your delivery systems and have regular financial reporting built into your rituals.

2. Team

You cannot grow without a team. You need people to deliver on the expectations of your promise to market. And you need them to know what to do, how to do it, when to do it and how important it is to do it this way every time. When you start hiring people, you will have to let go of doing everything yourself. You will have to trust others to do the work for you, but of course you’ll feel a lot happier about this if you know they are doing it the way you (and your customers) expect it done. So give them great systems to follow, and minimise the chances of them getting it wrong. Your systems will enable consistency, and will also enable your culture to survive as you grow. Your systems manual can include information on your rituals, meetings you have (and why you have them), values and vision for the company. The how and why of everything … this makes up your culture, and you should only hire people you think will enjoy being in a place that does things this way.

Another quick example: I go to a gym class at 6am three days a week. I get there at 5.30am and there is always a smiling face to greet me, which I appreciate even though I’m still half asleep. As soon as I scan my card to get in, they look at the screen and know two things – my name and the class I’m here for. They greet me by name and hand me my wrist band for my class without me having to say a thing (I do tend to grunt at that time of the morning). Then when I leave an hour later, no matter who is on reception, they always say ‘goodbye’ or ‘see you later’ as I scan my way out again. Always. This is systemised delivery of experience that every single team member knows about, and it makes me feel good about my gym.

3. Training

A business system is only as good as the people who follow it. So make sure to devote enough resources to training your team to deliver on expectations. If they don’t know how you want things done, they’ll do things the way they think they should be done. Train your team to know the company values and the expectations it has around delivery across all aspects of the business. Let them know why these things are important and then … and this is important… give them the freedom to follow the systems without micromanagement from you!

Exercise:

Conduct a ‘delivery audit’ of your business. Firstly consider all of the critical customer touch-points and the expectations they have of what and how you are going to delivery on your promise to them. Make a list of the key areas where you need systems in place to ensure you can meet those expectations.  Then start creating systems to ensure consistent delivery across each area.  You can get your team to help with this… the best person to create a system is the person who is currently doing that job well already.

Happy Growing!

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PS.  For more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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The Pillars to Successful Business Growth Series. Pillar 2 – Your Business Model.

pillar-of-autumn-1541725-639x979So you have a great product or service. You know there’s a need for it out there, you’ve defined your customers and your market (if not refer to Article 1 in the Pillars To Business Success Series).  You may well have proven just how great your offer is, with consistent sales under the belt. But how much thought have you given to the growth plan for your business?

The true value in your business will ultimately come not just from what you sell, but also how well you grow.

To grow well, you need to think about your business model, sooner rather than later.

There are two key questions to ask yourself when thinking about your business model:

  1. What is the potential for this business in the future (what is your vision for where you are taking it)?
  2. How will it scale?

liber8-pillars-chart-450x289

 

Let’s look at each in turn.

What is the potential for your business?

When I’m working with new clients, we spend a fair bit of time considering this question. We look at what you personally might want out of the business financially, the size of the market you are in, the competition you are up against, your future portfolio of customers – in terms of both size and value.  We consider what you are offering now and who you are offering this to, and how this might need to change over time to enable the true potential of the business.  We build a picture of what’s possible for the future, check in with your appetite for growth and your commitment to make this happen.

How will it scale?

When we have a clear picture of what’s possible, we look at the business growth plan that will enable this.  How and what is your business currently set up to deliver? How will it need to be set up in the future to enable the size and scale of business you are hoping to build? What changes do you need to make to ensure this growth can happen?  Will you be expanding into new markets? Do you need to make changes to the product or service itself? What team infrastructure is required to support the growth? What needs to happen to the way you make and deliver your product service? How can you reduce dependency on you and other key people, with systems, technology, team and training? We also look at the time frame over which these changes need to take place.  If your vision for future success is five years out, you don’t need to make all the changes necessary right now.  You can map them out over time and determine what you need to be working on right now to ensure you are preparing for growth in the future.

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to consider. Business is really a thinking game, and a planning game as well as a doing game. To be a good business person you need to think about strategy as well as delivery.

Here’s a definition of strategy taken from a well-known dictionary:

Strategy: A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

The question is always, are you willing to do the thinking necessary to plan for a successful future? Or are you always going to be too busy delivering your product or service today?

My job as a mentor is to ensure my clients have the structure, support and guidance to do the hard thinking now that will set them up for the future.

If you think you might be ready for this … email me at laura@liber8u.com to find out more about my programmes.

Happy growing!

laura-signature

 

 

 

PS.  For more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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How to grow your business… the Pillars to Business Growth Strategy Series

liber8-pillars-chart-450x289Nearly 5 years ago now, after selling my last business, I accidentally fell into being a business mentor. I found myself speaking at business networks, telling my story about how I went from being an advertising copywriter to creating and ultimately selling my own advertising agency… the approach I took, how I planned the sale right from the start, and what I learned about business along this way – with my agency and my subsequent pet care business. Before long people were asking me if I could help them turn their business into a valuable asset and my business mentoring career began.

 I get clearer and clearer all the time how best to increase a business owner’s understanding of the fundamentals that will determine whether they build a successful business that feeds them wealth and freedom into the future, or whether they build a hard working job that will stop feeding them income the minute they stop doing it.

Over the next seven blog posts I’m going to share the key pillars to growth I believe can help any business owner, regardless of their industry, get a better understanding of what they need to do to be a smart business person.

The Pillars of Business Growth Strategy

Firstly, in Blog 1 in the series, I’m going to explain what the Pillars of Growth Strategy is … and what it isn’t.

What is it not is a revolutionary new concept that will set the business world on fire. There’s nothing new in here. It’s business 101 really.

What it is, rather, is a hopefully easy to understand summary of the fundamentals of what any business needs to grow. It seems obvious to someone who’s been through the journey of creating a business, but experience now tells me that it is not obvious to most small business owners – it certainly wasn’t to me when I started.

Your product is not enough

I meet business owners all the time. They seek me out and ask me for help on a regular basis. I take on 10 – 15 new small business clients a year and work with them intensely for a 12 month period. What I see so often is that business owners typically focus all their energy into creating and delivering a great product or service, based around something they feel passionate about.

And of course, having a great product or service is important, and forms the first pillar in the Pillars To Growth Strategy.

What many business owners don’t do, or realise they need to do, is focus equal amounts of energy into the several other pillars that ensure your great product or service forms the centre of a great business – one that will ultimately have true value.

If you focus on all six of the pillars with equal enthusiasm, and apply yourself to learning what you need to ensure each is operating at maximum effectiveness, you will build a great business – one that is independent of you.

The 6 Pillars to Business Growth

The six pillars are:

1. Product – what you sell, and the need it meets in the market
2. Business model – Where you are taking this business, how it will make money and how it can scale/grow bigger than you
3. Delivery – how you take your product to market, your distribution channels, operational effectiveness and efficiency and the robustness of the systems that support this
4. Sales & Marketing – how you attract new customers and retain and grow your existing customers
5. Team – the structure of the organisation you need to build and the quality of the people you engage, the way you ensure high performance
6. Financials – how you keep tab on your performance by driving revenues and profits up, and the reporting around this that lets you know how you are going

Most business owners are good at a few of the pillars, where their natural skills and experience fall. For instance I was always good at the sales and marketing and ensuring great product delivery. But I sucked at financials and team building. I learned this the hard way, and had to surround myself with people who knew these areas better than me before my business could really grow.

How about you? Which are you best at and which do you avoid because they are outside your comfort zone?

Exercise
Look at each of the six pillars and rate your business 1 – 5 for each, with 5 being “Nailed it” and 1 being “Oh dear not really.”

If you accept your business needs to score a 4 – 5 in each pillar to be truly successful, what areas do you need to put more effort into? And what is your plan to achieve this improvement?

Next blog in series
In the next of the 6 Pillars to Business Growth blogs I’m going to take a look at the Product pillar and see what distinctions we can make to make this rock even harder for you.

Happy growing!

laura-signature

 

 

 

PS.  More more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key 8 …

pen and padWhen it comes to business success, there is an underlying trait that every smart entrepreneur has – not just the ability to have a good idea, create a business, to set a vision and dream a dream – but the ability to see it through.

One of the biggest personality disorders I see among business owners is what I call the ‘magpie syndrome’.  This is the tendency to drop everything and run off after the next bright, shiny idea.  I see it all the time. It’s a lack of focus and often stems from not having a clear end goal and a business plan. Sometimes chasing another opportunity pays off, but more often it just weakens focus, takes your eye off the ball and often has a financial cost too.

Key number 8. Be disciplined

The disciplines of business involve having a long term and short term business plan with clear objectives and strategies. It means having an annual budget with forecasts, monthly actuals, clear reporting. It involves having clear job descriptions and performance reviews for everyone including the owners.  It means doing a proper business case to support a decision to do something that isn’t in the annual plan.

So many business owners I start working with are really sloppy when it comes to the infrastructure of their business – they don’t have a business plan, don’t have a budget, don’t set targets and do not have good reporting in place. They have no mechanism for monitoring and measuring their progress. And as a result they often find themselves running round and round the hamster wheel, working hard and going nowhere.

You have to be disciplined.  Business isn’t a fairy tale and it won’t have a happy ending if you don’t learn the rules of business and apply them thoroughly.

Exercise:  Rate your discipline

Do you have a clearly articulated and purpose for your business?  Yes/No

Do you have a business plan that can be shared with your team each year? Yes/No

Do you have measurable targets in place?  Yes/No

Do you have clear and regular financial reporting in place to monitor progress? Yes/No

Do you have a budget forecast that is updated and used as a management tool?  Yes/No

Do you use a business case study approach to making decisions?  Yes/No

Do you run regular performance reviews with your team Yes/No

If you answer mostly yes, you are applying a disciplined approach to business… it will help you grow for sure.

If you answer mostly no, you are most likely taking a more random approach to business which will likely be an impediment to growth.  A willingness to put more structure and focus into your business practices will help you grow, seek some assistance now to ensure you run your business the way it should be run.

As always feel free to email me questions or ideas at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

laura-signature

PS. Early bird pricing for 2016 Acceler8or Programme ends soon.  This is a 12 month journey to accelerated growth you’ll never forget, please email me at laura@liber8u.com for more information. If you are serious about growth or creating financial freedom from your business sooner rather than later, you will want to be involved.  Only 3 places left.

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 7 …

21503D358DYou cannot build a great business without a team.  And you can’t build a high performance team without a great team culture. Like branding, company culture is another misunderstood and undervalued success factor in business.

As soon as you start employing people you have a need for a great culture.  Again, the biggest and best companies in the world build strong cultures – people know what to expect when they work there. An example of strong brand with a strong culture is Virgin. Everyone knows what Virgin stands for – a fair deal for the everyday person, whether its music, planes or finance.  And you can imagine what the culture is like – full of enthusiastic people who thrive on the optimism of the founder.  Richard Branson is still a figurehead but his offices all around the world don’t rely on hi to be there to keep the same team culture.

Key number 7. Build a strong team culture

Team culture is made up of these key elements:

  1. Vision… what does the company aspire to and where is it going, what is it’s purpose?
  2. Values – how does it behave and what does it believe to be right?
  3. Personality – is it a fun place, a serious place, an earnest place?
  4. Rituals – what are the things your company does that people can rely on – regular meetings each week, celebration of birthdays, rewards, social outings… just like in families, it’s the rituals that tie the people together.

You need to set the team culture before you start hiring.  Be a great employer, have a warm, embracing world for new people to come into – where they are clear where they stand and how they fit.

Be sure of your vision and your culture before you start hiring… that way you can hire the right people to fit your culture, not just people who can do your job.

Exercise:  Team culture brainstorm

Grab that pad of blank paper again.  Divide it into quarters with a pen.  Write Team Culture in the middle of the quarter lines.  Then give each quarter a heading:  Vision/Values/Personality/Rituals.

Under each heading brainstorm your ideas on that topic (do this with your business partners/team if you have them).  Don’t worry about getting it right, just brainstorm.  Then when you’ve exhausted all ideas, go back and circle your favourites.

Vision – what is the company doing that will make a difference in the future?  What’s the purpose that drives your business?

Values – what underpins the integrity of your business, what cornerstone values enable the purpose?  For example, the vision for Liber8 is ‘to set all small business owners free.’  The values are inspiration, motivation, education and liberation.  The values underpin the vision.

Personality – who are you?  How do your people behave?  Are you youthful, fun, exuberant?  Are you trustworthy, innovative yet dependable?  Your company personality should align with your customer needs.  A large accountant firm will want to be innovative, providing leading edge solutions, yet they must also be dependable, trustworthy and sincere.  An online dating company will want a personality that is warm, caring, modern and sincere.

Rituals – these create the expectations for your team that enable them connect with all of the above.  The rituals are the things your company does consistently that enable your team to come together and feel a sense of belonging.  Examples of the rituals I had at my advertising agency are: Monday morning work in progress, 8.30am with muffins and coffee; Friday evening drinks and celebrations of wins, 5pm with drinks; morning tea when it’s someone’s birthday, a paid day off as a birthday present (to be used within 8 weeks of your birthday); champagne when we won new business…. You get the idea.  People knew we cared by the way we made them feel valued.. all done by having rituals that contributed to the culture.

As usual, feel free to email me with questions and ideas at laura@liber8u.com

Happy Growing!

laura-signature

PS. Early bird pricing for 2016 Acceler8or Programme ends soon.  This is a 12 month journey to accelerated growth you’ll never forget, please email me at laura@liber8u.com for more information. If you are serious about growth or creating financial freedom from your business sooner rather than later, you will want to be involved.  Only 4 places left.

 

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 6 …

NikeIn my view, branding is one is the most misunderstood and least valued weapons an entrepreneur has on the road to success.

To be blunt, I think one if the biggest differences between really successful entrepreneurs and small business thinkers is their commitment to having a powerful brand. If customers love your brand and your teams deliver on your brand promise, they don’t need to love you… and when customers love your business more than they love you… you’ve really nailed it!

Key number 6. Build a brand that stands for something

Your brand is not just a logo and a bunch of colours – despite what many graphic designers will tell you. It’s not what goes on your business card. It’s everything your company stands for. It’s driven by the difference your business is making in the world and by your company vision.  It influences how you stand out from your competitors, how your staff behave, how you approach your marketing and every other business strategy.

The best companies in the world have strong brands. Great CEOs understand what a brand is all about. As the CEO of your own business I encourage you to study branding… look at successful companies you admire, see if you can work out their strategy by studying their brand.

If you are going to invest in anything right now, I’d say invest in your brand. Talk to a good brand strategist and ask them to assess your brand.  And if they tell you that you need to do some work on it…. be willing to spend the money. Look at it as an investment in your future, not as an expense.

Exercise:  study branding

If you really do want to build a valuable business and be a wealthy entrepreneur rather than an owner operator, then you need to understand the power of your brand. If you do already, great. If not, it’s time to educate yourself. Look at brands you love and see if you can work out their business strategy from their brand. Compare your brand to a brand you believe to be really valuable.  How does it stack up?  Google articles on branding, see if you can really understand why a whole industry exists just to help people with their branding.  Why is it so important? Here are a couple of articles I found on the subject as a starter for 10:

http://www.slideshare.net/liquidbranding/branding-booklet-slideshow

http://www.slideshare.net/coolstuff/the-brand-gap

As always, feel free to email me with questions, ideas, thoughts for discussion at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

laura-signature

PS. Early bird pricing for 2016 Acceler8or Programme ends soon.  This is a 12 month journey to accelerated growth you’ll never forget, please email me at laura@liber8u.com for more information. If you are serious about growth or creating financial freedom from your business sooner rather than later, you will want to be involved.  Only 5 places left.

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 5 …

9ERZUJ4KZDOne of the biggest obstacles to increasing business value  is the dependency of that business on its owner. And an even bigger danger is the unwillingness of a business owner to let go.

Something I often hear people say is that their business is their baby. But it’s not.

Your business is not your baby. Which leads me to key number 8 in my bigger, better blog series:

Key number 8.  Remove dependency on you

I’ll say it again – your business is not your baby. I remember watching this powerful interview of a lady in America who had a bakery. It was doing very well in the town it was in, she was very proud of it and very emotionally attached to it but she needed help to grow, so she brought in two partners. She trusted them and sold third shares to each. Then they ganged up against her and fired her. She was marched from her own bakery at gun point (as you do in America). After the pain of losing her baby she decided that she wouldn’t get angry she would get even. So she started a new bakery business, but this time she decided she wouldn’t get emotionally attached to it. She approached it as a strategic exercise and within a few years had a chain of bakeries across America… whilst her old bakery with its two partners stayed small. I remember her saying that by not seeing it as her baby she could focus on what was really important and grow a business that wasn’t dependent on her.

And back to my earlier blog about exit and creating a valuable asset… a business depending on its owner has no value and no one will buy it. So you have to have removal of dependency on you as a key objective for your business over time.
But how do you do it?
In the early years of business growth, it is to be expected that the business will be dependent on the owner. To go into business and not expect to give it your all in the early years could be somewhat naive. So the goal is to lessen this dependency over time.
There really are only 4 ways to decrease dependency on the owner of a business.
1. Technology – in today’s world, it’s never been easier to find ways to use technology to help scale a business without necessarily using more of your time. In my pet care business, our sophisticated matching and booking system took care of the administrative side of the business for us. Our pet carers and clients met online, they got in touch with each other, they arranged the care they needed together and when the job was completed, the pet carer logged back into the system to close the job online, enabling them to go into the payroll system. Head office was responsible for recruitment, training and marketing. We built a team of 150 pet carers nationwide with a headquarters consisting of just 3 people working part time from home.

2. Products – it’s possible to build value into your business in ways that grow the revenue without growing the need for you to service your customers. This is true particularly in service businesses, where the value is derived from the exchange of expertise for money. Turning the expertise into products that can ideally create recurring revenue can be a way to both increase value and decrease dependency. For example, I have a client who creates internal process systems for his clients. He is creating software that will enable clients to map all their systems and host in one place for easy access. Clients will pay his company to set up the systems then pay a monthly license fee to access the platform that hosts their systems map. Staff can log in and access any information they need at any stage of a process, without having to ask anyone.

3. Systems – what’s clever about the product being created above is that my client recognizes the need for good processes and systems within any organization. If staff know what to do and how to do it at any time, things run smoothly without needing the owner to tell them what to do all the time. Growing a business requires consistency of delivery to your growing customer base. Everyone needs to know what to do and how to do it – the way you want it done – time and time again. The only way to ensure this happens is to document what you want done and how you want it done… then ensure everyone involved knows about it. There is a chapter on creating systems in my book “Liber8 your Business.”

4. Team – a business cannot grow without people. And you will never be free or create true value in your business without a team. People will set you free. You need to create the systems and the culture you want to invite people into, then find the best people you can to join you on your journey. This in turn means you have to learn how to be a leader and a manager. In my experience this is one of the hardest things about growing a business… you have to confront your own leadership style, learn to let go, learn to trust and be willing to let people make mistakes with your business. Which brings me right back to ‘your business is not your baby’. If you are too emotionally invested, you will struggle to allow others the opportunity to grow with your business. You will hold the reins too tight and slow down your own progress. Learning to build a high performance team is not easy… but it is totally necessary. The Liber8 Academy has a good pool of experts who can help you with this, if you are willing and able to do what it takes.

Exercise
Grab that big piece of blank paper again (I have several A3 pads lying around my office and house so I can pour out my thinking at any time). Write in the middle: “Decreasing dependency on me” then put 4 headings: Technology; Products; Systems; Team. Under each heading brainstorm ideas that will free you and your business over time. Write down as many ideas as you can without questioning the practicality of your ideas. When you’ve exhausted your thinking, go back and circle the ideas that have the most merit, and then the ones that you can begin to implement sooner rather than later. Remember, you can’t decrease dependency quickly, it takes time. You need to build it into your long term and short term planning. Financial freedom will come when you have a business that operates smoothly and profitably without you having to be there all the time.

As always feel free to email me with your questions and ideas at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

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PS.Want to build that business that is not dependent on you?  The 2106 Acceler8or Programme kicks off late July and will be transforming life and business for 10 committed business owners. There is a big early bird saving to be had, check out the programme by clicking here then get in touch for the details.

 

 

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 3 …

success-846055_1280When I did a plan to start my own advertising agency I knew right from the start that I was building it to sell it within 10 years.  And I knew that the likely buyer would be a multi-national agency group.  I even wrote down what I wanted to sell it to them for. I painted a really clear picture of what they would be looking for in a boutique agency and I set about building that business for them.  I worked out what I was building and then I put a plan in place.   I was taught to do this at a business school I attended…. It made sense to me, so I stuck to my plan and achieved my sale price within 9 years.

Key number 3. Start with the end in mind

The key to my ultimate success with my ad agency was that I planned my exit right from the start. I knew what my end goal was, which enabled me to work out my plan to get there. I had a clear picture in mind, which kept me on track, even when the going got tough.

This is something I encourage all business owners to do. Plan your exit now – will you sell it one day, or will you build it so that it generates income for you even if you are not there? What kind of business do you need to build to enable this? What does it look like? What do you need to build in order to create value?

Many business owners tell me they will never want to sell their business.  I say that it really doesn’t matter… because if you build a business that is valuable and saleable, it will be ticking all the right boxes and you will have choice.

If you don’t build a saleable business and something happens to you… you don’t have choice… you work hard for years and years and have nothing to show for it.

Here’s an excerpt from my book “Liber8 your Business” on the topic of having a clear end game:

“A business is a project not a life sentence. By having a clear picture of where you are going, you can create your own map of how to get there. When I started and I was alone in my horrid little one-roomed office, with concrete walls and no natural light, I dreamed of a beautiful office with high ceilings, big windows, wooden floors and a big staircase sweeping up the middle. I saw a team of motivated young people all passionate about creating the best boutique agency in the country. I could see the award trophies lined up and could feel the joy of knowing I’d been successful. I painted a picture of exactly how I wanted my agency to be and worked out what it needed to be doing financially to deliver on this image.”

My book and my programmes teach you how to work out a realistic sale price and how to paint the end picture that will deliver this for you, and I’ll cover more of the critical components towards creating a valuable business in my next 5 keys to a bigger, better business.

Exercise

Think about this… if your business could be anything you wanted it to be in the future, what would it look like? Don’t let the obstacles you might see in front of you influence your imagination here. What does success look like for you? Think about the financial return as well as the satisfaction you will feel from building something really special. If someone knocked on your door offering to buy your business, what would be a price you would sell for?  And how would that influence your life? What sort of business would they be buying and what makes you feel proud?  Remember, you don’t have to sell it… but you do want it to be valuable.  Imagine the satisfaction of turning down the offer?

The 2016 Elev8or Group is coming soon!

For ambitious business owners who want to create a clear end game for their business, build a plan and be guided and supported to make it happen.  Only 10 business owners will be selected to join … are you ready for it?  Click here for more information.

 

 

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 2 …

K91LZQUBJI (4)Here it is … key 2 of my 8 keys to a bigger, better business. These keys are aimed at ambitious business owners, those looking to create something of significant value both in terms of what you offer and in terms of what your business is ultimately worth financially. Getting bigger and better isn’t necessarily easy, but if you’re up for it, read this key and think about the exercise at the end before the next blog.

Key Number 2.  Create an asset not a job

If your business is dependent on you for its survival, if it can’t survive for more than a few months without you being there to keep it going… and you haven’t got a plan to change this over time… you haven’t created a business, you’ve created a job.

The difference between an owner operator and a wealthy entrepreneur is that an owner creates a job whereas an entrepreneur sets out to create an asset.

An asset is something that will feed you income even when you are not working… which means it has to have value. A business that is a true asset has to generate profits without dependency on you, and it has to grow value over time so that someone else would want to pay you significantly more than you’ve invested (including your time, sweat equity, opportunity costs and money) in it.

So if you are serious about building a bigger, better business… you have to ask yourself now, have you created a job or an asset? Where is the real value in your business? Is it you and your talent and your skills? Or have you created value through systems, product and team?

And you have to ask yourself if you are willing to make the necessary changes. Because doing what it takes to move from a small business to bigger business, one that has true financial value, takes a shift in mindset. Are you willing to do what it takes to make this shift or would you rather stay inside your comfort zone?

The answers to these questions will determine whether its worth you reading my next 6 keys on creating a bigger, better business.

Exercise

Answer the question honesty: Have you created an asset or a job?

If its the former… you are on the right track, so what needs to happen to increase the value of your asset? Write down the 5 key strategies you have in place to ensure growth.  (Keep reading my keys… we’ll cover this).

If it’s the latter… do you really want to change this? Think about your comfort zone … how willing are you to get uncomfortable in order to grow? In my experience, only those willing to make changes in mindset will do what it takes to create a valuable business. It isn’t for everyone but it is worth it.

As always feel free to email me at laura@liber8u.com with questions or ideas on this topic, or leave a comment below.

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The 2016 Elev8or Group is coming soon!

For ambitious business owners who want to create an asset not a job.  Only 10 business owners will be selected to join … are you ready for it?  Click here for more information.