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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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!

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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.

 

 

The darker side of business ownership …

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I don’t have time to write this blog.  But I can’t sit at my desk in integrity and not write it.  Because I’ve owned a number of businesses and I have been to the dark side.  And when my mission is to set business owners free, I can’t ignore the black hole that seems to engulf certain entrepreneurial spirits amongst us.

This week I’ve read about two young entrepreneurs (one in his early twenties, the other thirty years old) in America who have ended their life, seemingly worn down by the immense stress that building a business can place on the founder.  In this latest article, with the tragic headline ‘Start up founder jumped to her death from a roof top bar’, the writer references a study by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at UCSF and an entrepreneur, was one of the first to link higher rates of mental health issues to entrepreneurship.

Of the 242 entrepreneurs he surveyed, 49% reported having a mental-health condition. Depression was the No. 1 reported condition among them and was present in 30% of all entrepreneurs.

This statistic doesn’t surprise me.  I talk about this subject a lot with my clients and members… the harsh reality of business that no one tells you when you get started.  I call it the roller coaster of business – a world of extreme highs and extreme lows.  If you are determined to be successful, this is a ride very few dedicated business owners can avoid.  I talk about because I want my clients to be prepared – to buckle up tight and ride out the highs and the lows.

In business, you will have moments of joy, when everything goes right – you win clients, you love your team, the income is looking healthier than it’s ever done.  And you will have times when the bottom falls out of your world.  You lose a big client, you have a rogue staff member, you are worried about money, you are working too hard and sleeping too little.  You can only imagine the worst.  You feel like everything is on the line and you’ve put all you have into the business – your heart, your reputation, your time, your money – the thought of losing it all is overwhelming.  It’s a lonely and miserable place.  Despair can live here if you let it.

But you mustn’t let it.  You must know that this is normal.  Every business owner experiences the highs and lows. I’ve been there, I know.  I nearly had a nervous break down halfway through building my first business.  I will never forget how depressed I  became during that time.

I do think it is very sad that young people such as the woman in the article are losing their way in our entrepreneurial society – becoming so desperate that they feel they must take their own lives.  These are young people with the courage to dream, to step out into the world and take on the challenge of building something amazing.  They don’t know that they are also building their own monster, the beast that grows and can eat them alive if they are not ready for it.

Of course it isn’t just young people.  Success in business takes its toll on all business owners from time to time.  So in writing this I want you to know that this is normal.  If you are reading this, you are a business owner.  And I know you will have found the whole thing unspeakably tough sometimes.  So I just want to say to you something I’ve learned that keeps me sane and grounded, whatever life throws at me:

It always turns out OK.  Always.  

No matter how bad it seems, no matter how desperate the situation feels – it always gets better.  Don’t let things keep you awake at night with worry (although I know you will sometimes).  The worry doesn’t fix it.  Even if the whole thing crashes and burns, you will be OK.  YOU WILL BE OK.  Life will go on.  Your family and friends will still love you.  The sun will still shine.  And as Jack Dawsey says in my favorite line in Titanic, “you will die an old lady (or man) warm in your bed”.  Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.  Just get up in the morning and do the best you can to fix whatever is going wrong.  Whatever happens, you’ll be OK.

I work with business owners because I know I can help them.  I’m there through good and bad, highs and lows.  Mostly we work on the growth and I push people to strive for the dream of a beautiful exit, where they get to live happily ever after.  But I know it’s not a straight line to the top.  So I’m also the voice of comfort and reason when the going gets tough.  I love my work!

If you ever find yourself struggling and feeling like it’s all too much, remember my mantra…”it always turns out OK”.

Thank you for being a dreamer and an action taker.

You rock.

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3 steps to turning your business into a valuable asset

11156283_10153303242804365_8882445748495223375_nThe Liber8 team held a powerful workshop a few weeks ago.  Twelve people in a room had the courage to look at their mindset around money, wealth and business.  On their feedback sheet after the workshop, 80% of them mentioned the realisation that a business should be an asset not a job, and the keys to getting there were key out-takes for them.  This is what we teach at Liber8.  We are passionate about it and we strongly believe that if every business owner in New Zealand set out to create an asset rather than a job, we would see a very different economy and a very different Country.

In a moment I’ll share three of the keys to building a valuable business… but first let me explain this flip chart from the workshop.

If you business requires you to go to work every day in order for it to continue to exist… and you don’t have a plan to change this in the future – you don’t have a business, you have a job.  And it may even be a job that pays you less than someone else would pay you to do the same job, makes you work twice the hours, puts too much stress on you and doesn’t let you take enough holidays.  Sound familiar?  A job is something that pays you some income, but doesn’t allow you to build wealth on the way.

If your business is able to generate income without you having to be there – it has become an asset.  If your business has value to someone else, who would like to pay you a significant sum of money to buy it – it has become asset.  An asset will feed you long after you stop working.

Which is your business?  A job or an asset?

If it’s still a job, don’t panic.  Every business starts out that way.  But its the business owners who make a conscious decision to transform it into an asset over time that really win.  This is what we teach at Liber8.  Financial freedom by turning your business into an asset.

Here are just three of the steps we encourage our members and clients to take:

1. Decide that you want to create a valuable business not just a job for yourself.  Think about your own mindset and paradigm, what are you telling yourself on a regular basis that would prevent you from striving for this.  Question your own belief systems around growth, wealth and what is possible for you and your business.

2. Address your business model.  What is holding back the growth right now?  Have you created something that is very dependent on you?  If so, what changes could you implement that would reduce this dependence?  Do you need to find a way to duplicate what you do and train others to deliver?  Do you need systems and products that can deliver without you?

3.  Create recurring revenue streams.  The most valuable businesses are those where cash flow can be predicted into the future.  Clients who are locked in to regular income – income not dependent on the owner – this is where value is created.  There are many examples of business models with this value well and truly in place.  I will share some of these in my next blog.

In the meantime, think about the three steps above.  And feel free to email me with your questions at laura@liber8u.com

Yours in freedom

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The all new Acceler8or Programme

We are looking for business owners ready to get serious about transforming their business into a valuable asset.  Our next Acceler8or Programme kicks of end of July.  Do you think you have the right mindset to join us?  Email me laura@liber8u.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2 critical factors to business growth that no one else talks about…

tiger kittenIn recent months my business partner, Mike Brunel*, and I have been helping a number of small business owners overcome their blocks to business growth. And as we dig deeper into what it really takes to grow a business, we have had an epiphany that we’d like to share with you…

There are 2 critical factors to business success that NO ONE talks about.

And in our view, it’s time this changed… because if you understand these 2 factors and embrace them in your business …. You WILL SUCCEED and you can grow an EXTRAORDINARY business.

So what are they then, these 2 secret factors? Let us share them with you…

  1. Mindset. The first factor involves your appetite for growth in the first place. How big are you really willing to grow? What limitations are you putting on your business before it even gets started? Have you even thought about the true potential for your business? What are your attitudes to wealth? What is your relationship with money? Are you sitting inside a comfort zone that is restricting the potential of your business? As the Liber8 team investigates these questions with our clients, we are witnessing huge mindset shifts that enabling growth that simply didn’t exist before.
  2. Model. Once you adopt what we call the ‘growth mindset’, the next critical success factor is your business model. Do you have a model that is capable of growth? Where is your current model restricting growth? How can you re-engineer it to be less dependent on you and more scalable? Is your offering positioned to take advantage of the largest market open to you? Have you thought about the model underpinning your business? Have you explored the potential you are sitting on?

Until you address these two critical factors, it doesn’t matter how many courses you attend, or what tricks you learn… you remain in danger of standing in the way of your business’ true potential. You won’t see the shift from ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY until you step outside of your comfort zone and explore what’s truly possible.

The Liber8 team are building Mindset & Model into all our materials – programmes and products – from now on. We’ll keep you informed on how you can take on the challenge to allow your business to be EXTRAORDINARY.

Be prepared for significant break throughs!

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Mike Photo JB* Meet Liber8 Mentor, Mike Brunel. Like me, Mike has successfully built and sold a business. Unlike me, Mike’s business was global – with offices all over the world. Like me (and every other successful entrepreneur I’ve ever interviewed), Mike had humble beginnings. He began as a sheep shearer and then door-to door salesman. I began as secretary. We both built successful business. But we are neither one of us trained business people. The Liber8 motto is “if we can do it, anyone can do it!”.  We hope you’ll be joining us on Liber8 programmes soon.

“Starting a business is easy. Creating something of value is harder”

 

TVNZ Interview

TVNZ Interview

If you have a few minutes, take a look at this interview with me on TVNZ Good Morning show earlier this week. To be honest I was quite thrown by the questions asked. I had expected it to be a jolly chat about my book, with a view to inspiring some talented mums at home to consider the opportunities, just like I had. I wasn’t expecting the first question:

 “Why do you think anyone can start a business?”

Wow, that made me think. Watch as I look up into my brain for the answer.

And then it came to me, starting isn’t the hard part. Anyone can start a business. But not everyone has the vision and the fortitude to make it work.

In the interview, I end up back on my own soapbox, showing how passionate I really am about the need to approach business with a long-term view in mind.

The good news is that I got to explain my mantra – ‘start at the end and work backwards’. Think about where you are taking the business and what you want out of it financially, as well as what you want to do right here and now. Plan your business properly – start with a good idea and a clear market for it – and be clear what the end game is.

I’m not sure I inspired those stay at homes to launch into business tomorrow, but I did get to say my piece. The reason I do what I do – helping small business owners become big business owners by planning their way to financial freedom.

I hope things are going well for you in your business right now. I’d love to help you plan your end game and plot the course to get there.

Acceler8me 2014 kicks off July 3rd – for business owners serious about growth. You can find out more about it here – just use the enquiry form supplied to have a chat about it.

Hope to see you soon!

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What’s the best weapon for world domination in business? A brilliantly simple tip…

DictaphoneCylinderGuest story with Mike Brunel

How did we take a small Wellington based radio sales consultancy business and turn it into a global success story servicing 400 worldwide markets and selling to 320,000 people?  It all started with a Dictaphone. In the early days we worked out that we could show radio media companies how to move advertisers from a small two week campaign into a 52 week commitment.  I watched my business partner in action and realised that he always did the same thing.  He said the same words, made the same offers and got the same results.  I spent a week watching him, recording him and taking notes.  I created a sales system around what we did, with manuals clearly outlining every single word and action taken.  We then packaged up the system and began selling it to other media companies… all around the world.  In effect we turned a commodity into a system.  Now my business partners and I live in Wellington, our CEO is in Atlanta and we have offices in four different countries… all doing things exactly the way we would.

And so my tip for business owners who want to decrease reliance on you and create a leveraged business is to take time to document exactly what you do.  Use the microphone app on your iphone/android and record yourself as you go about your day… every single little thing that you do and say. Then get it transcribed and turn it into a manual… paper or computer based, whatever works for you.  It may seem laborious – and it is – but this is ultimately what will set you free.  Turn what you do well into a system.  Then train others to use it.

Mike Brunel is co-owner of NRS Media, currently working with over 400 major television, radio, and newspaper companies in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe, the United States, South America, Canada, South Africa, the African continent, Australia, and Asia, NRS Media has offices in London, Atlanta, Toronto, and Sydney and employs over 175 staff. Mike is available for sales training and consultations, email mike.brunel@talkingmediasales.com

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Small business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free

 

Want to create a business success story? Learn to see the future

fortune teller

I’ve interviewed many wealthy entrepreneurs as part of my mentoring programmes, always seeking to find out what makes them so successful.  How do they build businesses that achieve such growth and generate such great financial returns?  The number one trait that comes through without exception is their ability to look into the future and see what their business looks like five, ten or fifteen years out.  Successful business people have a really clear picture of their business when it’s ‘complete’, they can see where it is all heading.  Rarely do they start a business without a clear idea of where they will take it.  They do not randomly wander into business, nor randomly wander out or give up when it gets too hard or they run out of money.  Successful entrepreneurs know where they are going.

One of the first things a successful entrepreneur will do is create a vision for their business that is set firmly in the future.  They are very clear that the business is separate from them and as such it must have a reason for being that is bigger and more inspirational than the owner/s of the business.  When I started my advertising agency I knew it needed a higher purpose, something clearly articulated that would attract clients and talented staff and give us something to strive for.  We set out to ‘change the face of our industry by setting a new benchmark for agency service and quality of results’.   This vision for our future kept us focused and ultimately created the success that attracted a multi-national company to want to buy us.

What is your vision for the future of your business?

There are only two reasons to be in business. Do you know what they are?

world arrowAccording to Dun & Bradstreet* reports, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have a 37% chance of surviving four years and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.” 

I believe that the primary cause of these staggering statistics is that too many people go into business for the wrong reasons.

For me, there are only two reasons why you would start a business: firstly to make money and secondly to make a difference.

Making Money

Business is a financial game.  People who are very good at business understand that business is all about delivering returns to the shareholders.  As the Director and CEO of your own business you have a fiduciary duty to yourself as a shareholder to build a business that delivers maximum returns to you.  To look at it any other way is letting emotions get ahead of business.

Making a difference

And yet a business that cares only about money is a business without a soul. Your business is also there to fulfil a purpose, to add value and make a difference to the lives it touches, whether those people are customers, employees or beneficiaries of the higher purpose your business serves.

There is a fun irony to this concept if you can really grasp it.  If your business is truly focused on making a real difference to as many people as possible, you will attract more people to you.  The more people you attract, the more successful you become and the more people you make a difference to.  It’s a wonderful win/win concept.

Combine the concepts of making money and making a difference and you will build a business that will not only make you rich, but make you feel like a million dollars too!

Are you in business for the right reasons?

I hope so!

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*Dun & Bradstreet is a public company that licenses information on businesses and corporations for use in credit decisions, business-to-business marketing and supply chain management. D & B maintains information on more than 205 million companies worldwide. 

 

From the desk of Liber8me.  Small business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary planning technique that will set every small business owner free