Business Planning 101 – Getting Started on Your Business Plan

Whether you do your planning at the end of the previous year, at the beginning of the new one, or as it flows, it is always a good time to take stock of your progress so far, and then determine where you want to take your business next year. Will 2009 be the year you finally break through your income barrier? Will 2009 be explosive for you? It all depends on the planning you do now. Here are five strategies to keep in mind:

1) Set your metrics: You may not even know what you need to be measuring to let you know how successful you’re being. Is it the number of clients? Revenue per client? Lifecycle of a client? How many subscribers on your mailing list? How many products you ship to customers? How many orders processed per month? Only you know what your success metrics are. Get clear on them and start tracking them from the beginning of the year until present date, so that you can begin to notice trends, or where you could use improvement.

2) The Pareto Principle: I’m sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule, named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist that noticed that 80% of the income in his country was generated by 20% of the population. If you notice, in your own business, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients or projects or activities. Test the theory. Who is part of your 20%? Who is part of the 80%? This may seem extreme, but here’s my challenge to you: Drop the 80%. Just drop them. Phase out those clients, raise their fees, end the agreement, or stop seeking new business from them. It’s a drain on your energy, your resources, and is not producing the highest leverage of your time and talents. Go after the vital few.

3) Ruthless Feedback Machine: Are you being honest with yourself? Are you allowing your customers to be honest with you? Maybe they ARE being honest with you and you’re just in denial J… What are you pretending not to know? Ask! Ask them for feedback on how you can improve your service, your products, your customer service skills, your availability, the infrastructure of how your company runs, etc. Your clients are your best and biggest source of creative solutions for your business – and you’ll generate good will by having them feel heard, listened to, and letting them know their opinions and feedback make a difference.

4) A Month’s Vacation: Have you noticed how focused and productive you can be the last day before you go on an extended vacation? You finish tasks, tie up loose ends, make sure things are taken care of, all so you can be free to be 100% present in your glorious vacation that you’ve been looking forward to for a while. Even sitting at your desk, you can smell the tropical breezes or the crisp ski-weather air (I’m a hot-weather vacationer myself, but whatever rocks your boat). What if you were to approach every workday like that? What if every workday was the last day before a month long vacation? How focused would you be? What would you get done? What would you delegate? What could wait until you returned? With that sense of clarity and direction in your day, you can get accomplished 10 times more than if you’re dilly-dallying checking email, surfing the net, letting the phone interrupt your flow, etc. Try it. Let me know how it works for you by posting your Big Solutions for Small Business comments on the blog.

5) Four Magic Questions: Throughout the year, have you been keeping track of your marketing? Your budget? Your expenses? Or have you been flying by the seat of your pants hoping there’s a chance to catch your breath down the line? Well, here’s your chance! Stop. Sit down. Breathe. Now, ask yourself the four magic questions that generate clarity about where your business is now and where you’d like it to go:

a. What worked? What was effective? What generated the most profit? The most revenue? The most clients? The most interest from prospects? Acknowledge yourself for those successes.

b. What didn’t work? What did you try that didn’t generate the results you wanted? Perhaps you underestimated or overestimated the time or budget of a project. Perhaps you didn’t target a marketing initiative properly. Whatever it may be for you, notice it. The key is awareness, not beating yourself up over it.

c. What was missing? What didn’t you try that if it had been present, it could have generated the results you wanted? Maybe going to that trade show might have been a great idea, but you chose not to go. Maybe investing in that new sales employee could have generated the extra sales you were seeking. This is an important piece of your feedback as well, because it allows you to implement strategies you haven’t implemented before.

d. Now what? Given what you know now, what’s next for your business? What new challenges are you willing to take on? And what vehicle are you going to use to get there? What new thing are you willing to take on to produce those results?

Do you need to finish that business plan? Finally buckle down and hire your business coach? Make the commitment and connect to a Mastermind Team that will support you every step of the way? Whatever it is for you, declare it, create a game plan, then get to work. The best is yet to come!

How to Setup Your Cash Flow Business

When you join the Cash Flow Business – it’s an entirely different kind of home business. It’s the type of home business where you really can’t learn the business until you actually join and get your feet wet. You must decide fast if this is the career for you because many individuals make the decision to enter the cash flow industry off an infomercial or from a home business guru or maybe attending a seminar. If you’re going to have any chance working in the Cash Flow Business, here are some things to consider:

- A great deal of your time will be spent networking. You should be comfortable around others and have the time and financial capability to join multiple organizations that include bankers, lawyers, real estate professionals and others that can refer business to you.

- On the average it takes a few months to begin generating any significant amounts of income. Before entering make certain your finances are in order. You want to have the ability to stick it out with little significant income just in case it takes you longer to learn.

- Even if you work from home, you will have office expenses. Including a computer, you should allocate a minimum of $3,000 for office setup essentials during the beginning period. So if you’re working a full time job and doing the cash flow business at the same time, your progress might take some time.

- While you must obtain considerable amounts of product knowledge, your livelihood will depend on your marketing and prospecting capabilities. You will need a reasonable marketing budget of at least $250-500 each month just for mailers, postage, and other business generating essentials.

- While investing in some areas such as the discount mortgage notes, this can be comfortably performed in our casual off hours and the area of cash flow notes is much more professional. This is a very prestigious business and you will need to look and dress the part. This include suits and ties for men, business suits for women and maybe a late model, dependable vehicle.

If working in the cash flow business was easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes a special person with strong entrepreneurial characteristics, commitment, and qualifications to succeed. And one final thing to remember, it also takes a very special person equipped with a unique compliment of skills, marketing savvy, and product knowledge to be successful. So if you decide to pursue the cash flow business and you grasp all the obstacles you just read, your financial freedom is set for the rest of your life.

How to Start Online Business on a Shoestring Budget

More often than not when you get started in business on line, you will have allocated a budget for advertising and the development of your product. You may decide to use this budget to buy on line manuals which will enable you to learn how your product can be developed and before long your will have started your advertising campaign and the money will come rolling in reasonably quickly.

However, if your business is to be started on a shoestring with limited funds available you may feel that there is little, if any, chance of you progressing with your business and making a profit. This is not the case and in the next ten minutes or so, I will show you just how it can be done.

First of all, it has to be accepted from the start that it is not possible for you to take any money from the business for your personal use. The money you make from day one has to be put straight back into the business as an investment. There are a series of steps you can take in order to get free advertising, free ways of driving traffic to your business and free products and tools. They really are free as far as money is concerned, but they will take time so you have to be willing to put the time in to be successful at this early stage. When you start to see you are earning an income on line, the money must be reinvested into the paid varieties of the services you have so far used for free. This allows you to spend less time on line and saves you burning yourself out without ever getting any further.

It’s important that you decide which kind of on line business to become involved in. It may be possible to develop your own product, but if this is your first time, it’s not really recommended to take this route. It would suit you much better to promote a product belonging to someone else, which will allow you to learn the many other aspects of on line business as you go.

Then, of course, you will need a website. You will find there are loads of free website hosting companies which throw in free site builder software. You can find these companies by simply searching on line for free web hosting in the search engines. Free hosting usually limits your space and advertising will appear by way of support for the company. As you are only just starting out, you will not need a great deal of space and you can always upgrade when the time comes to the paid version. You should remember the advertisements are the price you pay for your shoestring budget.

The next important thing is auto responder. This enables you to keep in touch with your list of clients. You should start with one of the free auto responder services which, once again, feature advertising, but at least you know you can upgrade as soon as you start to see the money coming in.

So your website and auto responder are set up. All you need now is traffic and this is where your time will be spent. In my opinion, you can’t beat article writing and submission as a form of free marketing.

As far as writing and submitting articles is concerned, you write about things related to the product you are promoting or selling and submit them to the many article directories. They use your articles on their sites and this promotes the information contained therein free of charge. Naturally, articles need to written daily and to be of good quality. It’s worth bearing in mind, if you want traffic to be driven to your business with successful results you need to work at it every day.