“You can have it all! With a solid plan (devoid of shoulds!) and dependable support, you can make lots of money and enjoy life!”
I’ll give you tools and answer some of your questions right away!
Having your own business can be very satisfying and overwhelming at the same time. Sometimes you feel quite alone – there are so many options and often nobody to talk with about them!
That’s where I come in. I am your sounding board – your business coach. I have been working since I was 11 years old and have been everything from a temp to a manager to an entrepreneur. I worked for the same large corporation for almost 10 years (promoted 3 times), and I now own my own business. I understand your concerns and can help you tap into your inner wisdom and turn the hard decisions into easy ones. You are already very capable, but nobody can achieve their greatest success alone.
Here is what one of my clients has to say:
“My coaching with you was the best money I ever spent! Any woman entrepreneur who really wants to get on the road to success should speak to you.”
Iris Messina, Travel Agent
It’s so easy to lose focus with so many ‘experts’ vying for your attention – and your money – and with so many things to do. How can you plan, market, analyze, stay current and make money?!
One client of mine started in just this position, and here’s where she was after just a few months:
“After just 3 months of coaching, I had tangible results. I resurrected a business, designed and produced a very popular training program, established a national partnership, and am drawing more business than ever before. I am focused and excited about every new opportunity around the corner.
I know that my finances will improve 10 fold during the next 12 months (surely within 6 figures). I already have several “deals” ready to be consummated. I might even have to turn some opportunities away, but would “run it by Audrey first”.
Andrea Butler, Consultant
One of the reasons why coaching with me works is that I’m not vested in the result. I am ethically bound to help you get what you want in life, whether it’s more revenues, retirement or more time with your kids. Another reason is accountability. When you know you’ll be talking with me every week, you’re more apt to keep your commitments! If you layer on top of that your industry knowledge, skills and abilities with my business knowledge, no-nonsense style and gift of perception, and it’s a pretty powerful mix.
I am repeatedly asked many of the same questions by small business owners and have given the short answers to some of them here. If there is anything more you need from me, feel free to send me an email or give me a call.
Read Below – It May Just Give Your Business A Kick Start!
Do you have any of these problems? Click on the blue words for solutions!!
Do I really have to have a business plan?
Yes - absolutely. I have a strong belief that every business, every endeavor, needs a plan. The thing that stops most people from putting together a plan is that they are intimidated by the belief that it has to be a certain length or structure and that’s just not true, unless you’re using this plan to get investors to give you money. Let’s just talk about a business plan for you to use to strategically guide your actions..
In Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll writes:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where -- " said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.”
In order to achieve what you really want, you do need a plan. If you’re satisfied with just ‘doing OK’ or having a hobby instead of a business, then continue with what you’re doing. If you want to reach your highest potential, you need a plan.
Start by defining what your business/life looks like when you have all you want – that’s the vision. Next, why do you want what you want – what’s the point? That’s the mission. Then, exactly what is it you want? Those are the objectives. From there, define how you want to obtain your objectives and you have yourself a plan. This can all go on one or two pages!
The beauty of this plan is that you never have to show it to anyone (except maybe your coach!) and you can change it any time. I strongly suggest that you take time at the end of every month to re-examine your plan. Were your actions of the previous month in line with your objectives? What worked? What didn’t? What do you want to achieve for the next month? What tasks need to be completed next month?
Check out my article What’s the Plan? for more help in this area, and call me or email me to discuss your plan. I’d be happy to give you a free coaching session, so let me know good days and times for us to talk on the phone.
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Do I really need to network?
There are some small businesses that can survive and even thrive without networking, but that is not the norm. Typically, a business will need to do some networking, but the type of networking varies by business type and business owner.
It’s important to incorporate networking into your marketing plan in a way that works for you. If you hate going to chamber of commerce lunches for the purpose of meeting other business people in your community, your attitude will come through and push people away. If you feel strongly that this type of networking is critical to the success of your business, find a way to make it work for you. Try setting yourself a small goal – meet only 2 people in your target market – this makes the process less overwhelming and intimidating. Then you will need to know your next step; perhaps you could plan to meet or follow up through email one on one.
Or, if you have employees, find the most outgoing person on your staff and ask them to go out and do the networking on behalf of the company. Make sure you have clearly communicated your goals to this individual, including your target market. In other words, if your best customer is the owner of a small business with revenues of $3MM to $5MM, train your representative how to recognize and approach these individuals.
One way to overcome a fear or dislike of networking is to become so confident when talking about your business that the networking becomes effortless. You can do this by analyzing the benefits to your customers of your product/service, and understanding your best customer. (To read more on this topic, read my article Organize Your Sales Effort.)
Another type of networking that is very important to some industries is to get to know others in your same line of business – particularly those who service a market that you don’t service so you can refer business to each other. Besides potentially getting business, you will be providing exemplary customer service.
Please let me know if I can help you build your confidence in this area. Email me your questions, or contact me for a complimentary coaching session!
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Why do I have to target market – I can help all kinds of people?
You are absolutely right – you can sell to a wide variety of potential customers. The problem is this: you can’t market to a variety of people. Your message will not be heard by anyone because it will be diluted.
The general marketplace is bombarded with marketing messages all day every day, everywhere they are. In order for your message to get through, you need to aim at something. In addition, once you have figured out what works best to get you business, you can then create a replicatable system and work less to make more! Isn’t that what we all want?
No matter what marketing strategies you decide to use – email, internet, print advertising, networking, public speaking, PR, radio, teleclasses, etc. – you need a way to connect with a group of people on an emotional level. Buying decisions are very emotional.
If your message is watered down to appeal to everyone, there will be no emotional connection and often – no sales. Then when you do get sales, they’re so random that they are impossible to replicate. You end up working just as hard as you are working now – forever!
None of this is easy – picking a target, figuring out what strategies work best, creating a system – but the rewards make the efforts worthwhile. This work is hard to do alone – let me help you. Send me your questions by email; I promise to answer them myself.
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I have so much going on all the time. How can I get focused?
Being a business owner is a lot more difficult than most people realize. Besides working in your business (making your products, providing your services) you must work on your business (sales, marketing). Then there’s all the administrative and bookkeeping work! It’s very easy to get overwhelmed or to lose focus.
Having a plan helps a great deal. However, while the plan helps you designate and clarify your priorities, a schedule can help keep you on task. For example, it would help to allow a certain amount of hours per week for education on your business, and a certain number of hours for business development or marketing education. If having a tight schedule works for you, make the hours specific to certain days and/or times. If that idea makes your skin crawl, keep the schedule looser. In other words, allow 3 hours per week for education - knowledge and skills, but track and limit hours spent after the fact, not before.
Most of the struggle I hear about is in the area of marketing. When it comes to marketing, the amount of time you spend on business development will vary widely depending mostly on where you are in the life cycle of your business. Start-ups may need to spend about 80% of their time marketing and selling their goods, whereas businesses with a waiting list will minimize this time. It is important to always do some type of marketing, even if you have a waiting list, so you have a constant stream of new customers.
Speaking of marketing, if your business is anything like mine, you are bombarded with messages about how to market your business. There are a lot of ‘experts’ out there who want your money and make lots of promises – it’s difficult if not impossible to know what to do. I suggest getting all the information you can for free by signing up for email newsletters, attending free teleclasses (check out www.teleclass.com) and reading books. Also, ask others in your same industry or size of business what worked for them. Filtering through the free/cheap information will keep you very busy without spending much money.
Once you are armed with the knowledge of what could work for you, then you can decide how to spend your marketing budget. Do it yourself, hire a marketing consultant or a combination. I’ve said it before, you get what you pay for, so be aware of that. Also, barters rarely work in this area in my experience.
In all honesty, the two things I hear most often from my clients is that I help them focus and keep them accountable (which also helps in staying focused). It’s difficult to be objective and focused when you’re working alone, and even with a staff, the buck still stops with you! Email me for a free coaching session to review your options; I’ll help you make the best decision possible. Please include days and times that will work for you.
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How can I incorporate strategy sessions into my busy schedule? Congratulations for recognizing the importance of regular strategy sessions! Creating your business strategies needs to take priority over day-to-day work. It will be challenging in the short term, but you will be very thankful in the long term. Communicate clearly on your calendar, to your bookkeeper, to your partner or to your staff that strategy meetings are mandatory and that you expect them to do all required work prior to every meeting.
The intention of these meetings is to do everything you can to achieve the stated goals. At every meeting, review your business plan. What did you do last month that worked and what didn’t work? Do you need to add or subtract anything from your plan? Do you need to reprioritize anything?
Looking forward, what needs to go on your calendar for next month? Specifically what actions need to be completed?
It is usually helpful in these meetings to review your numbers. That’s why I mentioned the bookkeeper earlier. If you have a bookkeeper, ask her to give you a revenue analysis by month and by quarter comparing this year to last year. If you do your own books, this should be easy.
If you see any kind of unusual increase or decrease in sales, you need to know why – especially an increase. Why did sales increase that month? What were you doing that worked so well? Can you do more of that?
After conducting these meetings for a few months, you will know what your agenda needs to be. To get yourself started on an appropriate agenda to begin this process, contact me for a free coaching session. Please include good days and times we can talk.
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I feel guilty if I’m not working all the time – how can I relax?
Learning to relax is a process – a journey. Without support, it’s pretty tough to change that habitual behavior. Dr. Phil says that to get rid of a bad habit, you must replace it with a good habit.
In other words, if you want to stop treating yourself badly, replace the specific unhealthy behaviors with specific healthy behaviors. For example: If you have a habit of answering your phone during meals, replace that behavior with turning off your phone or ringer and changing your meal routine to support not answering the phone. Ask your family to engage you in conversation, listen to music, go out alone or with friends, etc. If you’re hard core, you may have to do something drastic like go somewhere they don’t allow phones for the first few days until you get used to it.
For many people, the process must include a shift in your belief system. Women have a tendency to devalue themselves. What this means is that everything and everyone comes before you. Once the kids and spouse are taken care of and the work to-do list is empty and the errands are all run and the home projects are all done and the dog has been walked THEN you can sit down for more than 7 minutes. Since all these things are never done, you just work all the time or feel guilty because something isn’t getting done.
What most of these people don’t really understand on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis are:
- People are more important than everything else (and you are a people!)
- Your mental and physical health affects everyone and everything in your life (including the health of your marriage and your children’s mental health – current and future)
- You have choices
If you are frazzled, your relationships will deteriorate and you will not be happy. There are only about 16 waking hours each day and it’s your right to be happy EVERY DAY. If you’re not happy, why are you doing what you’re doing?
Here are some frightening and enlightening possibilities. Think seriously about these before ignoring them.
- Get rid of things that absorb your energy that don’t serve you. Examples include pets, housework, family ‘obligations’ and everything that involves keeping up with the Joneses’.
- If you’re killing yourself for money, eliminate expenses. Your family will survive without expensive movie channels and designer clothes. (Used jeans are the hottest thing now – take your teenagers to vintage clothing stores!) I promise you your family will thank you for replacing these things with weekly family game night.
- Perhaps you need to overhaul your entire lifestyle and trade down your home and cars for less expensive ones. Again, I promise you will be happier (after a period of adjustment).
Guilt does not serve you, and in fact may jeopardize your health. Give yourself permission to spend 10 minutes each day expressing gratitude for all you have and thinking about what really makes you happy. This simple task will keep you in the present, worrying less about the future. If you believe in God or Spirit or anything, you know you were not put on this earth to feel guilty. Ask specifically for what you want of the universe. Do what you can each day, do it well and feel good.
I am an only parent with two young children and my own business – I fully understand this issue! Email me with your questions and schedule a free coaching session. I can help – I guarantee it!
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My sales are great, but how can I also hit my profit goals?
There are 2 components in the profit equation – revenues and expenses. Either your revenue goals are not high enough or your spending is too high – these are the facts.
If you are unable to analyze the appropriateness of your revenue goals in conjunction with your fixed and variable expenses, hire an analyst to help. If you are unable to manage this situation, you will lose your business.
If you feel confident you can manage it yourself, here are some steps you can take:
- Complete a balance sheet and a Profit and Loss statement (P&L).
- Make sure to differentiate fixed and variable expenses (Fixed expenses don’t change, no matter what your sales are – like rent. Variable expenses are contingent on sales – selling more jewelry means spending more on gems.)
- Analyze both fixed and variable spending by category. If sales are increasing at a fast enough pace as to bring fixed expenses in line in a short time, using up excess capacity, you may be satisfied. Otherwise, how can you reduce fixed expenses? Variable expenses are completely different.
- As sales increase, do you need more sales personnel? Are they paid appropriately? Do you have high turnover in sales and if so, why? Do you even need the people you have as a percent of sales? Is everyone producing? Is all your advertising working? If not – cut it!
I am not a business consultant, but one thing I know is that you need to have a very clear picture of your financial situation at all times. If you’re not analyzing your costs vs. revenues in depth at least once a month, you’re operating your business with high risk.
For more on setting up reporting systems, Email me one of your current problems and I’ll give you my opinion on where to start. Contact me if you want an impartial view, for a free coaching session. Be sure to include days and times that are convenient for you.
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