Small Business Planning: Look Back to Move Forward

The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on one’s life and business. While we’re all anxious to start off the New Year on the right foot, don’t skip a vital part of the business planning process. Take time to look back before you look ahead.

Small business planning is crucial to survival and growth.

Take time to reflect on your business. Where is it heading and where has it been?

Take Time to Reflect

Reflect on your accomplishments during the past year. Did you grow your revenue? Add new customers? Turn sporadic customers into loyal clients? Hit key milestones? Reach your goals?

Look back at things that didn’t go as planned. Did you lose a major client? Have a customer dispute payment? Run into a nightmare project? Spend too much time on non-revenue activities?

Measure the progress of your goals. First of all, did you set goals? Did you reach them in the allotted time frame? What helped you achieve them or hindered your progress? Upon further review, you may need to alter your goals or set more appropriate goals in the first place.

Related Reading: Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Look Ahead to 2017

Where do you want your business to go? Did you have success with a new product or service this year that you’d like to feature? Do you want to focus on delighting your current clients to deepen those relationships and grow with them? Are you looking to bring on new customers and expand your business? Is a merger or acquisition in your sights?

In order to achieve your business dreams, you need to create a road map. This is where setting SMART goals comes into play.

Your goals should be:
Specific
Measurable
Agreed Upon
Realistic
Time-Based

Inc. Magazine has a worthy read on how to set business goals if you’d like to learn more about this topic. As Herm Edwards famously said, “a goal without a plan is a wish.” He may have been a football coach at the time, but his thought process applies to business and life just as much as sports.

Keep in mind that goals aren’t permanent once they’re set. It’s helpful to review them regularly and adjust accordingly. Agility is a tool for small businesses to use to their advantage, so don’t feel locked in to current goals if your situation changes. Take time every week to focus on your business’s big picture and plan your road map, rerouting if necessary. It can be a breath of fresh air to step back from the daily grind to look at where you’re heading and where you’ve been.

Your Take

Do you set SMART goals for your business?

How often do you focus on planning for your business?

How do you encourage yourself to keep your business planning sessions?

We wish all small businesses a wonderful holiday season! Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

CCC’s Chief Planner,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your business goals, marketing needs or otherwise):
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Does Your Small Business Have a Contingency Plan?

In preparation of the 2016 election, I recently attended my second year of Precinct Election Official (PEO) training by the local Board of Elections (BOE). In addition to keeping up with new developments, it’s helpful to review the massive amounts of information prior to each election.

What are the massive amounts of information? In addition to job duties and how machines work — contingency plans. The BOE has contingency plans for nearly any situation. Does your small business have contingency plans?

Does your small business have a contingency plan?

Why does your small business need a contingency plan?

  • You lose your largest client. Will you be able to stay afloat while you work to bring in new customers? Or is your business spread out enough to absorb such a hit?
  • Your niche market runs dry. Some markets are more volatile than others, but this could happen to nearly any industry or vertical market. (For example, look at how hard the Great Recession hit the construction industry.) It’s always a good idea to diversify your clientele enough to withstand market fluctuations.
  • You experience a medical emergency or illness. Nearly 80% of small businesses are self-employed individuals. (NASE) Will your small business be able to run without you? For how long? Do you have an exit plan?
  • Your area is hit with a natural disaster or extended power outage. Would you be able to continue to serve your clients? Is your business included in your emergency preparedness kit/plans?
  • You see an unexpected opportunity in the marketplace. How quickly can you add a product or service? Perhaps you’re seeing a decrease in demand for one of your key products or services. Can you switch your focus while still staying true to your brand? Agility is a valuable asset in the small business world.

Related Reading: 4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

You need to be prepared to handle unexpected obstacles in your business, from marketplace changes to health issues. While none of us can be prepared for everything, having a contingency plan for your small business will ensure a smoother ride when you encounter a future roadblock — or  a black hole.

Your Turn

What other situations should your small business be prepared for?

Have you switched the focus of your small business or changed businesses?

What other advice would you give to small business owners regarding contingency plans?

Still a scout at heart,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about contingency plans, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Tips To Succeed In Business I Picked Up at Garage Sales

Coolest @Lamp Ever by Tojosan via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Four years ago, my family and I decided to host a multi-household garage sale. It was a great opportunity to pass on some of our lesser used wares and get together (mostly the latter). Of course, I decided to dig deeper to get the most out of our time and efforts. I was surprised by what I found.

Are you a garage saler (or sailor)?

‘Garage saling’ (or sailing) is a thing. There are people who plan their weekends (or day trips) around hitting garage sales and discovering hidden treasures. (Note that I have various hobbies that people find weird, so I’m not making fun of anyone here.) As I dug deeper, I discovered that serious garage salers (or sailors) handle their business like a business.

Here’s what I learned from them that you can use to succeed in business:

  • Have a plan: Garage salers like to browse the Friday paper’s Classified section to form a plan. Are some areas hosting multiple sales? Are they looking for specific items? There are a number of websites that promote garage sales now too, although I’ve received a bigger return on investment advertising in the local paper.

Know where your audience is, so you can target your marketing efforts. You’ll receive a larger ROI for your efforts.

  • Trust your gut: While serious garage salers have a plan, they also improvise. Maybe they pass a sign for another sale (or great local cafe) and decide to make a detour. You never know what you’ll find when you open yourself up to new experiences.

Planning for your business is necessary, but so is adaptation and flexibility. Because life and business rarely go according to plan…

  • Know when to negotiate: People think that garage salers like to negotiate everything. Selling something for 50¢? They’ll want it for a quarter. That’s not true, at least from my experience. Serious garage salers know when to negotiate and when to save their time and energy. Antique furniture? Let’s talk. An almost-new travel mug for 50¢? Consider it sold.

Don’t be an amateur. Know when to negotiate! Think value, not cheap.

  • Get your timing down: I would love to steal a line from our garage sale ads for my business meetings: “No early birds, please.” While the early bird may get the worm, people who show up at garage sales during setup get a cold shoulder and a frown. No, we have no idea where the [insert item from ad] is right now, but we’ll know in a half hour when we open for business.

If showing up for a business meeting 5 minutes early is ‘on time,’ then showing up 30 minutes early is unprofessional, not impressive.

In summary, have a plan but trust your gut. Know when to negotiate and when to save your time and energy. Be on time but don’t be excessively early. It’s amazing what you can learn about business from life when you open your eyes and take a look around.

Are you a serious garage saler (or sailor)?

What other tips would you add for successful garage saling (and business)?

p.s. The Shine Family Garage Sale has become an annual tradition. If you’re in the neighborhood tomorrow, stop on by!

p.p.s. Learn more about the awesome featured image for this post here.

Garage Sale Hostess with the Mostess,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on garage saling, business or otherwise):
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