Do you have your 2015 Business Plan in place?
By Rodney Camren

October is usually the month that business coaches and owners start planning the year ahead.  In this case as we are officially in the last quarter of 2014, whatever we do as small business owners for the next three months will show up at the beginning of the year 2015.  However what we usually see is that most small business owners barely show up for the day let alone for the year and don’t ask them if they have a 5 year business plan as you will get a blank stare and dead silence.  

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Patricia Schaefer writes in her blog on BusinessKnowHow.com  “The Seven Pitfalls of Business Failure and How to Avoid Them” states According to statistics published by the Small Business Administration (SBA), seven out of ten new employer establishments survive at least two years and 51 percent survive at least five years.  She continues to state in the 5th reason of 7 is “Lack of Planning ~ (and I couldn’t agree more).  Here is what she says, “Anyone who has ever been in charge of a successful major event knows that were it not for their careful, methodical, strategic planning -- and hard work -- success would not have followed. The same could be said of most business successes.   It is critical for all businesses to have a business plan. Many small businesses fail because of fundamental shortcomings in their business planning. It must be realistic and based on accurate, current information and educated projections for the future.   Components may include:  Description of the business, vision, goals, and keys to success, Work force needs,  Potential problems and solutions,  Financial: capital equipment and supply list, balance sheet, income statement and cash flow analysis, sales and expense forecast,  Analysis of competition,  Marketing, advertising and promotional activities,  Budgeting and managing company growth,  In addition, most bankers request a business plan if you are seeking to secure addition capital for your company.”


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If by the end of the day you have passed them all out, then you may return home.  If you have a few left in your pocket then you must stay out in the community until you can find a person to hand the rest of your business card to. Just think about it, an additional 100 people per week with your business card.  Don’t you think someone will call you at some point for your services?  One hundred a week turns into 400 a month and 5,200 per year.  It’s all about the numbers.  The second part of this is to collect and build a database of people you come in contact with as well.  Take the reverse of handing your card out and imagine if you collected 5,200 business cards and contacts over a year.  That is a lot of people that you know and who know you.

2) Database Follow up:  This is one of the biggest short comings I have seen with many business owners. They love meeting people and going to networking events and they love collecting the business cards.  However, they never follow up. They never get to know and build a relationship with those they are meeting and then just expect people to call because they met you or got your business card.  That isn’t enough as a business owner you must build trust and an intentional relationship with those around you.  This is a really simple process as well if you plan and know what you are doing for the following year.   Most networking business owners think that adding a person to the email newsletter and database is enough, it’s not.   Again, a business owner needs to build a relationship with the new contact.  There are several ways of doing this via, face-to-face, direct mail, email and phone calls.  Face-to-Face could include events such as networking, client appreciation parties, community events such as festivals, theatre and functions that you can invite your database to attend with you or on your behalf.   There is always something going on in your community that you could invite or remind people to attend.  It is a communication that keeps you connected not only with your contact but also with your community.  There are 12 months in the year, you could very easily send out a postcard, magazine, newspaper or even newsletter to your database.  Before email the mailboxes were full of letters, thank you cards and junk mail all the time.  Now that we are in an age of technology and email bombardment, people have empty mailboxes.  I have heard time after time how much enjoyment people get from a hand written thank you card they find in the mail, or a birthday, anniversary or simply a thinking of you card that shows up in the mailbox.   It is one of those reminders about you and your business.  Email is another way to keep people up-to-date on what you do and who you are, especially if you are sending them emails on information the contact is really looking for when it arrives in their inbox.  Don’t over bombard them with generic information that looks canned.  Take the time to actually draft an email that helps them with their personal life or things in their community.  Create an email that has substance, it may take a little longer to draft but in the end it will be worth the effort when they call you for your services.  Lastly, if you have collected your information from your contact such as name, address, email and phone number along with birthday, anniversary and things like hobbies, sports and family then you can call them as well.  Isn’t it nice when someone out of the blue calls you to wish you a happy birthday or wishes you well on a special occasion.  

All of this boils down to three things, lead generation, building a meaningful relationship with those you come in contact with and planning how to stay in touch with them.   Know your numbers for 2015, back up the full year on how many transaction you need to hit your goals and then go lead generate, build relationships and follow up to succeed.   The time is NOW in this last quarter of 2014 for you to succeed and have your best year in 2015! 

 

New-Lvlle-roundThis article is sponsored by New Lawrenceville. New Lawrenceville is a FREE networking organization of businesses and volunteers that are working to bring community together.  https://www.facebook.com/NEWLawrenceville?fref=ts

Author Rodney Camren helps to lead New Lawrenceville in an effort to promote buying locally, educate the community on issues that affect our community. Rodney Camren is a Real Estate Agent with Keller Wiliams.