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How To Keep Your Business Plan At The Front Of Your Mind

How To Keep Your Business Plan At The Front Of Your Mind

Your business plan ought to be a clear, concise roadmap that will lead your business to success. Without a plan, you’ll find it harder to communicate your vision. Harder to see the actions you need to take to grow your company.

Below are five ideas I’ve found helpful when preparing a business plan, both for myself and my clients

#1 Cut the blurb

You know all the buzz words and phrases you often hear in a business meeting. For your plan, be as concise as possible and eliminate any fluffy filler language, i.e. the blurb. The fluff distracts from your message and aim, even if it sounds wonderful. Investors, employees and even clients don’t want to be reading pages of waffle. They want you to get to the point and understand the necessary actions.

#2 Be realistic

It is not wrong to have big dreams for your business, ambition is a good thing. But your business plan is not the place to be writing about your dreams. Instead, it would be best if you were honest with yourself. In your business plan, think about the challenges and opportunities, this will give you a balanced approach to what is achievable. Considering the challenges is not a negative approach; your business will succeed if you have a strong idea. But, considering and understanding the risk makes good business sense.

#3 Show you are cautious

The bottom line is no one wants to invest in a reckless entrepreneur who doesn’t understand the numbers. When setting targets, use examples to show how you have reached those conclusions. Look at the data, and if anything, err on the side of caution when working on your projections.

Again, you could argue this is a negative approach. But if the figures are saying you can succeed in the worst-case scenario, think how amazing it will be if none of the challenges materialise

#4 Include visuals

They say a picture paints a thousand words; hence whenever possible, use visuals in your business plan. Graphs, charts, photos and illustrations help break up the text and bring your concepts to life. Appropriately used visuals can help you take the reader on your journey. They can create a flow to the document and helping any visual learners understand your concepts better.

#5 Be Creative

We have all watched Dragon Den; the best pitches are those that grab the audience’s attention and get them excited about a product.

It is the same with your business plan. Include something creative and unique in your plan that makes you stand out from the crowd. That excites the reader and makes them want to invest in your ideas, plans, and dreams.

If done correctly, your business plan will help identify and overcome any weaknesses or areas of concern for your business. It will help you identify and hone in on your market and how to best meet their requirements. Your business plan will be essential in applying for investment or funding. Plus, if you ever get to the point of sale, it will show your sound business sense.

Keeping Your Business Plan In The Front Of Your Mind

Elements of a Business Plan diagram

So great, you are the proud owner of a well-thought-out business plan. But exactly how do you turn your plan into relativity? Here are a few ideas to help you ensure your business plan is always at the front of your mind.

#1 Turn the plan into a series of actions.

Identify what needs to happen at each stage of your plan. Break your business plan down into manageable actions, then prioritise and allocate those actions to your team. 

#2 Use a project management tool

Use a project management tool (I use Trello) to share information and collaborate with your team members. Don’t forget to record the milestone on the tool so everyone can see your progress.

 

#3 Calendar regular review dates

Pop regular review dates in your calendar so that you regularly revisit your plan. I would suggest at least quarterly. However, if that seems a lot of work for a particular month, break it down so that you review one element of the plan each month. For example, you might look at market research this month, competitor analysis next month and operational efficiency, the following month.

Always remember, though, that no plan is perfect. Your business plan is a living document and needs constant adjustment depending on and the market. But, starting with a well-thought-out strategy can be the difference between the success or failure of your business.

3 Key Metrics Every Small Business Should Be Tracking

3 Key Metrics Every Small Business Should Be Tracking

In business, you should track certain key metrics to help you measure if you are working efficiently. Understanding your business metrics can also help you understand if you are using your time and resources effectively. Below are a couple of areas you should be tracking when it comes to tracking your business metrics.

 

No Money, No Business

Let’s start with the money because if your financial figures don’t add up, your business will not succeed.

Revenue

You should know how much you are bringing into the business, where that money is coming from and when it will be coming in. This is especially important if you have multiple revenue streams. Understanding what products/services are generating money and which are not helps you focus your business activities that maximise your revenue.

Expenses

While it is essential to understand where the money is coming from, it is equally important to monitor where it is going. Understanding both gives you a better handle on your profit and cash flow.
However, as well as tracking the actual figures, you also need to understand what those expenses are in relation to your revenues, i.e. what is bringing you the best return on investment. For example, if you are doing Facebook ads, you need to know if those ads are getting you the right type of responses that you can convert into clients and revenue.

Is your website working for you?

Google Analytics

Google Analytics
Google Analytics can tell you a great deal about your marketing strategy, content strategy and target audience. Plus, not just who your target market is, but also their buying habits. Understanding their patterns should help drive and shape the content you are putting out on social media and marketing.
Top questions to be looking for in your Google Analytics: 
  • What social media networks or other conversion channels, e.g. email marketing, drive your website traffic?
  • Check out the ‘acquisition area’ to find out what pages are visited from which source. Then the ‘behaviour area’ to understand which blogs or resources they visit? These are your prime pages for putting offers on.
  • Again under the behaviour section, check what blogs are visited? Write more like these and less on the ones with no traction – it’s about using your time wisely.
  • If you have multiple products/services, are certain ones getting higher website traffic than others? Again these could be the ones you need to focus your efforts on with regards to marketing. But also ensuring you convert as much of this interest as possible into sales.
Google analytics can initially look overwhelming; it has many different reports and ways to slice and dice the information. But remember, you don’t have to figure it all out from day one. If you are starting to use Google Analytics, focus on these key questions and begin to monitor them consistently, you can build on your reporting as you get more confident with the system (or ask a Virtual Business Manager to support you, of course)

Key Metrics For Social Media

Posting consistently brings social media success

 

Tracking your social media statistics and growth can help you understand where to focus your efforts/time. Also, where your target audience is hanging out and the messages, they are responding to. The easiest metric to track is the monthly growth in followers, as all platforms provide this information on their built-in dashboards.
 
New followers show:-
  1. that people on that social network are interested in what you are sharing
  2. it gives you an idea of whether your efforts in that network are productive. As well as a reflection on whether your content strategy is working.
    However, while followers is an excellent statistic, it is not the whole picture. Engagement is very important to measure, plus any actions that bring your followers to your website and into your customer journey funnel. The measure of this engagement piece can be seen on your Google Analytics. It helps you get an indication of the social media channels that are bringing people to your website, plus the pages on your website generate the most interest.
     
    Not as trackable but relevant is how you regard the engagement on each social channel. Most of us have a channel we feel we get more comments from and feel more connected with. However, is the messaging working if that channel isn’t bringing you any new business? Is it a productive use of your time?
     
    Remember that most social media sites will give you insight into the number of comments or interactions on their in-app dashboard. So make sure to check this as well regularly. Additionally, many programs or apps are designed to give you insight. I use the in-built apps for Facebook and Linkedin. For Instagram I use the in-app dashboard, a phone app called ??? and the phone app ??? for Twitter.
    There are loads of tools and information on your social media activities. However, I have the same warning as for Google Analytics – it is easy to drive yourself crazy with numbers. When starting out, pick what you are measuring and do it consistently to understand trends. You can add to it later if needed.
    A Definitive Guide to Identifying and Firing Bad Clients

    A Definitive Guide to Identifying and Firing Bad Clients

    If you’re an agency owner or just a freelancer, you know that the clients you get can vary a lot! Some are amazing, and give enough time and money to put your best work out!

    However, some aren’t that great to work with. So instead of letting them take control of your life, you need to deal with them. But how do you do it? Stay tuned to find out.

    Why Do You Sometimes Need to Fire Clients?

    Why Fire Clients

    The biggest problem many small agencies and freelancers have with clients is that they are scared to fire them. That’s because they are paying money to you. And if you “break up” with them, you won’t get any money from them.

    While that’s a valid concern, it shouldn’t be your excuse for not taking action. The thing is, firing clients will be better for you in the long term as you’ll have time for higher-paying clients.

    Plus, your bad clients will take even more time away with the countless revisions and back-and-forth communication.

    So instead of wasting your time on work that you might not get paid, you should instead start firing those clients so you can take your small business to new heights.

    How to Identify a Bad Client?

    But before you do and go out there to end contracts with clients you don’t like, it’s best to take a couple of steps back and think if the client truly is a bad one. That will help you to save yourself from ending relationships with good clients.

    So how do you identify a bad client? Well, there are a few ways to do it:

    •  They have unrealistic expectations – If you see one who wants you to complete a project with an unrealistic deadline, you probably have gotten a bad client.
    • They promise you “future work” – If you see a potential client who wants you to work for free with a promise of future work, then probably this customer wants to take advantage of you without paying for anything.
    • They don’t respond to you – If you see a client that doesn’t respond to your questions, then you’ve probably stumbled upon a bad client. That could cause late payments which you don’t want.

    While these three ways give a good outlook on which clients are you’ve not, it’s not bulletproof. For this, I highly suggest you start collecting data on each client you have. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of your clients, and you’ll make better decisions in the future.

    Learn more about it in my How To Collect Business Data Successfully blog post.

    4 Tips for Dealing and Avoiding With Bad Clients

    Now that you understand who a bad client is, it’s time to deal with them. With these four tips, you will learn how to end your relationship with bad clients and avoid them in the first place.

    Tip #1 – Turn them into good clients

    One of the best ways to deal with bad clients is turning them into good ones. And here’s why!

    The thing is, most bad clients don’t have experience with what you’re working on. They might think that your work is easy, so it shouldn’t cost that much or take that much time.

    But if you can show them how hard it is, most of them will have more appreciation for your work and most likely will be willing to pay you more or give you a longer time frame to finish your project.

    Here’s how you can do it:

    •  Co-work with your clients – If there’s a possibility, start co-working with your client. That way, they’ll see firsthand what it takes you to finish something and what you go through before sending out the finished product.
    • Be more transparent – Talk about the process you go through before sending the finished product. While that might not be as convincing as co-working, it could still open the client’s eyes.

    Tip #2 – Fire them in a professional way

    If you cannot work with them or they refuse to change, it’s best for both of you to end the relationship between you two. However, don’t go out there insulting your client, as that could backfire and ruin your reputation. Instead, here are a few ways to deal with them:

    •  Give them a refund – If you have the money, it’s best to give it back to them and say that you two aren’t a fit in a professional manner.
    • Refer to another freelancer/agency – If you know someone who could do what your client is asking from you, you should help them out. That way, They won’t have any hard feelings for you.

    Tip #3 – Tell them simply what you do

    Your clients might not understand what you can offer to them. If your title designer or design team, that could mean many things. For example, some might think you can do social media graphics, while others believe you can create a beautiful WordPress website.

    So instead of confusing your clients, it’s best to tell them what exactly you can do for them. For example, instead of having a title of a designer on your profile/website, you should have something like this:

    • WordPress Website Designer
    • Modern & Minimalistic Logo Designer
    • Social Media Graphic Designer for Instagram

    #4 – Talk about your price & set expectations

    Another way you can avoid bad clients is by setting expectations and mentioning the price on your website. That way, you can avoid people who won’t be willing to pay for the price or with your suggested timeframe.

    Conclusion

    And that’s how you deal with bad clients! Once you’ve dealt with them, you’ll be able to free up your time to work with clients that not only pay you but respect what you’re doing.

     And if you need any help with your agency or freelancing career, then be sure to book a coaching call with me! I used to be an Account Manager for an international company, so I’m sure I can help you with this topic!

     

    How To Use The Covey Matrix To Smash Your Goals

    How To Use The Covey Matrix To Smash Your Goals

    Previously I talked about the importance of managing your time efficiently. One of the most important aspects of this is to evaluate the tasks in your life. Hence, you want to lay them out in a time management matrix. This gives you the critical information you need when planning how to work your way through the list

    What Is A Time Management Matrix

    The Time Management matrix goes by many names – the Covey Matrix, the Eisenhower Matrix, the Urgent Matrix, and many, many other variants. It’s been discovered and reused by business planners for decades. Presidents have used it. CEOs have used it. So have work-from-home parents and struggling students.

    It’s all about the nature of each task. Let’s look at a grid with four cubes in it.

    Tasks get put into whichever of these four cubes makes the most sense.

    Seems simple, right? But if we look at the tasks we tend to do in life, a lot of them somehow end up being the “urgent but not important” ones. The things that cry the loudest and perhaps are quick, easy, and painless to do. It brings a sense of progress. But in the meantime, urgent and important things are often left undone because they seem complicated or stressful. And the non-urgent things keep getting shunted to the back of the list until suddenly they become urgent.

    The aim of this matrix is to let you look logically at the items you have before you. 

    The Covey Matrix Explained

    Urgent And Important (Do It Now)

    Yes, these have to be done. If your car’s tire goes flat, it has to be fixed. You should always leave time in your schedule for these items which can pop up by surprise. That being said, it’s important to track your schedule over time. If certain things keep popping into this area, look for ways to head them off before they become urgent. It can sometimes mean you aren’t spending enough time in the second category, which is:

    Not Urgent And Important (Schedule It)

    The more you can work steadily on these important things at a reasonable pace, the better life in general goes. That flow of calm, smooth energy tends to maximize progress and quality. Bills should be paid on time. Correspondence should be kept up to date. Not only does it build a better system in general, but it also reduces stress on those involved.

    Urgent And Not Important (Delegate)

    We all fall for these tasks. Something exciting is happening. Someone stops by with a question or need. There’s a balance here. We don’t want to ignore everything around us – but there needs to be a focus. Find ways to lessen those distractions. Take steps to remind yourself just what is important to spend your time on, and why.

    Not Urgent And Not Important (Don’t Do It)

    Ah, the time sinks. We all have them. Sometimes they’re useful in small doses as stress relievers. But if you didn’t have the stress in the first place, you wouldn’t need these to take up even more time. The more you can whittle these tasks out of your schedule, the more time you’ll have available for the key things that have to get done. The more your life will open up to new, soul-filling possibilities.

    How To Get Started

    It’s a good idea to fill out this Covey Matrix regularly at first, so you get a firm handle on where your time is going. A downloadable version is available HERE. Once you get into the rhythm of it, it’ll be second nature to consider where a task falls. Still, it’s a good idea to fill in a grid every week or two, just as a reminder of what you need to focus on and where your path is currently heading. 

     

    How To Review Your Marketing Plan

    How To Review Your Marketing Plan

    Sales are the oxygen of any business. Without it, no business can survive! That is why almost every business makes marketing plans. This way, your company can achieve its business goals and continue growing.

    But there’s a major problem with many small businesses. They think it’s just a one-time task! Instead, the plan needs to be tweaked and changed constantly for efficiency. But how do you do it? Stay tuned to find out.

    Why It’s So Important to Review Your Marketing Plan?

    To put it simply, times change all the time! And with it, something always unexpected happens. Just think about the last two years; a lot happened. First, iOS 14 changed online advertising forever with its new privacy features. And who can forget about the worldwide pandemic going on?

    Nobody was able to predict those things! And for that reason alone, you should constantly go over your plans and change them. That way, you’ll adapt quickly and get ahead of all the competition.

    Nobody was able to predict those things! And for that reason alone, you should constantly go over your plans and change them. That way, you’ll adapt quickly and get ahead of all the competition.

    So how often should you review your business planning? That all depends on your organization, but the rule of thumb is to check it at least every quarter. Also, make sure you involve your team! You never know when some of them come up with better ideas than you!

    How to Review Your Marketing Plan

    Reviewing a ma

    Now that you understand the importance, it’s time to work on your plan. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy! There are only four steps for an effective review. 

    Step #1 – Evaluate Your Past Activity

    Let’s start off by looking through our current plan. Specifically, let’s read through our presumptions. Once read, we should start comparing them to the existing data and information we have. What did we get right? And more importantly, what did we get wrong?

    By answering these questions, we understand what and where we need to change our postulations.

    Step #2 – Evaluate Your Marketing Strategy

    Now it’s time to look at our marketing strategy. We should first again start by reading through our marketing tactics. Once finished, we should decide if it’s still a viable strategy for today. To help you out, you should ask yourself and your team the following: 

    • Did the tactics work as expected?
    • How did your target market respond to it?
    • Was your marketing reach expanding?

    Responding to these questions helps you to see how well your marketing has gone. Also, if you work with a marketing agency, I highly recommend you to speak with them and ask for feedback.

    Step #3 – Lessons Learned

    By now, you should have a good understanding if your marketing plan was a success or not! However, before going on and updating your plan, we must look back at our own experience.

    What mistakes did we make during that time? How could we avoid that in the future? Without acknowledging them, we’re doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. So, look back, and consider them when updating your plan.

    Step #4 – Updating and Implementing Your Marketing Plan

    Now all that is left is to start making adjustments to your plans. So take everything to consider and adapt your marketing. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to use the four marketing Ps. That will help you make it even more effective.

    If you don’t know how to do it, then find expert help. It’s okay not to know about everything!  While consulting hours can be expensive, they are worth every penny. With their help, not only will you get in the right direction, but you’ll also avoid paying thousands of dollars due to costly mistakes.

     Now that your plan has been altered, it’s time to take action! Make sure you talk everything through with your team. That way, you and your colleagues know exactly what they need to change, making it faster for your company to adapt.

    Conclusion

    And that’s how you review your marketing plan. I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful and that you’ll implement it in your business. However, if you find yourself stuck in the planning process, I’d be happy to help. I would love to help you out with conducting the review and by showing you how to manage the implementations. Book a scheduling call here.