When I started my first business, I made all the mistakes that many business owners make. I had no business plan and I didn't have a clear picture about how I would get new clients or even how I would take care of existing clients. I was operating my business in the dark, and it often felt like I was trying to feel my way toward growing a successful business.
I was struggling a lot with actually making the business viable. I would have moments where the business seemed to be working, and then I would have moments where it was clear the business wasn't working.
You know, the feast and famine cycle that many businesses go through.
And why does this happen to so many businesses? Why isn't there a fool proof plan that just allows you to rake in the money, while taking care of your customers?
Well some people will tell you there is a fool proof plan. Set up a funnel and your business will automatically grow. Learn online marketing and the money will just flow in.
It's not quite that simple.
The fact is, if you don't have a plan and process in place, all the online marketing and all the sales tactics and everything else that's being sold out there like gangbusters simply won't work. And let me very clear here: Setting up a funnel and doing some online marketing isn't a business plan...it's a tactic.
And how do I know this?
Because I've made that kind of mistake where I thought if I just had the right tools and used the sales and marketing tactics that worked for other people, it would surely allow me to rake in the money and have a successful business. But, really I was still running my business on reaction.
What does it mean to grow your business by design?
Look, I don't want to scare you away from your business and I won't tell you its impossible to run a successful business, but what stands out to me, from working with my different clients over the years, plus my own business struggles is that most business owners skip planning their business by design in favor of getting to the sexy marketing and sales tactics that so many people are selling.
And let's be honest, those sexy marketing and sales tactics seduce us with the idea that we can cut corners and make quick money that will solve all our problems and make our business viable, with the snap of a finger!
Yet those sexy marketing and sales tactics won't work or will only kinda work if you don't have a design that you can use to map out how your business ought to work.
A business without a design, a plan, and processes is a business run by reaction that inevitably will be run into the ground. I know that's a hard truth to read, but if you have no plan or design in place, all the marketing and sales tactic in the world will not guarantee your success.
When you grow a business by design, you have the business and the processes of the business mapped out and you understand how your business ought to run. And you also know where and when to apply those sexy marketing and sales tactics that promise you the world (and otherwise fall flat).
Even a lot of the "Business planning" I see discussed online is mainly about planning your launch, which is good to do, but isn't the same thing as planning your business.
A business that is planned by design isn't solely set up around marketing and sales. It acknowledges the importance of marketing and sales, but it also looks at the overall financial picture of the business, the customer experience, the operations, and other logistical concerns that need to be addressed to make the business viable. When you set a business up be design you're putting into place systems and processes that help you run your business. Watch the video below to learn more about what systems and processes are and why you need them for your business.
In my Grow Your Business by Design workbook, I include my business blueprint that helps you start setting your business up by design by creating the systems and processes that will help you run your business using a strategic plan instead of a tactical plan.
What's the difference between a strategic and tactical plan?
The difference between a strategic and tactical plan is that a strategic plan holistically maps out what you need to do to create a viable business and scale it for growth, while a tactical plan only focuses on short term growth based on specific actions. Both plans have their value, but a lot of business owners focus on the tactical plan at the expense of setting up a strategic plan.
The value of the strategic plan is that it becomes the north star of your business, helping you look at each of your part business and make sure that each part is working in harmony, to make the business successful overall. It's what allows you to move your business from a place of overwhelm and reaction, to a place of proactive design that supports your business at whatever stage its at.
The mistake I've made and I see a lot of other business owners make is that they get caught up in the belief that a sales/marketing tactic is the plan for the business. And while you DO need to plan your marketing and sales and execute them, it shouldn't be the only thing you focus on in your business. A strategic plan makes sure that you look at the whole picture and helps you figure out where your tactical plan fits into that picture.
There's also another factor to consider with business planning, and that's how you set your business up to handle growth or downsizing.
Because sometimes your business will grow and sometimes it will shrink, and you need to know how to handle both situations.
How do I factor growth and loss in my business?
Hard truth time here.
Sometimes your business will grow and sometimes it will shrink.
And when you grow your business without a plan, you're setting yourself up for failure, because while growth is typically seen as a good thing, if there are no processes or systems in place to support that growth, it can actually hurt your business. The reason is simple: Growth that isn't planned for is growth that overwhelms you.
For example, answer the following question honestly: If ten people became my clients tomorrow, could I handle that much growth, still take care of existing clients and be able to live my life?
Now 10 new clients sounds awesome, but if you have no process in place to handle those new clients, then you'll be overwhelmed and overloaded in your business.
And that's what happens when people run their business by reaction, instead of taking the time to proactively design it.
Alternately your business can go through a downturn. Maybe some clients wrap their work up with you or or a launch doesn't go as you hoped it would, or a product stops being so popular. Or maybe you just decide you need to make a change in your business, and there's some short term loss. You want to anticipate and catch those problems as best as possible, and you do that by planning for them.
Will a plan solve all my business problems?
No it won't solve all your business problems. But the business plan can help you put those problems into context and figure out what you can do to resolve them. Think of a business plan as a barometer. When used properly a business plan helps you identify what is or isn't working in your business, which is important, because then you can make changes and get your business back on course.
When there is no business plan, when the business is run day by day or launch by launch, you're operating from a place of reaction, and you aren't in control of your business. So if you don't have a business plan or if you do, but you haven't looked at it in a while, Grab my grow your business by design workbook and start planning your business by design. Because when you plan your business by design, you give it a foundation that helps you grow it successfully.