If, like lots of business owners, you wrote a business plan in January, it’s scary to think that we’re already 4 weeks into the year. How are you getting on with your plan? Did you break it down into manageable chunks or did you put it away in your drawer?
Well, it’s time to take it out of your drawer and review the last 4 weeks to see where you are.
I’m a massive fan of reviewing plans:
reviews keep you on track
no plan should ever be set in stone, so if your business is going in a different direction already (a client may have new needs, etc.) then you can adjust your plan accordingly.
Reviewing your plan doesn’t need to be a time-consuming exercise but you do need to set time aside to do it without interruptions. Give the process the time it deserves so that you can be fully aware of what you’ve achieved, how and why – and what you haven’t achieved, how, and why.
So, make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, grab a biscuit and your plan and then answer these six questions to review what you’ve achieved to date.
What has gone well in my business over the past 4 weeks?
This is a review of what has gone really well so far. Have you achieved because you’re doing things the same way as you always have, or have you made some changes? If so, what are the changes and how have they helped? What will you continue to do?
What hasn’t been going too well?
Are there areas that you’ve been working on that haven’t gone to plan? If so, then this is exactly why a review at this stage is crucial! Changes can be made early on without too much loss or time being wasted.
So, ask yourself, what do you need to change? If you’re not sure right now, then that’s ok. Make a note of this area of concern so that you can do some research into how to turn it around.
Where are my leads coming from?
What works well in terms of lead generation for you?
It might be social media, traditional press, word of mouth, referrals, etc.
Note down your numbers on your plan so that you can refer to them and analyse them again on your next review.
How well am I converting my leads?
Do you know what ratio of leads are turning into paying clients? If you’re unsure, make a note to set up a simple system where you can record this data. I use a spreadsheet that tells me who’s interested, where they found me, the date, their query, the outcome and if I’ve followed up.
Are you following up? Marketeers will tell you that the results are in the follow ups. Don’t ever be afraid to go back to someone who’s expressed an interest in your service. Set yourself a number (usually 3 or 4) times to go back to someone to see if they’re still interested. Don’t be pushy – just ask nicely. I’ve gained clients from following up – simply because the person was busy in the beginning, life happened, and they forgot to come back to me.
What am I doing that doesn’t bring results?
It’s really easy to get into a habit of doing a certain ‘thing’ or ‘task’ within your business that doesn’t actually generate anything for you. If this is you, then you won’t be the only one! We get comfortable doing certain things - and whilst we may know we should be focussing on other things, they may be totally out of our comfort zone. So we procrastinate by carrying on as usual. It’s perfectly reasonable - we’re only human, but it won’t help your business.
Consider what it is that you’re doing or where you’re spending a lot of time without generating results, and then think about what you can do to change things here.
Do I need help?
Sometimes we can feel like we just hit a wall in business, and we don’t know where to turn next. We may encounter a stumbling block or a problem and literally not know how to solve it.
Sometimes we need to be kept accountable to get the tasks we least want to do, done.
Being a business owner is lovely in terms of being free to set the rules, run the business our own way and do the things you want to do. But it can also be lonely, frustrating and require a lot of hard effort and resilience.
There will always be a time in your business when you’ll need help. Help can come in various forms:
· Google – let’s face it, where would we be without it! It’s our go to research tool.
· Books – a fantastic learning resource.
· A listening ear – we know that a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s not always easy to talk to friends and family about our business though – it’s important to find someone likeminded, another business owner perhaps, who understands the stresses, strains, issues and various business problems that we all face. There are plenty of social media groups set up to do just this. Find a group that suits your industry and get connecting. Sometimes you can splinter off a Mastermind group which is a small group of 4 or 5 business owners, you each have time to talk about your business issues and you help each other overcome them.
· Professional help – a business coach; accountability coach/mentor – a professional who can offer advice, training or ask the right questions of you so that you can move your business forward.
Consider what would work best for you.
So now you’ve reviewed your plan, do you need to make any tweaks or changes. Are you happy with your results? Consider what you need to do next and how – and change your plan accordingly. Now you’re set in the right direction again to achieve your goals. Don’t forget to communicate to anyone who works with you – you don’t want to be going off in your new direction and leaving employees or outsourced support behind!
I do hope these questions will be helpful to you if you don’t currently have a system to review your plan. And don’t forget - a review isn’t something you do just once! Good business practice would see you reviewing your plans regularly, so why not diarise the time at the end of each month - then you’ll really keep on track. It’s also good practice to involve anyone else who works with you in your business.
Do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.