Saturday, June 25, 2011

Undoing the Business Plan Brain Freeze

“We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference,
and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”
                                                                                                            Sonia Johnson

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

                                                                                                      Winston Churchill


1. Three most important activities: listen, give constructive feedback, welcome feedback!

2. All ideas are valid and must be taken seriously by each participant.
3. At the end of the session, spend 10 minutes to conduct a Plus/Delta evaluation.

Section One: Bringing Value – Maximum Time: 90 min.
Incorporate Your GPS Into the Soul of Your Company
Your business is your passion. It speaks directly to the phoenix rising within you to fulfill your purpose in life. Your First Commitment is to assure that your business works in synergy to the Guide to Personal Success you wrote earlier. Ask yourself how your personal goals, your ethics, and your future are satisfied by the business vessel you are about to launch. It is a Soul Manifesto – the promise to yourself. We also call this your Personal Mission Statement – a 15-word mantra you can say to yourself daily.
Final Statement Maximum: 100 words          Soul Manifesto: 15 words
Your Company’s Value to the World - Visioneering
Taking your GPS concepts, you are placing them within the context of your business. This step moves your dreams into a concrete form factor. This is your Vision Statement. It explains five things: 1. how your business brings value to the world, 2. what values your business holds, 3. who makes up your ideal customers, 4. what you are promising to your customers and 5. how this business meets your goals and dreams.  With your strategy session participants, it’s important to release your fears and express your ideas; good, bad and ridiculous because powerful results come from the openness you create. Engage your trusted group to brainstorm to your ideas because great “ideas” know no bounds.
Final Statement Maximum: 125 words
(take a 10-minute break to reflect or continue to Section Two without a break if the group is moving well)

Section Two: Marketing – Maximum Time: 90 minutes
Why your Product/Service is needed in the marketplace
You can’t make money from your vision or your values until someone knows you exist. That’s the role of marketing. First provide the most fundamental description of what you’re selling such as “I’m selling an organic red apple that is sweetly tart.” Next, create a message of emotion that you believe will strike an impact with your niche customer: “Remember the aroma from that apple your mom sliced up one summer evening . . . .”  Since you cannot compete against the established, well-financed companies, how can you implement “disruptive innovation” in defining your product/service? Use the SUCCESs formula – Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotional and Stories.  Tell your story and grab that emotional impact that your niche market will crave for. Ask your participants to tell you what they think of what you’re selling and in the manner you’re selling it.
Final Statement Maximum: 75 words

Understand your customers and their needs – the Platinum Rule
Remember: you will never be all things to all people. However, you can be the best kept secret to a small passionate client base. Start by profiling your ideal customer. What’s important to them: time, price, knowledge? What is it about them that’s different? With that differentiation, what unique way can you then satisfy their needs? What is it that your customers expect from you? How will you then outperform your client’s expectations? Who are your competitors and what can you learn from them? How will you distinguish yourself from your competitors? Who do you not want as your customer? Now, develop a customer profile: What are their needs, motivations, and characteristics? In the end, what is it that we’re bringing to improve our customers’ business or lives?
Final Statement Maximum: 100 words

Plan Your Opportunities and Know What Improvements to Make
Okay, it’s time to get real. What’s your SWOT—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to your business? Called a SWOT Analysis, it is an honest appraisal of your business and all the things around it. And it’s how you take stock of the business environment as you open your doors. The questions are in the four areas of the SWOT analysis. What do you do better than anyone else? What assets do you hold, and what capabilities do you have? What is it you do not do well? What is happening outside of the company that will affect you? Are there global events that will affect your business? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors? What forces are driving the sales in your industry? What might be potentially important markets to explore? Answer other questions specific to your industry.
Time: 60 minutes            Statement Maximum: 150 words

Section Three: Sales – Maximum Time: 60 minutes
How you’ll convince enough people to buy what you sell
Starting a business is not the same as making money. Making money means 1. there are enough people who will buy your stuff and 2. they’ll spend enough money to cover all your costs and provide a satisfactory profit. Your Sales objective is getting perspective clients to become  happy  paying clients.  How will you go about finding perspective clients? Write your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) specific to Sales – how will you sell so that your clients felt good about the transaction. How will perspective clients learn to trust you? In order to close a deal, what steps will you take? Sales is based on trust which needs to be taken to the next level: a referral system: provide the steps for both your clients and your staff to participate.
Final Statement Maximum: 50 words

Section Four: Honoring Your Word
What Constitutes Success for Your Business?
Your goals and objectives are your benchmarks in meeting your company’s mission and vision. Just so we’re clear: objectives are the big picture intentions. They are long term and tied into your company mission statement. Goals lead to satisfying each objective and carry a shorter sensitivity to time. Write out no more than five objectives that give meaning to your mission and vision, accomplishable within one, two, and three years. Next write out three to five achievable goals that define how you’ll meet each objective. Your goals should be specific, indicating the exact outcome you’re looking for, who will perform it, and the drop-dead due date. Keep in mind all the discussion that’s taken place so far.
Time: 45 minutes           Statement Maximum: 150 words

Develop Your Company’s Mission Statement
This is your company’s statement of purpose written for your staff and the world as a company manifesto – simply and clearly. This statement alone tells what you do and triggers an emotional connection to your niche. It reveals: 1. what you offer, 2. how you’ll offer it, 3. where you’ll offer it and 4. to whom you’ll offer it. Ask your strategic participants to take the Vision Statement and your Soul Manifesto to form a short, easy-to-remember statement that attracts the right clients. Ask yourself: What exactly does our business do? What are the benefits our clients receive from us? How do we deliver our promises? Key point: Mission statements must be short, easy to remember, and have a long-term intent.
Time: 60 minutes        Writing out Ideas, Maximum: 100 words      Mission Statement: 15 words

Section Five: The Bottomline
Action Item #7: Analyze the Time, Money, and Resources Needed to Meet Your Objectives
Here’s where you’ll assess your resources because no matter how important each objective is, they won’t get done unless you weigh your budget, time, and manpower. How much money will you need to meet that goal and who will do it? Usually, what you want to accomplish and your budget are likely off-kilter. The best thing to do is assess the importance of each goal and ask if it makes financial sense. If it does, put it to the top; if it doesn’t, then lower its priority. This exercise will put in the reality of launching your business. But don’t let it discourage you! Remember: you can start any business with exactly what you have right now.
Time: 30 minutes           Statement Maximum: 100 words
Action Item #9: Establish the Action Plan To-Do List
Now you’re writing an action plan—the final part. In this process of breaking down and simplifying how we will attain our objective, follow this guide: go negative first by asking, “What will stop me from reaching my goal?” Review your SWOT Analysis. Then use your answers to design a to-do list to overcome any problems and to reach each goal. State when each action item is to be completed and by whom. Then require the responsible person to create an action plan with all the tasks for their area.
Time: 45 minutes           Statement Maximum: 100 words
Action Item #10: Track Your Progress
Achievements require you to keep a scorecard. It is through this method that you’ll know what measurements were attained and when. It is imperative that your scorecard is updated regularly so that your objectives are well within your constant vigilance, and you’re able to track your progress. They can be graphical like an empty vase or a written timeline.
Time: Ongoing             Statement Maximum: 100 words
Bonus Action Item: Get In the Habit and Control Your Destiny!
Sure you’re proud of yourself for completing this Strategy Session. Who wouldn’t be? But the work is only beginning, so make Strategy Sessions a regular part of your company’s agenda. Provide time each month to review and update the status of your objectives and goals. Be flexible, adaptable, and realize that during the course of your business life that these objectives and goals may need to change based on you, your company environment, and all the factors around you that will impact your business.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself. Any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss

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