By , on Business Planning, Small Business.

  1. Want to write or update your business plan? Make a date with yourself. Schedule a series of business planning meetings, and don’t cancel! Stick with your business planning “dates:” you’ll build momentum and avoid being derailed by your busy schedule.
  2. Define what you are really offering to your customers: Write down exactly what problems your company helps customers solve, or how you make your customers’ lives happier, more profitable or more fulfilling. Understanding the true benefits you provide your customers makes marketing much easier.
  3. Shop with your competition. You can learn a lot from your competitors’ brochures and web sites, but you’ll really get a feel for how your competitors do business if you shop with them. You’ve got to separate yourself from your competition, or be the low cost prover, if your business is to survive.
  4. Create a simple marketing plan and calendar, complete with a budget. Break it down by quarter: Will you have a brochure designed, printed and mailed? How much will that cost? How about regular web site updating, or even redesign? Do you pay a copyeditor to proofread and edit your eZine? Be sure to include all marketing costs in your simple plan (don’t forget association dues and the cost of networking lunches!). And stick with your planned marketing activities each quarter.
  5. Stay in touch with your current customers: Interview or survey customers to see if they need any additional products or services from you. Whenever possible, change your product and services offerings, or the way you do business, to address your customers’ needs.
  6. Write out a job description for each critical business function: who will be in charge of marketing and sales, product development, accounting and business administration? Who will produce the products or services? You may find that you need to hire employees or contractors to keep things running smoothly.
  7. Review your financial performance quarterly. Are you able to pay yourself a salary plus profits? Which of your products or services are most profitable? Are some marketing activities paying off better than others? Remember, you put your hard work, creativitiy and energy into your business: Focus on the most profitable areas that you enjoy working in the most. If you take time out for planning and review, you can combine passion with profits successfully!

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