Your Business in 2011: A Plan For Success

January 1, 2011

in Business

7 Tips for Doubling Your Business Success in 2011

It goes without saying that 2010 has proved to be a challenging year for many small business entrepreneurs. Despite that fact, economists are saying that the Great Recession actually ended 18 months ago. According to the numbers, the U.S. economy is growing again (albeit by a tiny measure), and forecasters are speculating that the U.S. economy will continue to grow through 2011. This news is encouraging, but let’s be realistic – a 3 percent increase in the GDP does not a booming small business make.

In all likelihood it will take quite some time for the small business entrepreneur to see the positive effects of a “growing” economy. So if you’re that small business entrepreneur I’m talking about, here are seven ways that you can plan to double your business success in 2011 regardless of what the forecasters foretell.

1. Revamp (or create) your ONE PAGE business plan!

Strut into 2011 with a banging business plan that you can follow, so that you actually grow your business. If you read that and rolled your eyes because I said “banging” – touché, but if you rolled your eyes because I’m telling you to put together a business plan, you’re in big trouble.

Every business needs a business plan. Whether your business is online or offline, small or large, you need to know how you are going to fulfill your business’s purpose. You need to know who your ideal customer is. You need to know how you will make money. If your business didn’t perform as well as you had hoped in 2010, you probably failed to create a business plan or failed to follow the plan you created.

Here’s the good news. A business plan doesn’t have to be a monster 20-page document with appendices and exhibits. In fact, the more flexible, workable, and usable your business plan the better. I’ve create one in this download that you might find useful. It’s on page 11 and if done right, it will serve you and your business very well.

2. Refine (or develop) your marketing plan.

If all of your marketing activities live “in your head,” rest assured you are not maximizing the benefits of marketing your business. Having a marketing plan in writing enables you to make wise decisions that will grow your business.

You cannot do this if you don’t know the strengths, weakness, opportunities, or threats that relate to your business. You cannot do this if you don’t have a clearly identified winning difference. You cannot do this if don’t have a consistent plan of action that you can follow week-to-week.

Again, your marketing plan should be workable, flexible, and usable each and every day. Take the time to articulate the critical marketing elements that will grow your business and stay committed to seeing them through. If you do this, 2011 will be bigger and better than you can fathom.

3. You’re Fired! No, not you, your bad customers!

Yep. I said it. Fire your bad customers. If you’ve just started your business this may be a hard pill to swallow, so I recommend you hurry up and slam it down the hatch. Take it from me (I’ve learned the hard way) your most difficult clients only serve as a stumbling block to growing your business. Not only do they drain your positive energy and creativity, but they keep you from having the time to serve the clients you truly desire to work with.

The truth is – the customer is not always right. Your job is to know the difference, and focus your energies on building a business full of customers that see the value in what you provide. So how do you identify bogus clients? It’s pretty easy. Just recall any of your clients that nitpick, complain, or nickel & dime you over your work. Those are your bogus customers. You will get better at discerning bad customers right off the bat the more you stop serving them in your current business.

Be brave, be bold, and be ready to make a heckuva lot more money once you’ve cleaned house. And, always kick those difficult clients to the curb with the utmost professionalism and kindness. You may find it difficult at first, but simply tell them their needs could be better met by someone else. Even consider making a referral to someone for who they are a perfect match. In the long run, you both be much better off.

4. Do More PR. Yeah, public relations.

You’d be surprised to know that PR is incredibly under-rated and under-used in small business these days. Ironically, local reporters, national publications, and niche magazines around the globe are starving for an interesting story and good content. Not to mention, it’s never been easier to garner the attention of the press due to the high visibility you can attain online. Best of all, PR is FREE.

Yes, it takes time, consistent effort, relationship building and a little creativity, but what is better than unbiased press about you, your product, or your service. Plus, good PR can give you instant credibility.

PR is not rocket science but there is an art to doing it well. So learn a little about what you need to do to get you name in front of the people who are already dying to hear from you. Start by allocating at least one hour per week to public relations activities. You don’t even have to write press releases. Simply pitch your story to journalists via e-mail. Or, submit press releases to free online press release distribution services to grow back links and traffic to your website.

If you want to learn more about how you can use PR to build your business, check out Elena Verlee over at PR in your Pajamas. I love Elena’s approach to PR. It’s straight-forward and practical. Trust me, you’ll love it too.

5. Get a coach.

In case you haven’t noticed the online environment has exploded with a great multitude of coaching services. These days you can get a life coach, a writing coach, a soul coach (not a joke), a business coach, a relationship coach, and the list goes on and on. Here’s the thing, coaching is an excellent tool to helping hold you accountable to whatever areas need improvement in your life, business, or otherwise for 2011.

Just take a look at any top performing athlete. How many of them can you identify that don’t have coaches? None! Why? Because coaching works. Because if you are going to reach your maximum potential in any area of your life whether it’s writing, fitness, or just maintaining a winner’s mindset, you need a non-judgmental outsider’s perspective to help you see how you can strengthen that which you are already strong in.

You also need support. You need unbiased and encouraging support to help you push through the muddy days. That is what a good coach can do. They can help you step up your game. Shouldn’t you play big 2011? I think so. Find a coach you like, who understands your vision, and who can generate results. Invest in yourself because you’re worth it!

6. Do more of what already works.

Duh! Right? Wrong. Over the past year I’ve worked with more clients who do things that work well for them once or twice, and still complain that they can’t find ways to boost their profits and grow their business. What’s worse is that when asked why they don’t do more of what is already working, they have no good reason. It just never occurred to them! Again, this demonstrates why an objective third party or coach can help you see the things you just can’t.

Look back at 2010 and identify the things you did in your business that brought about great results. Now plan to do more of those things. For example, if you run specials for your e-mail list only and see a spike in sales every time – do more of that! If your phone rings off the hook every time you offer a one-day only discount, do more of those. If you get a ton of comments on articles where you reveal more of your personal experience, write more of those. Do what keeps working and do it better every time. You can thank me for stating the obvious later. ;)

7. Cultivate stronger relationships.

Don’t just expand your network. Having 20,000 Twitter followers or 5,000 Facebook friends is useless to you if no one gives a rat’s booty about you and your business. Instead of focusing on big numbers, focus on building micro-partnerships with people in your industry and people vertical to it.

Take the time to get to really know people in your network. The best part of taking your relationship building more seriously is that it’s seriously FUN! Getting to know and work with new people is exciting. If you seek to expand your network simply to experience the joy that comes along with forming new human relationships, you will gain much more from them.

Find ways that you can help your micro-partners without having any expectation or motive for receiving something in return. Once you’ve established communication and trust with these micro-partners, opportunities to help one another grow each other’s businesses will naturally arise.

The bottom line: You need people…literally. Not only are there health benefits to having positive human relationships, but relationships by their very nature can increase your business’s profitability. How so? It’s well-known that people want to refer business to, and do business with, people they know, like, and trust. This means you can’t wait until a person wants to buy something you’re selling to befriend them. The friendship must exist first.

There you have it. Seven solid steps you can take right now to ensure you double your rate of success in 2011. Have any more that you’d like to share? Let me know! Let’s double our growth together in 2011.

Chris@Risk Management Certification April 2, 2011 at 11:42 pm

I absolutely agree with the ‘Fire Your Bad Customers’ concept; I just recently bought a small business in Ontario, and one of my first steps was a completely customer account review. The number of customers who ordered late, paid late, were routinely difficult to deal with, or demanded promotional items inconsistent with their level of business was staggering. Though I ended up severing 6% of my customers, the threat of action forced a chunk of them in to fixing their ways and improving. Great public resource.

Cheers!

Libby Fisher January 9, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Hi Marlee,

Just want to say that you have inspired me to put some extra time and thought into my business goals and plan for 2011! I already had a good general idea of which direction I want to go, but I have now put more thought and planning into my business plan and strategy. I am goal-oriented person as it is, so I actually really enjoy having a game plan. :)

Marlee Ward January 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Hey Libby!
I’m so late on your reply! Some how your comment got by me.
At any rate, I’m so glad that you’ve been inspired to plan a little more
for 2011. I truly believe that planning is 80% of the work.
Once you have a plan, things switch to 80% action.
I hope you rock it out! ;)

Elena Verlee January 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Marlee – I appreciate the shoutout and being included in your awesome article! Looks like you have a great blog and community here. Here’s to an awesome start in 2011!

Elena

Marlee Ward January 5, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Hi Elena!
I’d be happy to recommend you as a resource to anyone. In fact,
I noticed your links are missing so I’ve updated the article.
You provide an incredible wealth of info for entrepreneurs, and you
remind them that PR is not dead!
Thanks for stopping by! :)

Christina Linnell January 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Marlee,
These are such concrete ideas, love it. When it comes to Facebook & Twitter, I am always trying to up my numbers while cultivating relationships with my readers. Hand in hand they have to go for me.

Marlee Ward January 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Thanks Christina!
I’m glad you find them helpful. You are right on the money about
cultivating relationships with your readers, after all you can serve
them better by knowing them well. :)

Henway January 2, 2011 at 10:25 am

I’ve been thinking of getting a coach as well. I’ve been looking for mentors to help me with some aspects of my business but it’s so hard to get in touch with them as they’re all busy people… What are the best ways to find a good coach?

Marlee Ward January 2, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Hi Henway,
You’re right, finding a mentor can be difficult. In my experience the best way to get a mentor to make themselves available to you is by volunteering your time to help them in some way. If you begin a relationship with them by being a giver, they will be much more likely to give you there time and want to share insights with you down the road. As for finding a good coach, it’s best to start with someone who has prior real-life experience in dealing with whatever you desire coaching in. Also, be sure to pick someone you genuinely like – not someone who has high acclaim and popularity. If you come to find out you don’t really care for the personality of your coach, you probably won’t get as much out of the experience as would if you were being coached by someone you connect well with.

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog January 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Hi Marlee,

Big challenge for business to make better the important decisions, having concrete (real) plans, improving in marketing off-line and online, having solid ideas about social networking as a medium to foster relationships with prospects and eventual future clients, not just broadcasting offers ;)

I want to take the opportunity to Wish to All the Team of Bizchickblogs the Better for this 2011!! :)

BTW Very good the brand new format of Bizchickblogs!

Cheers,

Gera

Marlee Ward January 2, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Gera!
You’re right, broadcasting offers is not the way to “social network”.
Thanks for all your support! :)

Can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for 2011!

Fran Aslam January 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Hi Marlee:

Great post here. It not only tells what to do. It pursues people to understand the reality and follow a written plan which is good to really bring some changes in our economy and society. I liked it a lot.
Thanks you for touching me with your blog post as I believe in action and some people procarstinate so much and they do not move to do anything.

Hope you enjoyed the new year’ eve celebrations. A very Happy new year to you

fran A

Marlee Ward January 2, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Happy New Year Fran!

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Yes, plans and action will bring about many positive
changes for small business owners. The trick is as you suggest -> action.

Here’s to a productive and prosperous 2011! ;)

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