Monday, February 25, 2013

Business planning, part 4

Well, now that you know I’ve been lazy (Jan 14)
And I’ve told you about some resources I’ve found helpful (Jan 28)
And I’ve explained how I implemented a reasonable household schedule (Feb 12)
Let’s talk about how I’m applying all this to my business planning.

To some degree, I’ve been “playing” at my jewelry business.   I’m not sure whether it’s been a profitable hobby or an extremely part time venture but I’m feeling the need to take it to the next level.  I’ve been depending pretty much solely on craft shows for my sales but it’s time to step it up and go beyond the shows.  Making a plan will be an important part of that effort.

I started by analyzing my business – marketing, practices, activities.  What am I doing right?  What needs improvement?  What tasks need to be done regularly?  Then I set a few goals.  Some goals are very long term, some are more immediate.  But they’re goals (if you don’t have anything to shoot for, you’ll never hit the mark).  My 5 goals for 2013 are:
Improve my online sales
Improve my offline sales
Expand my product offerings
Improve my show displays
Streamline my business record keeping

I considered a customer service goal, but that is an area that is currently satisfactory – need to stay on top of it of course, but it doesn’t require any major changes right now.  And by the way – this analysis has taken place over a couple months and has included discussions with several other people for outside (and maybe more objective) input.  

For each of my goals, I have listed 2-4 strategies.  A strategy is defined as “a plan designed to achieve a particular long term aim” – in this case, broad ideas for achieving my goals.  Each strategy is broken down into specific tasks intended to help implement the strategy (eating an elephant one bite at a time).   So, I have a goal – a purpose to achieve; a strategy – a plan to help achieve my goal; and tasks – the specific activities to carry out the plan.  Example:

Goal:    Expand my product offerings
    Strategy:   research trends in styles and colors
        Task:  talk to beautician about wedding hairstyles
        Task:  read the Pantone color forecast for 2013
        Task:  get the new color swatches from the bridal shop
    Strategy:   learn new techniques
        Task:  take a class in wire working
        Task:  purchase a tutorial on making ear cuffs
        Task:  purchase tools and supplies needed
        Task:  practice techniques to gain proficiency

Now that I have a set of goals and the specific tasks needed to achieve them, I can use this information when planning my days, weeks and months.  I can be more productive because I’m not shifting aimlessly and when I have completed a task, I enjoy a sense of accomplishment.  And while I certainly hope that these efforts will result in greater sales, I can be confident that I’m utilizing a well thought out plan, not wasting precious time on meaningless tasks. 

I’m going to have to be flexible about this at times and prepared to make changes when I see the need.  After all, if I’m successful at increasing my online sales, I’m going to have more product to make, more to ship, more packing to do, more materials ordering to do ... well, you get the idea.  Some of my goals may change ..or at least change in priority.  

I'm adding a goals form that I created -- and hopefully it can be downloaded by you!  You can save it as a jpg file by right clicking on it with your mouse and selecting "Save Image As" from the drop down list. OR to save as a pdf file, click on the Goals Planner title link which will take you to Scribd where you can download it - Scribd is free to join.

   Goals Planner by  

I grew up on a farm and enjoy gardening this is the perfect analogy for me.  A good business is like a plant – it’s a growing, living, changing thing.  The seed is off to a good start and the roots are in good rich soil.  I have a plan in place to nurture it at this stage of growth but like a plant, it may need different care as it matures.  With a little watering, a little feeding, a little weeding and some tender loving care, it will produce an abundance in time.  As it grows, I’ll be keeping an eye on it ... and looking forward to that harvest!