Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Ten Steps to Business Planning for Success

If you want a simple tried and tested method to business plan for success then this blog is for you.

At least once a year you will want to update your business plan to keep it relevant to your customer and market as things change.

By working through the following steps you will achieve maximum success for minimum investment.

Step 1: Define your mission, goals and positioning.  This is what you want to achieve and how you will go about achieving it.

Step 2: Define your values. This step sets the standards that your customers will come to judge you by.

Step 3: Define your ideal customer as precisely as possible. Know your ideal customer so well that they are immediately recognisable to you. This step is at the heart of your business plan.

Step 4: Develop your appropriate offer to present to your ideal customer. What is so important to your ideal customer? What do they need now and in future? What do they want now and in future?

Step 5: Define your pricing policy, fee structure and payment terms including any promotional policy such as a complimentary initial consultation to establish needs and build rapport. Ensure that your pricing and promotional activity is congruent to your positioning in the market and attractive to your ideal customer.

It is particularly imprtant to ensure that your pricing structure gives you sufficient margin to cover the overheads of your business and to trade profitably.

Step 6: Where will you present your offer to your customers? What are your channels to market? Make sure that you are where your customers are.

Step 7: Engage your customer through attraction, conversion, retention and referrals. What are you doing to attract customers? Where are you marketing? How are you marketing? What is your conversion strategy? What do you do to retain customers? What is your referral strategy?

Step 8: Keep your promises by giving your clients the best service and products/collateral available. What are you doing to ensure a consistently great value quality service?

Step 9: Planning and Controlling. What key metrics are you using to make good balanced decisions in line with your business needs and values?

Step 10: What infrastructure do you have in place to support your business? For example effective HR, legal, finance and IT to protect you from legal and compliance issues and to prepare you for future growth.

Let me know how you get on. For all of your business and personal goals support do get in touch via www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Do You Need More Time?

If you are juggling work and personal commitments and feel somewhat out of control then this blog may help you to feel like you have more time available and back in control again or more in control than ever.

This three point plan may help you to prioritise your diary tasks as well as give you some you time.

1. Step back to consider what you would like to be doing more of  - make a list of things that make you feel calm, happy, sane. For example, proper sleeping, going for a swim, reading or volunteering for a cause that you care about. Pick three to focus on.

Write down how you really spend your time, for a week. At the end of the week ask yourself - what am I glad that I spent time on? what could I avoid spending precious time on in future?

When I did this exercise it made me think that life is short and I ditched some timewasters for example, soap operas. I also reighned in a few time grabbers such as regularly checking e mail to disciplining myself to twice a day for responding to and e mailing out.

What distractions can you limit? Can you manage your boundaries better. One idea is to shut your door at home and work making it clear to others that you need to be left alone.

2. What can you stop doing? What can you take out?

For example, can you delegate jobs at home to your partner/children? What about at work? What can you outsource? House cleaning is obvious. If you think that this is a luxury what about cutting back on eating out/takeaways/other spending such as clothing. If you need more convincing calculate your hourly rate and compare that with the cost of a cleaner/ironer.

What about aiming for 'good enough', whether regarding friendships or work projects rather than trying to be perfect. For example, showing up at a friend's without the perfect gift or aiming for a good enough report which will probably be edited even if you feel frazzled making it perfect in your eyes before submitting it to your boss?

3. Now you are ready to reschedule your diary and include how you actually want to spend your energy.

What are your one or two non negotiables? You can scedule around these [rather than being a martyr and becoming resentful].

For example, eight hours sleep a night, three hours of exercise a week and a fun night out on a Friday.

Decide how to manage your time. I find that a rolling and updated monthly 'to do' list works well from which I pick weekly and daily tasks with onerous tasks interspersed by easier items. On a Friday I review what I have done and then pencil in the following week, taking account of existing commitments.

To keep on track there are some additional tips my clients have found to be useful:

- do some of what you are avoiding to feel less anxious

- break projects down into manageable chunks, say an hour and then take a break

- rest if you are tired to improve your productivity whilst awake

Research shows that the more time you make for you and the things and people that you care about most, the happier you will be.

If you have found this blog to be useful please leave a comment.

For support with a work and/or personal goal please contact me through www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Stressful to calmer?

If you recognise that your stress levels are becoming a problem for you then please read on.

You know that stress is your adverse reaction to excessive pressures from you and/or others or other demands on you by you and/or others.

Do you need to be less of a perfectionist and work on being OK with being good enough?

Other areas to explore I think that may help you in developing a different reaction to thoughts and other people's demands of you are:

1. Can you label your thoughts as just thoughts and maybe think something else? Could this help you to lighten up a bit about the small stuff that you stress about?

2.Can you notice when you are stressed what the triggers are and either change where you are or how you react? How do you want to react? Can you practice doing just that. For example if your boss gives you too much work can you suggest that you prioritise the tasks set and agree timescales together?

3. Can you work on your communication skills so that you are assertive in expressing what you need with yourself and with others? Listen to what someone asks of you and say what you really can do and when by.

4. Can you admit to yourself that you may need to re balance your life so that you take responsibility in each area. For example, spend less time working so that you can take your share of the school run, rather than feeling stressed every time your partner asks you to?

5. Do you need to work on your decision making strategy so that you feel less stressed about making the wrong important decision? A good starting point for this is 'Edward de Bono's six thinking hats'.

6. Are you doing too much rather than delegating some tasks at home and at work? What could you delegate to feel less stressed? For example the cleaning and ironing which you do not enjoy and would rather spend the time doing something for you.

If you have found this to be useful to you then please leave a comment.

What works for you?

If you would like to work on this or any other area of your behaviour please contact me through www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Want to improve your results in work, in life?

If you have been struggling with moving forwards in work due to organisational change or in your life due to changes in personal circumstances such as a relationship break-up, then the following eight tips may help you.

1. Enjoy the now. Mindfulness is often cited as a help aid for you if you are feeling low. By focusing on what you see right now, what you hear right now, what you taste and smell right now you feel truly alive. Perhaps best of all focusing on what you are feeling right now and just accepting this, even if you feel stressed, helps you to calm down - it will pass.

2. Stop and become aware of your breathing for a few minutes - follow the gentle rise and fall of your breath without trying to control it.

3. Think about what you are grateful for each day - small things like the character of your pet or big things like your health.

4. When you are experiencing change in your life self-care is particularly important. Subconsciously we often do unkind things to our body and mind such as eating junk food and taking too much on. What have you done to care for yourself today? A walk, a healthy meal perhaps?

5. Look positively towards the future. Focus on 'am I doing my best for me and my family right now?' If not, decide to do it differently and take an action step each day towards this.

6. Trust yourself. Unexpected changes bring challenges that can leave you feeling anxious about your future. Life is all about change and nothing is permanent. Trust that you can handle and cope with anything that faces you and comes along expected or otherwise.

7. Rather than juggling lots of things, move flexibly - picture a tree with a strong trunk and roots that go deep into the ground, with branches and leaves that move. That means accepting change and keeping moving. This is a lot easier than juggling.

8. Aim for standards that are good enough, rather than perfect. Perfect employees, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, friends, neighbours etc. do not exist. Focus on being the best version of yourself that you can be. Yes, you are human and you are flawed so sometimes you will make mistakes that you can learn from to guide your future actions.

If you find this blog useful please leave a comment.

For all of your personal development needs including career management please visit www.westofenglandcoachingandcounselling.co.uk

Pam Madden is owner and director of West of England Coaching and Counselling