New Year, New Goals, New Plan!
New Year, New Goals, New Plan!
With last year our rear view mirror it is a great time to review what has happened over the last 12 months and what you plan to do in the New Year. We always love this time of year as you get to see the fruits of your efforts. Looking back can give you an excellent road map for where to go from here. I like to think of it as being in a mall, when you go to the directory to find a store and in the map says,
'You Are Here!'
Let’s review where you are and how to get to the next level. Start by considering these questions:
What does my bottom line look like?
What marketing did I do over the past year? What worked well?
What is my student count?
How are my faculty and staff working out? Are there any personnel issues that need to be addressed?
Now what do I do?
Once you know the answers to the above and any other questions you would like to add, you can use them to help you proceed with new growth for your business. Here’s how to apply what you uncover to future growth:
Your bottom line is what your business is all about. If you are in the black—you have plenty of money coming in to meet all expenses and make a profit—that is great news. If you are in the red—you are going to be short of cash or just get by without any unexpected expenses—you will have some work to do. I am amazed that more business owners don’t work with these numbers more often. It may be that you need to adjust a few expenses to put you in the black. If you have at least 1 year of business under your belt, look back to this same time last year. Review how much revenue came in and how you were able to manage your cash flow. If you need to, reduce some time of your staff, cut back on expenses like office supplies, keep track of your utilities bills and make adjustments where necessary. Remember that major corporations are constantly trying to cut cost. Why? Because they are trying to increase cash flow. They are looking ahead to see where they can save. Anyone owning their own business needs to do the same. Look where you can save without cutting back on value to your customers.
Your marketing plan. This is the largest single part of your business that you need to focus on. You may have the best classes, teachers and fun and friendly atmosphere, but if no one knows about it, you are dead in the water! Here is the deal: Find out where you can reach your potential customers and get the word out to them through as many different mediums as possible. Newspapers, flyers in stores, post cards and special offer letters, yard signs, banners and performances to name a few. Not just once a year but over the entire year. Here are the months that we recommend that you find a way to market your classes: January, March, May, June, July, August, September, October and November. On the off months send out press release to the newspapers in your area about any events you are doing or have done like shows, competitions, examinations and master classes. Promote, promote and promote some more! Track results so that you’ll know what works best and do that over and over again. Get everyone on your staff to be on board to sell your school as well. If they get sign-ups, you will give them some agreed upon fee.
Your student count will be a direct reflection of your marketing plan. Want more students? Work on developing your marketing plan. We set a target goal for the amount of students we want to have each year. Aim high or, like I say, be bold! Goals should be lofty when it comes to your student count. Maybe you do not want a very large school, but if it grows to the point where you have to turn people away, this is a good problem to have! John Maxwell has a great quote about goal setting and I recommend that you follow his lead: 'It’s not that people aim too high and they miss, but that they aim too low and hit.'
How your staff and faculty are performing will be a big factor in the overall healthy running of your school. If you have someone who is giving you stress, aggravation, problems and in general blocking your advancement, it may be time to find a way to get rid of them. Remember that it is your business; you ultimately will make the final decisions on all matters of your business. Once a decision is made, everyone must be on board with your direction. That old saying of 'too many cooks spoil the broth' is right on target with you and your employees or independent contractors. If you have tried to address issues you’re having with someone and still no results, I recommend that you find a way to sever ties and move on. Your business will succeed with or without any one person. If you can eventually get it to the point where it will succeed without you, even better!
Now what do I do?
Breathe and take some time to analyze the answers to the review questions. This is what you need know and to fully understand: Your business is there to serve you. It needs to be a revenue-producing venture; if not, ten years will pass you by and you will have nothing to show for it. Find at least 1 hour each week when you can think by yourself or brainstorm with other business owners, like-minded individuals who can help you build your business.
Action Plan for January
Remember with marketing, you can always tweak things a bit to suit your situation. So I challenge you to collect all the mail with a marketing message on it that you receive (known as junk mail by some, but not me!) for the month. On January 31, spread it all out on a table and ask yourself, 'Can I use any of the ideas or methods that other businesses are using outside of our industry?' A lot of major corporations spend millions of dollars on their marketing message. Maybe the way one of them presents its offer will inspire you to create a new and fresh campaign with your own twist.
There is inspiration everywhere if you are looking for opportunity!
Part II: Next month we will look at specific marketing methods we have used with great results.