Taking the Leap

Are you thinking of taking the leap and turning your hobby into a business? Then listen to Becky Mannon, Bears-n-Woods, discuss her journey in doing so. Listen to her passion and what helped her decide she was ready and it was time to make the move.

As the conversation notes, she worked on her idea for 15 years developing a unique, quality product. This also allowed her to build a customer base who were willing to spread the word, some of the best marketing you can get.

Becky discusses how developing a business plan made her think about the steps she would need to take. It also was a reference and a reminder of her eventual goal. An audience was identified and she could begin to consider things like pricing, production, etc. She now is looking forward to adding to her first initial product line with another complementary item.

Additional resources are available for the aspiring and existing small business owner at Power of Business. Get access to additional conversations with other business owners and more tips. And make sure to tune in on the first Friday of every month at 12:15 ET. Click here to register.

Are you thinking of “taking the leap?” Is it time?  Becky encourages people to consider it and comments, “there is nothing like it.”

Planning and Your Small Business

stategic plan sign

Photo (CC) by Robert Scoble, on Flickr

During a conversation the other day with a colleague, he mentioned an acronym, “splots.” When asked what it stood for, he replied, “strategic plan left on the shelf.”

I had not heard that term before but it certainly resonated with me. It is common to hear managers talk about how, after writing a plan, it then gets put on the shelf and not used. It happens in businesses, in nonprofits, and even among individuals as we write our “New Year’s resolutions. Many business owners comment that the writing of a plan was done as a document to give to bankers and investors as the owner looked for a money to open and operate a business. The plan is viewed as a one-time thing done for a specific purpose.

Leaving the plan on the shelf may be an indicator, however, that the business owner is also not continuing the strategic planning process. If that is the case, then the owner may be missing a potential resource. The process of planning is much more than the production of a static document. It is, instead, the opportunity to make changes and adjustments to methods and goals. It is that process that offers the return to the owner and to the business. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

Planning must be on-going. The business is operating in a rapidly changing world, nothing remains static. As such, the owner must be constantly gathering new information as well as checking back on predicated milestones. Are they being reached? Are deadline dates being met? And most importantly, what adjustments need to be made going forward in the future? Doing this means taking full advantage of the work that was done. While the static words on paper of a plan may go quickly out of date, the dynamic and ongoing nature of part of planning, the activity, offers the rewards.

If an owner feels that he or she has a splot, the remedy begins with pulling the plan off the shelf. Then the owner must: 1) gather new data, both internal and external; 2) compare the new information with what the old ideas; 3) make adjustments; and 4) communicate the changes, the achievements and the shortfalls to those needing this information. By building an awareness and by practicing the planning process, these efforts will become a habit and will blend seamlessly into the organization’s structure and culture.

Building and maintaining a strong business in today’s environment is hard. Strategic planning as an ongoing process is one way to make that happen.

Saying “No” as a Small Business Owner

No

Photo (CC) smip.co.uk, on Flickr

Over the holiday break, I enjoyed spending time with my 18-month old grandson. He is at that stage where the word “no” is a significant part of his vocabulary. He says it often and sometimes loudly.

As we grow older we tend to say “no” less often. I don’t know if it is because of our upbringing or if we are just trying to keep everyone pleased, but saying no feels like something we just shouldn’t do. It seems to be a word to be saved for only the most dire emergencies.

As a business owner, you need to break that mold. Saying no should be one of the management tools you carry and use on a regular basis. This was recently pointed out in an article shared by Becky McCray on her blog, Small Biz Survival. This blog post was building on an earlier work by Stephanie Ward of Firefly Coaching.

Stephanie several reasons why we just can’t say no: we want to be liked; we feel guilty; or we don’t know how to say it in a way that makes it an acceptable response. So instead we say yes and quickly become angry or feel overwhelmed.

There are other times we need to say no as a business owner. One such time may be when you are being asked over and over for donations. Suzette Barta of Oklahoma has put together an excellent piece on “How to Survive When You’re Being Hundred-Dollared to Death” (look for CR-961).

Here are more helpful articles:

No – It is one of the shortest words we have. Yet it carries so much weight. We fear that using it will shut doors forever.

The reality is it can be used effectively and without any harm to your business. As we move into a new year, make it part of your business management strategy.