Season 4 Episode 18: Stop Sucking at Business Plans with Strategist Lorraine Ball

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Business plans – yay or nay?

Laying out a good foundation like a business plan is essential so how do you avoid sucking at business plans?

Learn from from business strategist Lorraine Ball

2:10 Lorraine’s backstory

16:16 what’s having a good business plan entails

47:36 internet and online tools for business planning


Hey guys Megan here. Thank you so much for joining me. And if you are watching this, you are part of my guinea pig process of seeing if this is going to work. We are live streaming this on YouTube and on Facebook. So if you’re catching this on the audio later on, got to check out the video because we’ll be here, hopefully, if it works. Right. So thank you again so much for joining me. I am here with the rain ball, and she she’s my new best friend.

I love her. She is so amazing. So after spending too many years in corporate America, Lorraine said goodbye to the bureaucracy, glass ceilings and bad coffee and followed her passion to help small business owners succeed. Today, the successful entrepreneur, author, professional speaker and host of a weekly marketing podcast, More Than A Few Words, brings creative ideas, practical tips and decades of real world experience to every conversation. Learning you are a raconteur.

Let’s bring your bio. Sounds so good. I always listen to it and go, Tam, that person sounds good.

Like, oh, whenever somebody says mine, I’m like, oh, that sounds who is? Oh that’s me. What.

I see you. Yeah, yeah. You get, you get to this moment in your career where you suddenly realize that you have a mobile. Right.

That is impressive. I know that it’s bizarre. You still think you’re, you know, the the twenty year old who has no idea what’s going on ever. And you know what?

There are some mornings that even you know, even it is many years that I’ve been doing all these things that you wake up and you think, I really don’t know. But that’s not where I am today. Today, I feel like I got it. I know what I’m doing.

Well, I’m glad you’re here for that then, because we are going to be tackling something that a lot of people don’t know how to do and get terrified of doing. The business plan. Yeah. Dun dun dun dun dun dun.

No, no. See, to me and I know you’re absolutely right, people go like the dreaded business plan. Right. And to me, it’s an exciting it’s the exciting first step. It’s it’s the roadmap that you create before you start out on the trip.

I love that. It’s the oh, god, I’m going to date myself. But it’s the triptych for.

It is. It is. And, you know, I mean, I’m planning a vacation for later this year.

We’re going to do a 30 day road trip. And I’m having so much fun kind of figuring out where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do. And and that really should be exactly how you approach your business plan. And you don’t have to do it all at once. But it’s that figuring out where am I going to go and how am I going to do that and how is this all going to work.

Well, before we get in to your story and how you got out bureaucratic wasteland and into entrepreneurship, and I can vouch for the bad coffee coffee worth it.

It did. And we have really good coffee now. We we take turns bringing in our favorite gourmet coffees and we can do it because we can.

But now I had spent 20 years in corporate and I had it was funny because when I went to grad school, I thought I was going to be a small business consultant. And then I got into graduate school and the emphasis was all on the corporate jobs, you know, the product managers, the corporate office, the corporate that. And so I kind of went down that path. And for a while it was fun.

I mean, for a lot of. The years I really loved it, but there was this moment where I realized that I knew the right answer and the organization was not making the right choices, and I realized that that wasn’t going to change, that this was an iceberg. And I was at the back of the boat with a tiny little paddle trying to get it to shift away from this giant iceberg. And it wasn’t going to happen. And the only way that I was going to be able to do that is to.

Do things my way and run my own show, and so I started my own agency and actually I started my own consulting firm that became an agency, it was never supposed to.

But the funny thing is that before I started, I sat down and I I wrote my business plan and I had a really good outline because one of my roles in corporate America was actually working with our channel partners to help them write their plans.

So I took this great big bottle and I applied it to my little consulting business. And it it took me a while, but I wrote it and full confession. I update that plan. I’m 20 years into this and I still updated every single year. That is so smart, so smart, and I think that it’s not really updating part of the people get served, but I think it’s just like this unknown mountain that people are trying to climb. So first things first.

Do you need a business plan in today’s world?

Yes. And there are now you may not need the same business plan that everybody else needs, but I think there are some very specific audiences that you have to have plans for. And I’ll talk about each of those.

The first is as an accountability plan for yourself to outline what your business is going to be about and really think through not just, oh, tomorrow I’m going to start a business, but what’s your business going to be about? How are you going to work with strategic partners? Are you going to need an infusion of money? Are you how are you going to fulfill your customer obligations and all of those questions? It doesn’t have to be very, very detailed, but in bulleted format, answering the key questions so that when something goes goes not quite the way you had planned, you can look back at it and go, oh, well, I thought that was going to happen, but this happened.

So now I have to make this adjustment rather than. Well, there goes everything. The second kind of plan that you need is if you are going to look for money. And money can be an investment, it can be a loan, but bankers and VC capitalists, they want to see a plan. Now, what you put in the plan is different for each of those audiences.

Bankers want to know that you’ve got assets and that you can pay the money back. Investors, interestingly enough, don’t care as much about your assets or can you pay the money back, what they want to know is do you have a viable idea? And so is the idea any good and who are the people that are going to make it happen? Because most investors assume that some of their investments aren’t going to turn out. When they look at your financial projections, they think, OK, whatever, enthusiastic.

But do you have something that people will really want to buy? And do you have people in place? See, bankers don’t care enormously. They don’t care about that, but they don’t look at your business idea. All they want to know is I’m lending you X and you’re going to have to give me Y, and is there a way that I can get that back? So those two plans are very different. And then sometimes you need a plan for things that you wouldn’t think you need to plan for.

My husband was a commercial real estate agent for a long time and he did a lot of property management for strip malls.

And so these two guys came to him and they were like, hey, we’ve got this idea for a record store. Now I’m dating myself. But, you know, karma music, it was a wonderful, helpful place to hang out, and he looked at these two guys and they were really young and he thought, no way. And he’s like, have you got a business plan? And they laid it out for him and showed him what their business was going to be.

And he’s like, Willie, we will we’ll lock you into a one year or two year lease because we think you can actually pay the rent and and you’ve got a plan.

And so in a lot of cases, property management companies want to see, you know, and you wouldn’t think about that. But if they’re going to give you space in their building. They’ve got a vested interest in you being able to survive long enough to pay the rent, but also add value to that strip mall or that center, that’s such an interesting way to think about it on just the when I had a studio in Brooklyn.

I never thought we had to do that. But it would have been really good for me to have that available. But I can see, like, it’s not only having the business plan for yourself, but having it for those opportunities that people. Even like the real estate people invest in you because you’re going to be able to make the hole a better situation. So go ahead.

Well, one more that I forgot to mention, and that is your employees. Because if they don’t really know what you’re trying to accomplish, if they don’t know what your priorities are. How do they support you? They may be working really hard and not working on the right things, not because they don’t want to.

But because you haven’t shared your vision with them. Interesting, that’s something I hadn’t thought of, of a business plan geek that and thank God for you.

So you have a checklist and I want to go through that of just how I can start from scratch. Do you think it is the same process for someone who is starting out and the same and a person who is kind of making it up as they go along and backtracking? Do you think that’s the same process or do you think there’s differences there?

I think that the outline is the same. I think that you answer the questions now, I think depending on where your business is, you may answer some in more detail or less detail, but I think that you really would do yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least think about each of the sections of the plan and at least look at the questions in that section and go, OK, that applies to me. That doesn’t apply to me. Or I ran a digital agency and we built websites.

And so there’s a section where you talk about manufacturing processes and supplies. Well, it’s easy to say, well, I build websites.

We don’t have a manufacturing process.

We don’t have any supplies, but we do. We have software products that we buy. We have to have a process for evaluating the different bargains on App Sumell and figuring out which software product is going to be right, which one is going to do what we want it to do and building a website.

Is a manufacturing process, there’s input from the customer on the front end, there are distributed tasks almost like production lines where there’s somebody working on the content and somebody who’s building the framework and somebody who’s you somebody who’s kind of putting it all together and managing the project. And even when all of that is just you thinking through that process is valuable. Now, a mature company has a lot of that in place already, and so they may not have to write it in their plan.

They may simply say, oh, we’ve already documented that that’s in our project management system, boom. But to skip over it completely and say doesn’t apply to me at all, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice.

You cut me deep without absolute comment.

Oh, I’ll tell you what, Asimo is my happy place because every now and then you find something there that you like. Are you kidding? I’ll give you a couple of examples in that. And I know this streaming platform we’re using is is one of them for you. I have a proposal software product that I found on Sumo and I bought a lifetime subscription because they’ll do that when the products are in beta. I replaced a product that I was paying ninety five dollars a month for a one for a one time fee of one hundred bucks.

I have used that product for six years. We just replaced Buffer, that’s. OK, we were paying for our agency account again, ninety nine dollars a month. I got a buffer account. Bubbler is the tool we’re using.

We got we got it.

And I think we paid. One hundred dollars for a lifetime. Lifetime account. And we can manage 30 of our clients on there, and so I’m not but if you don’t have a process for thinking through what am I spending, what do I need, how do I how do I decide, you just end up throwing money at and a lot of these tools, a lot of shiny objects.

And I think I think that’s one of the things I like best about a good business plan, is it prevents you from getting trapped in shining towhee syndrome. I’ll give you kind of an old school.

Back in the day before the Internet, there was such a thing as a yellow page salesperson and they would drop in on your business and convince you that you need to have all these different things. And then it got a little more fragmented. And there were TV people that were calling on you a magazine, a newspaper. And I used to work with HVAC heating and air conditioning contractors. And every time a this is going to sound sexist and I’m sorry, but it was a male oriented industry and every time a pretty little salesperson, sales woman would come in and she would batteries, they would sign up for new service and then I’d have to go in and clean up this mess.

And so.

Forcing them to create a marketing section of their business plan where they identified this is what we’re going to do, these are our objectives. This is what we’re going to spend now. The next time somebody would come in and say, hey, but my shiny object, my comment would be, that’s great. Which of these things that we’ve already committed to are you going to give up? And which of these things do you think that shiny new object is going to deliver more results than what you’ve already?

So see, your business plan becomes a little bit of the defense against maybe the the the squirreled part of who you are.

Oh, I think it’s the perfect segue way. Let’s dove into these different parts and talk about how to stop being so intimidated by the business plan.

OK, so the first thing I want to do is kind of talk a little bit about them, some of the mistakes that businesses make when they start out. And the first one we’ve already talked about, they don’t think they need a plan. They don’t know who they’re writing for. And earlier I was talking about those different audiences. If you’re looking for a loan, make sure you focus on assets projections. Make sure all your numbers add up.

If you’re working, looking for an investment, make sure you really talk about the people that are going to deliver. And if you’re really just writing, this is an accountability tool for yourself. Don’t spend a lot of time writing the history of the company. Nobody cares.

Spend the most of the time on your milestones in your actions, really kind of clarifying that.

The other thing that a good business plan will do is it’ll force you to define your customer and to really think about who you are actually trying to serve.

And if you’re writing down, will anybody who or everybody who stop?

And think about it again, what you really want to think about with your business plan when you’re focusing on that customer section is who’s in the center of your circle, who is most likely to buy? Don’t worry about everybody else in the beginning. Worry about the people who are most likely to buy you, get them, everybody else.

Does it make sense? Absolutely, that’s brilliant. So next thing, research, a lot of people think they know, in case you’re curious yet out, you are not necessarily your customer. And so just because you think something is a great idea and your mother has told you you’re wonderful and it’s fabulous does not mean you have something that’s marketable. And this is probably one of the most important sections, particularly when you’re looking for like venture capital for your business.

It’s not always great to say, well, nobody’s ever done this because the first thing a good v.c will ask you, nobody’s ever done this.

Why not? It’s not.

You know, some of it is. Yes, you may really have this great, truly different innovative idea or you may just have a bad one.

So doing a little bit of research, building out a minimum viable product, getting feedback and really making sure that there are people that will actually pay cash.

Money is really important before you go too far down the road. The next mistake I think a lot of people make is inadequate, competitive assessment. Well, nobody else does what I do and what you want to think about in that area is. Yesterday before you were in business. There was a customer with a problem that you’re trying to solve. How did they solve it? The answer may not be a company that’s exactly the same as yours. It may not be a product or service that looks exactly like yours, but if it’s solved that problem before you came along.

That’s your competition. I often talk to people about three levels of competition, level one is a company that says and does exactly what you do. Level two is that they solve it in a different way. An example I always give is a business owner wants to grow. He can hire me as a marketing company or you can hire a business coach.

Both of us will help that business grow, the business owner will get their end result, but what they bought was very different.

And so when I’m selling, you know what I’m selling in that situation, I’ve got to talk about. Not why I’m better than another marketing company, but why marketing is more important than sales or organizational coaching or whatever, and then that third level and this is really hard.

These are the things people spend money on. That suck away the money that they would pay you. Oh, interesting. So couple of examples on that. OK, when I was in a heating and air conditioning, we did a lot of work in new construction, we would get a contract for a neighborhood, we would have every unit in the neighborhood. So once I got that contract, I wasn’t competing with another HVAC company. It didn’t do me any good to talk about how much better my product was.

The homeowner already had to buy my air conditioner.

But if you’ve ever built a home. You go into the design center and you have the basic carpet, or you can pay a little bit more for an upgrade and a little bit more for a plumbing, you know, the nicer fixtures and the better wallpaper. And then you get to the AC and you can have the basic system or you can have an upgrade.

In that moment, I was not competing against anything other than Pella Windows and Anderson carpet or Mohawk carpet and Delta faucet.

And so if I didn’t adjust my sales presentation for what I was really competing against, I lost every time.

Businesses, if you are if your target customer are business owners, very often your biggest competitor is the owner’s husband or wife or child, they can hire you to do something or they can pay their son, daughter, brother to do it pays very loosely defined terms.

Well, there is that, too. But so so that’s really important. The next one is meaningful goals and milestones. What do you want to accomplish and when? Because the win defines how much energy you have to put into the what you’re going to do. And then actually tying your activities to goals. I’m always amazed that people say they’re going to do these things and then they’re investing on these and and we’re going to have a big Instagram presence. Great.

I think that’s wonderful. You said you want to have ten thousand visits a month on your website. How’s Instagram going to get you there? You can’t put a link in the individual post not to say that Instagram isn’t good and doesn’t have a place in marketing. But it may or may not have a place based on what you are trying to accomplish. Oh, you’re trying to build your brand, you’re trying to establish yourself as a subject matter expert, and you’re a chef for a photographer.

Hello, Instagram, right?

Absolutely. Yeah. So let’s see. I buzzed through a lot of stuff, questions, am I good, should I keep rolling? What do you think? I would love to go back to research and talk about how do you start researching, like, even if you have been in the space? I know that when I had to do my business plan, I had to research my competitors and the industry. And that was so hard to do. I didn’t know what to do or where to start.

So how do you recommend people actually find ways to research about their industry and what’s going to make them different? So I think you nailed it.

You know, looking at your competitors, the Internet is a wonderful thing. It you know, we we take it for granted now, 20 years ago, you had to open up the Yellow Pages or you had to drive down the street. So I would say imagine who you think is going to buy from you and then go to Google and be that person. And look at type into the Internet what you think their question would be and see what comes up, look at other companies, really stock a few companies to see where are they?

Where do they play? What are they doing? I did this. Back way, way far back, my competitors were other large manufacturing companies at the time, and I went to the trade journals I wanted and I cut out every ad from every one of my men manufacturing competitors. And I had I had them running where I began to see what the pattern was. I could see that train advertised here, here and here. And Lenox had a nice steady flow and carrier would have a big and then they would go dark.

And based on just their ad buys, I was able to predict when they were going to launch their next product because because all of them would kind of go dark right before the launch because they were saving up their ad buy for a really big push.

When the product would launch and I also would look at what are they talking about in their ads, and I know that that has changed. Now you do more of that online, but it’s that same thing. Are they advertising, are they active? The other thing then that I would do in the industry that you want to play in is I would do research with industry associations, trade publications.

And when you’re trying to get a sense of kind of your target market that this is going to sound so old school drop by the library and go to a library and talk to the really smart people and hang out there called librarians and tell them what it is you want to know.

And you will be amazed. There was a librarian that I worked with and now I can do it online. But because all the library databases are now online. But Dun and Bradstreet has a database and there’s another one called Merchants, where if you want to know how many companies fit a certain demographic because if you’re doing B2B. How many companies that’s a really good way to go about it. There’s also a database called I think USA data that you can access through Info USA and you can access that through the library portals in.

You know, I think in most states and just get a sense.

How many people, what demographics? The Census Bureau, if you’re selling a consumer product and you want to know how many people in your area have homes heated by gas or electricity, do you know that data is available through the census?

That’s amazing. And I have no idea. Wow. Census dot gov. And of course, it’s all going to be new. You know, like like last year, if you were still using census data, was it was nine years out of date. But by the time they updated census dot gov, maybe this time later this year or maybe this time next year. Amazing information about and down to really micro levels.

How many homeowners, how many renters, you know, depending on what you’re looking to sell. That data is phenomenal. And there was something else I was going to suggest, and now I have oh, OK, so all of these are what’s called secondary sources.

Maybe you’ve got a product or a service that is kind of unique and you’ve got questions you want answers to that you can’t find in any of these? Well, then you need to do some surveys. And there are so many great free tools. MailChimp you can do a little survey on MailChimp.

If you’re going to do a survey, you might want to talk to somebody or do a little research about how to ask good questions that are leading.

So you really get good data. You want to be able to get at least 100 responses for it to be what I call projection about anything less than about a hundred people responding. And it’s going to be. It’s going to be skewed and I can’t even tell you which way it’ll be skewed, but there is a chance. It’s kind of like if there are a few people that are really passionate standing in a room of seventy five people, you’re going to notice them in a room of one hundred and twenty five.

They’re going to get drowned out by the noise in the rest of the room and it’s going to level out. And the same thing happens with with data.

Makes sense now. Hey, guys, Megan here, how are your conversions doing? Are they maybe a little won’t won’t. I am here to help you with this exclusive free training, but two phrases you can use that just boost your conversions like Papau, but there’s a catch totally, really free. But you have to get it in my Facebook group. That’s the only place it’s available. So to join Jeremy, if he’s joining my Facebook group is totally free.

It’s at Facebook dot com slash groups, slash Megan Brame. Once you join, you’ll be able to get access to the training that shows you two stupidly simple phrases you can use to add on to your conversions in your marketing. It’s going to blow your mind. And I am so excited for you to check it out again. Facebook dotcom group slash Megan Brame. I’ll see you in there. So was super helpful. Let’s keep going on well, what are the other person we got to cover?

So we talked about and answer the unsupported actions that had to go unsupported financial projections. I like I’m going to sell a million dollars, Cripe. How are you going to do that? What do you mean, how am I going to do that? I mean, how many units are you going to sell? And what you need to do is actually build your financials from the bottom up, not the top down. Don’t look at that top number. Start with what is your price?

One hundred one hundred dollars. Right. How many units? Do you think you’ll sell in a week, in a month, 30, 50?

Now multiply that by one hundred and then multiply it by a year, and that’s your revenue number. I had a guy who.

Said, Well, I’m going to sell a hundred of these or two hundred of these a month, I’m like, really, let’s let’s talk about that two hundred a month. That means during the week you’ll sell less. On weekends, you’ll sell more. But you’re looking at twenty five a week. He said, absolutely. I’m like, OK, so you probably only sell like two two a day during the week and then Saturday. That’s your big day, right.

He’s like, yeah. So you going to sell 18 or 19 of these in one day? And it was retail store and he’s like, yep. And I said, OK, so that’s about two an hour. Now, let’s go pull into the parking lot in the shopping center that you say you want to be in, and let’s see how many people drive up and park at one of the stores. Do you see two people, he’s like, well, there’s good traffic, I’m like, do you think every one of those people is going to buy such a good point?

And so, you know, you really need to think about and I’m going to I’m going to charge five hundred dollars.

I’m going to charge a hundred dollars an hour. I’m going to work 40 hours a week. You’re not Megan four thousand dollars a week. Because some of that time is going to be spent on administrative, some of that time is going to be spent on sales, some of that time is going to be spent. Staring at the phone, wishing it would ring because nobody has bothered you and.

So so don’t start with the top level number now, it’s easier if you’ve been in business for a while, you have a base, but you don’t get to do the hockey stick. You don’t get to do well. I’ve sold one hundred one hundred one hundred.

But next year it’s five hundred. No, not unless you’ve got this plan on how you’re going to get from a hundred to five hundred. Well, that’s something you wanted to ask you.

So when you’re creating these financial projections, what timeline are you creating them for you? You’re sounding like you’re not creating them for, like your pie in the sky, what you see yourself in five years. What is the more realistic timeline of what you should start with?

Three years at two to three years? Yeah, depending depending on the business that you’re in. And you need to do two to three versions of your financials. This is what I really this is what I really think will happen over the next two to three years. And let’s keep it like next two years. Now, if everything goes right, that’s my optimistic if everything goes wrong.

And you need to look at the if everything goes wrong scenario, because you need to be able to go, OK, if all of that happens, how am I going to cut my costs to still be profitable? And if you look at 20, 20 and the pandemic. The companies that made it out the other end were the companies that came into the year with that plan and I rolled into twenty twenty and I assumed the 20 20 was going to be a step back from my twenty 19.

I did not expect to make the same level of sales. Why? Because it was an election year and this is not my first. I mean the company was 18 years old at that point. We’d been through a couple of presidential elections and I know that historically and I’ve talked to other agency owners. Election year, Katy, bar the door, lock everything up, so I built a plan that did not have me hiring anybody and I had squirreled away some cash reserves for what I expected would be a downturn mid-year rolling into the election.

I was really glad that I had squirreled away those reserves because in March and April, with my business with. Zilch. Yeah, I did, I didn’t do and I and by then the PP rolled in and I was OK and we ended up actually making some money last year. Not a lot.

But I’ll tell you, if you you know, and and the companies that had that contingency plan, as soon as we saw that the pandemic was not going to be two to three week, we started looking at it. Go on. OK, guys, we can cut this. We can’t cut this. We need to try to sell more of this. What do we do in here? Can we scale this back and. It wasn’t like I was having those conversations for the first time I had.

Ideas about that, which is really kind of the thing I want to roll into, which is that inadequate consideration of the pitfalls.

Stuff is going to happen, and this is the part of the business plan that nobody wants to right now, it’s all gonna be good or all.

But no, if I say that, it’s going to sound negative. No, no, it doesn’t sound negative. You sound prepared. This is where you talk about. We had a wind storm in Indianapolis that blew through. Maybe it was we don’t get hurricanes, so maybe it was a little bit of a tornado. It blew out the windows in an office building downtown. It blew out the windows on two floors. So on those two floors, you probably had four to six companies that had offices and had because this was a a prestigious high rise building.

One of the four companies looked up the next morning and called their IT guy and said, hey, we need we need to kick off plan B and plan B was their entire server operating system was backed up to the cloud.

And within four hours, every one of their employees had a a replica PC that they could work on. Now, today, people use the cloud a lot more. This goes back a number of years. The other three companies were basically out of business for two months trying to figure out what they were going to do. The guys that had that system did not have a crystal ball, they did not know that the wind was going to come through and blow out everything, you know, but they had thought about if we can’t go into the office.

How are we going to work again? I’m going to use rolling it to the pandemic, the companies that had already established patterns for remote work and remote access did not miss a beat. The companies that spent two months getting it set up. Really suffered. So it’s those kind of things, what happens if a key employee leaves? What happens if you as the owner get hit by a bus and can’t work for two months? Who is going to take care of your customers?

How are you going to pay those bills? It’s like a zooming screw you in particular part of the business plan, because it’s like screw you and your business. And I think what you’re also seeing, too, is if you address these, you give you let go of the power that those things have. I’m just I’m terrified this might happen. Well, what if it did happen? Let’s talk about it.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you you’re just in. You can focus on running your business because you don’t have to worry about that stuff. And then my last mistake is failure to communicate. You’ve written this great plan and there it is. You’ve got a plan, but nobody else knows that you have a plan. Let your employees and maybe you don’t show them everything that’s in the plan, especially if you’re getting into a lot of the financials and you’re not ready for that kind of disclosure.

Share the business plan with people outside of your business. When I started my company, I sent a copy of the plan to my brother, who I consider to be the best salesperson I know. I sent it to a friend of mine who just when it comes to numbers and finances and just business analysis, brilliant.

And I sent him the plan and I sent and I gave a copy to my husband, who is one of these people who can dot every I and cross every T and just he.

He and a lot of the jobs he’s had really force him to look at the contingency planning piece, but what do you do if it goes wrong? Sometimes I tell him he’s negative. He tells me he’s just prepared.

These three people have very different approaches. They.

Very different ideas, they each looked at it and gave me feedback from their lens. I gave copies of it even though they were young to my kids so they would know what I was doing and why. And, you know, sharing that, sharing your vision opens the door to those people being able to help you.

And you may be in this business by yourself, but you are not going to succeed alone. Nobody does.

Can I tell you, I when I was a filmmaker, that was my first business. I was friends with a lot of people that were in the industry, too. And one of them there are huge company now. They give me their business plan.

They’re just like here, sick. And I was like, are you serious? You give it. But it was such a one, it stopped making it so terrifying for me and to TubeBuddy succeeds alone and.

Here, check out my business plan on the see it, that it was such a generous and. Crazy things to do, but you’re right. You’ve got to push that out to other people and get that kind of feedback.

Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, it’s funny when when they shared it in conversations with you, sometimes I find that when you do something like that, the other person, because they’re coming to it new and fresh, they see things that you and your stodgy plan hadn’t considered. And so you get a little bit of the benefit, like when you went back to them and talked to about what kind of thank you for this. This is what I’m doing.

This is what you’re doing. And they may be like, wow, we never thought about that. And so it’s just so excellent to be OK with sharing a little bit.

I think so. And especially because, you know, the business plan has such a stigma to it of like it it has to be written in gold and you cannot it’s not a living document and it’s all of your trade secrets. And it’s not that at all. It’s this living document that just tells people what your plan is and if they’re going to find out what your plan is anyways, because you’re going to hopefully do all those things.

Absolutely. Absolutely.

And, you know, I think one of the the ways in if I can do a shameless little plug for our cause, one of the things that throws people is they think they have to do it all at once. And you don’t you can do it in pieces.

And that’s why we kind of developed this self pay, self paced course on how to write a business plan in 10 weeks. And basically every week you do a little bit. You get a small group of questions to answer. And once you answer those questions, then you go on to the next week. And if there’s something you couldn’t get to, that’s OK.

Again, I mean, in the end, clearly the Internet and online tools have made this a lot easier. I’m still a little bit old school and I’m still kind of struggling to. So I actually have a notebook and it has set that. It has the sections. And when I see something that is interesting to me, I rip it out of a magazine, scratch a little note on a piece of paper. I shove it into the different sections of the plan.

And then once a year I sit down and I kind of redo it. Now I have discovered rocket books.

And so this is going to be my first rocket book plan year because I’m actually making notes in the rocket book and then storing them in Google Drive files for each section of the plan. So when I’m ready to revisit my marketing section or my service section or my pricing section, I’ll have those notes and I just go back to the same questions over and over again. So brilliant. I love that it started as like a scrapbook and now it’s a Google Drive dog.

That’s a funny thing. Yeah.

You know what what you do as far as running a business, whether it’s marketing or business management, hasn’t really changed in a number of years.

The only the only thing that has really changed is the tools that we can use to do it. I did research in the library when I started. Now I whip out my iPhone, I click on it and there we go. I did it handwritten now now I do Google Drive and Rocket, but I’m still.

Making the same evaluations, some of the things these tools have allowed me to do is spend more time thinking through the answers and less time typing or writing them. That’s really what’s what’s changed the most.

And I think it also gives you you can correct me wrong, the opportunity to look for me when I write something down. I feel like, oh, is this worth putting in the notebook or is the notebook? And what if this is a right? And so I think that kind of frees up that anxiety, too.

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Because you can just put it all there. And that’s why I loved the ripping things out and just kind of shoving them in the book or in the pockets in the folder because I would sort through it later.

Yeah. So I want to talk about. Revisiting the business plan and when do you recommend people realize that things aren’t going according to plan and the business plan needs to be either revisited, re edited or both? Well, like, what kind of signs should we be looking for?

So one of the things I would do is even if things are going great, I would set aside some time once a year to do it in my business because of the rhythm of my business. That week between Christmas and New Year’s is perfect. It’s a quiet time. There’s not a lot going on. I don’t typically like to travel that time of year. So I’m home and I will go and sit in a coffee shop or there’s a lovely is a really great hotel with a great little bar.

And I have a friend of mine. We do. We did this together the last couple of years, but I do it by myself. But we go and we sit in, they have chairs next to the bar with a fireplace and we both sit there with our computers and we work on our plans. And every now and then we have a drink and we talk. But really, I’m there to kind of work and sort of zone in on what I’m doing.

And so I carve out that time and go back and answer all the questions all over again and look at what did I say, what did they think was going to happen? Did it or didn’t it work? And what am I going to do differently next year? Sometimes it’s about everything is going great.

How do we build on it or wow, I said I was going to do that and I just never got around to it. So do I want to put it back on the list or did I not get around to it because it really wasn’t important? And then the hardest one is I was really excited about that.

And man, that sucked out you just it just did not it didn’t work. And nobody nobody likes to face that.

So but but it’s it’s really important. OK, so that’s great if everything is kind of working. But, you know, as you said, what if what if it’s not. How do you know.

I think that’s why a good business plan has milestones and think about it, I’m going to use the driving location or the triptych metaphor because I loved that I loved them.

So I you know, and and it’s just not the same on the Google map. You don’t get that sense of accomplishment. But what you want to do is if you were driving from New York to California, you would have a series of places that you would stop and check along the way because you aren’t going to drive all the way through. And so you’re like, OK, well, we’re leaving in New York and we’re going to get to Philly.

Well, if instead of Philly, you figure out you’re in North Carolina, but you knew you were supposed to be in Philly, you’d be like, OK, something’s wrong. We thought we were going to be here. We’re here. How do we get back? And you make that change before you end up in Padre Island down in Texas instead of Sacramento. So in your business, you’re like, OK, Kyu Won, we’re going to have these things done.

We’re going to launch these campaigns. We’re going to be making this much product. We’re going to hire our first employee, whatever that milestone is. And at the end of Q1, you’re like, well.

Did we or didn’t we hire somebody? Well, we did. OK, let’s cross that off. Is that person fully optimized? What do we want them to do next or. Oh, we thought we’d be selling twenty five of these a day. We sold three last month or we sold 20 a day is and then say, OK, is that good enough?

If we continue at that pace, will we be OK? And particularly when you’re starting out, you know what your sales are going to be. So you really want to have those monthly goals and figure out you’re not going to make it up in the last quarter. You know, this isn’t like. It’s not like studying, cramming for a final you can’t when it comes to your business, you can’t skip class all semester and make it up the day before.

So if you miss your first quarter and you missed your second quarter, you need to be revising your projections. You need to be adjusting your expenses. You need to be evaluating your processes and making small changes to see if you can get back on track.

And you don’t I had a client. Oh, my God, I am amazed he’s even still in business. He’s he’s been my client on and off for 14 years.

I started working with him before he opened his business and we got him through launch and he had a retail store. And the first four months, he just kept making sales and writing checks for things. But he never balanced his books. He had no idea whether he was making money or losing money because he as he said, I’m too busy to worry about the bookkeeping and I’m not even his accountant.

And I was having heart failure. So his accountant, I finally like it was like, you go see your accountant and you go see him. Now he’s like, well, he’ll yell at me. I’m like, he’s going to yell at you more. So he just literally took a box of stuff, walked into his accounts office, dumped it on the desk, and at which point they put together a financial system that they could use to check every month.

And and in doing that, he figured out that he had overestimated certain things, underestimated others, and began to make some changes and actually began to run a business.

But oh, my God, when he told me he hadn’t looked at the numbers for four months.

No, no.

He’s like, well, you’re going to lose money left over in the door every month and, you know, go on.

Go on. Oh, well, all right. We are getting towards the end the spin like we have to scratch the surface. So let’s talk about how people can get in touch with you and what they need to do ahead of time before reaching out to you for help.

So step number one, I would go to the digital tool box. It’s digital tool box dot club. And check out the resources and sign up for the how to write a business plan in 10 weeks self-paced course and work through some of that.

And if you have questions, is a contact form on the website, that is the best way to get a hold of me, if you’d like more. Just this kind of rambling more than a few words. It’s a marketing podcast and it’s available wherever you listen to shows. The good news is it’s only 10 minutes in the Sun. Episodes are only two.

I can vouch, since I was a guest that it is a fantastic podcast and that you need to listen to it. I love it. So what do you want people to leave with on this? What are what are your parting words?

If you’re going to have a business plan, if you’re going to have a business, you need a business plan. So whether you want to take out a sheet of paper or open up a little word document on your computer, start today. Thank you so much. I’m so glad you’re here. This was so much fun. Thank you.

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