As the days continue to get shorter and summer comes to an end, there’s no better time than now to do some much-needed planning and ensure you can get back to business this fall with renewed confidence. |
For many businesses, the summer months tend to be much slower, and this makes it easier to neglect the business planning process, when what we should be doing is kicking things into high gear in preparation for the upcoming holiday season.
I know some of you are probably wondering, “Why is she going on about business planning? Isn’t that something you do before you’ve even launched your business?”
That may be true, but writing a business plan isn’t something you just do once and never think about again.
A business plan is supposed to define your company’s objectives and determine how you plan on achieving those goals, right?
So, what makes you think the business planning process is something that ends the second your business is launched?
The truth is your business plan shouldn’t be some static document that always remains the same.
Instead, it should be a fluid strategy that morphs to meet the ever-changing needs of your business, and that means it’s basically a never-ending process.
At a minimum, you should be re-evaluating your business plan at least once a year, and what better time to do it than before the holiday rush?
In any case, after reading through the list of tips we’ve laid out below, you should be able to get back to business this fall armed with great ideas and inspiration to help you cap off the year on a high note.
Tips to Get Back to Business This Fall
1) Review & Strategize Many small business owners spend so much time working in their businesses, that they often don’t take time to work on their businesses by planning, reviewing, and strategizing.
At any rate, as the summer comes to a close, you should try to schedule some quiet time away from the office to think, dream, plan, strategize, and review.
With that in mind, here are some questions for you to ponder:
Have you met your objectives? If so, what allowed you to do that? If not, what was it that got in your way? Did you reach your revenue goals? How many new clients did you gain? How did those clients find you? What areas of your business were the most profitable? Are there any undue expenses you need to keep an eye on? Which marketing activities are giving you the best return on investment? Is every member of your team on the same page about your business objectives and what needs to be done to achieve them? Are there people you need to follow up with who are coming back from vacation or about to go on vacation? 2) Make Goal Cards I’ve always been a firm believer in the power of focus and intention.
That being said, writing down your business goals and reviewing them as much as possible should help you keep them top of mind, while staying excited about achieving them, and avoiding getting sidetracked by things that are not in alignment with your priorities.
I love to set aside time each morning to visualize each one of my goals as if it’s already come true. This gets me engaged and enthusiastic about doing whatever it takes to make those goals materialize.
3) Organize Your Tasks Another way to maintain that enthusiasm and stay on top of all your business goals, and the tasks that need to be completed to reach them, is to break them down into action items with deadlines.
This means you need to define what you’re going to do yourself, what you can assign to a team member, and what you can outsource.
Aside from determining who’s going to do what, you’re also going to have to ensure everything’s organized in a way that’s comprehensive and easy to understand.
For example, Asana and Basecamp are excellent project management tools that make it easy to track, manage, and follow the progress of tasks, especially for teams that work remotely.
Here at eVision Media, we use EGroupware to manage all of our projects and it definitely helps our virtual team to be more organized and productive.
This platform offers a multitude of project management tools and allows every member of our team to find whatever they need to know about a particular task using a single intuitive interface.
So, whether you choose to use one of these platforms, go with another one, or decide to use a completely different method, the important thing is to find a way to organize all your tasks so you can ensure every member of your team stays on the same page about what needs to be done, when it’s due, and who’s supposed to do it.
4) Identify Required Resources If you want to ensure you’re firing on all cylinders this fall, you’ve got to take stock of everything you need to make that happen.
I know this can be incredibly overwhelming, but it’s better to do it now when you have some breathing room instead of doing it on the fly in the middle of the holiday season when there’s no time to plan.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you’re not forgetting anything:
Do I need to learn any new skills? Do I need to hire new team members? What do I need to make my goals happen? Are there any industry events I should attend? Are there any networking groups I should look into? Should I hire a coach or mentor to help keep me on track with my goals? Should I invest in new equipment or software so I can get things accomplished faster? Whatever questions you end up asking yourself, the purpose of this reflection is to make sure you’ve armed yourself with everything you need to make your goals a reality.
So, make sure to go over everything meticulously and consider every possible scenario so you can be sure you’re not overlooking anything.
READ: Simplifying & Demystifying the Business Plan
Creating a business plan can be one of the most intimidating things you’ll ever do.
There are a ton of things to consider, and once you start getting into the financial aspects, it can end up being downright terrifying.
So, if you want to come up with a business plan, but you want to learn more about what goes into it, then this is definitely for you.
In this video, strategic business advisor and planner, Pamela Chatry, and I discuss what goes into a business plan, including what your sales and marketing should look like, determining hiring and outsourcing criteria, and much more.
Keep reading on our website.
5) Update Your Website Something else you can do to adjust your business plan at this critical time of year is to review your website.
This means looking for anything that’s out of date, updating it with new information about things like upcoming promotions or product launches, and changing anything else that is no longer applicable to your business.
For example, one of our clients is a Texas-based human resources and leadership consultant who runs a business called Quantum Ascendance.
Over the last several months, her business has shifted to focus mainly on helping American business owners who’ve been affected by pandemic restrictions to apply for what’s known as the employee retention credit.
So, once she made us aware of this change, we got straight to work making a banner for her website, so this new service could be featured prominently on her home page.
We also worked with her to update her site with fresh blog content related to the employee retention credit, so she can highlight her expertise and let potential clients know that she’s offering this service.
Truth be told, she was already connecting with a lot of clients through other means, including referrals and social media, but it wouldn’t be right to not showcase this service on her website, as well.
At any rate, with the holidays just around the corner, now is the time to stop neglecting your website, update it accordingly, and get it working for you instead of against you.
6) Holiday Planning If you’re planning on taking some time off over the holidays, now would be a great time to ensure all your ducks are in a row so you can actually relax and enjoy your vacation instead of wasting your time worrying.
First and foremost, this means making sure every single member of your team knows what’s expected of them and they understand all the protocols they’re required to follow.
That being said, no matter what kind of business you run, it’s incredibly important to have a solid set of standard operating procedures (SOP).
With this in place, even if you’re unable or unwilling to answer inquiries from your team while you’re on holiday, they’ll have something to refer to that will tell them everything they need to know.
I recently took three weeks off, which was a bit scary at first, not least because my team had to launch a website in my absence.
But I made sure to finalize our SOP before going on vacation, which ensured they knew exactly what to do, and as a result, I experienced only a few minor interruptions during my time off.
7) Scheduling If you’re running a business, you’ll probably end up with a mile-long to-do list, and that means it’s going to be very difficult to remember everything.
And if you’re anything like me, you won’t rest until everything is scheduled and organized, so you can stop worrying and get back to building your business.
If you’re looking to do this sort of scheduling, two things I would recommend are creating a content calendar and a promotional calendar.
This involves planning out all the content you’re going to publish and all the promotions you plan to offer well in advance, using some sort of calendar or spreadsheet.
Everything I need to know to write each article can be found on this sheet, including the topic, due date, keywords, and notes to explain exactly what needs to be written.
But before you can do all that, you’re going to have to determine what kind of content and promotions you want to offer.
As of right now, there’s still time to have a back-to-school sale, plus Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas are coming up, so you should try to take advantage of this window to sit down and figure out exactly what your plans are for these holidays.
This way, instead of scrambling to come up with ideas at the last minute or stressing about when your next article is going to be published, you can just kick back and relax with your family during the holidays, knowing everything is planned out and ready to go.
8) Advertising One way to quickly grab holiday sales is to capture the attention of potential customers by setting up ads that correspond to each holiday you’re looking to target.
For example, you can retarget people who visit your business’ Facebook page using a custom audience retargeting pixel on your website.
This means if someone is looking at gifts for dad on your website, you can retarget them with ads on their Facebook feed that feature the best gifts for dad.
Most social media platforms offer this same kind of functionality, as well, so make sure to take some time to think about where you’re getting a lot of engagement on social media so you can make the best decision about which platforms you want to target.
No doubt, social media can be an absolute goldmine for ad targeting, but despite having accounts on most of the major platforms, I still prefer advertising through Google Ads and other forms of paid search, so keep this in mind.
Paid search allows you to target users similar to how you would on social media, but instead of the ads being served to them on their social feeds, they’ll show up on Google when they search for whatever keyword(s) you’re targeting, and your link will be prominently placed within the search results.
Not sure how to do all this stuff? You should get help from a marketer who knows how to get the best results from these kinds of advertising.
9) Consider Some Cards Despite being immersed in the world of digital marketing for more than 20 years now, I will never discount the value of tried-and-true old-school marketing tactics, like sending out greeting cards.
You could just buy some greeting cards and send them out to your customers, colleagues, staff, and vendors, or target specific areas and have them delivered door-to-door, but you’d be missing out on the perfect chance to showcase your brand.
Instead, why not take this opportunity to leverage your visual brand with some custom-designed cards?
I know it sounds like a blast from the past, but greeting cards are still a great way to let your clients, colleagues, staff, and trusted vendors know how much you appreciate them.
One idea to stand out from the crowd is to send Thanksgiving or New Year’s cards instead of the typical Christmas card.
And speaking of cards, with all these holidays coming up, it’s also an appropriate time to start offering gift cards, if you’re not doing that already.
Even if you are, you can always entice people by featuring specific imagery on your cards for each holiday.
In any case, gift cards provide a terrific option for people who are shopping for those hard-to-buy-for individuals, so it’s definitely something to consider.
10) Book Your Vacation Time Now I know this one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many business owners leave this stuff to the last minute and allow their teams to do the same, only to end up with one massive headache right before the holidays.
Aside from booking your own vacation time as soon as possible, you should encourage team members to put in their vacation requests early, as well.
This way, you’ll have more time to work out any scheduling issues, and this will make your holiday time less stressful.
In any case, I hope these tips have inspired you to come up with some creative and profitable plans that will help you to build your business as we near the fall season.
Putting this kind of thought into your business plan, and updating it regularly, can produce truly amazing results if you go through everything in detail and make sure to cover all your bases.
Remember, the more you plan now, the easier and more successful your business will be for the rest of the year.
Do you have any further tips you can share about how you’re trying to get back to business now that summer is almost over?
Are you wondering how you’re ever going to figure out all this stuff on your own? We’ve been helping business owners to build their brands for more than 20 years, and we can help you, too. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.
To your business success, Susan Friesen
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