Viewing entries tagged
business plan


Preparation approaches

mountainroadThis is the end of week six of the new year, and I was wondering how you've been keeping up with the resolutions you've formulated, the goals and objectives you've set for yourself. Are you still on track?

I spent the better part of this week writing a handbook on how I started my coaching practice. It will be the basis for the speech I will give at next month's FIGT conference and provides information ranging from "what's a coach like" via "how to write a business plan" to "get started and meet clients". I'll be refining it some more, but am happy to make the handbook available as a PDF download after the conference, just send me an email to let me know you're interested.

Here's a taste on how to approach business plan writing. These strategies fit for general goal setting as well. Which way works best for you? I look forward to your comments and feedback!

Forward Planning You can go through the each segment of your business plan and answer the questions one by one to get an idea of what your future business is going to look like. This option will be more attractive to you when you prefer working with facts and realities, basing your plans on your past experience, and applying it to the here and now. If you tend to think in a linear way and feel comfortable with familiar ways of doing things, planning forward will allow you to pay attention to the details and get things done. Still, you may surprise yourself at what result actually manifests itself!

Example: you know Valentine's Day is on the 14th of February. If you call your honey now, you can arrange a date for that evening. You should probably call the restaurant tomorrow to reserve a table, because you know they fill up on "holidays" like this one. When you go out the day before, and buy flowers, chocolates, exquisite shaving cream, or a personalized iPod and present your honey with it, you can be pretty sure there'll be happy faces.

Reverse Engineering Another approach is to visualize the end result before you start going through the questions. Can you see yourself sitting behind your desk in your future office, taking care of business, giving presentations, holding successful client interviews? What does it feel like, what colors are your folders, how do you see yourself? If you are a creative, imaginative person, and tend to think future-oriented about what could be, this option may be more attractive to you. It allows you to focus on connections and potential, taking imaginary leaps without being bound by empirical proof. You still have to pay attention to detail in your vision of your goal, because those details will help you figure out the answers to the following questions.

Example: you imagine your honey's face break into a big smile, maybe some happy tears, and definitely hugs and kisses. Hugs and kisses and the feeling of romance and connection are your goal for that evening. In order to get to this point you'll have to have put some strategic wheels in motion. Before you get your honey to even smile, you'll have had to buy or prepare something. In order to have time to buy or prepare something, you'll have had to set some time aside to organize it. Got it? Unless you're in the kind of relationship where smiles, hugs and kisses ensue for no particular reason, you lucky, lucky person. If that's the case, do share and leave a comment!

Until next time, have a good one!

Thanks to Constantin for the free image.

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Starting your own business, Part 2

...and counting. Here's a little update on what I've been busy with lately, and what's still in store. Maybe it can help you get ideas for your own next steps in running your business, or maybe you even feel like sharing your experience by leaving a comment. Thank you in advance!

Last time I left you with the firm intention to work on a proper business plan. Remember this is a tool not only for when you're looking for funding, but also a roadmap to refer back to along the way to keep checking your progress (financial, marketing, product or otherwise). I'm happy to say that I spent a considerable amount of time on my first draft. I thoroughly researched my market, had a look at the competition, what how and when I was going to offer to whom, and wrote it all out in what I considered nicely put-together paragraphs, citing references and providing quotes from various reputable sources. I also came up with estimates for the various financial statements, which to me was the hardest part of the whole thing.

This is as good a time as any to share with you that I learned two new words related to the preparation of financial predictions: WAG and SWAG. The former refers to a "wild ass guess", the latter to a "scientific wild ass guess". I find these terms very funny, in a maniacal sort of way, because they are so darn appropriate. Anyhow, I gave it my best SWAG, was conservative in guessing income and more generous on the expected expenses and eventually presented this first draft, a labor of love, to the SBA consultant.

He swiftly ripped it to shreds.

In a constructive criticism sort of way, obviously, and I thank him for it because he had a point: my market is a difficult one to get into, so it will pay off in the long run to compartmentalize and find an appropriate niche as soon as possible. As you may have guessed, for me that means expats, because I am and have been one for so long myself. "Write Coach what you know" is the motto. And since I gained that perspective, it has been easier to focus my activities and channel them in a way that makes me feel more productive.

I've revisited my business plan and rewrote it in bullet points. I'm attending meetings of international clubs, I've filed for a Limited Liability Company and obtained my employer identification number (both without the help of an online incorporation service, since the necessary forms are readily available on the secretary of state and IRS websites). I participated in accounting and tax workshops, made more use of the networking sites I'm a member of, and I've even joined Toastmasters in order to work on my public speaking and leadership skills. I am still looking for professional insurance cover and a business bank account (suggestions are very welcome) and will further start contacting companies in my area, contact information of which I've obtained through the various chambers of commerce.

When you read this, are you thinking: "enough with the preparation already, let's go out there and get things done!"? That's a fair point. Depending on your personality you'll be more comfortable with either taking it slow or taking the bull by the horns. Either way, there are lessons in both approaches and I'm going to leave you with a few I've learned:

1. Find your niche and make yourself comfortable. 2a. Consult with various experts in their different fields, but do follow up with your own research. 2b. Listen to as many people as you want, but make your own decisions. 3. Enjoy the ride and don't put too much pressure on yourself; even Rome wasn't built in one day.

Til next time!

Free Image: Bogdan Lazar

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