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Chris LoCurto

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March 18, 2014

Business Plans [Podcast]

March 18, 2014 | By | 4 Comments">4 Comments

I’ve been writing a series of posts on business plans – why you need one, how to write one, the importance of mission and vision, etc.  I wanted to talk about it on the podcast because it’s a topic that comes up all the time.

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If you’re starting a new business, creating a new division in your company or launching a new product, you need to know the ins and outs and be able to explain every detail of the new venture. Many entrepreneurs write a business plan for an investor, which I don’t recommend. Instead, I think a business plan should exist to answer questions like:

  • What are the start-up costs?
  • What’s the viability of the product, service or company?
  • Define the product, services, customers and competition.
  • What’s the vision? Where are we going and what does it look like when we get there?
  • What’s the mission? When, why and how are we going to accomplish the mission?
  • What are the goals? Goal setting isn’t dreaming. Goal setting is the actual plan and steps to accomplish the vision.
  • What’s the selling strategy? What are we selling and who are we selling to?
  • What’s the marketing platform? Who’s the right customer? Do we understand the customer? What kind of market research has been done?
  • Who’s doing the work? Are you utilizing sub-contractors or hiring employees?
  • What is your budget? Do you have a sample profit and loss for the next 90 days, 6 months, and year?

These are all important questions you must answer and understand. Once that information is outlined and in place, then you can move forward. If you would like help with the process or anything else when it comes to operating your business, check out the Work With Me tab and go to the Coaching page. We can schedule a time to get together over Skype or in person if you’re in the Nashville area.

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Question: Where do you get stuck when it comes to creating a business plan?

Chris LoCurto

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March 17, 2014

Business Plan Goals and Selling Strategies

March 17, 2014 | By | 4 Comments">4 Comments

Business plans don’t have to be insanely difficult to understand, or use more paper than a Grisham Novel. But they can’t be done on a cocktail napkin either.

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That’s why we’re spending some time outlining what I like to see in a business plan. So far we’ve covered Why You Should Write A Business Plan and Business Plan Mission And Vision, and now we’re on to Goals and Selling Strategies.

GOALS

In the post Goals? In June? Crazy Talk! I discussed in-depth how to set goals. For a refresher, let me explain goal setting. Most people write down a list of items they would like to accomplish in a specific year and call them goals.

To me, those aren’t goals, those are dreams. Dreams without vision and goals just don’t work. Vision is what the dream looks like when it’s complete. Goals are every step needed to take to accomplish the vision. In other words, you need to list out EVERY step needed to make the journey a success.

For a business plan, I don’t need every step but I sure want to see a 30,000 foot view set of goals that I know I can drill down on. Enough so, I am able to see we’ve thought through the process enough that there shouldn’t be any surprises.

SELLING STRATEGIES

Along with goals, we have to actually have a plan to sell our product.

  • What are we selling - The most important part in selling strategies is to clearly define what it is you’re selling. If it can’t be explained quickly and without difficulty, you might rethink your desire to go into this business.
  • Who is the RIGHT customer - It is absolutely unrealistic to think that every person is your customer. Unless you sell toilet paper, in which case you’ve got a pretty good chance. Spend time doing “market research” to find out who buys the product you’re wanting to sell. Some examples of Market research are – Interviews, Surveys, Questionnaires, and Focus Groups.
  • Build a platform – If you’ve been in business for a while, you may already have a great platform. If not, the best way is get as much momentum possible with as little investment possible. Focus on building a tribe through social media where people who are sold out for your product, share it with their circles. This is assuming you have a great product. A fantastic resource is Michael Hyatt’s book Platform.
  • What is our marketing - If you have money to spend, then it might be a great idea to focus on some low cost marketing. Perhaps Google Adwords and paid advertising, Facebook for Business, Twitter for Business, Pinterest for Business, etc. Be sure to use Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. A fantastic resource that I HIGHLY recommend for SEO is Smarter Searches.

With goals and selling strategies you are on your way to a successful business plan. Yes it takes time and research, but it’s considerably less time than running in circles without a plan.

Question: What selling strategies do you use for your products? 

For those ready for coaching, we’ve had a couple of slots open up. Click here to take advantage!

Chris LoCurto

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March 11, 2014

Your Strategic Planning Questions Answered [Podcast]

March 11, 2014 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

On todays podcast, team member Joel Fortner joins me to answer your questions about strategic planning!

In this episode, I dig into my strategic planing process and answer questions like:

  • Why does strategic planning matter?
  • What’s involved in a strategic plan?
  • How do you implement and follow through once you’ve got the strategic plan?
  • What kind of information do you get out of a strategic plan?
  • How far ahead do you plan out the future of your company?
  • How often do you revisit a strategic plan?
  • When do you re-vamp a strategic plan?
  • Will you make more money and increase revenue?

I’ll also be sharing stories from several companies that have gone through my Strategic Planning events and have had tremendous success.

“The Strat Plan gave us perspective on our business that we could have never obtained on our own. We gently peeled back the leadership lid that was creating a bottleneck to our companies growth opportunities. The step-by-step guidance of the Strat Plan methodically helped us develop a vision that gave us the gift of unlimited potential. We were able to shift away from a singular event driven momentum so we can now engage in the long term process of success.” - Brian Staley, ITG

Question: What else do you want to know about the strategic planning process?

 

Chris LoCurto

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March 4, 2014

Steps to Grow Your Business [Podcast]

March 4, 2014 | By | 5 Comments">5 Comments

Today’s podcast is my response to a great question that came in on the blog from Matt Ham:
Chris – how do you decide the next right steps when processing through growing a business? Is there a particular order that you recommend?
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  1. Revenue: It’s all about revenue in the beginning phases. Where there is no margin, there is no business. If you’re not actually making revenue, guess what, you don’t have a business! Utilize guerilla marketing and social media to build your platform as inexpensively as possible. Once you’re making a profit and the business is humming, move to the next step.
  2. Hires: Who do you hire first? Based on the first step, I’m always going to start with a sales person. Why? I need to bring revenue in and a sales person cost justifies. If they don’t sell, they don’t get paid. Now, if you are the one selling and doing an incredible job, you’d be best served to hire an admin person to take tasks off your plate that keep you from selling. Admin people are a fixed expense. If you don’t have the revenue, be careful on the budget balance.
  3.  Marketing: Think tactically not expensively. What can you do with your website? Is it functional and aesthetic? What can you do with SEO like keywords, adwords, content creation, etc. How can you continue to bolster your platform by spending a little bit of money?  Sneak peak – we’re going to be launching marketing coaching soon. 
  4. Strategic: Up until this point, you should be focused on the here and now. Once you get to this step, you should start thinking 6 months to a year out. What can you do as far as future initiatives? Are you launching new products or services? What about marketing strategies? What is the most important thing to grow the company in the next 6 months. Don’t just drop ideas into place and hope they work out. You need a system that outlines the most important thing to do going forward. After our Strategic Planning events, businesses usually leave with 4 to 6 initiatives and they leave knowing nothing is more important that those items. If you focus on those things, you grow.

Those are the steps I’d go through if I was a small business starting out or growing. On the next episode, we’re going to be answering any question you have about the process of strategic planning or our event. Comment on this post and be sure to listen for the answer on The Chris LoCurto Show next week!

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Question: What do you want to know about Strategic Planning?

Chris LoCurto

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March 3, 2014

Business Plan Mission And Vision

Without a mission and a vision, you’re just another product on a shelf! Last week we talked about Why You Should Write A Business Plan.

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This week we continue the series and discuss mission and vision. Now, I can tell you that I’ve had everyone and their brother argue with me on the definitions of mission and vision.

For the sake of this post, mission is what God is telling you that you’re supposed to do, and vision is where you’re going. If you don’t agree with that, it’s ok. You can be wrong, I don’t mind.

When it comes to writing a business plan, I believe it is imperative for you know what it is you’re supposed to do. If you’re a believer, then you should be spending countless hours in prayer asking for God to show you exactly what it is that He wants His business to do.

Notice that I said HIS business. You see, you have to make a choice. Is it YOUR business, or HIS? If it’s yours, do whatever you want. If it’s His, you might want to follow His lead and make your mission about what He’s telling you. If you’re not a believer, then follow your heart to the best of your ability and make sure it’s about helping people. You can’t go wrong there.

Career coach Dan Miller says your mission should be about:

  • Your Skills and Abilities
  • Personality Traits
  • Dreams and Passions

Write out exactly what your top qualities are in each of these areas, and then work hard at forming a sentence with those exact words. Try making it no more than 12 – 14 words so it’s easily memorable.

Work to craft that into a viable Mission Statement that represents you well (keeping in mind its not chiseled in stone). A mission statement is viable as long as that’s what God is telling you to do.

When it comes to vision, you have to realize a couple things:

  1. Vision is where you are headed. It’s not a dream, it’s not a goal, it’s the destination you’re moving toward until you have a new destination.
  2. Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I have done a word study on perish to find that it means to be set out in a dessert with no food, no water, and no possible way back to civilization. You literally just wither away and die. I think we can all claim a former job where we felt that way. If you don’t have a vision, YOU, YOUR COMPANY, AND YOUR TEAM ARE PERISHING!!

Therefore, it is vital to have a vision that you share repeatedly. To discover your vision, write down where you are right now as a company. Then, write down where you are headed. Finally, write down how you will get there.

With this, formulate your vision according to where you are going. This gives you and your team something to aim at.

Adding these to your business plan will help you to see that you have more than just an idea. It’ll show that you have a direction and a future.

Question: How important is mission and vision to YOUR success?

By the way, we’ve had a couple coaching spots open up for next week. If you’re interested click here.