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Small Biz Matters – a half hour program each week where you can work

ON your business rather than IN it.

Business Plan Workshops

with Diana du Preez

Marketing Manager with Abby Practice

Date: 7th April 2015

Part 1 – Monthly workshops provided by Abby Practice

This week we’re speaking with another small business expert, we are pleased to welcome Dian du Preez, marketing consultant with Abby Practice.

Abby practice fills an gap in the market with the provision of educational seminars for small businesses in Hornsby, a service which no other institution, including local councils provide to our thriving business community. It takes a progressive accounting firm to provide this service. I have attended these monthly workshops which are a fantastic opportunity for businesses to learn how to grow, structure their business, money matters etc. And really accounting firms are the best ones to talk about financial matters; they know the ins and the outs and Diana has brought with her expertise in terms of marketing to these workshops.

I believe these are absolutely fantastic. They are free and provide a lunch. They include budgeting & planning, social media marketing, setting business objectives, sales planning, year end tax planning, HR & payroll. When I leave the workshops I am full of ideas and hand written notes how I want to apply them to my business. You also get a plan of the workshop and you can come back to those notes even weeks later to work on that particular aspect of your business.

Thank you to Sid & Abby Practice

Part 2 – The importance of Business Planning

  • The next Business Planning workshops will be held on Tues 14th April and 14th July 10am – 4:30pm and during that day you will create a business plan for a small business.
  • It won’t only be a How To but at the end of the process the business will take away with them the beginnings of a business plan on which to work on themselves.
  • They will be inspired through the day’s workshop to come up with the key points which form the structure of their business plan. The ideas and direction & vision will be there as to where they want to go with their business.
  • A – we talk a lot on this program about the processes and procedures and running a small business at the optimum efficiency but whereas this business plan workshop is a great way of looking at where you want to go and also looking at your business in general; where you are now and moving forward
  • D – The business plan processes we have which are available to us at the moment are really developed for big corporates and yet small business planning is very different since the individual person and their hopes and aspirations for their business come in to it. We have developed a different format for developing a business plan which really helps entrepreneurs to tap into their dreams for their businesses and a realty check on the viability of those dreams, and a plan to move forward. We try to integrate both the right hand side (intuitive, dreaming side) and the left hand side (more rational, logical way of approaching business) into business planning. We try to integrate those two to come up with the business strategies which will really help your business grow and take you forward
  • A – Business planning is one of those subjects used frequently, and tend to be very dry and prescriptive and don’t really tap into the psychology of it. The how, the why, why are you doing this? We can’t shy away from the fact that we ourselves are intrinsically linked with our businesses and we shouldn’t try and pretend to be bigger than what we are. We ARE the business and you need to link your dreams and aspirations to the business planning process and I don’t believe I’ve seen any other workshops apply those principals to the process of building a business plan.
  • D – a real business which takes off and grows is one which has authenticity running through it, from the brand personality of the business owner through to the business’ brand and its objectives, the experience of the customer. And its all tied into the business planning process. The first point is getting to know yourself; your strengths… Unlike a corporation which provides a whole lot of different services and people that contribute to the competitive advantage in a small business its much more direct and closer to you. Sometimes we are too close to see the wood for the trees.
  • A – Its good to take that step back and analyse it from your own perspective and get the group’s perspective on it also.
  • D – yes, being in a group means the others in the workshop and give you constructive criticism, input and they too are in the same position psychologically; they are in the headspace to be looking at their business also and can help you on that same journey. It can be lonely in small business; you don’t have all the other support which corporates have and yet your whole life can be tied up in it. These workshops can take you through the process with like minded people and through the structures and workshop you can bounce off other people. It’s the sound-boarding and interaction which becomes the catalyst for your real plan.
  • A – being a small business owner you don’t have that interaction with others.
  • D – yes, and your family can be impacted on your business too so its best not to take those home with you.
  • A – there are plenty of places you can go to get a template of a business plan for instance the VIC Small Business website. But the difference is that you will never allocate the time to get it done and this is not a small process. Its good to do it in a group environment where you being supported by others going through the same process and you’ve got a facilitator. Its difficult to be your own facilitator.
  • A – So why does a business need a plan?
  • D – If you want to grow your business you’ll need a plan. Where the best opportunities are to grow, what your capability is, the gaps in the markets and a structured action plan on how to get from here to there. Its really the thinking is the most important part because once you know what you want to achieve and you have articulated a really clear vision of where you can see your business going its quite easy to take the steps. It almost happens intuitively actually, once you’ve got the right goals you can choose your activities and prioritise your actions to get there. It then happens quite naturally. Our business planning workshop is designed using projective techniques which we borrow from psychology to tap into the desires & emotions of the business owner and use visual imagery strategies for example to try tap into what you really want from your business and then from there we build a solid plan.

Part 3 – Step-by-Step process of business plan workshops

  • A -This business planning workshop taps into the right hand side; the more creative side, to examine the Why we run our business and the fact that our psychology and who we are, are all ties into our business and that should be driving our business forward. And that’s what business planning should be. Business planning is not completing a document so you can apply for a loan from the bank or add value to your business, it should be about the growth of your business and moving forward with it.
  • The first part is setting vision and values:
    • And how you’d like to get there
    • Values you abide by that you want to give to your customers
    • The biggest mistake small business owners make is jumping right in to doing what they do without doing some exploratory thinking.
    • Making the mistake of setting the wrong objectives means you get disheartened because you can’t achieve them.
    • A – They have to be realistic but also aspiring, right?
    • D – Yes, the combination of dreaming and reaching for the stars and having your feet on the ground. But also looking at the business environment you work in and what’s practical and achievable and the time frame you have.
    • Integrate the two elements: the star gazing and the realistic and practical part.
  • Establishing your ideal customer
    • Its difficult to articulate a clear profile
    • That can change and you can also underestimate your initial target market by overestimating the market for your product to them.
    • Your business planning needs to be fluid. We often don’t spend time consciously provoked and thinking about it; getting bogged down in the day to day that we keep doing the same things over and over again.
    • What does my ideal customer need? What are there emotional and rational needs and wants? And how to articulate how you can meet those needs through your business and take time to think it through via a facilitated articulated process. That is really powerful.
  • Sales & marketing system
    • Without the ability to attain and retain clients you don’t really have a business. Developing a sales system that keeps running is the most important part of getting functional.
    • You need the strategy first before developing the strategy.
    • Needs to be automated throughout your business.
    • A – a workshop can help to break down the process into a more palpable sections is very helpful; particularly in a workshop environment.
    • You apply the above processes to the sales process
  • Action Plan
    • Leveraging business, prioritising, using strategic partners to build business
    • Networking & loyalty programs
    • An accounting firm can take you through their budget and gives insight in the reality of your situation
  • Key measurables
    • Very important to have the right measurable – in particular 3 key measurable for your particular business e.g. number of clients
    • This is different for every business
    • Need to take into account your cost of sales also
    • Net profit is very important (often selling the business is a multiple
    • How is your business growing as a saleable asset?
    • Begin with the end in mind – succession planning
    • Can your business operate without you at the helm?

Part 4 – What you walk away with

  • It is a circular business plan in that all aspects are tied into the final product, and the final product is fluid – dependant on each of those aspects working together as a whole. They include marketing strategies, framework in which you operate, leverage, efficiency, building a fan base, the psychology and skills of the business owner all tie in to make a framework of your business plan.
  • This is a circular process – you simply go through each of the processes when you want to revisit your business plan in the future.
  • Am I still on track? Or has my business changed so the plan needs to be tweaked?
  • Timeline is very important
  • Action plans are broken down into a particular timeline and what measurable to review on a regular basis. Its about setting up accountability to yourself and helps you to achieve your goals.
  • These can be timed with the BAS’ statements since you need to be up to date. Year on year is too slow and there is no time to change tack but doing it quarterly enables you to be more flexible with your measurables. One day a quarter to spend on your financials and measurables.
  • You can also create psychological measurables also and a good business plan should take those into account also.