This week, the US is pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving, and it is a good time to talk turkey about your business in 2017. Planning your business is a lot like planning a Thanksgiving meal. You cannot decide on Thanksgiving morning that you're going to prepare a feast for friends and family (well you could but it would be stressful and filled with the potential for failure). To avoid winging it, below are five steps you need to take to set the table for success in 2017. Bon appetit!
Make a guest list
Before you can plan and cook a meal it is important to know who will be at your table. Knowing who you plan to invite will dictate what you serve. Just as dinner guests, have food preferences your target clients will have their own needs and preferences. Whether you are expanding the market you serve in 2017 or launching a new solo business, it is critical to know who you plan to serve. Research your target market to discover their needs, preferences, pain points, and gaps in the market. The more you know about who you want to serve, the better you will be at serving them the right meal.
Plan your menu
Once you know who you are inviting, you can plan your menu. Will you serve appetizers before the main course? In business, an appetizer could be a key resource offered to prospective clients who opt into your mailing list. It may also be a smaller introductory service such as an audit or communications plan that allow you and the client to test the fit before committing to a longer-term relationship.
Get the ingredients
Do you have all the ingredients you need to cook your meal? Whether you are launching, retooling or expanding your services, make sure that you have what you need to serve your market. Are there skills that you need to learn, sharpen or outsource? Are there tools or resources that you need to purchase? If there are things you need to purchase, you can make the list, research options, and prices now. You then have the choice to buy now, if you want to use the tax credits in 2016 or hold off on buying until you need it.
Decide on your serving style
As you plan your “main course” decide on how it will be served. Will you offer services as a complete meal or a la carte? Will guests be able to dine buffet style or will you serve them? As a solo business owner, the options are up to you. You can choose to offer your services as a package, or a la carte. While most solo owners, “serve the meal” you can also creatively offer self-serve options such as a resource guide, book or workshop where you provide the expertise for a fee and clients implement the solutions.
If you are planning on serving others you cannot hope that people will show up, you must invite them. Your business invitations may include targeted email messages, phone calls, mailers, inbound marketing via your website, speaking engagements and more. There are numerous ways to invite people to dine, but the key is letting people know what you are serving.
With a good plan, you will be ready to cook and serve your meal in 2017 and treat your guests to a feast of your delicious offerings!
What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!