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February 2021


28 Jan 2021, Business Tips, Learn, Prove Your Know How

How can you effectively plan in these unpredictable times? Business coach Graeme Owen says don’t make plans too detailed, focus on what can be done, and know what your ‘why’ is

You’ve heard the gurus say that you should set goals if you really want to get ahead in business and in life. That is all well and good when the future is predictable. But in these changing times, who knows what next year will bring?

You may have been able to plan with some certainty pre-Covid. But that same level of certainty hasn’t quite returned. However, all is not lost!

It just means that we need to adopt a method for setting directions and staying on top of things. I call these intentions and milestones. Get clear on your intentions. Then identify the next milestone. Rinse and repeat.

Here’s how it works.

1  Set intentions and consider fresh approaches

The way things are done is changing. There is no certainty that you can do business the way you used to. For example, recent events have provided a perfect opportunity for technology to penetrate our business practices – for handling pricing and quoting, communications, supplies, automation etc. If you stick with the processes you developed over the past decades, you may be left behind by those adapting to newer ways.

Further, complications in obtaining international products and materials may give rise to new, more local solutions. You may need to become familiar with substitutions you hadn’t considered before.

So, don’t get stuck in familiar approaches to tasks. Instead, identify what it is you need to do, then look for new ways to achieve that. Rather than hoping to return to what was (and note: the past always seems better than it really was) embrace some fresh ways of doing things. It’s always good to have different options. Don’t expect to be able to do everything as you once did!

This is a time to look for newer (better) ways of doing things. It may be the time to upskill on that software package you have been trying to avoid, but know you need! Or it may be the time to teach your builders to train the newbies.

Whatever it is, identify what you want to achieve and look for new ways of getting there.

2  Shorter timeframes towards milestones

At the moment, you can’t really cement the details of a long-term plan. So, quit worrying if you don’t have one written down. You still need to set targets, but just make the time frames shorter. Look for the milestones in between rather than aiming straight for the finish line.

In most small businesses a one-page 90-day plan is quite long enough. Especially when it focuses on tactical stuff.

A 90-day plan may only have the following three sections:

  1. Your long-term intentions (eg, to deliver well-planned and affordable renovations to family homeowners in my locality).
  2. Your strategies (eg, create a website that showcases family home renovations and master a couple of strategies so we will be found in online searches).
  3. Some weekly task lists (eg, choose a web designer, get testimonials together, collate web materials, learn how to use Google ads, learn how to use Facebook, start posting on Facebook, start Google ad campaign etc).

The key here is to review your plan on a monthly basis and stick with it. However, when life happens and/or new opportunities come along, be prepared to revise your plan.

3  Focus Your Effort

Riverbanks determine where the water flows – unless it’s in flood and then the water overcomes the bank. Yet even a small flow can be quite powerful in one narrow channel. Just so, while most small businesses are constrained by outside factors, when such a business is concentrated on one thing, it can be quite powerful.

So rather than rail against the external things you can’t change (the riverbank), look for opportunities you can pursue (the channels) and focus your energy on these. You can’t change the banks, but you can select the channels. I often say to my clients: “Don’t tell me what you can’t do. Tell me what you can do. Then do that!”

Narrow down the focus of your business (the things you can do) and become a specialist in one key area. This is the way to increase your prowess in this particular skillset and become sought after and even more attractive to your potential clients.

4  Clarify Your Why

Living in unpredictable times is a new experience for all of us. The present uncertainties raise questions that demand answers.

  • Why are you making the effort?
  • Why are you taking the risk and staying in business?
  • Why do you do what you do?”

Questions like these challenge your fundamental reason for being in business. Yet when you can answer them in a way that motivates and excites you, you start to feel passionate about why you are in business. It creates an energy that others (new clients and team members) will want to be a part of. Because not many people answer the “why?” question.

So, why are you in business?

Graeme Owen is a builders’ business coach at thesuccessfulbuilder.com. Since 2006, he has helped builders throughout New Zealand get off the tools, make decent money, and get more time in their lives. Grab a copy of his free book: The 15 Minute Sales Call Guaranteed To Increase Your Conversion Rate: thesuccessfulbuilder.com/book-15-min-sales-call or join Trademates and connect with builders who are scaling too: www.facebook.com/groups/TradeMates

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1 Comment

  1. dpmal@slingshot.co.nz says:


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