Business Planning for Small Businesses

Do you have a business plan for your small business?

If so, you deserve a high five…but before I give that to you, I have a few more questions: How long ago was the business plan created? Is it still current? Have you even dusted it off and reviewed it since you first created it?

Chances are, if you’re reading this right now, you either don’t have a business plan or you do, it’s long past it’s expiration date. Business planning for small businesses is something that so often gets overlooked and avoided.

Why? Well, it’s so easy to dive headfirst into the exciting world of entrepreneurship without putting much thought into the future. Or, to avoid future planning because it feels impossible to dream up what the next year, five years, ten years looks like. However, without a clear business plan, you may find yourself struggling to make business decisions, or worse…stay afloat.

Writing a business plan can be a daunting task, especially for small business owners who are already stretched thin with the day-to-day tasks of running a business. But it doesn’t have to be. In this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast, business coach Andrea Liebross joins me to talk about how to bring ease and fun into business planning for small businesses.

Here is what Andrea and Erin want you to know about business planning for small businesses

  • How to go about business planning for small businesses
  • How values factor into business planning
  • Determining the next best step for your business and how vision planning factors into a business plan
  • Why a business plan for small businesses is a living document
  • How to pick a framework for your business plan, and the key parts that should be in that business plan
  • Whether a business plan and an annual plan is the same or different thing
  • How to include a team into business planning for small businesses

Other podcast episodes and resources mentioned in this episodes:

Eisenhower Matrix
Full Focus Planner

Quotes about business planning for small businesses from Andrea and Erin

  • “It’s all great for us to spend hours thinking about things. But if we’re not going to use [the business plan], then that’s not do it.” — Andrea Liebross
  • “No one wants to…fail ahead of time.” — Andrea Liebross
  • “We can call in coaches to help us bounce things off to help us think outside of our of the box that we’ve created for ourselves.” — Erin Ollila
  • “You’re stuck in your own peanut butter jar. It’s very sticky in there. And when you’re in your own Jiffy peanut butter jar Have you cannot read a label, like you don’t know what the ingredients are that went into making this so sticky, because you’re so stuck in there. So you’ve got to have someone help read the label.”— Andrea Liebross
  • “So if you go through kind of that high value cycle thinking, where you’re revisiting and reflecting, I call it revising, honing, and going back out into the world, then you’re you’re making a lot more progress than you would if you were just sort of checking things off.” — Andrea Liebross

Andrea’s homework assignment for you is to review this year’s goals

Look at the goals you created for 2022 to see what got done and what didn’t. Then, take some time to review what didn’t get accomplished to see where there is room for improvement before creating any new plans for the year ahead.

Erin adds to the homework at the end of the episode by suggesting that when you review the previous year, think about how you want to show up as a business owner, what your processes are, and what sets you apart from your competitors.

Andrea Liebross is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and soon to be published author who is known for helping bold, ambitious women make clear, confident decisions, so that they get exactly what they want, every time, and not just add another thing to their to-do list. Andrea’s clients become “I’ve got this” kind of women by creating their own custom secret sauce for success in both life and business; the sauce has just two ingredients – the right mindset and solid systems. Andrea shows women how to shift from believing what they want is impossible, complex and daunting to possible -just by simplifying, making things doable and FUN (even the systems) and adding a bit of confidence. Andrea’s signature process leads them to find success on their OWN terms and ultimately joy and freedom in life and business.

After graduating from Dartmouth College and marrying the guy that lived down the hall, Andrea and her husband settled in Indianapolis. Over the last few decades, Andrea has started 3 successful businesses and ultimately became a certified business and life coach, all while raising two kids, now ages 21 and 18, and several giant puppies.

Learn more about and connect with Andrea

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, She Built This, and Photo Business Help.

Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:

Here’s the transcript for episode 042 on business planning for small businesses with guest expert Andrea Liebross

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. SPEAKERS Erin Ollila, Andrea Liebross Erin Ollila 00:00 Hello friends, today we are here with Andrea Libras. And we are talking about all things business planning, it is the end of the year and I know you’re being bombarded with how do we plan for our business? How do we plan for our marketing. And as someone who kind of struggles with planning, but also loves planning with all the heart eyes in the world, I really want to talk about two different things in this series, one business, which we’re here to do today. And then we’ll follow that up with marketing because what I see my clients doing incorrectly is they’re setting marketing goals with not with no understanding of how it affects their business. And I think it’s really important to look at what you expect from your business, what you hope for your business, how you’re approaching business planning, before we start breaking it down into those strategies and tactics on how we put ourselves in front of clients and put our business out there and our brand out there. So thank you so much, Andrea, for being here today. Thanks for having me here. Now I am here, Andrea is a coach, and you will definitely know that she talks all about running your business well, and in a way that works for you. But what you may not know about her friends is that she doesn’t have a middle name. So tell me about this. When you were growing up? Were you thrilled to just have no middle name? Were you jealous of your friends? What was that like for you? Andrea Liebross 01:22 I felt surprised. I didn’t have a dog and I had no middle name. And those two things, man, I think my parents didn’t grow up. So my brother had a has a middle lane. Erin Ollila 01:31 Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, Andrea Liebross 01:33 they couldn’t, they couldn’t figure it out. I don’t know what the problem is, but no middle name. So I felt very deprived. And when I got married, I just made my maiden name my middle name. Oh, and we didn’t have a dog either. So that was the other thing. I felt very deprived. Oh, we Erin Ollila 01:46 have to talk to your parents about this. This is not okay. No dog and no middle name that is their childhood. Childhood. And I think that naming a child is one of the hardest things you can do. Specifically naming other things like if we’re gonna relate it to business, like naming a business naming a program, because there’s so much weight that goes into what like, we think that we should name things. So basically, parents, you have a tough job business owners, you have a tough job, but we’re gonna make your job a little easier today to talk about how to plan for your business. Andrea Liebross 02:23 fun topic. Erin Ollila 02:24 Now, when you meet with your clients, do you find that most people that you’re talking with have business plans for their business? Andrea Liebross 02:33 No, I think the if I had the answer, just yes or no, the answer would be no, I get a lot of whenever when I started this, I created a business plan, you know, but that was three, four or five years ago, or I try to make a plan. But I don’t always finish it. And even if I do, it gets summed in the drawer. So for all intents and purposes, I don’t have a plan. So I think the vast majority don’t have plans. And if they do they are not using them or they don’t find them useful. Yeah, I don’t know. Erin Ollila 03:10 If this question I’m going to ask you is going to take us the entire episode to answer. So feel free to be like, Aaron, we’re gonna have to make this a two parter here. But yeah, how does one go about creating a business plan? Andrea Liebross 03:25 This is such a good question, Aaron. I mean, we could spend days and hours talking about this. But there’s so many different ways to approach it. Right? There’s, there’s not there’s no one way there’s books written about this. There’s everything in the world out there. But the way I have approached it, and my clients are in general, female entrepreneurs, business owners, some of them I will call them or one woman shows, some of them have sort of kind of maybe a team or a few contractors, others feel like they have, you know, a handful of solid people that they rely on. So those are kind of the stages of their business, regardless of what stage they’re in. We really have to customize it for them, so that they are going to actually use it. Because it’s all great for us to spend hours thinking about things. But if we’re not going to use it, then then that’s not do it. So how do you go about it? I mean, just, I have a I have a structure that I walk people through and at the very first thing that we do, which seems very like fluffy, and kind of not very meat and potatoes, but I start with asking them what are their core values? Like what are the not their personal core values, although they could play into it, but what are the values of their business? And we spend a little time chatting about that. I’ve got some questions around it. And here’s why I asked that. Those values are what are going to drive all of your decisions, especially when it comes down to who you want to work with, both as a client and or as a team member or contractor. And that is place where people often struggle like they, they’ve, if they’re talking about team, like they’ve hired their neighbor to do something, but it’s not really the right person. Why? Because they don’t align with the values of your business, or they’re working with people that are super, I don’t know, demanding and nasty. And that may not align with the values of their business. So that’s, that’s a starting point. But if we jump all the way to the end, we can talk about this, but at the end, I want them to leave with what to do, like, what do I need to do? What is my next best step, so that it actually becomes like, I call it like a workable moldable changeable living documents, it is not static. This, if we’re going to do business plan, it’s going to be a living document. And actually, if I continued working with someone, they know that like we’re pulling it out, every time we meet, or every other time we meet, it’s not something that I will won’t talk about until next year, because that’s really kind of like a guideposts or, you know, your, your curriculum for the coming months. Just like a teacher has a curriculum that they follow. This is what you’re following. Erin Ollila 06:29 Sometimes when I talk to my clients, and I talked to them about like, well, what are we going to do for your content? What will this year look like? And that doesn’t mean a January thing, it could be a July thing, like, what’s ahead for you? I’ll say like, okay, let’s plan for the year, and I’ll get like frozen fear to be like, Heck, absolutely no, am I doing 12 or 12 months worth of content. But what I tried to tell them, It’s like vision planning here is very helpful to know, again, who we’re going to hire, how we’re going to take part in our content, whether we’re going to show up video, audio, whatever, right. But just because you plan for 12 months does not mean you need to actually use that in that exact way. But it is so much nicer to have a clearer idea of what could be said what could be used within their content creation. So in some way, hearing what you’re saying, I’m hearing a lot of what I say as well, it’s like, you have to consider this a living document, it can change if your business is changing, if maybe just look at the pandemic, right. Right. One of my biggest clients at the time, during the pandemic solely did in person events in trainings as her business plan. I think it was like 75% of our clients had to like cancel contracts within just a few weeks. Now, again, this, that’s nothing that you can technically plan for. But when we when we look at this as something we’re creating, I hear all the time, or at least maybe in my own way of thinking I kind of think a business plan is like a you create it and you like look at it, yes. Change, right. Like this is the guiding light of our lives here. But I think that if we’re treating it as like a living document that should be reviewed regularly, it kind of takes a little bit of the edge or the stress off of thinking how to approach business plan, Andrea Liebross 08:15 I think actually, like it’s fun. If you’re doing it the right way. It’s actually kind of fun and empowering. And going back to what you said about vision. That’s also part of, of how I help my clients do vision plans, we create a 10 year vision. And then sometimes they say to me, what are you crazy, like, I can’t even think about 10 days, let alone 10 years. I have kids, they’re like only five and three. I mean, they’re going to be teenagers that I don’t know what’s going to happen. So what I say though, is it’s really important that you just have kind of a fuzzy picture on the wall. It’s like the Renaissance, you know, when the Renaissance painters like you couldn’t see the definite lines of anything. They all were kind of blurred. But yet you had this picture, almost like a dreamy picture. And if you have that dreamy picture that vision, and I always say this doesn’t have to be realistic, because that’s always there. Next thing Well, realistically, blah, blah, nah, doesn’t have to be realistic. Let’s make it to aspirational. Because whatever that aspirational thing is, it’s going to give you give your ship like a rudder, right? So it’s giving you a rudder, if you say, I don’t really want to be doing this business for 10 years from now, that’s going to point us in one direction. If you say I want to have 100 employees in a year, 10 years, that’s going to point us in one direction again, doesn’t mean you have to stick you can always change course the ship can change course. But it is super important also to train your brain to think that way to to dream. Women especially like we really, really, really really have a hard time dreaming are so stuck In the hearing now, especially if you’re, if you’ve got children and they’re younger, we’re so stuck there. that dreaming is just like, Oh, you mean the dream I had that I forgot someone’s lunched? Because that kind of dream, you know, not not talking about that kind of dream, I have a hard time dreaming, like I’m gonna get into a certain place for that to happen. Having that vision is very, very empowering. Actually, when you really think about it. Erin Ollila 10:23 Yeah, I love what you just said. And you know, I entered the online business world, from a both creative and administrative background. So prior to becoming a writer, I worked in higher level administrative jobs for addictions and mental health field. So I was always working with the CEOs, the VPs, on, you know, growing the business and you know, managing our employees because I work in mainly HR. So I have that background. Then I have the creative writing background of like, I have my MFA, I planned on like teaching college, writing books, all these things. No one ever taught me how to run a business ever. So even though I have an administrative background, there was no like, what would you like your goals to be? How do you create a business plan? Right, like we were following a guideline of like business growth, but there was no planning ever involved. So I always felt like and I still feel like, do you really need I mean, the answer to this question is yes. And no. Do you really need an MBA to have a business because I, I in the past, almost Well, I think six and a half years now of running this business, I think sometimes like, What the eff am I actually doing here? There’s like question marks around me just circling my head all the time. And then the other part of it is completely different. Like, friends, I have run an extremely successful business having three children. Since starting my business, I have birth two of those children. I have homeschooled children for a combined total of three or four years. And the youngest two children did not have a day of daycare, or nannying or anything, they were with me full time, I was able to make some seriously nice financial numbers in the time of doing all of that. And it’s funny that like I live in this dichotomy of failure, super success, right? So I’m saying this just in the grand scheme of like, I empathize and understand that like vision, planning, dreaming is so hard. Yet, I also understand that, like, if you have this concrete plan, it makes future vision planning, future dreaming so much easier to be able to step into it and say like, Okay, I know, it’s difficult to think past making lunches today. I know it is. But like, you know, it would be really exciting. Next year, actually, for me is the next year, my youngest child will be in the public school system. And I remember when my middle child was a baby. And again, I wanted her home with me, I set up my life to do this. But I remember thinking like, I’m not going to survive this, like, I don’t want her in daycare, I don’t want, like help, I really want to do this. But I cannot imagine a day that she’ll be in school. So next year is actually like, the big year in my life where the youngest child is out of the home. And I have a set amount of hours during the day to work. And it seems so exciting. But I think back to the old Aaron, then who was in the early stages of our business thinking like there’s no way you’ll survive this. And I realized that just as little plans that I’ve done, right, like, I like to think I don’t have a business plan. But the little plans have made it so much easier for me to be in this moment to look at next year and realize, oh, this is gonna be an exciting time. I know, I’ve gotten a little bit of a spiel there. But I’m empathizing with the people who can’t quite look into the future as well, because it feels really difficult to look past like the minutiae of life. But I really do believe that if you have that foundation, it’s so much easier to future plan and to adjust as you move along. Andrea Liebross 13:49 you’re onto something so people avoid doing business plan, because they feel like it’s going to be impossible to live it out. Right. And it’s going to be an automatic fail. The no one wants to I call that like fail ahead of time. They’re failing ahead of time, because they’re like, well, there’s I just already know, no matter what I say it, I can’t guarantee it will happen. I think we’ve all kind of learned like, no, none of us can really guarantee gonna happen in this world, right? So that’s kind of like I like to say it that’s like us, you’re trying to get your brains trying to protect you from failure. But that doesn’t really work because failure could happen at any time. But on the flip side, I don’t think there is such a thing as failure. I think we’re either winning or learning apps, right? So you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to even win or learn if you don’t have a rudder on the ship. Like you don’t know if this is really a win because you haven’t established what the win is. I think you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you’re convincing yourself that a this really isn’t necessary planning or B It’s not I’m wasting my time because it’s not going to happen. Or see, I never you’re telling yourself like a story from the past. I mean, I’ve done this in the past, and it just never worked. But I’m always a fail. Like that’s like your the repeating pattern repeating story in your head. None of those things are really going to like I like to say, what would the future Erin totally Erin today to do for the future? Erin say, no, not worth it, don’t even think about it, the future Erin Ollila 15:28 Rn is going to tell every single person who’s listening to just do it, period. Like the things I wish I did at different points where I knew I had the skills to but was fear or unknown or planning anything that was related to that I didn’t take the steps on, I could have done so many different things that I would have succeeded in. But it was a lot of either rational or irrational excuses. So do the thing, regardless of what that thing is. Andrea Liebross 15:58 Yeah. So you’ve got to really switch your brain to becoming future focused, versus past or present focus, let’s say the future Erin of a year from now, what should she do today? One aspect of business planning what we all kind of forget about, we think it’s going to be this concrete systematic thing. But the fun in it is really, in the thinking around it. What so I say the plan is yes, it’s a system in a sense. But it’s also you dumping out what’s going on in your brain, like you’re thinking in the minds that you need, in order to make these goals happen. They don’t happen on their own, like there’s no button that we press that says action. Wonder Twin powers activate, make plan happen. Like it’d be so good. Going through the exercise of planning, even having a guide to do it. Kind of like having a guide to help you through your through what you do. It just makes you think about what’s possible. Yeah, right. So there’s a thing I call like the river of misery. Okay, so the river, there’s a river of misery. And you’re either on one side of the river is the land of impossible, there’s a little bridge, the peak of the bridge is the land of possible and the other side of the bridge is the land of inevitable, you’re not even like taking a step over the bridge towards the land of inevitable if you don’t have a map, to know where it is to know where the bridge is. Erin Ollila 17:29 I love that. And I want to stay here for one second, because he mentioned you know, like, having someone along the path. And I think this is the true beauty of coaching when it comes to the online business world, the small business world being a solopreneur. Because, you know, I can say for myself the biggest loss besides paid time off, which I know I could create for myself, the biggest loss in not being traditionally employed is having co workers, you can bounce things off around. Now, again, this is something we can create in our own businesses, even if you want to be a solopreneur. Or you want to be like the the CEO of your business with people underneath you. We can call in coaches to help us bounce things off to help us think outside of our of the box that we’ve created for ourselves, right? I mean, I do it all the time, like you mentioned, I do this as well and copy, like, you know, my clients will be like, I have written 50% of my website. But was it good? Is it bad, and we’ll just talk through it we’ll work we’ll find the holes, the gaps, fill them in? Well, just things that need help. In your instance, especially we’re talking about business planning right now, you know, you can talk to someone who can see their business as it relates to themselves, but can’t necessarily see that outside picture. And what they need is someone like you to be able to step in and say like, here’s what I’m hearing, have you considered Yes. And you know, again, like you’ve said this a few times, this doesn’t have to be like hard, it doesn’t have to be stinky. Like we can actually make business planning fun, where I think you’ve said this, but where I think people are feel that avoidance, or at least I can say myself is it’s kind of the fear of I don’t know how to do this, right? So and that’s where I mentioned the MBA thing before I’m like, Do I need an MBA to like, sit down and figure out how to be a business even six years into my business? No, because like, instead of thinking it as like, must have this section must say this thing must look at like these key points and my business plan. We can just bring in that like fun element, the visioning element. So what suggestions do you have for actually like approaching your business planning in a way of like, being excited having a good time around them? Andrea Liebross 19:47 It’s always fun to do with someone else. First of all, right? So you get that feedback. You’re stuck in your own peanut butter jar. It’s very sticky in there. And when you’re in your own Jiffy peanut butter jar Have you cannot read a label, like you don’t know what the ingredients are that went into making this so sticky, because you’re so stuck in there. So you’ve got to have someone help read the label. So that’s number one. Number two, I think it is helpful to have a framework, pick a framework, there’s millions of them out there. I mean, I have my favorites that I use, but pick a framework to guide your thinking things through. And I think it should have, for at least these four elements, number one, it should have some place to create a vision slash values, right? Like, what does this business stand for? And where is it going, it should also take into account, have a section about who you’re serving, and how you want to serve them, because you’ve got to keep reviewing that over and over and over again, I know in my own business, and you and I were talking about this, I keep refining that I keep getting it gets clearer and clearer and clearer to me even five years in like who, who I really want to be working with. Third element is that it has to have some sort of actually want to say five things as some sort of one year plan. Right? So it’s gonna have an I have to say those are one year, not a plan, but it’s one year goal. Okay, when your goals, the plan part, is the fourth thing, the plan part are like, what are your next steps in those steps to be in the next 90 days? And then the next 90 days, that’s it the next 90 days? What are my three to seven top priorities? And what is the next step that I need to take and making those priorities come to life. So there’s goals, and then there’s plan, like the action piece of it. And then the last thing that I thought about is, you’ve got to have like a parking lot. I call it an issues list. For these things to go, those issues can sit there for a while, like they don’t have to do anything, but they’re just parked, and then you can go revisit them when you’re ready. Erin Ollila 22:06 Yeah, now I like that quite a bit. Because it’s a great way to kind of combine the two dues with business planning, right. So totally, it’s not just like, you know, create an email list be, you know, that is important, right. But it’s like why, right, like, so you’re relating them back to like the vision that you have for your business, the people that you’re serving, how you’re serving them, you’re just starting to indicate, again, you know, like when this is going to happen. And if it’s not going to happen at this moment in time, you want to make sure it stays somewhat top of mind when you’re reviewing so that you can integrate it later, when it is a better way to focus on that. Andrea Liebross 22:43 The three sort of living documents that I really combine with my clients are one of the business line we create to this Eisenhower matrix is an amazing tool. And then the third thing is full focus planner, which is literally a paper planner that you can combine with your digital calendar, that’s not going away. But using these three tools together really gives you that momentum. It shows you kind of where you want to what you want to commit to what you’re not just interested in doing what you want to commit to doing. And it gives you some direction, because kind of like you said, it’s like, is this this like, set in stone? Or because that’s one fear? Or I’m not sure I can actually do this, or I don’t know what to do. These are all fears that prevent us from from actually doing these this type of planning? Yeah, you gotta have kind of a combo. Erin Ollila 23:38 It’s like a two part question I have. The first question is, is there a difference between business planning, annual planning, and then the follow up? Should we be looking at that high value cycle as a way to analyze these business plans we’re creating for ourself. Andrea Liebross 23:54 I think when someone starts a business, their business plan kind of is their annual plan, because they’ve got nowhere else to go. But I think as you go in time, they’re two separate things. The business plan, the way I work, it’s like your business plan is incorporated into this living document, because it’s a two page thing. The first page is your vision. Okay, which is really kind of like your vision, your business plan, okay? We look at it each year, and actually looking at each quarter, but we don’t really make too many changes to it, that often it’s just to reflect on it. The second page of this living document is really more I guess, the business plan, its its attraction. Its what are we acting on this year? What are what are we going to take? What’s going to move where we’re going to move with this? It’s more of a movement type of thinking. So that page has your one year goals, your quarterly rocks or your quarterly priorities. Issues live, live there. That doesn’t live on the street. made this more of the vision, which was more of kind of your business plan that lives those things live on your annual plan. So the second page of this document that I create really is only about this year. And that was kind of part one. And then part two of your question. So I use that high value cycle, thank you, I use that high value cycle, at minimum on a quarterly basis. So because part of the second page of the document, the annual plan, or the traction piece includes kind of your quarterly priorities, I use that high value cycle when we assess, okay, where are we with these quarterly priorities? And it’s so fun because someone actually accomplished this one, I’m like, strike that out. I can Google that. Like, so we know, then it’s it’s kind of it’s fun. But the high value cycle piece comes in, it leaves on a quarterly basis where you’re assessing is, is the tactic that I thought that I was going to use or that I am using to achieve the goal. Is it working or not? And I still can achieve that goal this year. It’s not like it’s a we’re all washed up and can’t do it. Maybe we just have to change the tactic. Right? So if you go through kind of that high value cycle thinking, where you’re revisiting and reflecting, I call it revising, honing, and going back out into the world, then you’re you’re making a lot more progress than you would if you were just sort of checking things off. Dun, dun, dun dun. Yeah. Oh, I love pressings. Out there, done. But that’s, you need that thinking too. Erin Ollila 26:40 Yeah, there’s nothing more than I love crossing things out. I just moved into click up. And I’ve realized that I cannot cross out my tasks, like when they’re done and disappointing. I am dying on the inside. Like I it’s, I’m dying on the inside. But we’ll move past that. Andrea Liebross 26:58 It’s another podcast episode behind it is I’m calling Erin Ollila 27:01 clickup. Tomorrow inviting them on to talk about this. So final question, but it’s a little bit of a bigger one. Now, we’ve talked about how to create a business plan. We’ve talked about how to kind of analyze our plan, and you know, make sure that we’re actually growing throughout our plan, and it feels good for us. But what we didn’t discuss is how to incorporate real life stuff into a business plan. Because I know I’ve seen some of my clients business plans. And I’m like, okay, cool. Like, I also know you as a human. And I like for me, for example, I have little kids at home, XYZ can get done. But ABC cannot get done. It’s nice to think that it could so how do you when you’re creating a business plan or that annual part of it, look at your own life in your own capabilities or things happening and incorporate that to make it successful business plan. Andrea Liebross 27:54 The key to this one is to really and I’m a big believer in looking at, like the whole EU. Okay, so the whole EU is not just your business. The whole EU is not just your kids, even though we might like to think that sometimes, right? So there’s the whole EU and all of the whole EU is irrelevant. It’s like a relevant bank. Alright. So as you’re creating your goals, I say you need to create what I call smarter goals. Okay, and smarter goals are not just smart goals. A lot of us have heard of that acronym. But these are smarter goals. This is adding an E and an R on the end. And what Smarter gold stands for some of its pretty, like, you know, you’re gonna be like, okay, of course, the S stands for Specific. Okay, so it’s gotta be specific. It’s like, what’s what, we gotta be specific, we can’t I like the picture I’ll hose. And the more hoses that have like the sprayer head, everything gets a little wet. But hoses that have the, you know, gun kind of those that was a dream that we they’re super specific, we know what we’re gonna get wet. Okay, so the S is definitely for specific, then we have M M is measurable. And we could go into a whole thing about that. A is for actionable. That’s kind of where that traction piece comes in. R is for relevant, that really plays into is this relevant in this season of life? Like if you said probably okay, we’re packing up. We’re going to Florida we’re gonna live there for like, two months of the year. We’re gonna live there for February and March. Probably right now, that wouldn’t be super relevant in your life because that would be super disruptive. So irrelevant kind of takes into account Season of Life, B is for time bound, which is different than measurable but time bound is starting January 1. I am going to do that for for the next 90 AES, this is going to happen, or three days after EQ, blah, blah, blah. So you gotta have some time measurement in there. And then the last E and R, E is for exciting. Okay, we forget about this, this is kind of where the fun comes in. If it’s not exciting to you, even though you might have kids, even though you have money, you’re making lunches, you’re not going to do it, you’re not going to do it. And I think this is sometimes where women fall short, we make things. So quote unquote, realistic, that they’re not exciting, it’s not motivating, it’s like not doesn’t inspire you or empower you. So E is for exciting. And then that last R is for risky, there’s got to be some risks. Because that’s kind of where we see the most growth. Again, going back to the realistic thing. Now, it’s got to be relevant, but yet risky, because the risk is getting you to the other side of the river of misery, the risk going over that river, but you gotta go over it if you’re gonna get to that land of inevitable. So that’s how I encourage clients to write goals, keeping all of those, I guess, seven aspects in mind, to help them stay on track, and integrate it into their daily lives, I can also get into like, either, you should have a weekly being big three focus. And then you should have a daily big three focus, because there’s a whole podcast on that. But you’re using these goals, if written well, in your plan to guide you to figure out what you want to do on a weekly and daily basis. So that’s why also going back to it’s a living document, it’s not just shoved in the door. Erin Ollila 31:49 Yeah, I love that you said that. Because you know, I think I think we had actually mentioned this before we started recording, but I say that I can look at a big plan like this and be like, okay, so how do I actually implement it? So I think it’s like, create that plan. And it doing it in a way that like you’re making it, you’re bringing your own personal life into it, that you’re you’re citing yourself, gives you the opportunity to say, you know, okay, well, here’s what I’m gonna do in the next 90 days. So I’m gonna think about this this month, I’m gonna think about this week, right? And that makes it more actionable. So you can take the steps that you need to take to work through it on an annual basis on a monthly basis, or quarterly basis, a daily basis. Andrea Liebross 32:29 What’s really fun, if you run to get really super fun is to use this same framework. And I do this sometimes, to have a business plan, slash annual goal. And then to have a life plan, slash life goals for the year, and have those kinds of side by side and make sure that they it’s a whole other kind of way of thinking about your life, but making sure that they align with each other that we could mesh them together. And that one isn’t fighting the other. I think that sometimes what happens, it’s like our life or personal life, fights our professional life. And there’s friction. And then we’re just like, the kind of surrender. Erin Ollila 33:08 Super helpful, like I recognized a couple of years ago, myself that when I didn’t recognize prior when I just had one child in school was that the first two weeks of September were so strenuous for me that like it didn’t necessarily show up as apparently, but it was things like, I have to fill out this form for school, I have to do this. This is all these changes, right? So I limited my work schedule during that. Now let’s say if I hadn’t noticed that or looked at that, like in a planning sense. I and I wanted to have a launch the first week of September, it would be awful. And yeah, you’ll learn from it later on. But do you want to do that, right? Like that’s why like, I think planning is so helpful when it comes to success and success in a way that feels good, right? That we can recognize, like I enjoy this like this is what I want to be doing. And this is what I set myself up for as a small business owner. So I always ask three questions at the ends of the episode. And the first one is if you could give a small homework assignment based on everything we’re talking about to our listeners, what would that homework assignment be? Andrea Liebross 34:09 Well, my homework, I would go and look at if you have if you have created goals for this year, okay, like this, if you’re listening to this at the end of 2020 do go look and see okay, what did I get done? What did I not get done? And then look specifically at the ones that maybe didn’t happen? How did you write those goals? Did you write them using a martyr format for you kind of setting yourself up for not either motivating yourself? Not any weren’t relevant, you know, what, what, what what is it about it that might have been tweaked, which might have helped you actually achieve it? But a lot of that has to do with just the writing of it. But that will be a small homework assignments that you can kind of take on and then look into 2023 and you That smarter framework to write those goals. Erin Ollila 35:02 If you could meet anyone in the online business world right now, who would it be? And why? Andrea Liebross 35:07 Well, I guess someone that comes into my head is Amy Porterfield, because I don’t know who made her like, expert of everything. But he is an expert at a lot of things. And people go to her, like, even go to her website and see how she did stuff. So just be very curious down there, and talk to her and see what was up. But that that’s something I’ve thought about too. Everyone’s not like, made her the queen of all of this. But she’s really good. So I don’t want to take that away from her. But anyway, Erin Ollila 35:37 I’m okay with that. I like that answer. So the final question I always do on like, write while I’m talking to people, and I sometimes surprise myself. But the final question for you today is the next two episodes that we’re going to have, it’s going to be talking about marketing plans. So one episode, we’ll review what happened in 2022, and how to review our own marketing. And then the following episode will be how to plan for 2023. Now, talking about annual planning and business planning, what advice do you have for people who are going to look at their marketing based on their annual like business planning? Andrea Liebross 36:14 Perfect, because there is one section of this nine parts book about marketing. So what I include in that, not nearly as detailed as what you would do, but again, it’s like a big overview. What is your what’s your niche? Right, Who’s your ideal client, though? seems super obvious. But then I want I always ask you, what are your three differentiators? What are the three things that make you unique? Why would someone go to you and not the other guy. And then the second thing is, what’s your proven process and are communicating your three differentiators the three things that are unique, and your proven process, which I love giving a name to in your marketing as well, because that’s what’s going to, I think that’s what people buy, like they liked the process. They liked to know what to expect. And they like to know why they should go to you and no one else. So thinking that piece through is going to help you decide what you want to put in your marketing plan and thinking that piece through with your bigger vision in mind. This is actually something that’s done the vision page, where you want to go as a business, that also is saving you steps in the long run to get closer to where you want to go faster. Erin Ollila 37:32 Yeah, I agree completely. And it’s not necessarily right. It’s not necessarily advice I would have given. But without knowing those things. It’s hard to make those decisions, right? We talked right, having too many decisions to make. So it’s like once you have that firm grasp on what those answers are, it’s going to be a lot more simple to choose the strategies and the tactics, and even to review what’s worked and what hasn’t from the lens of like, this is how I want to show up. And this is what I want people to know about me as a business owner. Andrea Liebross 37:58 The process thing really gets people a lot of times don’t know, they might not like their onboarding process. But that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about. Like when someone’s working with you. What can they expect? Erin Ollila 38:09 Yeah. I love that. You said that because I’m a huge fan of talking about setting client expectations and how they’re adjusting client expectations. So when it comes to that, you know, it can be done, whether it’s marketing, how you how you show up to leads, how you talk to your clients, how you get those testimonials at the end. So yeah, I’m going to add that as a second homework face. Look, when you’re listening to the next couple episodes or when you’re just trying to prepare for planning definitely look at how you want to show up what your processes and what setting you apart from your competitors. So Thank you Andrea, this has been such a great episode. I really hope people brought their paper and pen when they listen to this episode. And if not just you know, rewind, listen to the playback speed of two and take in the home again. So I will put all of the ways to get in touch with you in the show notes and I definitely recommend reaching out to Andrea if you are thinking about how your business plan is working or not working for you right now remember, like we talked about it’s so much more enjoyable and easier to have an outside lens be able to walk through this with you so get in touch with her and get that business plan in tip top shape. Andrea Liebross 39:20 Love it. Thank you

Like us? Leave a review!

Reviews help other incredible creative entrepreneurs and service providers — just like you — decide if the show they’ve just  stumbled upon is one they’ll want to add to their list of must-listen SEO and  copywriting podcasts.

It would mean the world to me if you left a quick review of the Talk Copy to Me podcast on your favorite podcast directory.