Recently on our social media, we’ve been talking about business plans, new ideas and being in charge of your own destiny as a business owner. Yes, we know, it’s all a bit deep! But given the situation we’ve had with Covid and the financial crisis, all of us who are in business need to be flexible. We thought now would be a good time to remind ourselves about planning in our businesses.
Businesses start with an idea
Most businesses start with an idea, we all know that. But if you’re an entrepreneur, the ideas never stop!
We’re always refining and looking at what we can do and being a small business means that we have the flexibility that some larger companies will miss out on.
Right now, given the constantly economic climate, that can be a good thing but not all ideas are equal!
Here at The Smart Bear, we have official business planning sessions a couple of times per year, where we go through all of our ideas; we’re constantly refining what we do and offer.
We write them all down, no matter how crazy the idea sounds. That list is never-ending, there are ideas about new products, other ways we can help like short promotional videos, new course and more. Nothing is discounted at this stage.
It’s what happens next that sorts the good from the bad!
Time for a SWOT?
Mention the acronym SWOT and you’re likely to see some people running off for the hills. How many of you have had to sit through that in a corporate scenario? If you’ve escaped this, then the SWOT acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
It’s not always the best to work with, which is why we tend to just go for the first half! The strengths and weaknesses of an idea are really what you need to start with. If that still fills you with dread, pros and cons are just as good. You basically need a mechanism to evaluate the idea.
This is where you really need to get down to the nitty-gritty of the idea. Does it actually make sense? Can you make it happen? Will your clients like or benefit from it? Could it make money or is it more of a loss leader – something that will drive traffic, and get your target clients to notice you?
If we go back to our idea of the video, we love the idea but it’s the practicalities of it which we’re more concerned with. This is where the pros and cons come in. For this example, the pros are pretty straight forward. Videos are great for engagement. There is no arguing with that point!
The cons; however, are a bit more emotive for us. I don’t really want to be on a video, which is OK, but then if I’m not in it – what do I show people? This is why this has been on the ideas list for a while! With technology changing so much, this becomes a moving target I’m not up for chasing right now until I’m super happy with what I decide to do. Videos are also more time-consuming to set up with scripts, the right tech and lighting. So for us, the cons outweigh the pros but for other businesses, this idea might be amazing!
What about your overall business goals?
All these wonderful ideas need to be of some benefit to your business; there is no way to escape that when it comes to growing your business.
If you’re launching a product or service, then we’re hoping you’re looking to make some money out of it. But, not all ideas are about making cash, are they? This is where you need to be clear about what your goals, progress and results are going to be for that particular idea.
With the example of our ever-present videos, we’d be looking at brand awareness and education, for example. So how would we measure the success of this idea? The chances are we’d measure it in hits on our website, or visits to our socials – or on sales.
The other point to think about, which we often shy away from, is what happens if this idea doesn’t go exactly to plan? We’ve had a fair few of these in the past, like any other business! If you’re honest, a lot of you will have too. We shouldn’t see these as failures. Yes, it sounds like some life-affirming meme, but if you’ve learned from these experiences; then they’re well worth having!
A big part of the goals for us is having time to reflect and refine
At this point, it’s worth mentioning a bit about competitor analysis. It’s something that can fill you with a sense of dread, but it’s actually a beneficial and essential part of running a business! So much so, we’ve come up with a download for you to help start you on your path.
Just hit the button below!
Checking out your competition is important but don’t let it take over your life…Yes, this does need to be done regularly; but try not to fret and definitely don’t get into the comparison trap – you and your business are not the same as someone else.
There are very few business ideas that are totally unique, there is always someone who is going to be doing the same as you. The big difference is that they’re not you.
When you do the research, be objective. If that is a struggle, why not get someone to help from an expert or from business friends?
We hope you can see from this blog, that business planning and competitor analysis are not all that bad. Our biggest tip is to make sure you use a system that works for you. If SWOT is not your bag, then find something else! There are so many planning tools and methodologies out there, there is bound to be something for everyone.
And if you need some more help, then please use the contact form below to get in touch – we mentor small businesses so we can be used as a sounding board for business ideas, accountability to make sure you get the tasks done, or we can help with more practical things like the competitor analysis.