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It’s that time again to start thinking about writing a business plan for 2016.  As we wind down the year end clock, are you wondering why your plan for last year has fallen short?

If you are like most of us, you had high hopes at this time last year and were excited and hopeful that finally that this next would be better. Fervent in your quest to break through the barriers and achieve that seemingly elusive success factor today you might be a tad disappointed that the success you want just never seems to be within your reach.

There are countless books, seminars, checklists, systems and software available to help us write a business plan. but no matter which one you use, the results might just be the same. The question is, “Why don’t business plans work?”

There are several factors to business planning failure and most aren’t the plan itself.  Many plans are not the result of crummy planning, but rather crummy execution.

How about this year you commit to getting your act together to explode your production and income to achieve your goals? If you are serious about changing your life by this time next year, planning is key. But if you don’t have a clue about how to craft a plan that works, or the critical hidden components that insure results, here are some tips to get you into the profit zone!

  1. Change your mindset.  One of the prime differences between a mediocre bottom line and a super star balance in your checking account starts with mindset.  As Zig Ziglar used to say, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”  For once in your life, get crazy and dream BIG!  Write an income figure down – cross it out and then DOUBLE it!   If you think you can, you can….or otherwise.   Entrepreneurial studies report that the biggest barrier is our own mindset about what we can accomplish, deserve, or attain.  Go back to being a kid again and dream about what you thought you could be or do, and reconnect with possibility thinking.  Then you will be on the right track to begin your new life with a new plan
  1. Big dreams need a plan! Dreams are a great first step, then identifying where you might need some help is the second component to transforming those dreams into dollars.   A serious SWOT analysis will help you to identify what you need to do to get past the barriers.  A SWOT analysis is a simple technique for understanding your strengths and weaknesses, identifying both the opportunities available and the threats you may face in your industry. When you can identify where you need help, you can then do or delegate that segment of your business.  As an example, if you are a lousy book keeper, outsource your book keeping to a QuickBooks expert and repurpose the time you would have struggled to doing what you do best: selling!  One thing for sure is that you can’t be great at everything.  Figure out what you are best at and then get help for those items that cause stress and frustration and take you away from dollar productive activities
  1. Become a slave to your productive habits.  Entrepreneurs worldwide all suffer from a similar malady: staying focused!  When you are running your own business, almost every day you can expect to be thrown off course by an unplanned emergency or event. Top performers know that there are some basic simple habits that when executed daily over time, produce massive results. The best-selling book “The Compound Effect” by author Darren Hardy emphasizes that we are the product of the accumulation of the habits we’ve created since day one. The best way to determine how to begin developing the habits of success is to track your activities and behaviors every day for a week.  If you don’t have scheduled in dollar productive activities every day, then you are on your way to nowhere.

Schedule 1 hour of prospecting every day, and block out quiet time to work “on” your business” instead of just “in” your business.  Just like brushing your teeth or having a meal, these activities are big rocks in your daily routine. Practicing mindfulness about your every choice will help you to avoid the time wasters and create life enriching habits with outcomes that design the life you envision.   Bottom line: It’s all about the choices you make every day! Whether you are focusing on making more money, getting into better physical shape or improving your skill set the keyword is SCHEDULE it!

  1. Track it. Too many business professionals fail because they have no clue what it costs them to run their business every day.  If you sell your services at a loss, you won’t be in business very long!  You must “inspect what you expect” to be successful in your business. Start by laying out a budget that clearly identifies your daily and annual expenses. Get a real handle on what is working to generate solid prospects.  You could be wasting hundreds of dollars on systems or programs that don’t deliver.
  1. Manage your leads:  Are you tracking every lead every day?  Track every single daily and then prioritize them.  An “A” Lead has an appointment on your calendar.  A “B” lead is a prospect who may be from 30-90 days from being ready to buy or sell, and finally a “C” is that contact who is somewhere over 90 days from making a decision. By prioritizing their urgency and follow up with timeline system in place to stay connected, nurture and incubate that lead, you now fill your pipeline with real prospects.   Tracking gives you the insights into maintaining prospects with a system that pays off.
  1. Systems Ensure Success:   Every business requires multiple actions to keep the customers and clients connected.  Once you begin generating prospects, you will need systems to keep the connection rich, timely and profitable.  After prioritizing your leads, use a comprehensive CRM system (Client Relationship Management Program) to handle the communications and tracking is what you need to stay connected until they are ready for your services.

Client Relationship Management software programs are set up to help keep the relationships viable with ongoing campaigns created to serve specific timing and information needs.   Other prospecting systems like Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVR) are useful as they collect the time of an inquiry and location of those inquiries to measure and track where your prospects are coming from.

Another great aspect of a CRM are the follow up systems and checklists to monitor the transaction timelines and deliverables to avoid mishaps that cost you money or create unhappy clients.

Integrate your CRM with an effective web presence to support your brand as the “Go to Resource” in your marketplace.  Like everything else, whether it is working out or saving money, consistency is key to creating an exceptional brand.   So invest in automated information services, marketing campaigns and posting calendars to help you stay top of mind and on top of your business.

  1. Think 12 weeks instead of 12 months:  In the best-selling book “The 12 Week Year” authors Brian Moran and Michael Lennington address the challenge of why some people get more accomplished than others by unlocking the secrets to perform at your best levels.  They state by aligning thinking with actions you produce impressive results.   The authors  go on to state that it’s often not lack of knowledge, intellect, ideas or even hard work, but the lack of consistent execution that negatively impacts our outcomes.

Essentially, the book helps us to develop consistent execution by closing the gap of a goal 365 days down the road to a more flexible and scalable 12 week system.  By increasing your current results, lowering your stress, and building your confidence you more easily shed low value activities that get you stuck. Every day of every week counts, so focus on shorter time frames to inspect your progress or lack of it to readjust your daily activities.

8. And finally: get coached! Top performers know they can’t always “see” where their deficiencies lie, so by working with a coach they can identify their weaknesses and stay focused on their dollar productive activities to create real results. Investing in feedback on behavior changing skills will ramp up your success curve. A good coach will support advancement on skills like negotiating, time management, communication, or navigating online channels to create real market differentiation.

This year, for once, really invest in yourself.  Learn to focus on the right activities and then schedule those activities to enjoy a new level of personal achievement!

Terri Murphy is a Communication Engagement specialist, author, speaker, communication consultant, and coach.  

For more information, visit