Planning is not something that comes naturally to a lot of small-to-medium business (SMB) owners.
Oh, we’re pretty good at planning out our day’s work, maybe setting up appointments and some are even pretty good at prioritization and time management. When we started out, we might have even gotten some help, or at least a copy of a template and some instructions for someplace, and created an time that we pronounced as our “business plan”. We promptly placed it in a folder, slapped it into a drawer of some kind, and proceeded to find some customers and get some work so we could get the revenue going. Besides, the primary we founded this business was so we could do something that we’re REALLY GOOD at and enjoyed doing. “As long as I’ve got a good pipeline of customers, I’m good!” has been the thought from the beginning. And that’s NOT entirely wrong…..but…..
In his book The E-Myth Revisited, Michael Gerber calls out a three-in-one problem that all entrepreneurs confront. This person who had the idea for the company and took the steps to get it going is the Entrepreneur, and the person that LOVES the work and wants to really only do lots of that is the Technician. The last person here is the Manager.
- The Entrepreneur is the visionary, the dreamer, and the imagination.
- The Manager is the pragmatic one, craves order, and compulsively clings to the status quo.
- The Technician is the doer, gets things done and is happy as long as he or she is working.
In my view, the Entrepreneur “kicked” me into my business, the Technician cranks out the work (and lots of it…) and the Manager is a pest who wants me to back away from the work and do things like set up meetings with prospects, go to networking events, work on marketing stuff and spend time building strategies and plans instead of going to work. My conversations with a LOT of SMB owners reflect a general consensus around these impressions and experiences.
One of them told me that they’d rather “Work on the work than work on the business” because it’s more fun. The feeling is that Planning, Strategizing, and Thinking isn’t work….all that gets in the way of work. Gerber writes that the typical SMB owner, however, is only 10% Entrepreneur, 20% Manager, and 70% Technician. He completes this thought:
“The Entrepreneur wakes up with a vision. The Manager screams “Oh, no!” And while the two of them are battling it out, The Technician seizes the opportunity to go into business for himself. Not to pursue the entrepreneurial dream, however, but to finally wrest control of his work from the other two. To The Technician it’s a dream come true. The Boss is dead. But to the business it’s a disaster, because the wrong person is at the helm. The Technician is in charge!“
Eventually the Technician realizes that she or he cannot personally scale the business to real success without the other two. But it’s no fun! It’s hard…AND the Technician may not have any real idea of where to start. There are a lot of kinds of assistance (isn’t that what the Internet is good for?…), but who can you trust? What’s the best advice and guidance for YOUR business? Fortunately, organizations like the U.S. Small Business Administration here in the States can not only provide some guidance, but can point you to some other organizations that can help with business planning and good processes to set up.
Marketing for many SMBs can be a challenge due a LOT of misconceptions and the cost of wrong decisions. Looking at what others in your industry and region are doing is important, as well as a healthy mix of off line and online efforts. However, a lot of SMB owners will try to get by “on the cheap” when working with digital (like your company web site, social media, CRM options, email services, etc.) for a lot of reasons. The most likely rationale during start-up is the amount of cash on hand. An enormous number of companies encourage you to build your own web site (and host it….) via their tools. You may even decide to work with a web designer, although I’ve seen a LOT of business web sites put together by someone’s friend or someone they met through an acquaintance at the local college.
I cannot express strongly enough the need for any business to have a quality web site that is attractive, intelligent to navigate (visitors to your site can find what they want AND contact you intuitively…) and is designed with your marketing goals in mind. Anything less is a waste of resources….and, frankly, unless you ARE a great designer, you should NOT be creating your own web site (years ago I taught programming in Microsoft Visual Basic and got to experience what user interfaces designed by budding programmer who were decidedly NOT UX designers looked like…..my retinas are still hurting…..).
While you may have spent some time looking into the attractiveness of your product or service to your target market, that is different than the kind of audience research you need to do to track down the right people online. I’ve written before about your Visitors/Audience/Customers/Community (VACC), ways to find them, how to figure out the ways to reach out to them, the different ways you have to communicate with them, and how the relationships differ. There’s a LOT more, of course, but this is the foundation of the value my business delivers. This is critically important to businesses. While the social media channels themselves are free, having all of the pieces of an effective digital and social media marketing plan working toward your company’s unique and specific goals requires some resources…..money, time and personnel (even if the Entrepreneur herself or himself will be doing the actual hands-on…).
The old woodworkers’ saying “measure twice, cut once” applies to your business, too. Invest in solid strategy and planning up front, and your processes will be much more effective, plus you will be able to tell if you’re succeeding or not….an obvious plus!
Let’s talk today about how a targeted strategy will make your business more profitable!