Yes, You Need A Business Plan

When I started working on All The Things I Do, two years ago I did not even think about creating a business plan. My plan was simple; I’d start a blog, people would flock to it because of my witty humor and fascinating tales of a twenty-something and marketers would throw money at me for ad space. Yeah, I obviously had it all figured out. NOT! I quickly learned after I started working with ad companies that it would take about a million page views to even make enough money to fund my TGIT wine habit. Even at 30,000+ pageviews, a month ads make up about $70 of income a month.  As I learned more about the world of blogging and what I wanted to bring to it, I knew I needed a plan. If you’re still on the fence about whether your online business or blog needs a business plan here are a few reasons why you need a business plan.

Yes, Your Blog or Online Biz Needs a Business Plan

You Hope To Make A Regular Income From It 

Even if you only hope to make a little mad money on the side from your online presence a business plan is an excellent way to make it happen. I’m all about setting goals and making a plan for them. I’ll use one of my favorite examples, losing weight. If you want to lose weight and you say, “I’m going to lose weight by getting healthier,” you do not have a game plan. You have a nice thought and a vague statement.  If you want to sell customized quilts online and say, “I’m going to sell my quilts online and make money.” It’s the same.

A business plan is like saying, “I’m going to lose 15 pounds by eating 1200 calories a day and working out four days a week with a trainer.” It’s a clear plan with a clear goal.

Have Realistic Expectations

You know you want to sell your custom quilts online and that you can usually finish one in two weeks. If you plan to sell them at $89.00 a quilt and it takes you two weeks to make one, having a revenue goal of $500 a month is very unlikely, even without adding in the cost of materials.

You can set realistic goals for the time and money you have to work on the business. If it takes $15 in fabric and other materials to make a quilt on average, then your profit per quilt is only $74. Does the $89 include shipping or will that be an additional fee? These are things your business plan will help you plan for.

Clarity

A lot of the frustration that comes with starting something new comes from a lack of clarity and that lack of clarity lead be overwhelming.

Have you ever sat down to do something seemingly simple and found that you got nowhere because you weren’t sure the steps of doing it? Building your online business can be like that. It’s easy to let that fear you might screw up stop you in your tracks. Personally, if I have a plan or guidelines, my fear of screwing up is greatly lowered.

It also helps you know what is in your reach.  Do you plan to hire help?

Now that you know the average cost of supplies are you going to require payment upfront? Are you going to charge a cancellation fee for canceled orders to cover time invested and materials?

Figure Out Marketing

When you purposely think of how you plan to market your business, you will find yourself coming up with more ideas to market it. Yes, a website is nice but are you going to write blog posts with D.I.Y tips? Do you plan to go to local events to advertise your business? Are their local trade shows you can go to?

You will be able to plan ahead for any special seasons where your service or product might be popular. Do you want to do ads in the late Fall for all the people who might want to purchase quilts as Christmas presents?

Mark Your Progress and Re-strategize 

Like with goals, having an idea of what you want out of our business is wonderful but being able to measure those goals and the activities you do to accomplish them is what makes them work. When you have custom and personalized business plan you can sit down regularly and evaluate which activities are working and which aren’t.

Are you limiting yourself using a certain carrier? Should you shop around for fabric suppliers? If you create your business plan for Awesome Quilts Online, and 2 months later review it you may notice that the money you spent on that trade show fee actually only returned 3% in revenue and 4 orders, while attending meetings of local sororities and offering your services was a free investment and earned you 10 orders. This allows you to refocus your energy instead of doing the same limiting or unsatisfactory methods of marketing or business operations.

Are you ready to start your business plan? I’ve created a free email challenge with templates to help you get through it. In less than half an hour a day, you can have a business plan ready in less than a week to help you grow your online business and figure out your mission.

Go ahead and sign up below and I can’t wait to see you in the challenge!

An Open Letter To The Lady Who Prayed For Me

I was one pound down since my check in two days ago. I told the nutritionist working that day goodbye through mumbled breath and she looked me in the eye and said, “I hope your day gets better.

Thank you,” I breathed and rushed as the waterworks I’d become accustomed to started. I ran to my car and at the same time noticed a car pulling up beside me. I was in full on sobs that would not be stopping anytime soon.

Tap, tap, tap,” I heard on the car window.

I looked up and opened the door to see an older woman I had never seen before.

Yes….I’m sorry,” I sobbed through tears.

Are you okay?

I felt my heart drop into my stomach, “I’m just having a bad day,” I continued to cry.

Can I pray with you?

Yes please.

This stranger grabbed my hands and proceeded to pray as tears flowed out of my eyes.

Thank you,” I said when she finished.

I don’t know what’s wrong and I don’t need to know, but I hope it gets better. Sometimes we need a good cry.

And like that she told me goodbye and walked inside.

I haven’t talked much (if at all) about religion on the blog. Not that I don’t have beliefs, but I just have my personal issues with organized religion and have made the decision to separate that part of my life from this one.

I’ve been having a rough time lately with my anxiety, and on that particular day, I was just counting down the hours till I could be in the safety of the office of my new therapist.  I knew if I could make it through the first 12 hours of the day to that 8 p.m. appointment I would be okay. Ultimately the universe had other plans and I became undone in that shopping center parking lot.

This chance encounter got me thinking about lots of things.

Why did I apologize?

I was having a private moment in my car (albeit in a public place) and she was technically interrupting it but I apologized.

I was apologizing for my humanity, for having a moment of weakness when I allowed the private me to be seen in the domain the public me usually rules. The world where I smile while I’m collapsing on the inside. The me that puts other people’s needs above my own. The me who doesn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my problems or emotions.

I realize I had no reason to apologize and that this kind stranger probably wasn’t expecting it.

The kindness of this stranger.

So often we are all in a rush and in our own heads. I know I am, if I’m in a public place, my head is probably turned down looking my phone or a book. I’m not proud to say that if the roles were reversed, I would have noticed someone sobbing in the car next to mine and even if I did if I would have felt comfortable asking if they were okay. I would have probably checked my phone to see how much time was left on my lunch break, in fear stopping to check on a stranger might make me late. Horrible to admit but true. I am positive I wouldn’t have thought to offer to pray for them. This interaction made me want to be more aware of the world around me and the pain of others.

The boldness of her belief.

We live in a country right now where we all value our freedom of speech but are just as quick to browbeat someone who has different beliefs or thoughts than us. That being said, even with the best intentions it can be scary to reach out.

For all, she knew I was an atheist or would get angry or even violent by her offer of prayer. This fear didn’t stop her from offering and trying to make me feel better. I respect her so much for that.

It made me want to be bolder in what I believe and not just in a religious or spiritual sense. They say the road to hell is pathed with good intentions but so is the road to hope and happiness. If you are genuinely trying to help someone I have to believe the universe has a way of putting this in the win column.

So to the woman who stopped and prayed with me, thank you for your kind words, your time, your prayer and your inspiration.

To anyone reading this, if you feel low or down there is help out there. Seriously, you don’t have to wait for a kind stranger to catch you having a dark moment. More and more insurance plans are covering mental health care and if you aren’t covered by insurance there are options including 7 Cups of Tea  and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. You are not alone!

The Distraction Keeping You From Your Dreams

A few months ago I ran an experiment on social media. Using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook I asked bloggers and entrepreneurs what their biggest time management issue was and what distractions stopped them from reaching their goals, mastering their side hustle and working on their craft. The answers were pretty much what you’d expect; social media, naps, lack of motivation, Netflix and so on. When really looking at these I saw one common thread: them. The biggest distraction keeping you from accomplishing your goals is you. Unless the answer to that question is “being held hostage” or “divine intervention” you have control how you spend your time. As long as you keep making those excuses and allowing these distractions to interrupt your working time you won’t accomplish your goals.

It’s About What You Want

Have you ever had a friend or family member call you in the middle of a week and say, “Hey I’m going to be in town this weekend? Do you have any time to meet up?

If you’re like me, then the first answer to that is probably, “No, I’m booked solid.

You probably have your whole week and weekend planned out or assigned to other events and people but what do you do? You make time.

You may have a bridal shower, first date and friend’s birthday party that night but you figure out how to squeeze in that surprise guest. Why? Because you want to.

You may be thinking, “but I do want to launch my email course,” or “I want to publish my book, but I don’t have the time.”

Why can’t you make the time? I get it really I do, even if you love writing there will be times where you’d rather watch Netflix then turn off the television and write. Heck, there are nights where I know I need to go to bed and end up watching three episodes of Raising Hope on Netflix, then the next thing I know it’s 12:30 and there is no way I’m waking up for yoga at 5:45. There are times when I say I’m going to put the laptop away and get some sleep and then end up watching some random movie I see on Netflix with “that one guy from that one show.”

We may not think we have the time or that we are too tired to do XYZ and then end up doing something that in no way moves us closer to our goals.

I love television and I love reading, but I know it’s rare that doing either of those things will bring me closer to my goals. Next time you fix your mouth to say, “ I don’t have time to____.” Think back to the day before and count how many hours you spent watching tv, reading for pleasure, scrolling through Instagram or just not working.

If you want it you can have it; you just have to do it.

If you want it you can have it; you just have to do it. Click To Tweet

You Let Yourself Get Overwhelmed

I mentioned in a recent post, 9 Mistakes Bloggers Make Managing Their Time, a lot of times the reason people fail to get started is that they go into overload and freak out at the amount of work required to get their goal done. I’ll be honest, very few goals require one step of work.

For example, your goal may be you want to launch a course. I’m sure you realize that your to-do list isn’t going to be, create the awesome course and watch as the sales roll in. (Trust me I’m in a crazy badass course about all the steps required to launch a course). People make a goal, and it’s exciting and awesome, then they start looking at the steps and get overwhelmed because in my experience not all steps are linear, so it may not be clear which should go first. Remember that little by little becomes a lot. Start by doing one thing at a time and then as you go you will notice things being checked off your to-do list and you will be closer to your goal.  

You’re Afraid Of Asking For Help

When you have a big goal or dream, it is a part of you, and it can be scary to let anyone else hold a part of it. Whether it’s asking for help, feedback or even a partnership it can be terrifying to imagine someone else having a say in it. You want to know that every detail is done the way you’d want it and that it is being treated with the same love and attention you would treat it with. Remember that sometimes asking for help or trusting others with certain aspects of your project is the best thing for it. It’s important to identify what your strengths are so you won’t waste time on things that could be better handled by someone else. If you are really bad at editing video, then don’t waste 4 hours trying to edit video if that isn’t a skill you plan to nourish. When it comes to things you need done but aren’t good at I recommend either asking someone if they’d like to swap services or if you have the budget, hire someone to do it. I tried like crazy to take photos of myself using my camera’s timer, and they all looked horrible. Finally, I asked a photographer friend who is always looking for more chances to take photos, and now I have some beautiful photos.

You Don’t Order Your Priorities Correctly

I am guilty of this. As I’ve mentioned I like television, there are few things as relaxing as getting wrapped up in someone else’s story, even if its fictions. On almost any given night I have one or two television shows I want to watch. I realized I would say, “Okay, I’ll watch Switched at Birth and then I’ll work on that blog post.” The better way to tackle this would be, “I’m going to finish this blog post and then when I’m done I can watch the new episode of Switched at Birth.” I get it we do things to relax, reset and give our minds a break but you still can be strategic with your leisure. Sometimes I get home after 7, I’ve worked all day and then hit up the gym and I need a minute before opening my laptop but deciding to watch 3 hours of television before you finally sit down to work is self-sabotaging.

I know that most nights before bed I like to either watch television or read, so when I decide to watch the new episodes of my shows, work, then unwind with a little Netflix, I end up working less and still staying up later. Try the, “If this, then that” method. (I know a bunch of you use Zapier so you should be familiar with it.) “If I finish writing this week’s newsletter then I’ll watch the new episode of The New Girl.” If you aren’t looking at social media you don’t have to worry about spoilers before you get to it.

You Secretly Don’t Believe In Yourself

I’m not a therapist, but I would bet money that even the most narcissistic and self-loving people are subconsciously their own worst enemy. It’s totally normal to have those feelings of self-doubt, but the trick is to identify them and find the root of them. Anytime I have a doubt or fear in my business I have two choices: get in bed, cry and don’t get anything done or try to decide what exactly it is that I am having doubts about. I do this by asking myself a few questions:

Why do I actually feel this way?

Do I doubt my knowledge, my ability to share it or am I just worried about the response of others?

Am I practicing what I honestly believe is best and right?

Do these fears have to do with something in my past?

Do they really have anything to do with this project?

Am I just holding myself back?

What’s the worst that could happen?

By simply asking myself these questions I can typically realize why I feel the negative feelings I do. To be honest, even in nonbusiness situations, these questions can normally help me calm my shit down a little bit.

Fear is a bit of a self-preservation emotion; it’s our body and mind’s way of saying, “Wait you could lose something here.” Normally we are afraid of losing something when there is something to gain. You might be finally self-publishing that book you’ve been working on for years and you keep holding yourself back because subconsciously you’re worried that once it’s out there, it might not do well and if it doesn’t then there goes the dream of being a successful writer.  Guess what, if you never publish that book you are guaranteed to fail at that dream of being a successful writer.

 

You aren’t going to wake up one day and automatically have endless motivation and be immune to the distractions of the world, but the first step is realizing that you have more control than you think.

What is the biggest way you distract yourself from accomplishing your goals? What do you do to combat it? Tell me in the comments.